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Who should succeed Joe Maddon as Cubs manager?

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There’s an obvious choice, but Theo & Co. often surprise us.

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The wording in the headline of this article reflects the reality.

No one can really “replace” Joe Maddon as Cubs manager. He occupies a unique place in the history of the franchise and in our hearts. What he accomplished here cannot be replicated. Even if the ballclub wins another World Series, or more, in upcoming seasons, nothing will ever compare to the one that broke the 108-year drought.

So the man who becomes the 61st manager of the Chicago Cubs will not “replace” Joe Maddon; instead, he will become his successor, and of course we all hope he’ll have the success Joe had.

Here are four men who might be the next field manager of the Chicago Cubs.

David Ross

“Grandpa Rossy” has been rumored to be the next manager even while he was still playing for the Cubs. His leadership skills in the clubhouse were lauded by everyone, particularly Anthony Rizzo, who considers Ross a “mentor.” You likely remember this:

As a former catcher, Ross surely understands pitching and would work well with the pitching staff and whoever becomes his pitching coach, whether Tommy Hottovy and Mike Borzello are retained or whether the Cubs move on from those guys as well.

Ross has no coaching or managing experience anywhere. That isn’t necessarily a negative, as Aaron Boone has proven with the Yankees. Up to now, too, it hasn’t been clear whether Ross was interested in a fulltime job that involves several months’ worth of travel every summer that would take him away from his young family.

But now? It sounds like he is:

“I’ve got a lot of close ties with those guys. I think the interest would be there. I think my heart is drawn to that dugout a little bit.

“I’ve got a lot of thinking to do if this gets presented to me as everyone says will happen. I’m sure waiting for that phone call.”

As that article notes, Ross played with a number of players still on the Cubs’ 40-man roster. They responded well to him as a peer. Would it be different if he were the boss? Anthony Rizzo thinks it would work:

“If it was Rossy, we’d sit down,” Rizzo said. “I’ve talked to him a lot before. He’s in a really good place at home with him and his family and what he’s doing. He’s happy. There are pros and cons. He’s my biggest mentor, along with Joe (Maddon) and (former assistant hitting coach) Eric Hinske.

“Can it work? Yes. But I don’t know which direction we’re going.”

Incidentally, Hinske is currently assistant hitting coach with the Diamondbacks. He was widely praised for his work as a Cubs coach. I could see him returning if Ross is named manager, perhaps as hitting coach or even bench coach.

We might get our chance to find out soon. If nothing else, a hire of Ross would be very popular with the fanbase and would calm some who are upset over Maddon’s departure.

FWIW, here are the managers Ross played for and perhaps would influence his style: Jim Tracy, Lloyd McClendon, Pete Mackanin, Bruce Bochy, Jerry Narron, Bobby Cox, Dusty Baker, Terry Francona, Fredi Gonzalez, John Farrell and Maddon.

Mark Loretta

Loretta was a special assistant in the Padres front office from 2010-18 after a 15-year playing career in Milwaukee, Houston, San Diego, Boston and Los Angeles. The man who hired him in San Diego? Jed Hoyer. He played for Theo Epstein’s Red Sox in 2006.

He’s spent the last year as Cubs bench coach. I honestly cannot tell you one single thing about his performance in that position, because he was never quoted, always stood in the background. About the only thing we heard about him all year was his one-game suspension last week for picking up the replay review headset and trying to talk to the crew in New York.

Would he be a good manager? We simply don’t know. He’s got Chicago ties from his college baseball days at Northwestern. I knew a man (who is now deceased) who hired Loretta as a summer intern while he was in college and who lauded Loretta’s intellect and work ethic.

Mark DeRosa

The former Cub was a popular fan favorite during his two seasons here as a player in 2007-08. Those were by far his two best seasons as a player. He’s highly regarded for his smarts (an Ivy League graduate from Penn) and his personable temperament.

DeRosa has been a commentator on MLB Network since he retired from playing after 2013. He has no coaching or managing experience at any level.

To some extent I view this as disqualifying. Talking glibly about baseball on television requires far different skills than managing 25 different personalities, making out lineups or figuring out how to use his bullpen.

On the other hand, there’s Aaron Boone, who made exactly that transition (TV to managing) and is doing very well.

Joe Girardi

I’m putting Girardi’s name here only because quite a number of people here have mentioned him. He’s a popular former Cub and had success in New York with six postseason appearances and a World Series title as manager of the Yankees.

His leadership skills were evident while he was still a Cubs player, when he made a short announcement on the field at Wrigley after the death of Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile:

That’s leadership, and he was just 37 when he did that. I’ll always have great respect for Girardi because of that one event.

Girardi has longtime ties to the Chicago area and the Midwest. He grew up in Peoria as a Cubs fan and went to Northwestern. Drafted by the Cubs in the sixth round in 1986, he played on the 1989 N.L. East champions and in all played seven seasons as a Cubs catcher.

Having said that, Joe’s an old-school manager and that would not seem to be what Theo Epstein is seeking. When Girardi was let go by the Yankees after 2017, in similar fashion to Maddon’s departure (his contract wasn’t renewed), GM Brian Cashman made these telling comments:

During a more than one-hour conference call with New York-based reporters, Cashman said it would have been easy to “plug and play” and stay with Girardi after a decade that included a World Series title and six playoff appearances.

But the overriding reason that Cashman soured on Girardi was the “connectivity and communication” issue with players, which was a concern to the GM as the Yankees move into their next phase of their youth movement led by Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and the rest of the Baby Bombers.

This would seem to eliminate Girardi. The Cubs also appear to want a younger manager (Girardi will turn 55 this Friday), someone who relates better to modern players.

In the Tribune Monday, Mark Gonzales named some other men around baseball who he thinks might be considered: Carlos Beltran, Raul Ibanez, Kevin Youkilis and Bruce Bochy. For many reasons, I don’t think those men are high on Theo’s wish list, though Youkilis is employed by the Cubs as a special assistant.

In the end, I suspect David Ross will be hired. If so, that will certainly be well-accepted by most Cubs fans. Whether it will work out or not, whether it’s “Grandpa Rossy” or someone else, we’ll find out beginning in Mesa next February.

Poll

Who should be the next Cubs manager?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Mark DeRosa
    (58 votes)
  • 22%
    Joe Girardi
    (326 votes)
  • 4%
    Mark Loretta
    (64 votes)
  • 55%
    David Ross
    (821 votes)
  • 13%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (205 votes)
1474 votes total Vote Now