Indians

Replacing The Grinder, Eric Wedge: My List

mark-shapiroYesterday, 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.

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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.

  • dwhit

    “Being a dyed in the wall…”

    The saying is dyed in the WOOL

  • oribiasi

    I disagree about Hargrove. I think he took a good team, filled with talent, and made them a unified force. He could be good for the team and for the city.

  • Chris

    I’d love to see Farrell, but what are the chances Boston would let him out of contract to take the job? I’d have to guess slim to none at best.

  • Omega King

    The other reason Grover will never happen is because it will remind us all of the Jacobs era of Indians baseball – and then we might expect a winner. Not to mention that I’m sure Dolan curses Jacobs when he wakes up every morning.

  • What if we combine John Farrel with Willie Randolph?

    Pharrel Williams, come on down.

    No one Ever Really Dies….

  • Josh

    Scott, would Snoop be the bench coach then?

  • MrCleaveland

    Manging is over-rated.

    Your big job is to change pitchers, and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a total crap shoot.

    Job #2 is to make out a line-up card, and anyone can do that.

    Your third job is to give a take, bunt, or steal sign maybe once a game.

    Your fourth job is to go all red-a** every couple of days and scream at an umpire.

    That’s about it as far as on-field managing activity.

    Talent, not managing, is what wins. Casey Stengel won 10 pennant and seven World Series with the Yanks. A couple years later he managed the Mets to one of the worst records ever.

  • Boomhauer

    I’m for Manning getting the job if only to get him out of the TV booth.

  • Boqueesha McButterpants

    I didn’t find myself asking “where is Hargrove” too much but I did spout off a few “where’s Lou Brown?” or “let’s get Uecker” comments 🙂

  • Boqueesha McButterpants

    player-manager Omar Vizquel is #1 on my list

  • Count me in on the Rick Manning bandwagon. I’ve been for him ever since 2006.

  • The Bambino

    C’mon Mr Cleaveland, while I agree with some of your points, there’s a little more to it than that. Why is it that some of the same managers are in the playoffs year after year, despite sometimes having sub-par teams?

  • Ben

    I am willing to bet it will be none of the 5 names on this list. It is going to be somebody nobody is thinking of so that Shapiro can explain to us how smart he is.

  • P@

    I’m willing to bet that our future manager is not on that list of 5. Farrell seems to be the most likely, but he ain’t leaving Boston.

  • P@

    @ Ben, we just had the same thought at the same time. Eerie.

  • Omar Vizquel as the player-manager? That would be the new, new hotness in my opinion.

  • MC

    What about Showalter? I thought he was brought in in 07 a to be the manager if Wedge choked, but obviously didn’t so that idea was shelved…he’s got to know the team from working in the front office over the past few years. Seems like a good fit. IDK, my bff rose?

  • historycat

    @ DocZeus

    I’ve always thought Omar would be a great manager someday, and would love to see him back here.

    Mayhaps he would need some time as a minor league manager?

  • Harv 21

    … and Willie Randolph is different from Eric Wedge how?

    Cue the catcher’s mitt slapping the sleep-walking team in the face, bring on Pena. At least things won’t be so boring.

  • MrCleaveland

    @12

    Bambino,

    I’m not saying managers have NO effect, they just don’t have much. Heck, everybody, even fans, knows baseball strategy. We all pretty much know when to pinch hit a guy, for example. All mangers do basically the same thing. It’s not rocket surgery (a little joke there).

    It’s players who win, and players who lose.

  • mike

    Let me be clear here – Omar Vizquel is done as a player. Done. He is terrible. His OPS+ over the last 3 years is 59. 59! Is that clear enough? Knock it off.

  • dwhit

    There probably aren’t any analyses on the win shares caused by managers, because it would be impossible to create a control group really, but you’re probably looking at +/- 5 caused by the big man in the dugout each year.

