Search begins for new Cubs manager
There was no admission of mistake from Theo Epstein.
The Cubs president fired Dale Sveum on Monday, just two years after hiring him.
In addition to not terming it an error, Epstein also expressed confidence that he would get his next hire right and that public perception of his regime should not be diminished.
"We know what we're doing," Epstein said when asked, in so many words, if the honeymoon was over in Chicago. "I've hired two managers, one was Terry Francona (in Boston), who may well be on his way to the Hall of Fame.
"The other is Dale, who did a lot of very productive things here in two years. We have one of the best farm systems in baseball. We have some of the best young players in baseball."
Epstein said the search for a new manager will begin Tuesday, with the Cubs asking permission of teams where current candidates might be under contract.
The name of former Cubs player and current Yankees manager Joe Girardi figures to be high on Epstein's list.
It's certainly high on the list of many Cubs fans. A report by Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons, a Boston-based scribe who may have Epstein's ear better than any Chicago reporter will ever have, has former big-league catcher Brad Ausmus as a possible candidate.
When the Cubs hired Sveum, Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux also was interviewed, and he was a strong candidate. He still may be.
Epstein cited several characteristics he wants in the new man, which would seem to leave the door open for Ausmus, who has no big-league managerial experience. Epstein said he hopes to have a new manager in place by November's general managers meetings.
"I think we are clearly going to prioritize track record and managerial experience or, in lieu of extensive managerial experience, leadership," he said. "It has to be someone who's a proven leader, and not just by reputation."
The Cubs also may be in line for an entirely new coaching staff. Pitching coach Chris Bosio is credited for several improvements, and first-base coach Dave McKay was instrumental in helping the outfielders, particularly Alfonso Soriano, who was traded this summer.
Epstein and Co. may be heading for their third hitting coach. Rudy Jaramillo was a holdover from the previous regime, and the Cubs fired him during the 2012 season.
It may be that Jaramillo's successor, James Rowson, along with assistant Rob Deer, will be out after the Cubs again were deficient in on-base percentage, an area Epstein stresses.
"We're not looking to create cookie-cutter hitters and force everyone to see more pitches, force everyone to walk more," Epstein said. "But I think getting a good pitch to hit is pretty important.
"That's pretty basic. That's something that all hitters can benefit from. But it's more that we want to be supportive and we want to be unified in how we help our young hitters."
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