Friday, October 13, 2006

Management Consulting

While the Cubs managerial search is effectively meaningless compared to the acquisition of players this offseason, there are a lot of developments in this area.

The biggest piece of news is that Bruce Bochy is going to be available for Jim Hendry to interview. For several reasons, Bruce seems to be Jim’s first choice. Some of it has to do with Bruce’s success in winning four division titles and one National League pennant in his time in San Diego. Some of it also has to do with not getting a person here who would require a contract longer than Hendry’s.

It’s also obvious why Hendry is interested in Lou Piniella. Lou would bring, in Hendry’s eyes, instant credibility for a fast turnaround. At 63 years old, Lou wouldn’t be here much more than 2 years. Lou wouldn’t come here for a long term build. Lou would come because Hendry would try to acquire three or four big names in a hurry. If Lou wasn’t convinced of this, he’d pass on the job. Given that Hendry has, at most, two years to fix this heap of crap of his own design, Piniella would work within that same time horizon.

What’s become clear is that Joe Girardi is clearly NOT who Hendry wants. And Girardi knows it, yet wants the job. Badly. Girardi's open lobbying in the press and every radio show last week was all about currying favor with the fans and the media and trying to place political pressure on Hendry to give Girardi the job.

Bad move. If there’s one thing that Hendry hates it’s the media trying to force his hand. Word has it that Hendry was pissed that Mike Murphy asked him on WSCR why Hendry only talks about improving the team and never uses the words “World Series” like McDonough did. How would a personality like that respond to Girardi’s open lobbying through the media? Badly is my guess.

Ironically, I’m not too surprised that Hendry doesn’t want Girardi. Yes, Joe did a good job last year. But Joe also failed to get along with the Marlins management. Jim Hendry gets along very well with Marlins management as Derrek Lee and Juan Pierre’s presence on the team will attest. You can be sure that Hendry was very wary of Joe before their meeting. It wouldn’t surprise me if Hendry didn’t even want to interview Girardi, but felt compelled to Jon McDonough and the lemming fans who only want a feel good story.

Lou Piniella certainly seems to be the best choice of the current crop, if only because it increases the chances that offseason moves would include multiple difference makers and not just a new marketing toy. And he could quickly become the disgruntled fan’s voice, openly bitching at ownership if they weren’t fully forthcoming and financially supportive.

From a pure baseball point of view, this page is ambivalent about the actual quality of the managerial skills of Bochy and Piniella, and most hesitant about Girardi. But anyone who wants to see wining baseball in 2007 better hope for Piniella. The hiring of Joe Girardi would all but signal that 2008 would be the next year worth watching.

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