Theo Epstein said during his postmortem presser that the Cubs were moving “full speed ahead” to replace Joe Maddon, and he wasn’t kidding. They sat down with bench coach Mark Loretta this past Thursday and met with first base coach Will Venable Monday. David Ross and Joe Girardi are up next, with both set to interview this week.
Bruce Levine is reporting that Joe Girardi is scheduled for today, while Patrick Mooney wrote that the former Yankees manager would come in following the conclusion of the Rays-Astros series he’s broadcasting for FOX. With today as a travel day between Games 4 and 5, Girardi is off the clock and could simply pop by his old stomping grounds before heading back to Houston.
That series will likely have further implications on the Cubs’ interview process, as Astros bench coach Joe Espada has been identified as another candidate for the job. Beyond the work experience on his resume, Mooney points out that Espada has a few other connections to the Cubs that could work in his favor.
Astros manager AJ Hinch worked with Jed Hoyer in the Padres’ front office back when Hoyer was the GM and has established himself as something of a prototype for the new style of skipper. A former catcher, Hinch has been able to blend his playing experience with knowledge gained as an exec to effectively communicate across all levels of the organization.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora served as Hinch’s bench coach during the Astros’ title season, then won the World Series in his first year with Boston. Espada came on to replace Cora after spending four years in New York as part of the front office and Girardi’s coaching staff, so he’s got intimate knowledge of two different high-profile organizations.
Oh, Espada is also former Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde’s brother-in-law (their wives are sisters). That’s a completely superfluous and anecdotal connection, but it’s possible the two have talked shop at some point. Those conversations may have even included a little insight into how Maddon and the Cubs did things, which could help Espada when he goes in to interview.
If the Astros aren’t able to put the Rays away after jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the series, Espada’s schedule is going to be wide open and the Cubs might be able to finish up their interviews quickly. The consensus among beat and national writers alike remains that Ross has the inside track, but don’t sleep on Espada. My guess is he’ll be a manger somewhere next year even if it’s not with the Cubs.
Notes from Around MLB
- MLB.com’s Jon Morosi had tweeted out last week that the Cubs were interested in talking to Raul Ibañez, as were the Giants. But according to a report from the LA Times, the former player and current special assistant in the Dodgers’ front office has decided that he’s not ready for a managerial role just yet.
- Asked who he would like to thank for helping him to get to this point in his career, the Rays’ Tommy Pham was pretty blunt. He thanked himself.
- Justin Verlander threw on three days’ rest and the results weren’t great. Though the Astros will have the best pitcher on the planet going Thursday night in Gerrit Cole, you have to think their sphincters will be at least a little tight after pissing away a 2-0 lead. But hey, at least it wasn’t a 3-1 lead.
- There’s a chance that both the Cardinals and Dodgers could be eliminated tonight, which would just be a glorious turn of events. As much as I’d personally like to be able to keep making fun of the Nats for never winning a playoff series, it would be much more fun to see the Dodgers lose. Then again, having LA make the World Series again just to lose again, thereby making them baseball’s Buffalo Bills, would be sweet.
- A Flock of Seagulls didn’t run as far away as this Diego Castillo two-seamer…
Diego Castillo, Disgusting 99mph Two Seamer. 🤮 pic.twitter.com/GjTTjkBt5s
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 8, 2019
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs are facing an intellectual property suit based on their sale of a plastic-encased sculpture* commemorating the 2016 World Series victory. Daniel Fox claims that he invented the plastic block concept when he encased ivy leaves from Wrigley’s outfield wall to celebrate the Cubs’ 1984 season. Fox entered into a licensing agreement with the Cubs that season which allowed him to use the team’s trademarks on the commemorative and to give the Cubs 10% of sales. He alleges in the complaint that the new design infringes upon the exclusive right of his existing copyright.
- If only the Cubs had kept Gleyber Torres, they might not be in this mess.
- Miguel Amaya and Jordan Minch have been named to the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game this Saturday. Neither has seen a great deal of time in the developmental league, but both have raised their respective profiles. Amaya in particular has a bright future.
- The Tribune’s Mark Gonzales predicted last week that David Bote wouldn’t be on the roster next season and barely mentioned the utiliyman in his latest piece about how the Cubs will address second base. To be fair, Gonzales also included next to nothing about Nico Hoerner, other than to say his emergence should push Addison Russell out of the picture.
- So who is the best bet to play the keystone spot? Gonzo wants the Cubs to go hard after Whit Merrifield, but safe money is on Hoerner.
- As for Bote, it’s entirely possible he could be traded to a team looking for controllable infield depth. At $3 million AAV over the next five seasons, he’s well worth the 1-2 fWAR he should be able to put up. His offensive production can be spotty, but another team might take the chance on it if they feel he’s a defensive upgrade at one or two spots.
They Said It
- “There’s a lot of people I could thank, but I’m proud of myself, to be honest with you. I remember throwing a ball against a wall playing catch with myself. Throwing a ball up, hitting it, throwing batting practice to myself. I believed in myself from a young age. It ain’t like I had a dad out there to play catch with or throw me batting practice, so I’m proud of myself.” — Tommy Pham
- “Right now, I’d peg rookie Nico Hoerner as the favorite to win the second base job out of Spring Training. His bat-to-ball skillset could also incrementally help some of the contact issues described above. Hoerner might also get a look for center field, if only to give something for the Cubs to have in their back pocket.” — Jordan Bastian in recent Inbox column
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix – One Joe is out the door, two more are being brought in to talk about the job. For what it’s worth, I much prefer Espada over the guy who said last night that the Rays probably prefer facing the Astros’ bullpen to their rotation. I mean, yeah, when said rotation has two AL Cy Young frontrunners and another guy who’s been in the race in either league for most of the last decade, you should prefer the bullpen.
*Not sure that’s it, but it’s the only thing on the Cubs’ site that resembles the complaint.