Yesterday, Indians GM Mark Shapiro spoke to the media and addressed what is on the minds of Wahoo fanatics like myself – the vacancy of field boss. Shapiro will be casting a wide net in efforts to find himself a new manager; a position he says will be filled “by the end of the World Series.”
Shappy and his trusty assistant Chris Antonetti have put together a list of 30 candidates, which they said they will pair down to eight to ten. From there, they will conduct phone interviews and narrow the list down to a final three to five, who they will interview in person.
You have all seen many names bandied about in the press. From John Farrell to Mike Hargrove to Dave Clark, some are more realistic options than others. Being a dyed in the wool, baseball and Tribe fan, I have put together my list of candidates who I think are the best options to lead this young club in 2010 and beyond. In order from most desirable on down, here is what I’m thinking:
1. Farrell – The current Boston pitching coach and former Tribe farm director is perfect for the job. Though ESPN had reported over the weekend that he had taken himself out of consideration, the validity of that story is up for debate. The guy knows the organization inside and out and is said to have a great working relationship with Shapiro and Antonetti. He would be coming over from a winning atmosphere and would also be an asset with the young arms. Farrell still lives in Cleveland during the offseason. Seems like a perfect match.
2. Tony Pena – OK, so he failed in his first managerial job in Kansas City and quit on the job. That is definitely a strike against him. However, as a player for the Indians and a field general, Tony commanded the respect of his teammates. Currently on the staff with the Yankees, Pena would offer something that is sorely needed with the Indians brass – a Latin voice. Sure, Luis Rivera was the first base and infield coach, but he was more in the background. I loved Pena’s grit as a player and he has received high marks with his time with the Yankees.
3. Rick Manning – I know this is a reach, but I’ve been banging the drum for Manning since mid-season. As the longtime Tribe color analyst, he knows the team like few others do. He is a former player and a Clevelander since the 1970’s. He gets the fan base and the community. One thing you can say about him is he is not afraid to be critical. I have no idea if Manning is even interested in moving to the field, but to me, it seems like a great idea. It worked in Arizona with Bob Brenly and in Houston with Larry Dierker within the last decade.
4. Bobby Valentine – So what if he just signed a deal to work with ESPN, that means nothing. You know Bobby V only did this to get his visibility back after five seasons of managerial success in Japan. While he can be wacky and abrasive at times, Valentine’s top skill is working with young kids and re-building programs. The question is, would Cleveland be high-profile enough for him? The fans, for one, would love him. Eric Wedge with the media, he certainly is not.
5. Willie Randolph – True, his team choked majorly two years ago in New York so badly that it set the standards for choking (equalled by the Tigers this week), but doesn’t he deserve another chance? Right now, he is being groomed to take over in Milwaukee when Ken Macha retires/gets canned. One thing you can say about Willie is that his players love him. Look back at his time with the Mets and as a coach with the Yankees. One player after another wanted to run through a wall for him. He has managerial experience under his belt, something that no Tribe manager has had coming in since John McNamara in 1990.
You may be asking “where is Mike Hargrove” on this list. My thoughts on Grover are simple – bringing him in is nothing more than a PR move. While he is one of baseball’s all time nice guys, a great in game manager, he is not. I still say anyone could have gotten to the World Series with the talent he was given during the great run in the 90’s. His last two managerial stops in both Baltimore and Seattle were considered failures as well. Want to bring Grover in as a front office advisor? I’ve got no problem with that, but he should not be managing this team a second time.