Pink Slips and Resumes Are Being Readied Around Baseball
Oh that clock is a ticking louder and louder as the end of the big league season approaches on Sunday, and with it some big league skippers (and staff) are probably going to have a few sleepless nights in front of them over the next few days.Â Thatâ€™s if they have not already come to terms with their pending demise.
Be sure that a pat on the back for a job done may also come with a pink slip and a one-way ticket out of town.
The number of potential managerial openings is alarming if you allow yourself to ponder for a moment, just how many clubs might be more than a little itchy with the trigger finger.
The way I figure it, there could be 10 to 12 teams in the market for new managers for 2011 and keep in mind the Cubs, Orioles, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Marlins, and Royals got a running start during the season.
There are plenty of qualified and probably a few unqualified candidates out there looking to find a partner before the music stops.Â Some may be fortunate enough to be picky.
You have to feel for the first-time manager who lands in a hopeless situation, but takes that opportunity because there are so few opportunities to be hired in order to be fired down the road.
With so many openings real and imagined, perhaps the commissioner will allow teams to make managerial hires during the postseason.
A list of possible openings:
Mets: So long Jerry Manuel.Â This certainly was not a case of going out on a limb by speculating that Manuel was going to lose his job.Â The Mets are not going to completely cut ties with general manager Omar Minaya, but his decision-making privileges are going to be revoked and the new leader of the Mets will have a big say in the new field manager.Â Omar is owed around two million over the next two years and the club may reassign him. Pretty sure thereâ€™s not much of a need for any new ticket takers considering no one is coming to the ballpark.
Cubs: Mike Quade took over for Lou Piniella in season after Lou decided enough was enough and he (Quade) could land the job on a permanent basis.Â Others are being considered, including a former Cubs second baseman, more on him later.
Diamondbacks: Kirk Gibson could follow Quade and go from interim to permanent fixture.Â New general manager, Kevin Towers, will have some decisions to make.Â Hereâ€™s to keeping Gibson; maybe he makes old-school approach new again.
Seattle: Daren Brown took over for Don Wakamatsu on August 9th, and I am betting that the Mariners are going to look elsewhere.Â If I am the Mariners, I give Bobby Valentine a call just to say hello.
Dodgers: No opening here, at least for the time being.Â The cynic in me says â€œDonnie Baseballâ€ could rethink the Dodgers offer and end up in the Bronx — speculation and perfect storm scenario to follow.
St. Louis: Tony LaRussa signed a one-year deal to return for 2010 on October 26, 2009.Â Is it time to say goodbye?
Yankees: I have included Joe Girardi on my long list below, and something inside of me is screaming that heâ€™s going back to the Midwest thus creating an opening in the Bronx.
Pirates: 18 straight losing seasons and 100+ losses this season.Â I am thinking the last three years probably felt like 10 years for John Russell; maybe you cut him loose simply for his own good.
Brewers: Ken Macha thanks for your service, but it might be time to go.
Marlins: New ballpark coming in 2012â€¦Something tells me itâ€™s going to be rough sailing in south Florida in 2011.Â Kicked the tires on Bobby Valentine during the season, but something went wrong.Â Could the two sides revisit a potential pairing?
Toronto: At least the Blue Jays made it fun this season with all the home runs that they hit in Cito Gastonâ€™s final season.Â Whoever takes over is going into a pretty good situation, even if itâ€™s north of the border and the A.L. East.Â When did the stadium formerly known as Sky Dome become the Launching Pad of the North?
Atlanta: Canâ€™t imagine the Braves making a bad hire here.Â Itâ€™s just not their style.
We know that Bobby Cox and Cito Gaston are saying goodbye on their own terms.
For Cox, who recently picked up his 2,500th managerial win, Atlanta is hoping that a trip to the postseason could provide the best of sendoffs.Â Perhaps a long postseason jaunt will make up for the Florida Marlins stiffing him on an appropriate farewell.Â The Marlins didnâ€™t have to go all Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but they could have offered at least a parting gift or two or at least a thank you for Fredi Gonzalez.
Speaking of the Marlins, I think you can count them as in, and ready to hire their next manager who will probably at some point be shown the door prematurely by owner Jeffrey Loria.Â The Marlins open up a new ballpark in 2012, does anyone really think interim manager Edwin Rodriguez gets a shot at opening that Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer Stadium?Â Â Is that stadium name any worse than the five or six they have pinned on their current digs in recent years?
