MLB

After interviewing Hinch and Acta, Cubs appear to narrow their focus

Baseball Insider

Manny Acta and A.J. Hinch are said to be serious candidates for the Cubs' managerial position. (USATSI)

Cubs decision-makers were not surprised that Joe Girardi decided to continue managing the Yankees, where he's spent most of the last 18 years as a manager, coach, broadcaster and player, and now Chicago appears to be honing in on a very short list of serious candidates, including the already interviewed duo of A.J. Hinch and Manny Acta.

Cubs people will not label anyone as a "favorite" yet, but with their plan to add perhaps only one or two names to their original interview list, the assumption is they were impressed by Hinch and/or Acta and confident they will find their next manager from a roster that includes those two, plus Rick Renteria, who'll be interviewed next week, perhaps Dave Martinez and maybe one other. Martinez is said to have a good chance to garner an interview, as well.

Word is, the Cubs may put their energies into callbacks/second interviews, another indicator that they believe they have their next manager on their original short list.

Some baseball people, partly by reading tea leaves, are surmising Hinch and/or Acta may have an excellent chance. Both men have major-league managerial experience, which could be a plus over the other couple of known candidates, though Cubs people are saying it isn't necessarily a prerequisite. Dale Sveum, who was fired after two years as manager, only had brief big-league experience managing as a Brewers interim for a few weeks when he was hired in Chicago..

Hinch, now a Padres executive, has an excellent reputation for his work with prospects and young players while working as the Diamondbacks farm director before his short tenure as their big-league manager. The Cubs have made clear that strength in player development would be a major asset. Acta, currently an ESPN analyst, managed both the Indians and Nats, so he's certainly qualified.

Sandy Alomar Jr. and both Maddux brothers, the Hall-of-Fame-to-be pitcher Greg and brother Mike, have been speculated as possible candidates, but it's uncertain whether they will be interviewed. Mike Maddux, the respected Rangers pitchng coach, and Alomar, a beloved Indians coach, were interviewed by the Cubs two years ago when Sveum was hired.

Renteria, the Padres' bench coach, is known to have a great rapport with young players, and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer loved him when he was the Padres' GM.

Martinez has an excellent reputation as a Rays coach, though he wasn't necessarily viewed as managerial material when he was a Cubs player a couple decades ago.

The Cubs were prepared to pursue Girardi, the Peoria native who played for Northwestern and the Cubs, but had no strong belief they'd have a real shot at him considering it was well known that Girardi wasn't unhappy with the Yankees or his life in the northern suburbs of Westchester County.

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