We all know the situation, Mike Quade sits with a single year left on his contract. The man who hired him, Jim Hendry, has been gone for more than two months and in his place are Theo Epstien and Jed Hoyer. How long before Quade’s fate is determined?
Historically, when the Cubs have hired a new GM it’s time for the manager to call his favorite moving company.
Dallas Green replaced Joe Amalfitano with Lee Elia when he got to town before the 1982 season. In my opinion, Green’s hiring was the first time the Cubs took the GM position seriously (in its modern form) which is why we start here.
Jim Frey was hired as GM after the 1987 season less than two years after being replaced as field manager. Not surprisingly, he immediately brought in long-time friend Don Zimmer as his manager. Gene Michael had already resigned in mid-1987 and Frank Lucchesi had been managing the Cubs on an interim basis.
Larry Himes following the 1991 season, was forced to choose between keeping Jim Essian or hiring his own man. One of Himes’ few correct decisions was then followed by hiring Jim Lefebvre as his manager – he guided the Cubs to back-to-back 4th place finishes.
Ed Lynch replaced Tom Trebelhorn with Jim Riggleman upon being hired as GM. Trebelhorn was hired as bench coach in 1992 and promoted to manager in 1994 (sound familiar?). He managed the team for a single season as Larry Himes delayed the firing squad (sound more familiar?). Riggleman would manage until Lynch was forced to fire him following the 1999 season.
Andy MacPhail assumed the GM duties when Ed Lynch resigned on July 19, 2000. This change was bit different from most in that Don Baylor had been hired as the manager prior to the 2000 season. Because of MacPhail’s unique position with the Cubs it’s easy to anticipate that in fact he was hiring his manager before he even assumed the GM duties – and in the process giving Lynch a last gasp at keeping his job.
Jim Hendry was promoted to GM on July 5, 2002. Don Baylor was fired that same day and replaced on an interim basis by Bruce Kimm. The move to fire Baylor is often attributed to MacPhail as his final act as GM – but regardless, of who officially gave Baylor the pink slip, the fact remains that a new GM brought in his own manager (Dusty Baker) once the season was over.
Similarities to 1994
As the Epstein regime takes shape, it’s hard to ignore the similarities with front office circa 1994. Following the 1994 season the Cubs fired their GM with the team was in shambles both at the MLB level and in the minor leagues. The Cubs went and hired a GM who had spent a decade building an AL franchise into a two-time World Series Champion. But the Cubs hiring required a promotion – at which time the Cubs’ new baseball executive hired his own GM, a longtime friend. MacPhail and Epstein were also “the youngest GM in MLB history” when they were each initially hired, by the Twins and Red Sox respectively.
What Ed Lynch walked into, seems to be very similar to what Jed Hoyer will find upon arrival in Chicago. A baseball lifer who was given a single year to manage a terrible team. Lynch didn’t hesitate to rid himself of Trebelhorn – it took merely 8 days.
However, when Hoyer was hired as GM of the Padres following the 2009 season, Bud Black was the manager of a beleaguered team that was headed nowhere. In 2010, the Padres’ success led to an extension for Black through the 2013 season with options for 2014 and 2015. Hoyer tied his immediate future to Black less than a year into his tenure.
When Epstein was hired as GM of the Red Sox following the 2002 season, he also did NOT fire Grady Little. In fact, Little had been hired prior to the 2002 season and guided the Red Sox to 93 wins. Epstein’s arrival in Boston was unique in that the Red Sox fired their GM and hired a new manager prior to a very successful season in 2002 – using an interim GM during the entire 2002 season. But when Little famously bungled the pitching staff in the 2003 playoffs, Epstein moved quickly and replaced him with Terry Francona.
Cubs’ Past & Present
Of the last six GMs the Cubs have had, five of them have immediately hired a new manager. The lone exception, Andy MacPhail, was in a unique situation where he had presided as club President when the manager had been hired merely months before he took on the GM responsibilities.
Cubs’ history points emphatically to Quade’s near certain firing; but the limited history of Epstein and Hoyer don’t necessarily indicate such a change to be immediately forthcoming.
Postscript: This article hit ESPN yesterday. Epstein’s admiration says a lot.