Chicago Cubs Search for Manager Becoming Comical with Torey Lovullo’s Comments

by Kent Sterling

Torey Lovullo looks a little bit like like my Dad, so I wish him luck in not getting the dead end job managing the Cubs.

Torey Lovullo looks a little bit like like my Dad, so I wish him luck in not getting the dead end job managing the Cubs.

The headline for this post is misleading because the search for Dale Sveum’s replacement as manager of the Chicago Cubs was comical the moment president Theo Epstein told the media he punted Sveum over beers after the final game of the regular season in St. Louis.

But it sure hasn’t become less silly, has it?

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Boston bench coach Torey Lovullo is the guy that the Cubs await.  The Red Sox could end the World Series as soon as tonight, and at that point Lovullo would be able to talk to the Cubs, Detroit, or Seattle almost immediately.  He would join Manny Acta, Dave Martinez, Rick Renteria, and A.J. Hinch.

The perspective Lovullo has brought to his media comments reflect a comically enthusiastic tone as he evaluates one of the least stable managerial jobs in baseball since 1972 when Leo Durocher was shown the door after 6 1/2 years.

“I think that whoever gets to sit in that seat is going to be in a really good situation and one that has stability and a long-term plan in place.  There’s no barriers between departments,” he said. “Player development is the grease that runs the engine. I think that’s what we have here [Boston]. It works. And I know in time [Epstein is] going to build up the same system there.  It’s a long-term commitment. In time, it’s going to be a pretty special place.”

Unmentioned is the complete dearth of pitching at every level of the organization.  How bad are the arms throughout the system?  Epstein was compelled to give Edwin Jackson $52 million over four years to do nothing more than eat innings.

The first question Lovullo should ask is what Sveum did – or didn’t do – that got him fired?

At least we know that Lovullo understands how to kiss a little ass.  In addition to his hyper enthusiastic blather about how ‘stable’ the Cubs’ job is, he said, “I do know there’s a pretty good blueprint in place that’s here, that Theo [Epstein] started.  I know that he sees that it works, so he can take that same blueprint over to Chicago, and it’s going to work.  It’s a matter of time before it works.”

Lovullo should take his insanely optimistic outlook to Capitol Hill to explain the flawed Obamacare website to congressional committees.

If the Lovullo gambit doesn’t bear fruit for the Cubs, and Lovullo should hope it doesn’t because the Tigers gig comes with two top of the rotation arms and the best pure hitter in the last 50 years, the Cubs interviewed Eric Wedge yesterday.

Wedge quit as the manager of the Mariners last month, and was a candidate for the same job when former general manager Jim Hendry hired Mike Quade.  Normally, being passed over in favor of Quade would be an automatic disqualifier, but considering the hiring manager was a buffoon of the lowest order, we won’t judge Wedge because of that.

Teams that Wedge has managed have been good when they were talented, and not good when he lacked talent.  That doesn’t bode well for the Cubs, as they list decidedly toward untalented, and unless Kris Bryant and Javier Baez come north with the Cubs late next March, they will be again.

Regardless, they have nothing reliable in the way of pitching, so this is exactly the same job that was a career death sentence for Sveum.

The truth of the thing is that the Cubs job sucks for all but mediocre retreads without a result strong enough to get a gig with a contender and wide-eyed newbies.  They will hire who they can as a caretaker who will be served a steady dose of daily misery by the untalented and underachieving, and then in two years, it will be time for beers with Theo.

The Cubs can only afford to spend at a middle market level, and need to find the next Joe Maddon.  Too bad every other team in baseball is looking for him too.

11 thoughts on “Chicago Cubs Search for Manager Becoming Comical with Torey Lovullo’s Comments

  1. Darrellb

    “Unmentioned is the complete dearth of pitching at every level of the organization.”

    Maybe because it’s not true. They drafted good pitching prospects in the last couple of years and traded for some very good prospects.

    CJ Edwards was just named minor league pitcher of the year.
    Kyle Hendricks was dominant in AA and AAA and should push for the Cubs rotation sometime in 2014. The entire Daytona starting rotation dominated in the playoff giving up a total of one run.

    1. ejeff2001

      Good reply to this article. I find that so many people are commenting on the job Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have done without understanding exactly what has been done already. The Cubs are stacked with good young talent, pitchers included. They will only get more talent via the draft and international signings this year. Also, free agent signings will follow soon. That is what makes the job desirable to managerial candidates. Most folks who have not paid attention to anything except Sweum’s firing haven’t bothered to see the other major moves. Need more informed writers!

      1. kentsterling Post author

        I think the Cubs need fans who understand that until moves by Epstein and Hoyer bear fruit at Wrigley Field, they don’t mean a damn thing. The Cubs have drafted well-thought-of stiffs for generations. When they produce at the major league level, that will be meaningful. To pre-suppose the successes of Javier Baez, Jorge Solr, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, or anyone else in the Cubs farm system shows a level of ignorance that explains 2.5 million people paying to watch triple-A talent at Clark and Addison.