    For all the praise that Joe Torre always gets for managing the big egos he can’t manage a bullpen to save his life. I would much rather get a solid tactician than a make changes to make changes guy or a pick a buzzword (like grinding) and drill that into my team’s psyche type guy.

  • Isis

    TD-now give us the reality list, that is those “candidates” that will be on Shapetti’s list. They are sure to include insiders (Tory Luvello), those with exposure to Shapetti (Hargrove), and all sorts of rookie bench coaches with little clout in baseball circles. Almost all the names on your list are pipedreams.

    I’d love to see someone like Bobby Valentine, but it ain’t gonna happen. No way will BV subjegate his personality and role to this inane system. It’s definitely going to be someone with current ties who Shapetti knows that can wrap around their fingers (program). After the dust settles, don’t count out the quitter known nationally as Mike Hargrove.

  • So, TD is not allowed to speculate, but you are? Sounds about right.

    I wouldn’t rule out someone like Showalter, who has worked in the Tribe org before and has a history of getting teams that are completely off the rails back on.

  • mike

    @dwhit – Check out Baseball Between The Numbers, by the Baseball Prospectus team, for some good info on that.

  • Mike S

    #1 – Farrell = Would love to have him here but he is not leaving Boston.

    #2 – Pena = Most logical choice, on many many levels.

    #3 – Manning = In a word, no.

    #4 – Bobby V = Not sure he fits a smaller market well. His success in Japan should earn him a better spot than this.

    #5 – Willie Randolph = 2nd best legitimate option on this list. I think he will get his shot and will be better that time around.

    Not previously listed:

    * Sandy Alomar Jr – He is simply not ready yet to manage in the majors. I could see him being a bench coach somewhere until he gets his shot.

    * Torey Lovullo = He is the sleeper and should have a real shot at it.

  • Boqueesha McButterpants

    lol Mike did you really just play the OPS+ card when talking about Omar Vizquel?

  • JNeids

    i nominate isis for the position. obviously he is the greatest sports mind ever known, and once inside, he can go all valkyrie on the dolans and spaghetti or shapetti or whatever…

  • Jon S.

    Other than the fact that people generally have fond memories, why would Omar make a good manager?

    Does he have a history of player development or helping young pitchers? Was he remarkably good at handling a media that is hostile toward this city’s financial realities?

    I’m seriously asking. Do people just like him and want to be reminded of the ’90s, or does he have some legitimate skill I don’t know about as a manager?

  • Jon S.

    BTW, the above was directed at the comments, not the article.

  • MrCleaveland

    What about Terry Pluto, Bud Shaw, Bill Livingston, Jim Donovan, Tony Rizzo, Bruce Drennan, etc.? They all seem to have all the answers.

    Seriously, I think Les Levine could be a terrific manager.

  • Nullster

    BRANSON WRIGHT SHOULD RUN THIS TEAM

  • bobby

    @ 28- sorry, isis is in line for the browns HC/GM/VP positions at the end of this season. Or wait, can you manage the tribe and coach the browns…

  • Jay

    Rick Manning is one I never even thought about. It’s an interesting idea to say the least. Does he have any previous managerial experience?

    I’d love to see Bobby Valentine at the Jake wearing the Groucho Marx glasses after getting run in a game.

    Tony Pena may be the one who gets the gig, I’ve heard his name floated around alot the last 3 days.

    I hope to God John Farrell doesn’t come to Cleveland. It would be a blow to my beloved Red Sox 🙂

  • wreck54

    How about Jose Oquendo? Great w/ Latin players, played under Herzog and LaRussa and coaches under LaRussa. Omar could be a player/coach!

  • LaundroMat

    Tony Pena: wouldn’t he be ineligible since his son plays for Kansas City? (At least I think he still does…)

  • bhaus15

    i agree with the top 2 guys on the list. farrell, likely won’t be allowed out of his contract with the sox. i would love pena here as well. am i crazy for also wanting orel hershiser??

  • Cjz

    Isis hates Grover too?

    Lets get a list here…..

