Cubs candidate Pete Mackanin brings all kinds of experience
By GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org November 4, 2011 10:38PM
Updated: December 6, 2011 8:30AM
Pete Mackanin brings at least a little experience in a lot of areas to the Cubs’ managerial search through more than four decades in the game. He’s a former big-league infielder, scout, minor-league coach and manager, big-league coach and even two-time interim big-league manager.
But he stands out among the known candidates more for what he doesn’t have: comparative youth or an existing relationship with Theo Epstein and/or the Boston Red Sox.
‘‘They must have heard something that they liked from somebody else about me,’’ said Mackanin, 60, the Philadelphia Phillies’ bench coach, who, over dinner Thursday and during a lengthy process Friday, became the first of five or six anticipated candidates to interview for Mike Quade’s old job.
‘‘I think one of my strengths is the fact that I come from different angles,’’ Mackanin said. ‘‘I’ve worn many caps. . . . I’ve got a pretty full résumé, and I think that experience could help.’’
Mackanin, a Chicago native and Brother Rice grad who claims an affinity for both major-league teams in town, is the oldest of the known candidates by at least 10 years.
The Cubs confirmed that Milwaukee Brewers bench coach Dale Sveum, 47, a former coach on the Red Sox’ staff, is scheduled to interview Monday. And Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, 50, who has spent the week battling a flu bug that zapped his voice, is expected to interview next week after a scheduled stop Tuesday in Boston to interview for that vacancy. Sveum and Maddux are considered the early favorites for the job.
Others on the Cubs’ list, according to sources: Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., 45; Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, 50, and Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, 47.
Cubs president Epstein, one of the team execs who huddled to monitor Mackanin’s interview-test news conference Friday, talked earlier in the week about the possibility of a manager ‘‘we can grow with a little bit’’ and of somebody he and his staff hope will manage ‘‘thousands’’ of games.
‘‘I’m getting kind of old to keep growing,’’ Mackanin said with a smile. ‘‘I don’t look at it as a disadvantage at all. Knock on wood, I’m still healthy. I throw batting practice every day, so I stay in shape. One of the great things about baseball is I get paid to stay in shape; I get paid to be around young people who are vibrant, and they’re a lot of fun to be around. That being said, I’m not 70; I’m 60, and I’m a young 60 — I’d like to think so.’’
Neither Epstein nor any of his staff stayed to talk about the day’s candidate.
But after Mackanin went through a similar interview process in Boston earlier this week, Epstein’s successor there, general manager Ben Cherington, said of the long-respected baseball man, ‘‘He’s got a really broad set of experiences that appeals to us. He can see the game from different perspectives, which I think is a benefit. He’s got a good way about him, a good sense of
humor, mature, and a good reputation from every clubhouse that he has been a part of.’’
He also seems to have a knack for adapting and growing, despite his previous comments about age. A self-proclaimed product of baseball’s old school, Mackanin seems to embrace the newly popularized school of objective analysis through advanced metrics.
‘‘Any tool you can use to succeed, you better use it,’’ he said. ‘‘Video. Statistics. Let’s face it — statistics mean something. It’s not just a number. If a guy’s a .300 hitter, if he’s a .250 hitter, that’s what he is. That gives you an overall general look at what kind of hitter he is, and then you can delve deeper into leveraged indexes and ways of looking how he’s been used and his replacement value and things like that.
‘‘A lot of the decisions you make during a game are tough. There’s a lot of gray areas. Do you bunt? Do you hit and run? Do you take him out? Do you leave him in? The bottom line is the more tools you have to make that decision, they might lead you to a decision you wouldn’t make if you didn’t have those tools.
‘‘So bring it on.’’