Two approaches to managing have emerged
Three teams are searching for managers at this hour, and two of them will likely go with an organizational approach to the job while the third will likely stick to the “one-voice’’ manager.
The approach to managing has divided into two factions recently. There are the strong ones such as Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Buck Showalter, Mike Scioscia, Ozzie Guillen, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Bruce Bochy, Dusty Baker, and Joe Maddon. And there are the ones who take a lot of input from their front offices.
The latter guys used to be called “puppets,’’ but it is now an accepted way to conduct business.
Every manager in 21st century baseball has some sort of front office intervention because of the data available. And all managers must deal with general managers needing to have certain players play to increase their value.
It’s not that the Leylands, Scioscias, and Showalters turn their backs on front offices or don’t use the data - in fact, they do - but they use it on their terms.
If you’ll notice, the managerial searches of the Red Sox and Cubs involve guys with not a lot of major league managing experience. Pete Mackanin’s 106 games as an interim manager in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati top the list.
Both teams seem to be moving toward the organizational approach and will hire a caretaker, an out-front person to do it. But he has to be on board with their practices. That’s why you’re seeing the names you’re seeing.
Dale Sveum was interim manager for 12 games in Milwaukee in 2008, a minor league manager in the Pittsburgh organization for three years, and a coach in Boston and Milwaukee the last seven.
Sandy Alomar Jr. was a player for 20 years and a coach for four. No managing experience at all.
Mike Maddux was a journeyman pitcher for 15 years and then became a pitching coach in the Astros organization and for the Brewers and Rangers.
The Cubs have a similar list.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said he is ruling out anyone who doesn’t have major league managing or coaching experience, which immediately disqualified Ryne Sandberg, who is a Chicago fan favorite and has been a very good minor league manager. Epstein values the coaching experience at the major league level perhaps more than some who feel there’s no substitute for managerial experience.
In 2004, Epstein selected Terry Francona over Maddon because he felt major league managing experience was important in the Boston market. Maddon had been a coach under Scioscia.
Francona has acknowledged that even with his previous managerial experience in Philadelphia, Boston was a different animal and one that took him time to adapt to.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said, “We haven’t ruled anything out,’’ and he so far has focused primarily on managerial prospects rather than actual managers.
For 16 years, the Cardinals had one voice - La Russa - and now they’re deciding what type of manager should take over for a legend. Should it be Jose Oquendo, a longtime La Russa lieutenant who would continue the LaRussa Way? Will it be two-time World Series champion Francona, who would likely welcome a situation where he had total managerial control?
There is no one right way or wrong way to do it.
If you look at World Series winners since 2000, you have the strong, traditional managers winning nine of 12. Francona won two of the other titles, and the third was the Yankees’ Joe Girardi, who is more in line with the Red Sox Way of managing on the field, though traditional in many other ways.
The organizational approach to managing incorporates a lot of voices and ideas. Sometimes a manager has a lineup waiting for him when he gets to the ballpark, submitted by a front office that has done a thorough job of statistically analyzing the matchups for that evening.
A problem with the organizational approach, according to an ex-manager, is that players must know that the manager - not someone above him - is in charge. The manager also has to know he’s not going to be constantly second-guessed by the front office.
One owner recently informed his GM that he wanted “a younger, analytical manager.’’ The GM informed his owner that the teams that have had the most success recently were the ones employing “one-voice’’ managers.
Another issue here is that every GM/owner wants to find the next best thing.
The White Sox, for example, went outside the box and hired Robin Ventura.
The Dodgers did that last year when they handed the job to Don Mattingly, who had never managed. Mattingly went through growing pains before smoothing things out.
Arizona tried A.J. Hinch a few years back and it didn’t work out. But Kirk Gibson has been great.
The important thing for the new managers in Boston, Chicago, and St. Louis is that they know the ground rules from the start. There shouldn’t be any surprises on either side once the person is hired.
“I think there just has to be good communication and good give-and-take,’’ said former Phillies manager and long-time Yankees and Dodgers coach Larry Bowa. “The manager has to be able to be honest with the GM and vice-versa. The manager should be able to tell the GM what he needs for players and be honest about the players he has.
