AL HAMNIK: Earth to Theo Epstein: Lloyd McClendon is your guy

2013-10-15T17:30:00Z 2013-11-26T19:03:10Z AL HAMNIK: Earth to Theo Epstein: Lloyd McClendon is your guyAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 15, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

I can no longer watch the Cubs, who are as exciting as a flooded basement, but I can help team president Theo Epstein find his next manager.

The perfect candidate is right under his nose.

Joe Girardi would've been a solid hire to revitalize interest in the slumping franchise and help turn it around, but that won't happen now.

Allow me to recommend someone known throughout Major League Baseball, a local guy with quite a resume. It's Lloyd McClendon, trusted hitting coach of Jim Leyland's Detroit Tigers.

He's the perfect fit.

McClendon wants desperately to manage, again. He was the financially strapped Pittsburgh Pirates' skipper from 2001 through 2005, during which they often traded away their top prospects.

His playing career included tours with the Mets, Reds, Cubs, Pirates and Indians and upon retiring, served as the Pirates' hitting coach.

Ironically, McClendon saw the most playing time of his major league career with the Cubs in 1989, playing left field and first base in reserve roles.

His .286 batting average, 12 homers, 40 RBIs and 47 runs were all career bests.

When Leyland was named Tigers' manager, he brought the Gary native aboard as his bullpen coach, then promoted him to hitting coach.

The 54-year-old McClendon has paid his due, with interest.

If Theo Epstein is as sharp as we're led to believe, he should know candidates such as Padres' bench coach Rick Renteria, former Indians and Nationals manager Manny Acta, and Tampa Bay's Dave Martinez can't hold McClendon's spikes.

The Cubs need someone who is highly recognizable to help put butts back in the seats. At the moment, they don't have a player I'd walk across the street to see.

Attendance numbers have declined in all four seasons the Ricketts' family has owned the franchise, with the 2013 season marking a 15-year low. Joe Girardi would've helped perk up interest, but followed his heart and stayed with the Yankees.

Sadly, there hasn't been much charisma among past Cubs managers.

Leo Durocher (1966-72) was the Cubs' Ditka, colorful as a rainbow, successful, and one tough SOB.

Jim Frey (1984-86) and Don Zimmer (1988-91) were media favorites but didn't win enough.

Dusty Baker (2003-06) was weak in the X's and O's.

Lou Piniella had the talent, was quite comical, but became distracted and distant near the end of his run.

This rebuilding project will take time as the past two seasons – 61-101 and then 66-96 – have shown.

The Cubs' last winning record was 2009 and that's sure to be extended another two or three seasons.

McClendon won't have them as World Series contenders in 2014, but he'll have their attention, their respect, and get their very best or else face his wrath.

His history of challenging umpires lets them know he has their backs at all times.

The guy's a great communicator as well, having coached players of every color.

After the 2010 season, Seattle interviewed McClendon for its manager's job but chose Eric Wedge.

In October of 2012, Miami interviewed 'Mac' after Ozzie Guillen was fired, but hired Mike Redmond.

McClendon's time is coming, and soon.

Earth to Theo Epstein. Don't blow it.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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