Posted: Monday September 25, 2006 12:52PM; Updated: Monday September 25, 2006 2:43PM
Cubs next for Girardi?
The Cubs have left Dusty Baker hanging on his job status for next season.
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Girardi has vaulted to the top of the Cubs' managerial list, according to industry scuttlebutt heard over the weekend.
Typically, Cubs GM Jim Hendry isn't even admitting he's made up his mind about the status of Dusty Baker. While we can expect the usual Cubs-style obfuscation (I think it's in the Tribune manifesto), Girardi is believed to be viewed as the right hire for them because he now has managerial experience, will either be first or second in Manager of the Year voting, was a longtime Cub and Chicago resident and, unlike Lou Piniella, should cost half or less than the $4 million they're paying Baker annually (especially with the Marlins footing the bill for $1 million-plus of it over the next two years).
Of course, the Peoria native, 1986 Northwestern graduate and former Cub for seven years would love to manage the team, and also to come home and spend time with his father, who is ailing with Alzheimer's. (Girardi was heartened when he retold the story of how his father seemed to understand when he informed him of the Sept. 4 birth of his third child.)
But as for any conspiracy theory that he got himself fired on purpose so he could return to Chicago, that's absurd. Girardi sold his home in Lake Forest, Ill., before going to Florida and also sold a spec home he was building in that area. He had committed himself to South Florida. If Girardi doesn't get the Cubs job (Hendry is said to like Fredi Gonzalez very much), he has pondered the possibility he might have to consider a return to the broadcast booth, which would be a shame.
Cubs and Marlins executives appear tight (they always seem to make an annual trade that benefits the Marlins and wrecks the Cubs), and while the seeming smear campaign might hurt Girardi with someone else, he is seen as too perfect a candidate for Cubs people to disregard over a personality clash that doesn't involve them. Girardi is a hometown Cubs choice, and the fact that he isn't particularly media-friendly is probably a bonus to them.
And by the way, if Girardi has "zero chance'' to remain Marlins manager (and I believe that report is accurate), Baker's chances to stay with the Cubs look about half that good. It's hard to figure what was up with Hendry when he recently answered a question put to him by Chicago writers about whether he'd made up his mind regarding Baker by saying, "Not necessarily.'' Considering that Baker's Cubs have seen the Pirates zoom past them during his so-called "evaluation'' period, I'll just assume that this is Hendry's misguided, long-shot attempt to throw someone off the most obvious scent in ChiTown.
Braves third base coach Fredi Gonzalez is being mentioned as a possible hire for both Florida and Chicago, putting him in an enviable position. The Marlins' job, where they seek someone to do whatever management tells him to do, makes more sense for someone without major league managerial experience. The Cubs job, despite the payroll, is one of the most coveted and difficult in the game and better suited to someone with major league managerial experience.
Around the majors
People close to pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka are convinced that the Seibu Lions will allow the talented right-hander to "post,'' the process by which he can jump to Major League Baseball. They say a promise was made by Seibu officials, who rejected the request last year. If Matsuzaka is allowed to leave, expect the Mariners, Mets and Yankees to be among teams making a spirited effort to land the pitcher, who's said to throw his own patented pitch, the "gyroball.''
How great a job do the Twins do? The small-market team may wind up with the batting champion (Joe Mauer), Cy Young winner (Johan Santana) and MVP (Justin Morneau).
I asked the White Sox's terrific GM, Kenny Williams, if he had any regrets, and he answered, "Every day.'' Truth is, his moves were good, but boy did they play poorly down the stretch. Any list of underachieving teams has to include them now.
Sure, Trevor Hoffman gave up that home run to Scott Brosius and he blew the 2006 All-Star Game, but I'm not going to let two bad moments define a career. Hoffman, who set the all-time saves record on Sunday, is a Hall of Famer in my book.
Because I believe in our judicial system, I still don't believe a judge will send San Francisco Chronicle writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams to prison for 18 months for doing their jobs exceedingly well while Victor Conte, the actual drug supplier in the very same case, got four months.
But even threatening that sort of sentence is pretty sick. The federal government has done a terrible job in nailing Barry Bonds, and I guess they must be embarrassed that they can't get the goods on Bonds even with subpoena power while Fainaru-Wada and Williams do it without subpoenas. I guess I should just feel fortunate I haven't come up with anything that good.