        “The Cubs are stacked with young talent, pitchers included,” you write. Name some of these pitchers for us – enlighten us.

        1. ejeff2001

          I could probably go ahead and name a few guys, and you would reply and say they are no good. Counterproductive. But the fact that Baseball America picked the Cubs farm system 5th in the major leagues is neither you, I or Theo saying it. That comes from folks who do nothing but observe talented young players for a living. The new front office has only been in place for two years so I think it’s a little early to look for young talented players in the majors just yet. Trust the folks that know (other scouts and GM’s) the talent is there – including pitchers.

          1. kentsterling Post author

            They are fifth because of Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara, and Javier Baez. Pitchers Pierce Johnson and C.J. Edwards are also part of the equation.

            It’s possible that Baez and Bryant break camp with the Cubs, but the majority of the talent is due at Wrigley in 2015 at the earliest.

            I hope I’m wrong and that all of the Cubs prospects are championship caliber players – even the three 16 year-old international players the Cubs signed. Those kids won’t be in Chicago for a half decade.

            Maybe the Cubs are building it right, or maybe this is like every other effort made since John Holland ran things for the Cubs. I’m going to remain cynical until there is a valid reason not to be.

            The City of Chicago has seen this song and dance dozens of times. I’m surprised they are so easily duped.

    2. kentsterling Post author

      Edwards had six starts in high-A ball, and he was named’s minor league pitcher of the year, which was as much for his narrative as high-A production. The kid doesn’t weigh 160 lbs. yet. He’s the #11 prospect for the Cubs, and is at least a year away from a Carlos Martinez type relief role – if he’s ready then. The best have heard about Hendricks is that he might wind up a #4 starter who eats a lot of innings.

      Go ahead and pin your hopes on these two.

  2. ejeff2001

    I understand how many may be impatient about this rebuilding project. Yes the Cubs have always had some minor league prospects and some have made it through to become good major league players. Bringing up young players alone will not make the Cubs better. However, part of the plan is to spend money on free agents. The Cubs have spent money in recent years and acquired enough talent to get to the post season. But in acquiring the talented free agents they traded top assets in the minor leagues and could not sustain the success. Hopefully fans can relax a bit and realize the Cubs can and will spend money, albeit more wisely than in the past. If you don’t understand what they are doing, look at the Red Sox.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      I understand completely what the Cubs are doing. Hendry spent money like a moron as he tried to save his job. He sold the scrap that populated the minor league system for mediocre veterans. Ricketts hired Epstein and the unraveling of the idiotic contracts began. They knew the farm system needed to be rebuilt, and so they have tried to gather as much young talent as they could by dealing not only bad contracts, but any player with enough value to bring back a young piece with a little upside.

      No one could argue with that logic. My issue is that fans are preaching patience as though it will automatically be rewarded. There are not only no guarantees this will work – there is a likelihood that it won’t.

      Meanwhile, the Cubs continue to charge top dollar for tickets (#3 in MLB for 2013) while acknowledging any chance to win will be met with deals involving the valuable pieces. And then they fire Dale Sveum – a guy who did nothing but give a damn and impart discipline. He is blamed for the lack of development of the young players when Rizzo and Castro are shown that whatever their level of effort, the Cubs will leave them marooned as the only talent on the team.

      Epstein doesn’t have to prove that he’s smarter than Hendry. Obviously, he’s an upgrade. To win the NL Central, he needs to be smarter than Cardinals GM John Mozeliak, and that’s a much tougher putt.

      1. ejeff2001

        What else can fans do? We hope for the best in what the front office is trying to do. There are others (baseball executives) who agree with what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are doing – no guarantees – but a lot better than what was done in the past. I think most fans (real fans) will agree with what I’m saying and hope for the best.

        1. kentsterling Post author

          Who wouldn’t hope for the best? I hope Baez and Bryant are the next Williams and Santo. When competitors praise your tactics, you need to be very wary. I take a little offense at the term “real fans.” Who is in charge of defining who the “real fans” are? Are real fans limited to those who buy tickets, who view a lost season hopefully, and who clap regardless of the inanity of management.

          The Cubs have had one decent GM in the last half-century, and that was Dallas Green.

          I have very little issue with the methods used by Epstein and Hoyer to build the farm system. The three pieces of mischief for which I hold them in contempt are the signing of Edwin Jackson (way too long a deal for way too much money), the signing of Scott Baker, and the firing of Sveum.

  3. AZKev

    Kent you sound like an angry Cub fan and believe me, I know how you feel. I too, can only have hope, and this time I actually do have some real live hope. I have seen Javier Baez in person and as a lifetime fan of baseball (and the Cubs), I truly believe he is the real deal. I have also followed the short careers of all these talented minor leaguers (I follow them closer now, than the big league club), and for the first time I can remember, this system is stacked. I have hope that Epstein will make the right choice and pick the guy that can bring it all to fruition. As cub fans, hope is all we ever had. Maybe this time finally, we have something real. I can only hope…


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