While we wait for the World Series to resume Friday in New York, let's have a look at the current major-league managerial openings.
Teams are supposed to be hush-hush about these during the World Series -- don't want to take away from the games, don'tcha know -- but word has gotten out about at least two hirings that will likely be announced right after the Series is over.
The Washington Nationals, who imploded under the "leadership" of late this season, are expected to name Bud Black their next manager (and check out the URL of that article!). Black, who was fired as Padres manager last June by new San Diego GM A.J. Preller, had a rough time his last few years in San Diego. The Padres haven't had a winning season since 2010, but Black was highly regarded for his calm and steady leadership. That should be a breath of fresh air in Washington, where the inexperienced Williams lost his clubhouse.
The Miami Marlins, another team that has spent time in disarray recently, mainly thanks to meddling owner Jeffrey Loria, has reportedly signed former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly to a four-year deal. Again, as the linked article points out, this won't be announced until after the World Series. Mattingly certainly has the experience to lead a young Marlins team, and he has to be happy to get out of the circus that is the Dodgers... but he's going from one circus to another. If Loria will stay out of Mattingly's way, this could be a very good move for them.
That leaves two jobs open: Padres and Dodgers.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported late Wednesday that there are two finalists for the Padres position:
Ron Gardenhire and Rick Sofield are the two finalists for the Padres’ manager job, with an official hiring possible either Thursday or Monday, sources told the Union-Tribune. Gardenhire, the former longtime manager of the Minnesota Twins, is currently the favorite, though it’s believed Padres General Manager A.J. Preller has not reached a final decision. Both candidates recently received second interviews in what has been a wide-ranging search. Ultimately, it appears, the Padres will settle on one of two 58-year-olds, each with a reputation as a passionate field leader. Gardenhire, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday, won six American League Central championships in 13 seasons guiding the small-market Twins. While Sofield, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ third-base coach, has not managed at the major league level, he has learned under one of the game’s most successful skippers, Clint Hurdle, and is known for his energetic style.
I'm a bit surprised that Rick Renteria got no consideration for this position, given that he was the Padres bench coach for several years. On the other hand, maybe that's the reason he wasn't -- he was too associated with Bud Black's regime there. It doesn't appear as if Renteria's name came up for any of the open managerial spots. Since he signed a three-year deal with the Cubs before the 2014 season, Renteria will still be paid next year. He might wind up having to take a coaching position to get back in the game.
Then there's the Dodgers, where current director of player development Gabe Kapler is considered the front-runner for the job:
While Kapler has no previous major-league managerial experience, he has managed in the minors with the Boston Red Sox and coached the Israeli national team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The Dodgers' front office has said it is seeking a candidate who is open-minded and can effectively lead the clubhouse.
Eric Stephen, who runs our SB Nation Dodgers site True Blue LA, examined the qualifications of Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez for the job. Martinez, as Stephen writes, is clearly qualified to manage, and in fact, interviewed for the Cubs job in 2013 when Renteria was eventually hired. This MLB.com article notes that Martinez also interviewed for jobs in Toronto, Cleveland and Houston, yet was passed over for all of them.
Joe Maddon obviously trusts Dave Martinez, as he went out of his way to bring him to the Cubs from Tampa. While I'd be happy for Martinez if he got a managerial position, it would be a significant loss to the Cubs coaching staff. I hope he stays in Chicago and Kapler gets the Dodgers job.
One more note about current managers: with the replacement of Lloyd McClendon in Seattle by former Cub Scott Servais, there are no current African-American managers in baseball. At SB Nation's MLB Daily Dish, Mike Bates writes that this could be a systemic problem. He notes that 2016 is likely to be the first year with no African-American managers on Opening Day since 1988, and suggests this as a possible first step toward grooming more minority candidates:
Start by paying interns a living wage. If teams refuse to do it, Major League Baseball itself has enough money to start a scholarship program to provide support for front office candidates it has a clear interest in cultivating. Provide group housing for interns who have had to move to a new city to start their careers. Help newly hired executives pay off their student debts. Make sure that the first step to being involved in the game isn't over a hurdle that prevents these qualified candidates from participating. Hopefully, then, the GMs of our future will speak many languages (figuratively and/or literally) and hire candidates who reflect the makeup of the game as a whole.
These are all good ideas regardless of what the end result is -- they are things that many industries do for up-and-coming young people. That way, the game will indeed be fully represented in all areas by the large variety of cultures that currently populate it.