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Monday, September 30, 2013
Cubs job open for Girardi

By Wallace Matthews

Joe Girardi
Joe Girardi has played down his interest in returning to Chicago, where he's the people's choice to replace Dale Sveum.
The Chicago Cubs' managing job is up for grabs now that the Cubs have pulled the plug on the Dale Sveum Era after two disappointing seasons.

Will Joe Girardi grab it?

That is the question of the day since Girardi is at the end of his three-year deal with the New York Yankees, which paid him a reported $9 million. Girardi has been coy about his plans for next season, saying "I haven't really made up my mind," before Sunday's season finale in Houston.

Girardi also played down his interest in returning to the Cubs, for whom he played seven seasons, and to Chicago, where he has ties (he grew up in Peoria, about 165 miles southwest). "We haven't lived there since 2006," Girardi said. "My father's gone, my mother's gone, so there's not as much there as there used to be. Our home's [in New York]. My kids are enrolled in schools here."

Still, Cubs ownership was known to have coveted Girardi before it hired Sveum in 2011, although sources have told ESPNNewYork.com that Cubs GM Theo Epstein prefers Brad Ausmus. Yankees GM Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com over the weekend that resolving Girardi's status would be his first order of off-season business. "Hell, yeah," Cashman said when asked if he wanteds Girardi back. "I think he did a terrific job this year."

Obviously, Girardi deserves a pass for this year's Yankees season, in which his injury-decimated squad won just 85 games, its lowest total since 1995, and failed to make the playoffs for just the second time in 19 seasons, both of them during Girardi's six-year tenure.

Girardi has repeatedly said he has enjoyed managing the Yankees, but the lure of trying to end the longest futility streak in baseball history -- the Cubs have not been won a World Series since 1908 -- might appeal to him, especially if the Yankees are on the verge of experiencing a run of lean years. He also left open the possibility that he might do something other than manage in 2014; he worked as a broadcaster for the YES Network after his retirement from playing and between managerial stints with the Florida Marlins and the Yankees.

QUESTION: Where do you think Girardi will end up next year? In the manager's office at Yankee Stadium? At Wrigley Field? Back in the broadcast booth?