Epstein will begin search for new manager Tuesday
Cubs president will prioritize track record, experience, communication skills
CHICAGO -- Who's next?
If Dale Sveum wasn't the right manager for the Cubs and the up-and-coming young players, who is? Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, said the search will begin on Tuesday when the club starts asking for permission to talk to potential candidates.
Sveum was dismissed on Monday after two seasons as the Cubs' 52nd manager, losing 101 games his first year and finishing last in the National League Central with 96 losses this year.
Epstein said Monday that Chicago will prioritize the person's track record and managerial experience, and in lieu of the latter, consider his leadership skills. That would open the door for a candidate like former big league catcher Brad Ausmus, whose name has been mentioned as a successor to Sveum. Other names that have been tossed around the rumor mill include Yankees skipper Joe Girardi, who played for the Cubs.
The Cubs have hired Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella in the past, but Epstein said having a marquee name won't be key in his search process.
"There's no pressure whatsoever to hire a big-name manager," Epstein said. "We want to hire the right manager. We're at a critical point in our building process, where our very best prospects are soon going to be young big league players, and it's absolutely imperative that we create the best environment possible for young players to come up here and continue to learn and develop and thrive at the big league level, and win ultimately. That's not an easy thing to do."
Part of the problem in Sveum's second year at the helm was that players were getting "different signals from different directions," Epstein said. Communication skills will be emphasized.
It will help in the search process that Epstein has spent two years in Chicago and has a better feel for some of the quirks involved with the Cubs, such as the facilities, which are antiquated compared to other Major League ballparks.
"I think we have a better feel for the organization," Epstein said. "I know exactly what we need right now, because we've been growing this together. There's been a plan, we're on target with our plan. As difficult a day as this is right now, sometimes we have to remind ourselves that this was an outstanding year for the organization, if you look past the very difficult year we had at the big league level."
The Cubs are excited about prospects such as Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant, as well as players acquired in trades like pitchers C.J. Edwards and Kyle Hendricks.
"Now, the most important job is to develop that talent fully in the Major Leagues and allow those players to blossom and continue to learn, to thrive and ultimately to win," Epstein said. "That's a very important job. We know exactly what we're looking for."
Part of the process for the managerial candiates after the 2011 season included meeting with the media. Epstein said that most likely will not happen this time, and the search will be more private. The goal is to complete the process before the General Managers Meetings, which will be held from Nov. 11-13 in Orlando, Fla.
Epstein did not feel it will be hard to sell anyone on taking the Cubs' job because of the prospects, although they are still a couple years away. It's all part of the "foundation for success," which Epstein emphasized when he took the job, and he had hoped Sveum would be the manager to lead the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. Instead, the search begins again.
The Cubs need a manager who is "dynamic," Epstein said, something that the low-key Sveum was not. They want someone who is "creative" and has "tremendous energy."
"Are we asking a lot of the next manager? Yes," Epstein said. "Is he going to have a lot of talent to work with over the next several years going forward, and does he have a great chance to help lead a Major League team to the upper echelons of Major League baseball? Absolutely."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.