Joe Girardi ‘Clear Favorite’ for Phillies Managerial Opening, Cubs Domino Remains Upright

Joe Girardi spent a lot of time in Chicago with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, but he’s been viewed as a distant third-place candidate in the Cubs’ search for a new manager. With David Ross long presumed the favorite and Joe Espada scoring a second interview that could mean he’s the man for the job, Girardi’s future lies elsewhere.

The most likely landing spots are in the NL East, with two of the teams out there in need of new skippers. But while the Mets seemed to be the preferred landing spot for a while, it now looks as though the Phillies will be Girardi’s next stop. That comes via NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan, who tweeted Monday that Girardi was “the clear favorite for that job.”

This could really start the dominoes tumbling, as Carlos Beltrán has expressed interest in the Mets job and has been viewed as a very strong candidate. Espada has interviews remaining as well, so his decision could determine what happens from here. Had the Cubs been set on Ross, they almost certainly would have made that announcement Monday prior to the start of the World Series.

While this doesn’t mean that Espada is the Cubs’ first choice, it does mean he gave them a lot to think about. It could also mean they’re waiting for him to complete the process with other teams before making his own decision, which would make a lot of sense. Though I’m sure not everyone agrees, this is a situation in which I don’t believe the Cubs can go wrong.

Ross is more of the quick fix from a cultural standpoint, since he was the glue guy of those 2015 and ’16 teams who kept everyone accountable. His existing relationships lend him instant credibility and he’s got a reputation as something of a red-ass, so it’s not like guys are going to walk all over him. At the same time, he’s got no coaching experience and will need to lean heavily on his support staff for tactical decisions.

Espada probably has more acumen for the gig, but he’s got a steeper learning curve when it comes to player personalities and organizational culture. Once he gets the hang of all that, however, he’ll be able to utilize what appears to be a very firm grasp of both the analytical and emotional aspects of the game. If he gave a strong enough impression for the Cubs to bring him back for more, dude is the goods when it comes to selling himself. That’s big when it comes to replacing Joe Maddon.

With the World Series starting Tuesday and Espada tied up with his obligations to the Astros, it may be a while before we get answers on these matters. My initial thought had been a Monday announcement, but I’m pushing that back to a couple days after the Fall Classic at this point.

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