    Magini, Kokinis, Dolans, Shapiro, Robiskie, Wedge, Hargrove, DA, his cat, the old guy who always yelled at him to “Get off my lawn!”, anyone formerly of the Jets, anyone who sings Benny and the Jets, the girl who wouldn’t pay attention to him from math class, anyone who disagrees with his omnipotent wisdom, any contributor of this site who might write something positive or something that could be construed as positive about the previous people, any person selected by the browns in the draft, himself, ok this could be awhile I’ll just stop there…..

    Maybe a reverse would’ve been shorter? Let’s try that….
    Dan Gilbert, umm, yeah wow that was alot shorter.

  • brwnsgrl

    Pena Jr. is now in KC AAA Omaha…although there are some Royals fans I know who may argue that whatever he was doing in KC, it was not playing baseball 😉 Whether that would make Pena Sr. ineligible, I don’t know.

  • great list! i think they`re all outstanding choices

  • Hermie13

    Manning will NEVER, EVER be a manager in baseball. Not for the Indians, not for the Pirates, not for the Buzz!!!

    The guy is blacklisted!! Get it through your heads people. Indians tried him as an outfield/base running coach a couple years ago and that lasted part of one year.

    He slept with a teammate’s wife when he was playing with the Indians. Dennis Eckersley’s wife to be exact. This is what promoted the Indians to trade Eck (wow, classy move Cleveland, trade the guy who lost his wife).

    I will be manager of the Cleveland Indians LONG before Manning is.

    Farrell is also a TERRIBLE choice. I’m sorry, but what exactly has he ever done in his life to show he can manage? Is it all that managing experience he has? O wait, he has NONE. Everyone on this site has as much managerial experience as Farrell. He’s never managed in the minor leagues at least. I’d rather have Wedge back than Farrell. Pitching coaches don’t make good managers either. Pass.

    Valentine and Pena are the only 2 decent choices from your list.

    I’d add Ron Roenicke. He’s the bench coach of the Angels currently. Won manager of the Year honors in the minors while winning some champronships. Was the Angel’s 3rd base coach when they won the 2002 World Series as well.

    If Torey Louvollo is named manager I will start a riot in downtown Cleveland.

    NEVER, EVER should you hire a manager that’s never been a ML coach at some point in his life. This year there were only 3 such managers…..Wedge (fired), Hillman (with the Royals), and Hinch (hired midseason with the Dbacks).

    You MUST have some ML coaching experience to have success as a manager, this shouldn’t even be a debate. It’s fact, plain and simple.

    In the minors you never make a pitching decision, they’re all made for you by the front office. They tell you what pitchers to pitch on what days and in what situations. An infant could ‘manage’ that team.

    Now I would like to see Lovoullo and/or Mike Sarbaugh (the Aeros Manager…..he’s the guy that I like more) promoted to be either a base coah or bench coach. but definitely not manager….at least not yet.

    One avenue the Indians could go is the route they took back in 1990. Bring in a older, veteran manager to help teach a young up-n-coming manager the ropes. The Indians did exactly this with John McNamara (the old vet) and Mike Hargrove (the young gun). Hargrove was promoted to 1st base coach at the ML level after leading the AAA team to the PCL title. He then took over during the 1991 season and the rest is history, 2 WS appearances and multiple divison titles. He inherited a team without Thome, Ramirez, Vizquel, Lofton, or really even Alomar (was hurt) and turned them from a 105 loss team to a 100 win team!

    Bring in a guy like hargrove to mentor a guy like Louvollo or Sarbaugh. Let the young guys grow with the young manager and you WILL see results.

  • Bill Schubert

    I hope Rick Waits, former Indian’s pitcher (“Yankee Killer”) and current Mets co-ordinator of Minor league pitching is on the short list for Pitching Coach. I know that the new hire for the managerial job will want to fill out the rest of his staff, but Waiter would be a great fit.

    Go tribe in 2010!

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