Cal Ripken Jr. says he would listen if Cubs came calling

Cal Ripken Jr. says he would listen if Cubs came calling
October 2, 2013, 11:15 pm
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Tony Andracki

What if the Cubs don't get their man with Joe Girardi?

As Patrick Mooney pointed out, names like Sandy Alomar Jr. and A.J. Hinch are on the Cubs' radar.

But what about a guy like Cal Ripken Jr.? Would baseball's Iron Man come to the North Side?

The 53-year-old has been retired since 2001 and said he had no intention of managing before, but after being around the game lately on the broadcast side of things, he has started to change his mind.

"The urge to do something in baseball has come back, and I guess I'd be more inclined to listen because I'd be a little bit more interested at this stage, but I haven't figured that out yet," Ripken said on the David Kaplan Show Wednesday night.

"I have to be very careful how I answer that question because it seems like speculation runs rampant, but it's an interesting position to be in. But yeah, I think I'd listen a little bit more than I would have certainly three or four years ago."

Ripken admitted it would be exciting to see the Cubs return to the postseason -- especially on an annual basis -- just as the Pittsburgh Pirates have brought excitement and energy to this year's playoffs.

The Cubs have the most famous championship drought in professional sports history, so a chance to be at the helm, leading a team to the promised land can stir even the most humble man's ego.

[RELATED: Theo says Cubs job will sell itself]

Ripken said he thinks "ultimate challenge" is one of the reasons Theo Epstein chose to come to Chicago after ending the Red Sox drought in Boston. The two-time AL MVP declared himself a developmental guy, and said some managers wouldn't want to come to a team that is not already a contender.

"It does take a developmental guy," Ripken said. "It does take someone that can get the best out of players and teach them at the big-league level. Once you get more depth in your organization, then you start to see the fruits in your development in the minor leagues, and it becomes a feeder system."

As for the guys already in the major leagues, Ripken had plenty to say about how to get the most out of Starlin Castro, who suffered through the worst year of his career in 2013 under Dale Sveum.

"It's a matter of establishing trust with that player, whether it's a matter of coming up through that organization and him knowing that you have his best interest at heart," Ripken said. "You gotta give him a little slack because he's young and there's a lot left to learn.

"I think part of developing a player like that is [letting him know] it's for his own benefit and preserve the fact that you're not always getting on him in front of others. And do it in a fashion that's trying to make him a better shortstop and a better player because he's a key player on that team."

Ripken feels Epstein already knows who he wants as a manager and has had a plan in place for a while.

[MORE: Girardi or bust? Pressure is on Theo to deliver next manager]

Right now, all the focus is on Girardi and his offer from the Yankees. Girardi has managed for seven years and has a World Series championship on his resume, but Ripken played down the importance of big-league experience.

"I think, ultimately, it's the right baseball guy," Ripken said. "[Look at Cardinals manager] Mike Matheny. He had no managerial experience, but he was the right baseball guy.

"I don't think you should worry too much about overall big-league managerial experience. It's who is the right baseball guy for that position."

Could it be Ripken, one of the most cerebral players of all time?