Search for next manager taking Cubs in different directions

Search for next manager taking Cubs in different directions
October 24, 2013, 9:00 pm
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That express lane to the next Wrigley Field press conference closed when Joe Girardi decided to stay with the New York Yankees. There will be more twists and turns as the Cubs search for their new manager.

A second round of interviews is expected to begin next week, a major-league official said Thursday, meaning the Cubs could go into November before finalizing Plan B. The source said San Diego Padres bench coach Rick Renteria met with a second Cubs group on Wednesday to complete his initial interview.

Team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer traveled to the West Coast last week to talk with Renteria, who’s recovering from a hip procedure and viewed as a strong candidate.

Renteria is said to have great people skills and an ability to connect with Latin players. He has spent the last decade as a Padres coach or manager in their minor-league system. He also managed Team Mexico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

[MORE: Could the Tigers' managerial search affect the Cubs?]

This World Series shows the Cubs can go in different directions to find their manager. Exactly one year after his introductory press conference, John Farrell watched the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

Farrell — a solid pitching coach when the Red Sox won the 2007 World Series — didn’t exactly profile like the next great manager during two underwhelming years with the Toronto Blue Jays (154-170). But he has a commanding presence, institutional knowledge and pieces from that championship core.

Padres executive A.J. Hinch wouldn’t necessarily have that going for him on the North Side. But the Cubs must have put him in the mix thinking he’s grown from that experience with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He took over in the middle of the 2009 season and didn’t make it through the 2010 season, getting fired with an 89-123 overall record.

The Cubs are interested in speaking with Farrell’s bench coach, Torey Lovullo, after the World Series. A potential Game 7 is scheduled for Halloween.

If it comes to this, the questions become: Are the Cubs willing to wait until after Lovullo rides on the duck boat during the championship parade? And could Lovullo — who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers out of UCLA in 1987 — become a serious candidate to replace Jim Leyland?

[RELATED: A baseball insider evaluates the Cubs' search]

Since firing Dale Sveum after a 96-loss season and beginning the search process, the Cubs have withheld a name or two, leading to speculation about mystery candidates. Sources familiar with the situation have made this much clear:

• Three candidates who interviewed two years ago are not in play this time: Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale; Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux; and Cleveland Indians first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr.

• You can cross off five more names talked about in industry circles: Red Sox special assistant Jason Varitek; Yankees bench coach Tony Pena; Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo; Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan; and Oakland A’s bench coach Chip Hale.

• The local media would love to shove microphones in Ozzie Guillen’s face before and after every game — it would make our job so much easier — but the former White Sox manager has a better chance of being elected the next mayor of Chicago than being added to this coaching staff.

• ESPN analyst Manny Acta — who interviewed in early October — makes a strong impression as a bilingual teacher who understands sabermetrics and can draw upon his experiences managing the Indians and Washington Nationals. But beyond the overall record (372-518), the way those clubhouses tuned out his message makes it very difficult to imagine him getting this job.

• Hiring Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez — who has spent six seasons next to innovative manager Joe Maddon and knows the market after playing for the Cubs and White Sox — would force this front office out of its Boston/San Diego comfort zone.

[MORE: State of the Cubs: Help wanted and a $1.32 billion valuation]

This is still a training-wheels job, nothing like the win-now team Mike Matheny took over when Tony La Russa retired after the 2011 World Series. Matheny has guided the Cardinals to two playoff appearances and a National League pennant, despite no managing experience, jumping from special assistant in the St. Louis front office.

Brad Ausmus’ name has popped up a few times since the beginning of Sveum Watch. The Padres special assistant graduated from Dartmouth College and lasted 18 seasons in the big leagues. He has already been linked to the openings in Detroit and Washington.

One National League official doubted the Cubs could go with a total newbie after firing Sveum and Mike Quade. Both had only managed in the big leagues on an interim basis before running what Epstein has called “the gauntlet.”

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