There seems to be a lot of angst in Cubs land these days about how long it's taking team president Theo Epstein to hire a manager.
To that, I've got two thoughts: One is relax.
The other is that this will be over Thursday, when the Cubs will name Rick Renteria their new manager. Renteria, who turns 52 on Christmas Day, has been the bench coach of the San Diego Padres. Sources confirmed his hiring by the Cubs late Wednesday.
The hiring will be in keeping with Epstein's stated timeline of having the new man in place by baseball's general managers meetings, which get under way next Monday.
The Cubs will be the last team to hire a manager this off-season, but that really doesn't mean much. To put things in perspective, Epstein didn't hire Terry Francona to manage the Boston Red Sox until Dec. 4, 2003. The Red Sox went on to win the 2004 World Series.
Former Cubs GM Jim Hendry waited until Nov. 15, 2002 to hire Dusty Baker as manager. The Cubs went to their star-crossed playoff run the next autumn. And even though Dale Sveum did not have success as manager of the Cubs, Esptein did not hire him until Nov. 18, 2011.
Yes, it does seem like a long process. It reminds me of what a Daily Herald colleague said when the Cubs finally hired Baker. "I feel like we're at the press conference to announce that the Cubs are firing Dusty Baker," he said, noting the drawn-out process at the time.
But in the end, getting it right is more important than getting it done quickly, and if Joe Girardi had not decided to stay in New York and manage the Yankees, he might have been here a month ago.
Renteria emerged from a list of candidates or potential candidates that also included Manny Acta, A.J. Hinch, Brad Ausmus (since hired by the Tigers), Eric Wedge, Dave Martinez and Torey Lovullo.
The Lovullo candidacy really ended before it began. He is the Red Sox' bench coach, and Boston management reportedly would not allow the Cubs to speak with him in keeping with the agreement the Cubs and Red Sox came to when Epstein left Boston for Chicago. That seems unfair to Lovullo's chances for advancement, but that's a subject for another day. In any event, the Cubs decided not to press the issue.
Renteria does not have major-league managerial experience (he managed the Kane County Cougars in 1999), but this native of California did manage Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. He is said to have a a strong personality, but also is said to be personable and approachable.
I'm told Epstein's search was extremely exhaustive, but that's as it should be. Let's remember there's almost five months until Opening Day. As soon Renteria is introduced, there will be plenty of time to complain about how long it's taking to put together a coaching staff and a team.
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