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If Cubs can’t land Joe Girardi, Sandy Alomar Jr. might be Plan B

Chicago White Sox v ClevelIndians

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians

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Updated: November 5, 2013 6:34AM



If not Joe Girardi, then what?

Think Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., and you have what might be a rough prototype for the Cubs’ backup plan if they don’t nab the Yankees’ free-agent manager, who has been a long-term target of Cubs ownership for years.

Alomar, former Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch and former Indians and Nationals manager Manny Acta are among the potential candidates the Cubs will seek if the Great Girardi Deliberation now underway in New York goes against them, sources say.

Despite differences in
career tracks, all have some of the more important qualities Theo Epstein’s front office seeks in its next candidate: player-development backgrounds and/or track records for nurturing and developing young players.

The ability to communicate and work with young Latin players, in particular, will be of critical importance as the front office rebuilds its field staff, starting with the manager, those close to the process say.

That’s not only a response to some of the communication issues that stalled two-time All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro offensively this season, but it’s also a recognition of perhaps the most basic reality of the Cubs’ rebuilding process:

If the Epstein-Jed Hoyer plan is going to bear results with the potential impact prospects who have been
acquired and developed in the last two or three seasons, it’s going to happen with a strong Latin presence at the center of the homegrown core — from top prospect Javy Baez to $30 million Cuban defector Jorge Soler to top 2012 draft pick Albert Almora to
Futures Game infielder Arismendy Alcantara.

And the plan is for Castro and Junior Lake still to be around, along with potential future closer Pedro Strop.

‘‘I think we know what we’re looking for,’’ Epstein said during a media conference Monday after the firing of manager Dale Sveum. ‘‘We don’t yet know who we’re looking for, but I
believe we’ll find what we’re looking for.’’

Girardi is the Cubs’ clear-cut first choice and likely will wind up as no worse than the second-highest-paid manager in the game, with a long-term contract from either the Yankees or Cubs.

But the Yankees weren’t letting the Cubs anywhere near their free-agent manager as they took negotiations into the end of the week, refusing to grant the Cubs permission to interview the former Cubs first-round draft pick and Northwestern star, who’s under contract through October.

But somebody such as Alomar, who interviewed two years ago when Sveum got the job, might move quickly toward the front of the line if Girardi stays in New York, even though he doesn’t have the big-league managing experience
Epstein said he seeks.

But Alomar has the ‘‘proven leadership’’ that Epstein said would be
required of a candidate without that experience, both as a long-respected catcher and team leader during his playing days, as well as
during his time as a bench coach with the Indians.

The fact Alomar spent the last season alongside
Indians manager Terry Francona — Epstein’s manager and ally with the Red Sox for eight years — doesn’t hurt his standing.

NOTES: The only thing more certain than the Cubs’ readiness to pounce on Joe Girardi during this process is that they won’t get their new manager before Dale Sveum gets a new job.
Sveum was hired Thursday by Ned Yost , his old manager with the Brewers, to join the Royals’ coaching staff.

† The Cubs claimed corner infielder Mat Gamel, a once-touted left-handed
hitter with 105 minor-league home runs, off waivers from the Brewers. Gamel, 28, hasn’t played in more than a year after reinjuring the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in spring training. He tore the ACL early in the 2012 season.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub



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