Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Managerial Merry-Go-Round

Realizing that looking back at the steaming carcass of the 2009 season is just too sickening, let’s officially start this off-season by looking only toward the future. I suppose a “Season in Review” could be done, but I’m not sure that any new ground is going to be broken by reminiscing about the days that we’ve already pored over and that we’re all happy to move on from.

With that in mind, and with assurances that a full-blown look ahead is forthcoming, let’s tackle first things first and roll around with the latest on the assembled alleged possibilities for manager for 2010.

The obvious lead candidate, John Farrell, remains “uninterested” according to numerous sources, which continues to strike me as odd as the opportunity would seem to be right in Farrell’s wheelhouse. That is, the opportunity has arisen to become a manager in MLB, going back to an organization where he’s familiar with all of the principals (and certainly seems to be tight with everyone) and is familiar with many of the players from his days as Farm Director, in the city that his family lives in.
Again, I know that this is harping on old news, but doesn’t this just seem like too much of a perfect fit for Farrell to simply pass on with nothing more than a prepared statement?

Maybe he's that comfortable in Boston and knows how good he has it with a successful franchise with a bright future playing for a committed fan base, but from an outsider's perspective, you would think that a chance to manage in the town where you live (think Sweet Lou in Tampa) and where you get along with everyone would be the ideal opportunity to ascend to the manager’s chair, if that is his aspiration.

Of course, there’s the possibility that Boston has told him to stick around until Terry Francona decides that he’s going to head upstairs to draw a less stressful paycheck, with the idea that Farrell is the manager-in-waiting. Perhaps Farrell sees some dysfunction in the Indians' organization that he’s not interested in entering. It’s just as possible that he sees the payroll disparity in MLB and isn't interested in going back over to the “have-nots” side after tasting the goodness on the “haves” side of MLB...who knows?

All told though, there has to be a compelling reason for him NOT to go back to work with guys he respects and grew up with in an organization that is offering him a promotion from his current spot. Maybe it’s a combination of a lot of those possibilities listed above, or maybe it’s just a smoke screen to get attention away from himself while the Red Sox are in the playoffs with the idea that he’ll re-enter the fray after Boston’s 2009 season is over.

At this point, we just don’t know…and while Farrell’s interest remains shrouded in mystery (and even that bit of information on the timeline of naming somebody new can be taken a number of ways), one thing is for sure in the managerial search. That is that you can cross Fredi Gonzalez off your “list” (again, if you actually have a tangible “list” somewhere) as he’s sticking in Florida, which is really too bad from the perspective of an Indians’ fan.

If you remember (or even if you don’t), Gonzalez was one of the three finalists for the job that Wedge was awarded in 2002, along with Wedge (obviously) and Joel Skinner. At the time, Gonzalez was a manager in AAA and a former bench coach in Atlanta and has now gone on to prove that he is adept at developing young (or cheap, depending upon what you want to call it) in Florida, winning 87 games this year with a $36M payroll.

What is that we heard about the criteria for the new manager…an ability to develop young talent?

While Fredi certainly has proven that (and would have already been on the Tribe radar from the process in 2002) in Florida, his availability is no longer feasible and we’re back to square one if we’re crossing Farrell off the list as well.

The only other names mentioned in printed reports have been those of AAA manager Torey Lovullo and Bobby Valentine, who both seem to fall under the umbrellas that the Indians are NOT supposed to be interested in. That is, they’ve said they’re looking to hire outside of the organization (scratch Lovullo) and the intimation is that they’re not looking for a retread manager (scratch Valentine)…much less a “retread” manager like Valentine, who made $4M last year in Japan.

What other names are out there?
I’ve read cases for Tony Pena and Larry Bowa (among others) as managers that would instill a spark or some accountability to an organization that has been lacking it, as well as the idea that Manny Acta deserves another shot after being railroaded out of Washington for no other reason than that he had been dealt a bad batch of players. There’s merit to most of the arguments in favor of guys like that (although good luck to the Indians if Acta is the pick, selling the fan base on a manager with a career .385 winning percentage, as unfair as it is to judge him solely on that), but is anyone else coming up with that guy that elicits the “WOW” factor in this hire?

Aren’t we really just waiting for the final 3 to be Lovullo (with the explanation that they wanted to hire from outside the organization, but that Lovullo’s interview was SO impressive that he made the final list), some random MLB bench coach (take your pick, really), and a former manager like some of those names listed above – none of whose mention garners more than a shrug and an “I suppose I could get behind that hire”.

Isn’t that kind of where we’re at, just expecting the “yeah, that sounds about right” reaction to this hire with the idea that the new manager’s name isn’t Eric Wedge producing the most excitement?

The Wheel of Potential Managers seems to be spinning…where it lands seems to be anyone’s guess.

1 comment:

Les Savy Ferd said...

from the department of this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone: the collective line of former Indians Cy Young award winning starting pitchers yesterday was: 15.2IP 14H 3R 2ER 0BB 13K 0HR 2Ws.
I for one was rooting for both of those fellas, regardless of their uniforms.