3:34 PM EDT, November 2, 2011
If Theo Epstein and his former Boston front-office gang were brought in because they helped end a long World Series drought for a team in an old, revered ballpark in a big city with big pressures, then continue the process with the guy who did it in the dugout:
Epstein’s former Boston manager Terry Francona.
Epstein made the obvious official Wednesday afternoon when the Cubs fired Mike Quade and began searching for a replacement. There’s a good chance the search began even before Epstein was even officially introduced, but now it’s on.
In Wednesday’s release, Epstein said the Cubs “are looking for someone with whom and around whom we can build a foundation for sustained success. The next manager must have leadership and communication skills; he must place an emphasis on preparation and accountability; he must establish high standards and a winning culture; he must have integrity and an open mind; and he must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.’’
I don’t know whether Francona resorts to cloying nicknames, but I’ll risk it. Francona obviously meets all the criteria Epstein detailed.
Francona would come to the Cubs with expectations just as big as he faced in Boston, but also would come more lettered. Francona deserves some blame for the biggest September collapse in baseball history, but not as much as the Red Sox organization want you to believe. I’d love to see the Cubs in a position where the manager would lose some control of a team that won two World Series in four years.
Epstein and Francona obviously work well together. They obviously won together. Epstein knows he would be getting a manager experienced at balancing statistical analysis with the people playing the game. Epstein knows he would be getting a manager skilled at blending talented kids and accomplished veterans. Epstein knows he would be getting a manager facile with a pitching staff. Epstein knows he would be getting a manager skilled at handling big media.
Epstein has been surrounding himself with key people he can trust. He used the word “trust’’ during Tuesday’s press conference to introduce new general manager Jed Hoyer and scouting and player development honcho Jason McLeod. It seems natural that Epstein would trust a manager who gets what he wants to do here because they did it together before.
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