Reader Q&A: Mark Gonzales' Cubs mailbag

Why don't the Cubs make a push to get Joe Maddon from the Rays? I think he is, by far, the best manager in baseball and is personally worth 10 to 20 wins a year. He works mostly with young players in Tampa Bay, which obviously will be our core for the next few years. He also gets the best out of the veterans that come to his team. And just imagine what he could do working for an organization that actually has some money to spend. The only question would be compensation. I don't think giving up either Starlin Castro or Jeff Samardzija would be too much. What do you think? --  Roger S. Grimm,  East St. Louis, Ill.

The compensation would be a great debate. You make great points about Joe’s assets. But he’s getting more comfortable in the Tampa area, outside of his home in Southern California. He in the midst of a multi-year contract and is opening an Italian restaurant in the Tampa area.

A bigger, but more intriguing, issue would be the cost of getting David Price from the Rays. One National League manager told me it would involve moving at least one of the Cubs’ top four prospects -- Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora or Kris Bryant -- as well as several other prospects. And Price is close to free agency, so that’s another consideration but it would be a good investment because he’s entering his prime.

Derek Johnson, Price’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt, is the Cubs’ highly-respected minor league pitching coordinator. I think that would come into play only if and when Price becomes a free agent after 2014.

I live across the river from St. Louis. I really don't like the Cardinals but admire how they do things.  One person who would do a nice job managing the Cubs is Jose Oquendo.  He is good with young players and a good baseball man.  Your thoughts? --  Tom Greco,  Edwardsville, Ill.

I’m curious as to why he hasn’t received more interest for potential managerial openings, I didn’t like the way he took a swipe and kneed Will Clark, who was on the ground after a hard clean slide, in a memorable bench-clearing fight in the late 1980s. But that was a long time ago.

The Cardinals’ players, with few exceptions, are well-schooled. Their infielders are versatile, but I think some of that starts in the minors. Mike Matheny has drawn a lot of scrutiny for his moves, but the Cardinals are in the National League Championship Series for a second consecutive season.

Joe Girardi signs with the Yankees through 2017.  The Cubs expect their prospects to begin arriving en masse in 2015.  They'll have a learning curve, and the rest of the National League has a number of good, young teams.  So, what are the odds that Girardi is the Cubs manager when they become serious contenders, say in 2018? -- Mark Early,  Arlington, Va.

A lot depends on the fortunes of the next manager and the Cubs’ comfort level with him as well as the growth of the younger players and manager’s ability to run a game.

Girardi cited family reasons for staying with the Yankees, and I can’t blame him for that. His kids will still be in school, so I think it would take a lot for him to leave.

Why is there no mention of Charlie Manuel as a possible candidate for the Cubs job?  He is highly motivated after his departure from Philly. He has won a World Series and been to another.  He is good at communication with all players, young and older, and if we bring in a veteran or two in key positions, he can make this team into an instant contender since you only have to get into the playoffs (with two wild card teams). -- Bruce W.,  St. Louis

Jim Thome told me Charlie was the best manager he played for, and I’m sure he can help some of the Cubs’ hitters.

I’m not sure if Charlie, who is 69, would have the patience to cope with at least two years of development before managing what the Cubs hope is a playoff contending team. Based on the candidates the Cubs have interviewed, I’m not sure Charlie fits the profile they’re looking for.

As Boston heads to the ALCS, I'm wondering if Theo Epstein has left any marks on Boston's current roster? Either with players Theo brought in who are still in Boston (on the playoff roster), or players in Boston now who were brought in through trades of players Theo brought in. -- Jim Smith,  Orland Park

If you look at the starting lineup, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was acquired via trade from the Texas Rangers, Dustin Pedroia was drafted in 2004 and represents one of the best second round picks by any team in recent history. Will Middlebrooks also was acquired through the draft, and Jacoby Ellsbury was a first round pick in 2005 -- a draft in which the Red Sox’s top five picks (Ellsbury, Craig Hansen, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie and Michael Bowden) -- reached the majors, which Buchholz a valuable part of the rotation.

Daniel Nava was a great find through the independent league. There are several other players who were drafted or acquired through Theo’s watch, as well as some swings and misses. But I believe his drafts (with Jason McLeod) give Cubs fans hope, although the draft rules have changed significantly with the bonus limits and changes in free agent/draft compensation.

Theo Epstein is a poor judge of talent (Edwin Jackson), lacks vision (refused to interview Ryne Sandberg two years ago), made a shambles of the Cubs and alienated fans.  Is there any chance that Tom Ricketts will give his tarnished golden boy the boot?  Or at least demote him to a position where he can't do as much damage? -- Jaime Sommers Goldman,  Universal City, Texas

I can’t see it any time soon. Ownership is committed to Theo’s plan, which is to build a championship contender on a long-term basis through homegrown talent.

I understand the fans’ frustration. We’ve heard about the talents of Baez, Almora, Bryant and Soler. But opposing scouts that have been slightly critical of the Cubs’ hype in the past have provided glowing reports on the latter three in the Arizona Fall League after 1 ½ weeks.

The next step will be developing and/or adding more power arms. You see what the Cardinals and Pirates have done in this department, and these teams represent the biggest barriers to the Cubs in the National League Central the next few years.


Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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