PHOENIX -- While the fraternity of major league managers may or may not like how the firing of former Cubs skipper Rick Renteria and the hiring of Joe Maddon to replace him went down, the sentiment among general managers isn’t quite as ambiguous. Most that spoke Tuesday agreed if it’s the right thing for the team, then it’s the right decision to be made -- no matter the awkwardness or unorthodox timing of the affair.
“We’re all in positions to make tough decisions,” New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Day 2 of the GM Meetings in Arizona. “The rule of thumb is if every decision is the best for your franchise, and if you stay on that and keep emotions out of it, you’re going to be a successful business person.”
The Cubs negotiated and then hired Maddon late last month while still employing Renteria as their manager. When Maddon agreed to terms, the Cubs fired Renteria after just one year on the job. It was an admittedly harsh end to his managing career in Chicago, but several general managers who wanted to remain anonymous said Tuesday that they would have done the same.
“If you can find an upgrade for your team, wherever that might come, you take it,” one GM stated.
That same general manager said he didn’t hire Maddon because he had a playoff team last season but acknowledged Maddon was worth the heat the Cubs took. Other executives simply look at the situation -- along with the tampering charges the Rays have leveled against the Cubs -- as the price of trying to win.
“It’s a very competitive business,” Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. “People are competing for all kinds of talent at all different levels, whether that’s on the field, managers, front office or scouts or whatever. You want the best, you don’t want to lose people that are good, so there’s competition. And it’s not just for players.”
Both Cashman and Cherington aren’t exactly disappointed that Maddon is out of their division.
“The Cubs got a tremendous manager,” Cashman stated. “We’ve seen the work he’s done for quite some time. You put Joe Maddon together with some talent and a lot of good things are going to happen.”
Cherington added: “He’s always been a great tactician. He’s known as someone that connects with players. They’ve gotten a lot out of players that some other teams haven’t gotten a lot out of so you have to give some credit to Joe for that. ... He’s a good decision maker.”
As for the Rays, there’s little doubt they feel slighted after seeing their general manager leave for the Los Angeles Dodgers and manager for the Cubs. But they aren’t getting sympathy from at least one general manager.
“I don’t feel badly for the Rays,” Cherington said as a compliment. “A lot of smart people there. They’ll hire a good person.”