Cubs will take a different search approach

  • For now, media interviews with managerial prospects won't be part of the search process, according to Cubs president Theo Epstein, center. In 2011, managerial candidates were paraded before Chicago media to see how they could handle a news conference.

    For now, media interviews with managerial prospects won't be part of the search process, according to Cubs president Theo Epstein, center. In 2011, managerial candidates were paraded before Chicago media to see how they could handle a news conference. Associated Press/2012 file

Updated 10/1/2013 4:11 PM

Two years ago, it was a fine how-do-you-do among the new Cubs management team, the media and the managerial candidates the Cubs brought forth.

Each of the candidates who came to Chicago for a job interview also met the media in news conferences, which were monitored by Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.


Epstein's motive was hardly altruistic when it came to the media. He wasn't being nice to reporters; he wanted to see how each of his candidates responded to rapid-fire questioning.

Mike Maddux wowed the crowd. Dale Sveum, a stark contrast in style to his eventual Ivy League boss Epstein, nevertheless talked in terms of OPS and slugging percentage.

Things are different now.

"I think we're going to cast a wide net," Epstein said Monday after firing Sveum and announcing a search would begin immediately with a hoped-for quick resolution.

"I think we know what we're looking for, and now it will be sort of a more targeted process.

"I think it will be a more private process than it was last time. It could be a quicker process. We'll see. I think we know what we're looking for. We don't yet know who we're looking for. I believe we'll find what we're looking for."

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So no news conferences as part of the process?

"I don't anticipate having to do that this time," Epstein said. "But if we feel if it furthers the process, we'd be open to doing it."

It's not that Epstein is mad at the media, even though he faced more pointed questions Monday about his administration than he has previously. It's just that he seems to believe the organization is in a different place than where it was in the fall of 2011. It probably also means this year's candidates will have had more exposure to major-market media than the candidates in 2011.

That would be the case with New York Yankees manager and former Cubs catcher Joe Girardi, whom Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday he'll give good reasons to stay in the Bronx.

If Maddux is a candidate again, he's been there and done that with the dog-and-pony show. If the Cubs interview former big-league catcher Brad Ausmus, Epstein might want to put him through the process as Ausmus does not have big-league managerial experience.


"We're going to look, first and foremost, at candidates with managerial experience," Epstein said. "But I don't want to rule out a candidate who hasn't managed but may have demonstrated real leadership over a long period of time in another role as a team leader, in a minor-league capacity, in an executive capacity.

"There are other ways you can show leadership. I think the most germane is as a major-league manager. I see no reason to limit our search. Let's put it this way: There have been first-time major-league managers who are outstanding leaders immediately, as they came in the door.

"We have some advantages now. I think we have a better feel for the organization. I know exactly what we need right now because we've been growing this together. There's been a plan. We're actually on target with our plan."

Being a big-name manager, however, does not guarantee success on the field, dealing with the media or with the whole Cubs aura. The Cubs job has worn down such big, strong men as Don Baylor, Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella.

Others, such as Sveum and Jim Riggleman, seemed to handle the pressure, though neither was seen as some sort of savior or culture-changer that Baylor, Baker or Piniella were supposed to have been.

Former Cubs president John McDonough, now in charge of the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, used to like telling the story of Piniella standing in the Wrigley Field dugout during a game in April 2007 and looking wide-eyed as Cubs fans stood and cheered in anticipation of a victory.

Epstein eventually was asked if a person with a Cubs background, someone who "gets it," might be a consideration when it comes to hiring the new guy.

"Candidates who have Cubs experience in their background will have the built-in advantage of knowing some of the idiosyncrasies of the marketplace and the franchise and might be better equipped in that one area to deal with the gauntlet that can be managing the Cubs," he said. "Yeah, I think that helps. Is it a prerequisite, or does it mean that candidates can't be prepared who haven't been through here? No, but there's a bit more of an adjustment period as I've discovered when you come from the outside."

Happens to them all, eventually.

• Follow Bruce's Cubs and baseball reports via Twitter@BruceMiles2112.


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