The Managerial Dance, Part II
A couple of days ago, we looked at the San Francisco managerial search, clouded by the Barry Bonds’ situation.
Today, let’s turn our attention to the American League West, looking specifically at who is going to wind up in charge of the Texas Rangers.
We have already discussed the fact that whoever gets the gig, inherets a ton of promise, but now let’s review the candidates.
There are five men up for the job, but not one has experience as a major league manager, and I’ve got to wonder what the Rangers are thinking here. I mean, come on…their general manager is, what, like 17 years old? It wouldn’t hurt to bring someone in who’s got a little more experience. But perhaps Jon Daniels just wants to hire someone who he can play Nintendo with.
At any rate, here’s a quick look at the final five:
- Trey Hillman is said to be the favourite now. On his side, he’s a native of Arlington, Texas, and he enjoyed a solid 12-year run as a minor league manager (piloting four teams to the playoffs and winning one league championship) before heading over to Japan. He’s currently managing the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japanese league playoffs. (By the way, why would anyone want to fight ham? Ham is our friend, and it’s mighty tasty, to boot!) Hillman’s interview will have to wait a week or two until the series is over.
- Rangers’ bench coach Don Wakamastsu will be the final interview. Does that mean he’s the favourite? He spent four years as a minor league manager and has been the bench coach in Texas since 2003. He’s a nice and safe, if somewhat boring choice.
- A’s third base coach Ron Washington interviewed last week. He spent several seasons coaching and managing in the Mets’ minor league system before joining the A’s coaching staff in 1996. Now that Ken Macha has been fired in Oakland, the push is once again on to instill Washington in Oakland. He’s interviewed for the A’s gig twice before and next Tuesday, he’ll get another crack at that job. Do you think they’re trying to tell him something?
- Mets’ third base coach Manny Acta was also interviewed by Texas last week. He’ll also interview in San Francisco and is considered a finalist (along with Tony Pena) for the job in Washington. Of course, candidates for that job are dropping like flies, so I’m not sure anyone really wants it. Acta was a minor league manager for eight years, taking two teams to the postseason and winning one title. He also managed the Dominican Republic in the WBC and has plenty of winter league managing experience, guiding the Licey Tigers to the Caribbean Series in 2004. Acta just missed out on the Diamondbacks’ manager job in 2004.
- John Russell, a Triple-A manager in the Phils’ organization, also had a meeting with the Rangers last week. The Nationals just got permission from Philly to talk to him about their job, so obviously they are not done searching either. Russell spent time as the third base coach for the Pirates.
This is a tough call. Hillman is a local boy and looks quite qualified, and would appear to be gaining valuable experience managing professional players in Japan (oh, wait…major league baseball doesn’t consider Japan to be professional baseball. Never mind). But is he over there managing or is he on some weird convert Japan to Christianity thing?
Acta is probably the most qualified, but he’s also the whore candidate…spreading his love everywhere this offseason. Still, I like the fact he’s handled real professional players for many years and won with them.
Wakamatsu knows the system better than anyone. And it’s not as if he’s competing against outside people who are more experienced than he is.
Russell is considered a fantastic managerial prospect and could wind up having the longest managing career of any of these five once it’s all said and done.
Washington needs to get away from Oakland, and Texas can screw a division rival by hiring him away from the A’s.