“I was once asked about a certain player and I said, ‘He’s great if you want to go .500. If you want to make it to the playoffs and the World Series, we need someone else.’ ’’
GETTING BACK IN THE GAME?
Duquette, Kennedy have aspirations on returning
Dan Duquette is attempting a professional comeback. He interviewed for the general manager’s job with the Angels that went to Jerry Dipoto and interviewed for the Orioles GM job Friday.
Duquette is the front-runner in Baltimore, according to major league sources.
“I thought it went well,’’ Duquette said. “Baltimore is a very good baseball town, and the Orioles present an interesting challenge.’’
Duquette and Kevin Kennedy were together with the Red Sox in 1995-96, but neither has worked in baseball since their public breakup in one of the more ugly GM/manager divorces.
Duquette was the Sox GM until 2002, when new ownership dismissed him. Kennedy became a broadcaster, but has always wanted to manage again.
Kennedy managed four seasons, from 1993-96. He had two first-place finishes, one second place, and one third place. He had a .531 winning percentage (309-273).
Kennedy was considered an excellent in-game manager. But by 1996, he and Duquette clashed, and then-Sox CEO John Harrington had to bring the two together through a mediator. And not even that worked.
By the end of the season, after Kennedy had guided the Red Sox into wild-card contention, only to fall back into third place, Duquette fired him. Kennedy, 57, works on Dodgers’ pregame and postgame shows, and also did Rays color until last year. He also does an XM radio show with former Mets GM Jim Duquette, Dan’s cousin.
“I wish Dan the best,’’ said Kennedy. “I hope he gets the Baltimore job. I always thought he was a brilliant guy and we worked together well for a long time.
“That last year, I think things just happened. I think other people got in the way and our relationship wasn’t what it had been in Montreal, where he hired me as a farm director and then the bench coach, and then in Boston.
“I enjoy what I’m doing and I enjoy my life. I decided I was going to pursue being an analyst and the broadcast side, but I know I could manage again and I get the itch for it.
“I’m not closing the door. Look at Terry Collins. He was away for 11 years and got back in. People ask me if I’d ever consider being a bench coach and yes, I would. I think that would be fun.’’
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
Issues on the table for owners, players
There should be a lot of work done in the next week finalizing a new basic agreement between the players and owners. The current agreement expires Dec. 11.
The sides plan on getting back to the bargaining table by tomorrow to address some of the issues that are hanging things up - such as slotting in the draft.
Commissioner Bud Selig has wanted slotting for a long time as a way of leveling the playing field among small- and big-market teams. The way things are, the Red Sox can pluck a good player that other teams might have to pass on in later rounds and pay that player more money than his draft position would otherwise suggest.
The players have wanted to make the draft a forum in which you can negotiate for a larger bonus. If the system continues this way, that affects things such as the luxury tax. There’s also been discussion about an international draft, though it’s uncertain if that will get through this time around.
Other issues to be discussed include HGH testing and revenue sharing. HGH testing may take a while to finalize, according to a major league source. A blood test is involved, and this has been the major source of concern for the players.
The confidentiality issue is also huge, as in the past this has been breached with leakage of names - including some of the players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 before testing had consequences.
Revenue sharing and the luxury tax have been key issues with some of the big-market teams. Some of those teams are wondering if there can be a more equitable way of doing it. Big-market teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox pay exorbitant sums of money if they go over a certain payroll threshold every year.
Apropos of nothing
1. Interesting numbers, courtesy of Sports Business Daily. Average age of World Series viewer: 52.5. Average age of NBA Finals viewer: 40.6; 2. BattingforVermont.com gives you all the details for ESPN’s Buster Olney’s tremendous charity event next Saturday to raise money for the Vermont Farmers Disaster Relief Fund. Amazing baseball items were donated for auction; 3. Phil Plantier is now San Diego’s hitting coach; 4. Why do I think Tim Bogar winds up in a significant role with the Red Sox or Cubs?; 5. Did the Red Sox really have to fire strength coach Dave Page?