It took me about four minutes to come up with a list of qualified and unqualified names that you are sure to hear in the coming weeks for all these potential openings.Â Here are just a few and in no particular order.
Willie Randolph: Willie is absolutely deserving of another opportunity to manage a big league club.Â Or would this be his first big league opportunity, considering the way the last team he piloted let him go in â€™08?Â That was strictly bush league.Â (Brewers bench coach in 2010).
Trey Hillman: He has ties to the Yankees organization.Â Maybe he lands as someoneâ€™s bench coach for a season or two.Â (Fired by Royals in May).
Lee Mazzilli: Why wouldnâ€™t I throw another former Yankee coach out there?Â Maybe baseball needs more former Yankee coaches managing elsewhere. Â It could serve as a new form of helping out other clubs.Â You could argue that heâ€™s on the list of former Orioles managers that didnâ€™t get a fair shake in Charm city.
Tony Pena: A lot of crazy things happened when he was in the top spot in Kansas City, and maybe heâ€™s tempered his â€œenthusiasmâ€ during his tenure on the Yankees bench.
Fredi Gonzalez: Everyoneâ€™s pick for Atlanta.Â Could everyone else be wrong?Â Canâ€™t imagine the Braves only conducting one interview and thatâ€™s that.Â Wasnâ€™t Terry Pendleton one of those future star managerial candidates a few years back?Â What happened there?
Terry Pendleton: Highly respected within the organization and could be a great find for someone other than the Braves.
Don Baylor: Blue Jays interested.Â Nine seasons as manager with Rockies and Cubs and no postseason appearances.Â Teams could probably do better by looking elsewhere.
Juan Samuel: Took over for Dave Trembley after he was let go in season by the Orioles, has certainly paid his dues over the years with several clubs.
Larry Bowa: Always deserving of a sit down.Â Iâ€™d give credit to any club who would bring him in for a formal chat.
Tim Wallach: Wondering if he was upset when Dodgers announced that Mattingly would be the one to replace Torre?Â Wonder if he knows that he could be the lucky one if he lands elsewhere?
Dave MartinezÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â : Rays bench coach might be ready to spread his wings and take what heâ€™s learned from Joe Maddon and go out on his own.
Clint Hurdle: Hurdle is one of those guys that you just have to throw out there every offseason, heâ€™s earned that much.
Bobby Valentine: Might plant myself at Bobbyâ€™s restaurant in Stamford, CT for a few days to see if I can get some inside information.Â (ESPN Baseball Tonight Analyst).
Torey Lovullo: Probably one of the top managerial prospects coming from the minor leagues and heâ€™s been on some short lists in the past.Â Lovullo skippered the Red Soxâ€™s Pawtucket affiliate this past season, and I dare say he played a significant role in all the Boston call-ups being prepared to contribute at the big league level.Â When he does get his opportunity, Iâ€™d bet on him.Â Know plenty of Tribe minor leaguers that loved playing for him when he was in the Cleveland organization.Â (Managed Pawtucket Paw Sox (IL) in Red Sox organization in 2010).
Ryne Sandberg: If the Cubs pass on this Hall of Famer, could he possibly stay in the organization?Â I say no way.Â If Ryno doesnâ€™t get the Cubbies job this time around, itâ€™s just not going to happen and itâ€™s time for him to look elsewhere.Â How bad would the Cubs look if he lands somewhere else and he has success?Â Is that a gamble they can take?Â (Managed Iowa Cubs (PCL) in Cubs organization in 2010).
Wally Backman: For every good Wally story I could share, I can find two others that lead me to believe that heâ€™s not the right choice for the Amazinâ€™ Mess in Queens.Â Folks think there are two certainties in life; well Wally looking out for Wally runs a close third.Â It amazes me that New York writers and Radio Loudmouths havenâ€™t done their homework on the former 2nd sacker.Â (Managed Brooklyn Cyclones (NY-Penn) in Mets organization in 2010).
Brad Komminsk: Another interesting name from the minorsâ€¦served as Orioles Double-A manager in 2010.Â He gets a chance at some point, maybe this is the year.Â Like Lovullo, he has ties to the Indians organization.
