Possibility of Girardi keeps Cubs in limbo

As long as New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi is perceived to be available, the Cubs manager search will continue on its uncertain pattern.

Girardi’s friends and confidants feel that the 46-year-old former Cubs, Yankees and Cardinals catcher could be happy staying in New York, or taking the ultimate challenge of the Cubs managing job.

Cubs general manger Jim Hendry has a short list of potential candidates, starting with Cubs Triple-A manager Ryne Sandberg, former Indians manager Eric Wedge, former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez and interim Cubs manager Mike Quade.

Quade has impressed Hendry with the job he’s done by keeping veterans and rookies focused on working hard and wining ballgames in a lost season. However, evaluating players and team personnel during September is difficult for any baseball executive.

Quade has managed 2,500 games in the minors, which makes him as qualified as any of the other candidates, except for Girardi, who after only a few seasons has established himself as among the brightest and most astute managers in the game. Winning a World Series last year with the Yankees in only his second year on the job is no small accomplishment, even with the vast resources and superstar players. The Yankees hadn’t won a title in nine years before Girardi guided the Yankes past the Phillies last fall.

As far as paying for a manager, Girardi would be the most expensive of the group. The Peoria native already is making $2.5 million in the last year of his deal with New York.

Hendry has been working hard in his conversations with potential candidates, and with people who know the top choices for the job.

Approaching Girardi is next to impossible until the Yankees’ season concludes. Baseball’s tampering rules prohibit teams from approaching employees for other clubs under contract. Fines and sanctions would prohibit anything that direct from happening.

Girardi’s complete focus is on his team’s pursuit of back-to-back work championships, however baseball’s underground information network will continue to have Girardi right at the top of the club’s list until Hendry makes his final choice.