The Chicago Tribune reports the Chicago Cubs have told manager Joe Girardi, though channels, that they're willing to top any offer he will get to return to the New York Yankees. Girardi is under contract until Nov. 1, so the Cubs can't do any official negotiating until then. Also, Cubs president Theo Epstein says the team wants to be finished filling its managerial void by Nov. 11, when the general managers meetings happen. The Cubs fired Dale Sveum after the season.
At first blush, one might wonder why anyone would want to leave the Yankees, with their theoretically bottomless resources, unparalleled tradition and everything else that's great about managing in the Bronx. Especially for Girardi, who won three championships with the Yankees as a player and one a manager. But if Girardi wants to get away from New York, and isn't tempted too much to sit out the 2014 season by spending it in the broadcast booth, then Chicago would be the place. Here are 10 reasons why it might happen:
10. He's probably sick of the infernal, perennial Yankees circus
Girardi has handled working in the biggest city in America quite well. He seems to get along with the media and doesn't show that he minds the intense scrutiny that comes with the job. But there's also a dysfunction that needs to be overcome working in the Yankees organization, which is divided philosophically at the top among GM Brian Cashman, president Randy Levine and the Steinbrenner Bros. It takes a lot more energy to deal with it and after six seasons, he'd probably like more stability.
9. Brian Cashman might be sick of it too
Cashman is signed through 2014, but he's got to be burning out, at least a little, from the executive power struggle going on, not to mention the unending A-Rod fiasco. He has to go dress up like an elf to make himself feel good, for crying out loud! And if Cashman goes, who knows what replaces him in New York? It must concern Girardi.
8. The only thing the Yankees can do right now is spend money — if they want to
The farm system isn't barren by any means, but big help isn't imminent. They have more holes than trade chips. They're old. They won't be able to buy everyone on the free-agent market. They don't like going over the tax threshold. The way the team's roster stands now, there's no reasonable way to pick them higher for third place in 2014, and the playoffs seem unlikely. They're kind of a project.
7. What else is there to do in New York, anyway?
If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Well, he made it there already, winning three World Series as a player and one as a manager in 2009. It's true, Girardi has said, that the only way he's happy at the end of a season is with a World Series championship. It could happen again with the Yankees, in a few years, but why be miserable until then, only to win a championship again and feel like you're getting diminished returns? Emotionally, things have run their course in the Bronx for Girardi.
6. Minor-league help is closer to the majors in Chicago
The Cubs and Yankees systems graded out similarly in Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, but any talent that would help the big-league team is closer to Chicago than it is New York — and it's getting better.
5. The Cubs can offer Girardi whatever money the Yankees can
The Cubs pit of cash might not be as deep as the Yankees', but we're talking about manager money here, not $200 million for a pitcher. Even if Girardi gets $5 million a year for five years (unheard of money for a manager), the Cubs could and would pay it.
4. The Cubs are home for him
A central-Illinois native, Girardi broke in as a player with the Cubs, and his wife is from Chicago's northern suburbs. The death of Girardi's father this past year might take away any urgency he felt in getting back to Illinois for family reasons, but it doesn't change where he's from.
3. The Cubs are the ultimate challenge
Everybody falls for this one. They all think they can fix the Cubs — Don Baylor, Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella — even though nobody has been able to do it. Girardi, who did experience a division-winning season as a rookie, does have an inkling of what it's like when the Cubs win. And if they win it all, it will be like nothing else. Who wouldn't want the challenge with that as the reward?
2. There's reason to believe in Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer
The Cubs have been a worse lost cause than the Red Sox, historically speaking, but all that Girardi has to do is take a look at Epstein's success in Boston to realize there's nobody better to turn it around in Chicago. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but unless he brings Cashman with him to Wrigley Field, Girardi would be turning his back on a likely winning situation in Chicago.
1. It's still pinstripes
If he's looking for a change, Girardi probably would prefer a year off to go work for a network, but it's highly unlikely that the Cubs job would be open again in a year (although, it IS the Cubs). If Girardi ever wants to manage the Cubs — and, c'mon, you know he does — it's got to be now. With the job comes some strings, a decent amount of nonsense, intense scrutiny. This job has a lot of the same issues that the one in New York has, though to different degrees and in different ways. It would be a unique challenge, but a different one. Just what Girardi needs at this point in his life.
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