Updates on nine
1. Larry Bowa, analyst, MLB Network - He has become a superb analyst. His tell-it-like-it-is style as a manager/coach has translated well to TV. Bowa enjoys his new role, but still has aspirations of managing in the majors again.
2. David Ortiz, DH, free agent - In a WEEI interview last week, he seemed upset that the Red Sox did not re-sign him during the exclusivity period. But why would they? Ortiz has limited options. And as we wrote last week, the best thing for him is if a National League team takes a leap of faith and projects him as a first baseman, which would get more teams involved. While Ortiz wants a three-year deal, the Red Sox can sit back and survey the market before committing to a multiyear deal for a 36-year-old hitter.
3. Wade Davis, RHP, Rays - When all is said and done, the Rays are expected to be willing to deal Davis this offseason. While teams will ask for James Shields, and the Rays will listen, according to one major league source, Davis is the pitcher they will likely end up dealing for an outfielder or a catcher.
4. Gio Gonzalez, LHP, A’s - He remains a viable trade option for many teams, including the Red Sox. Gonzalez, 26, went 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA last season after winning 15 games the year before. The Miami-area native will be of major interest to the soon-to-be Miami Marlins. The perpetually emerging A’s probably aren’t ready to contend. They appear to be buying time until they can build a new stadium in the San Jose area. Until then, they may be in the mode of developing good players and trading them off for players who might emerge two or three years from now.
5. Edwin Jackson, RHP, free agent - Nine years into his major league career, Jackson remains an enigma. He enters free agency at age 28, which is good, but his 60-60 record and 4.46 ERA leave you less than excited. Once upon a time, Chris Carpenter was 49-50, 4.83, in his first six years with the Blue Jays. He learned to pitch when he got to St. Louis. Will Jackson pull a Carpenter or will this strong-armed righty keep sputtering around .500?
6. Bob Geren, bench coach, Mets - One former manager out there whom nobody has interviewed for a managing job. With the Billy Beane influence, it figured that the Cubs and Red Sox might take a look at the former A’s manager, but so far nothing. The Mets appointed Geren Terry Collins’s bench coach last month - strange, considering Collins has no history with Geren.
7. Allard Baird, assistant to the general manager, Red Sox - The classy Baird removed himself from consideration for the Orioles GM search even though, he said, “It would have been great to work closely with Buck Showalter.’’ Baird cited his loyalty to the Sox and Ben Cherington. Baird will be a GM again, but like a few other candidates who withdrew (Toronto assistant GM Tony Lacava had the job, then backed away), Baird felt it wasn’t completely right for him. Baird will continue to play a prominent role with Cherington, and it wouldn’t be shocking to hear of a new title for him soon.
8. Ichiro Suzuki, RF, Mariners - Those who know Ichiro indicate that he’s very unhappy with the season he had and vows to come back as strong as ever. A few scouts feel Ichiro, at 38, is beginning to show signs of age, with his skills “just a tick off,’’ according to one. But enough to drop to .272 - some 50 points below his career average? And not win a Gold Glove for the first time in 10 seasons? “He’s committed to returning like the old Ichiro,’’ said one associate of the superstar, who will enter 2012 with 2,428 career hits in 11 major league seasons.
9. Dennis Gilbert, special adviser, White Sox - With Frank McCourt finally selling the Dodgers, Gilbert’s group appears primed to buy them for more than $1 billion. Gilbert is a native of Los Angeles and a Dodgers season ticket-holder who is passionate about the team. Other groups - led by Peter O’Malley and Steve Garvey - may get involved, but the Dodgers need a passionate owner who bleeds Dodger blue. That would be Gilbert, a former Red Sox farmhand and roommate of Tony Conigliaro’s.
From the Bill Chuck files: “Troy Tulowitzki hit 18 doubles before the All-Star break and 18 after. He also hit 18 doubles at home and 18 doubles away.’’ Also, “Carl Crawford struck out 104 times last year and 104 times this year. Oh yeah, he did it in 119 fewer plate appearances this season.’’ And, “Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Kansas City combined for nine complete games in 2011, two fewer than James Shields by himself.’’ . . . Happy birthday to Adam LaRoche (32) and Jim Gosger (69).