Jose Oquendo: Another name that has been out there in yearâ€™s past.Â Has been with Tony LaRussa for some time now.
Nick Leyva: Not sure if he would want to manager at the big league level again, but always great to talk to when he visited Wilmington, DE when he was with White Sox organization years ago and others have floated his name.Â (Bench Coach for Blue Jays in 2010).
Bob Melvin: Seems to be getting a lot of ink as someone who could land somewhere.Â Thereâ€™s laid back approach and firey approach and Melvin falls on the side of laid back
DeMarlo Hale: He might be another guy who gets his shot this year.Â Heâ€™s interviewed for big league jobs before.Â (Bench Coach for Red Sox in 2010).
Alan Trammell: Didnâ€™t really work in Detroit (2003-2005 and 119 losses in â€™03), but that doesnâ€™t mean it couldnâ€™t work elsewhere.Â (Bench Coach for the Cubs in 2010).
Joey Cora: Another guy who could make a general manager look a whole heck of a lot smarter.Â (Bench Coach for White Sox in 2010).
Joe Girardi: I did leave this one for last on purpose, because I am thinking more and more that the lure of Chi-Town could lead Joe home to the Windy City.Â Donâ€™t underestimate the lure of the deep dish.Â When Joe Torre came on board in the Bronx way back when, the headlines chided â€œClueless Joe,â€ and now some Big Apple scribes are writing that on a daily basis about Girardi and it almost seems personal in some cases.Â If Joe doesnâ€™t re-up in the Bronx, could Don Mattingly pull a Bill Belichick and decide that heâ€™s leaving the McCourtâ€™s and everything that is Los Angles to return to Yankee pinstripes?Â If you say no way, then youâ€™re the only one that still believes in loyalty.
Does anyone want to place a wager on Game Three of the World Series going extra innings and running four-plus hours now that MLB has announced a kid-friendly 6:57 p.m. EST start time?Â How about this, create a sensible tradition going forward, make Game Two a day game with 4:00 p.m. EST start time.Â The series will always shift after Game Two, so why not give teams a break on a travel day.
Only a matter of time before big â€œMEDIAâ€ outlets serve up their annual small market slap in the face by telling us what the worst World Series match-ups are because thatâ€™s what the ratings will make them believe.Â Makes me root, root, root for the small markets every year just so I can watch something no one else is.
Reminded myself recently that I never watched a single inning or saw a single highlight from last yearâ€™s World Series.Â Due to a personal boycott of a cable giant, who will remain Comcast, I cancelled my cable and settled on listening to each game on the radio.Â Thatâ€™s right, I went old school and liked it.
Did David Priceâ€™s recent tweet actually reach anyone who cared about attending a Raysâ€™ game?Â Â Note to Price, plenty of folks were alienated by your organization long before you arrived and sometimes itâ€™s not so easy to forgive and forget.
I was happy to see that Jose Bautista took all the questions about possible usage of performance enhancers in stride and didnâ€™t back down from answering.Â Anyone that has a problem with those questions being asked of any player has only the Playerâ€™s Association to thank.Â No one is above being asked at this point or at any point in the future.Â Also glad to see Jose is no longer punching walls and breakinâ€™ bones.Â In 2003, he missed a majority of the season after losing a one-on-one match-up with a dugout wall.
I am looking forward to seeing the Reds play in the postseason.Â Hopefully weâ€™ll see someone interview pitcher Bronson Arroyo and he lets everyone in on a little jam session.
Itâ€™s fun to pile on the Mets right now, but we should applaud them for not shelling out too much of Fred Wilponâ€™s money last offseason on suspect â€œat bestâ€ free agents.Â Jason Marquis did not work out too well in our Nationâ€™s capital.Â Joel Pineiro was so-so with the Angles, who are going to finish with a similar record as the Mets.Â If Mejia, Gee, Pelfrey and Niese are all in the rotation together in 2011, then thatâ€™s 4/5 of the rotation thatâ€™s homegrown.
Steve Lenox is a sports broadcaster, who currently serves as an update anchor with 1050 ESPN Radio in New York city. Steve also works with lexy.com, serving as a lexycaster and covering the New York Jets, New York Yankees, UConn Huskies basketball, and Major League Baseball.