Let’s say, hypothetically, Terry Francona does not return to the Red Sox next season. For whatever reason, be it that the fans clamor for it, Theo just pulls the trigger, or Francona, who seemed like he had enough at his presser, decides it’s time to move on. The Nats have a managerial situation in flux at the moment. While Davey Johnson has done a good job, there are some who doubt his abilities. Davey, meanwhile, has not said whether or not he plans on returning. And if Davey only has one more year in him, the Nats could go after Francona to preempt search next season. What should they do? I’ll give you a few choices beyond yes and no, but I’m not offering the easy answer of “sure if Davey decides to retire now”
Recently I was contacted by Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times with an interesting request. He wanted me to review pieces of a book he had just finished on baseball. The only condition was to not really quote the book, as it isn’t being released until April. I jumped at the chance, although when he told me it was about managers, I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I am a skeptic about managers effectiveness, usefulness, etc. I don’t think they’re irrelevant, but I’m just not sure how important they really are, as long as they don’t break anything. However, I read the description of the book, and it piqued my interest:
This ambitious study of major league managers since the formation of the National League applies a sabermetric approach to gauging their performance and tendencies. Rather than focusing solely on in-game tactical decisions, it also analyzes broader, off-the-field management issues such as handling players, fans, and media, enforcing team rules, working with the front office, and balancing pressure versus performance.
So wait, he’s gonna actually try to gauge their effectiveness? Using things like logic and numbers? Ok, I’m in.
A week after the World Series, the Nationals still don’t have a manager for next season. That is, unless they intend to leave their interim manager as an interim manager indefinitely. By default, doesn’t that just make him a regular manager? Originally, I was going to title this posting “What Are They Waiting For?” as all the talk pointed to Jim Riggleman getting the job. That is, until I read the latest rumor from Ken Rosenthal.
Before that, I thought that if Riggleman was getting the job, why wait? Call a press conference and say that he’s got it. However, now Rosenthal says that while Riggleman is a finalist, so is Bobby Valentine. According to Rosenthal, “Interim manager Jim Riggleman is one of the finalists, Rizzo said. Bobby Valentine is the other, according to major-league sources.” So one of those is confirmed by Rizzo, Bobby V is more on the unconfirmed but highly suspected side.
It has been reported that the Nationals have asked for permission to speak with Don Mattingly, hitting coach of the Dodgers, former manager-in-waiting of the Yankees, former Yankee’s captain, and former best player in baseball for a few years. And if not for a bad back, he was on his way to being a surefire HOFer. What would he bring to the team?
I was living in New York City during the Torre->Girardi transition, and at the time Mattingly was considered the frontrunner for the job. He is extremely popular among Yankees fans, rivaling Jeter in how much affirmation they pour out for him. Many fans remember what he did from 1984-1989, when he was a dominating hitter. That, coupled with his tutelage under the Joe Torre management regime, made him the perceived #1 candidate to be the next manager of the Yankees to most of the fanbase, especially after Willie Randolph left to manage the Mets. It all changed, however, on that fateful night in Cleveland, when Joba was covered in bugs and blew a 1-0 lead.
Ok, maybe not, the Indians only tied the game in that inning, and with a win, NY would have only tied the LDS 1-1. Saying that changed the course of history is like saying Jeffrey Maier killed the O’s despite the fact that the HR only tied the game, it was only the 8th inning, and it was only GAME 1! Shouldn’t putting Armando Benitez on the field in a high leverage moment be enough to disqualify them? Regardless, many people in New York, who were already clamoring for a new manager after 6 years of playoff ousters, pointed to the moment as a reason to get rid of Torre. Torre himself said not pulling his team off the field during the attack of the killer midges was a big mistake. The result – the Yankees dragged their feet, offered him only a one year deal (still making him the highest paid manager in the majors), and he turned them down
Why is this all important?
It’s very important, because Don Mattingly then came in to the picture as the replacements. But he was subsequently passed up for the job, and left town with Torre. Read the rest of this entry »
Since Jim Riggleman is still only the interim manager, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to speculate on the future of the job. There has been talk that Bobby Valentine is seriously in the running for the job of next manager of the Washington Nationals. So, just for fun, I wanted to take a look at him, and whether he would be a good manager for the Nats?
In terms of record, he has a pretty decent one. In two stints, he is 1117-1072, but he did much better in his second job, with the Mets. There he went to 536-467, and managed to make the playoffs twice. He finished second in the NL East, behind the Bobby Cox/Atlanta juggernaut, three times. Two of those times they managed to win the Wild Card (’99 and ’00) and in 1999 they made it to the NLCS where they lost (and you wonder why Mets fans hate the Braves so much). They of course made it to the World Series in 2000, where they got lost 2 close games early, won a third, and then lost 2 close ones. It was a great series despite the losses, as each team never outscored the other by more than 2 runs, and the total runs scored went to the AL New Yorkers 19-16.