I actually had a brief Requiem for Cito written out last night, but lost it and was too pissed to recreate it so, here we go again.
For all my past and ongoing criticism of Cito, all that is days away from being nothing but post-mortem. Yes, I'm bugged that even today he's saying that he somehow owes it to Marcum and Romero to play Buck (but apparently, he owed it to Hill to give him Mike McCoy tonight) but why bother, ya know?
So this week was the week for the feel-good emotionalism about how special he is and what he meant to the franchise and ya know what? I'm good with that. You cannot listen to so very many former players (albeit, not all) line up and tell you how massively classy the man is and not believe it. Other associates in the game, friends, coaches, etc, confirm that description. I have to say that if you ask me to choose between a guy who makes all the right strategical moves and is an ass everyone hates, or a guy who is beloved and called "pure class" who occasionally provokes a "WTF?" moment - I gotta go with the latter. Easily.
No manager is perfect, none ever will be. The best of them have bad seasons and all of them fail in the eyes of armchair managers. And no matter how strong those late-80's and early 90's teams were, not just anyone could have managed those teams to a championship (not saying Cito is the only one but there's still skill involved). Whatever else he got wrong (ask me sometime about Olerud's exit), he has credit coming and I think it's a goodness that he went out through the front door this time, instead of having his '97 exit being his send off.
Just don't go yakking about the hall of fame, m'kay?
Now, on the business of finding the next manager, Alex is, of course, always the Artful Dodger in terms of giving up any info. He was little different in the interview with Bob McCowan today. however, if you dilligently parse it, you might glean that the vauge rumors that he has his list down to 8 or 9 are probably more true than false, with the caveat that someone who gets fired might be a late entrant.
Sifting through the sparse rumors, one can perhaps piece together who might be on that list. I'm gonna give you a dozen guesses here.
Nick Leyva and Brian Butterfield, Don Baylor, Tim Wallach, Ryne Sandberg, Eric Wedge, Bob Melvin, Don Wakamatsu, Rob Thompson, Randy Ready, Dave Martinez, Juan Samuel.
I'd be willing to wager, even with AA's legendary stealth, that most if not all of his 8 or 9 guys are among those dozen. I've been saying since last year that I considered Butterfield to be the front runner, just because it made so very much sense to hire a guy who was intimately familiar with the players here. But lately I have a growing hunch, occasionally fuled by a rumor such as the one reported today by Bob Nightengale (albeit, I do not consider him an oracle of truth in rumor mongering) but mostly just in terms of listening to AA describe what he wants and sussing out who seems to fit that model.
At this point, if I had to make a prediction, I'd have to guess Wallach - and I'd hope fervently that he was open to and presuaded to keep Butter and Walton, at least, on his staff. (and I'd spend enough on Butter to keep him out of Showalter's grasp)