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Who'll Be the Cubs' Next Manager?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Oct 6, 2006 1:27PM

Now that we're a few days past the end of the season for those Major League teams that didn't make the playoffs, the managerial shake-ups seem to be complete. Now the annual game of musical chairs can begin, where those managers dumped by one team usually end up as the new one someplace else.

With all the potential candidates now known, the Cubs' list to fill Dusty Baker's vacancy seems to be: Lou Piniella, Joe Girardi, Bob Brenley and maybe even Buck Showalter -- the last of the managerial casualties. Braves third base coach Fredi Gonzalez had been on early wish lists, but the Florida Marlins snatched him up within hours of dumping Girardi.

While the earliest lists suggested that Piniella was the front-runner, now that Girardi is for sure available he seems to be the Cubs' first choice.. The Sun-Times suggests that the Cubs front office shake-up also has something to do with that. "[W]hen John McDonough took his marketing skills over to the baseball side of the shop -- replacing Andy MacPhail as team president Sunday -- the playing field shifted so favorably in Girardi's direction, you wonder why they even will bring in others for interviews."

Girardi certainly makes the most sense -- Peoria native, Northwestern grad, former Cubs captain. His family's already in the process of building a Lake Forest home.

While his ties to the area and the Cubs are nice, that won't help the team win. However, his managerial style could be exactly what the Cubs need. He's known to be a demanding, my-way-or-the-highway manager. After Dusty Baker's laissez faire management style, the Cubs clearly need someone whose style skews to the other end of the spectrum. Girardi's tough style whipped a bunch of rookies into shape in Florida this past season, and the Cubs roster seems full of youngsters who could use some discipline. As could some of the lackadaisical veterans. Some consider his style to be "baggage," but many felt that way about Scott Skiles' style when the Bulls hired him. With two playoff appearances, he's proven that his demanding style is what the youngsters needed to become a team capable of winning.

Of course, this being the Cubs, they'll likely screw things up. They'll wait too long to make a decision, go for a bigger name, or give the job to Harry Caray's ghost. The Nationals also have expressed interest in Girardi ... but they've also contacted Dusty Baker about their opening. Chicagoist thinks his "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" style is probably better suited to the nation's capital.