Epstein, the new president of the Cubs, said Thursday that he has spoken with his former Boston Red Sox manager about the managerial vacancy he’s trying to fill.
“Tito and I have spoken regularly since the end of the season,” Epstein said (via ESPN Chicago). “We actually spoke today. We are going to sit down together and see if it’s a fit.
“Clearly he would be at the top of anyone’s list as available managers. That’s probably true of any organization looking for a manager with experience and who is a proven winner. He has to be at the very top of the list. I think he has to figure out if this is right for him, and then as we continue our process and figure out where we are headed, we have to figure out the right fit in this organization, too.”
The Epstein-Francona duo won two World Series and fielded six playoff teams; this year, though, the Red Sox had a historic collapse down the stretch and Francona resigned. Epstein was out shortly thereafter and headed to Chicago.
Epstein fired Mike Quade on Wednesday and is considering a number of candidates, from within the Cubs organization and with ties to the Red Sox. Boston also has a managerial vacancy — as do the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals — so this should make for pretty intense, interesting competition.
Others on Epstein’s list, besides Francona: Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Red Sox coach DeMarlo Hale, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar and Rays bench coach Dave Martinez. The Red Sox also intend to interview Maddux, spoke to Sveum on Wednesday and have permission to speak to Alomar. The Cardinals began with internal candidates but are expected to speak to Francona, perhaps as early as today, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. They’re also expected to interview third-base coach Jose Oquendo and Mike Matheny, a former catcher who is special assistant to the general manager. The Phillies granted permission for the Cards to interview Ryne Sandberg, the Cubs’ Hall of Fame second baseman and Philly’s Class AAA manager.
It’s all pretty chummy, no?
“We did a lot of work together right after Tito left, and since Theo’s left, our list has probably changed a little bit, and I don’t know what his list looks like,” Ben Cherington, Epstein’s long-time assistant and now successor as general manager in Boston, told ESPN Chicago. “This hire in Boston -- Theo mentioned this before -- the manager-general manager relationship is critical, and it’s got to be one where you can develop a mutual respect. You can disagree and argue and wake up the next morning and go back to work together, so that personal relationship is key. And the person that I would develop that kind of good working relationship with may be different than the person that Theo would.
“So I don’t think we’re looking for the same person even if some of the candidates we might consider could be similar.’’