We just spent a postseason watching two very different managers steer wild card teams to the very top of their sport.
Bruce Bochy is best known for having the largest head in the game. Ned Yost is accused of seldomly using his.
I's a good move by the Cubs. It's questionable how they accomplished it -- given Theo Epstein's history of messy transactions, I'm guessing there will be a tampering investigation and a chance of compensation -- but it makes sense.
And Maddon would've made sense for maybe 18 to 20 other teams, including clubs that needed to fill a managerial vacancy. For instance, the Rangers could've really used him, and they would've been a great fit with their roster and front office structure, but his name never arose during a search that ultimately settled on Jeff Banister.
It's a shame the Rangers didn't hire him, because based on what I've seen, heard and been asked, a Maddon-Cubs relationship is prime meatball fodder for a number of reasons.
No. 1: They could be good together. Let's get that out of the way. This is down the list for me -- my biggest problem with potential Cubs success is that they'd command an inordinate amount of attention, and I'd rather read/hear about other things -- but it's at the top for others.
No. 2: Make-believing that this was an open process. Best I can tell, by the time we knew Maddon was available, his destination was probably already a certainty. Any effort to try to upend that outcome would've been false hustle, and loudly swinging-and-missing on a midterm replacement is a good way to make yourself unappealing to a future quality manager you might actually stand a chance of hiring.
No. 3: The assumption that past performance guarantees future returns. The Cubs threw a lot of money at Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella, and neither got as far as Ned Yost did. With the Royals.
No. 4: Media fodder. I'm not sure why it matters that Ventura doesn't say or do interesting things. I get that it matters to reporters, and it's not exciting to see him chewing gum in a dugout, but I don't think magnetism has a whole lot to do with Bochy's run.
There's no denying that managers can make a difference, and I'm comfortable calling Maddon superior to Ventura. If the Sox could've replaced him with Maddon in a bloodless coup, I'd be all for it. Along the same lines, managerial hirings should be taken seriously, and the lack of a real thorough process by the White Sox during Ventura's hiring is one reason why he has hard-line skeptics.
On the other side of spectrum, managers don't make such a reliable difference that you can throw a ton of cash at a guy with a good track record, transplant him into a new situation and count all the wins. If that were the case, the Rays wouldn't have been just four games better than the Sox last season. And the Rays would have never hired Maddon because Lou Piniella should have solved all their problems when they traded for him before the 2003 season.
(Regarding the quality of Ventura's work, I'll write more about him once The Bill James Handbook is on the shelves and I can see how the data aligns with my observations.)