When Theo Epstein spoke to the Chicago media in Milwaukee Wednesday and failed to give Dale Sveum a vote of confidence, the rumor mill shifted into high gear about his possible successor. Names such as Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees, Ron Gardenhire of the Minnesota Twins and Mike Scioscia of the Los Angels Angels of Anaheim all were thrown about as a potential Cubs manager.
However, there are many around Chicago who expressed surprise that the Cubs would change managers just two years into the Epstein regime and expressed even more surprise at why the Cubs would be a landing spot for some of the game's biggest names in the managerial world.
Let's examine why the Cubs could possibly make a change.
Epstein made it clear both on Wednesday and again today when he spoke to the media at Wrigley Field that Sveum won't be evaluated on wins and losses. That is a fair statement when you consider that no manager dead or alive could have won with the roster that Sveum was given over the past two seasons.
The Cubs are short of talent both offensively and on their pitching staff and in both 2012 and 2013, they have entered the season knowing that they had no chance to compete at all. The organization also knew that they were going to be trading away whatever they could each July as they tried to restock their minor league system which had fallen on extremely hard times.
However, when your young players, who are the core of your current roster, regress in their development and your future is built upon a collection of elite prospects, management has to ask themselves who they want developing the players that will provide the backbone of the future success of the organization. Is that Sveum or could it be someone else that might be available at this point in time?
[MORE: Why Dale Sveum is feeling the heat]
Gardenhire has had tremendous success during his time as the manager of the Twins and he has a reputation as a great teacher of baseball fundamentals. Scioscia is considered by many around the game as an elite teacher and a tremendous field manager and while he is working with a long term contract, there have been whispers about his availability after his Angels struggled despite spending huge dollars for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
Girardi has done a magnificent job keeping the Yankees in playoff contention despite a myriad of injuries and his contract expires at the end of this season. He is a former Cub, a Northwestern graduate and he grew up a Cubs fan in downstate Peoria. In addition, he was a candidate for the job in 2006 when then-GM Jim Hendry hired Lou Piniella, despite some in management preferring Girardi. Would he leave the New York Yankees, who contend for championships on an annual basis, for the 105-year drought (and counting) of the Cubs? That remains to be seen.
Major League Baseball is big business and if the Cubs can upgrade their organization by hiring a manager that may be better equipped to develop the highly touted prospects that are the core of the building process, then shame on the Cubs if they don't do everything in their power to do it.