Stage is set for seismic shifts on the managerial front this winter
There could be more big-name managers on the open market than ever this winter, with several marquee names potentially on the move, setting up several interesting scenarios. Yet, at least three men with great playing pedigrees but no major league managerial experience could yet wind up with big-league managing jobs --
Those jobs could go to others, of course. It may be early in the processes to name favorites, plus the Dodgers' job hasn't even opened up yet (
But those three men -- Wallach, Simmons and Sandberg -- appear to have at least a decent chance to emerge with big-league jobs.
Before anything happens, of course, several soap operas may have to play out. There's so much going on with managers that they may garner as much or more attention than player free agency for the first time.
The Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals, Braves, Mariners, Blue Jays, Yankees, Mets, Pirates and Brewers are among teams that could possibly be looking at a change of manager, whether it be via a departure or a firing. Big names such as Torre,
Here's a look at three of the most intriguing managerial situations:
Wallach may get the surprise call. He is well-respected as the Triple-A Albuquerque manager, and just as important for the cost-conscious Dodgers, presumably not too expensive, considering he's already in the organization and only got the Triple-A job a year ago.
According to some in the know, Wallach will likely be the guy, assuming Torre leaves. But if they go for a bigger managing name, Baker, the ex-Dodger player who has led the surprising Reds to the top of the NL Central, could have a shot.
The original plan was to let Torre manage one more year, and then turn the job over to batting coach
Some suggest that with
The Dodgers have gone the money-saving route over the past couple years, but bucked critics by spending $5.25 million on first-round pick
Torre delayed his decision until September, presumably partly in hopes of rallying the troops and his team for a playoff push, which could have forced Frank McCourt's hand. But with the Dodgers still only on the fringe of the race, Torre seems unlikely to stay. And Mattingly, the ex-Yankee great who became Torre's right-hand man, no longer looks like the lock that he once did. Third base coach
There are unsubstantiated whispers that Baker, who has delayed taking a Reds extension after a big year, could wind up in L.A.. The ex-Dodger is a hot name right now and could take pressure off McCourt to sign big-name players at a time when he's spending so much on legal fees. Baker has said that he isn't interested in talking about the Dodgers job, but that only makes sense in that Torre's still there and Baker needs to be focused on the Reds' possible division title run. He hasn't rushed to re-sign with the Reds, though that doesn't necessarily mean anything.
Wallach, an L.A. area native, looks like the more likely choice at this point, though.
Even so, Ryne Sandberg has been seen by everyone as the most logical choice, and it's possible he was passed over for interim for Mike Quade because they didn't want to chance saddling Sandberg with a bad record. Quade, the well-regarded third base coach who was picked over bench coach and former big league manager
The Cubs have gone the "celebrity manager'' route two straight times, with Baker and
"Doesn't it have to be Sandberg?'' one competing manager said, referencing Sandberg's iconic status and successful four-year minor league managerial resume. He is the only Hall of Famer currently wearing a minor league uniform, and he should get credit for that.
A lot of folks seem to think that Sandberg will be the man. But Hendry also isn't afraid to hire a big personality as manager, so any of the possible managerial free agents shouldn't be ruled out.
Some say that Joe Girardi, the ex-Cub, Northwestern grad and Peoria, Ill., product, wouldn't mind going to manage the Cubs, and this would certainly be his best time to leverage things. But most would still be shocked to see him leave the winningest organization in baseball history. He also has an excellent relationship with Yankees boss
Girardi was passed over last time by the Cubs, but his World Series title with the Yankees could change the equation. He certainly looks like a more attractive candidate at this point.
The Cubs' job is coveted despite the 103-year streak of no World Series titles (it seems almost every big name wants to be the first in a century to win a championship there). Beyond that, they have a big payroll, better young players than usual and a great old ballpark in a wonderful city.
Tony La Russa, the former White Sox manager, would certainly be an interesting choice, but he's not well-liked by Cubs fans and has always loved managing in St. Louis.
Many have assumed that the Japanese ties would lead to Valentine landing the job, and he would be an excellent choice. But one person familiar with their situation said that he believes
Brewers bench coach
Some small-market teams were busted by the leak this week (courtesy of AP) that showed them to be much more profitable than previously thought. Some of these teams have been receiving $40-50 million in revenue sharing and another $75 million from the Central fund, meaning that they start $100-plus-million in the black.
The revenue-sharing system was not intended to merely move money from big-market teams to small ones but was expected to be a way for smaller teams to compete by spending on players.
The Rays, who run their baseball operation as well as anyone, should try hard to re-sign
The Marlins, whose baseball people also do an excellent job, made $50 million one year (their contention is that year was an aberration), but they've been using the gifted monies to pay down their debt rather than sign players.
The Pirates, who made close to $40 million over a three-year period despite losing, are the latest ones now being targeted by MLB to change their non-spending ways.
A case could be made that it isn't worth signing free agents for the Pirates, but pocketing the money doesn't look too good. The whole situation will be addressed again, as big-market teams didn't know the extent of the profitability of the teams they've been subsidizing.
• The Nationals will almost surely do the prudent thing and rest pitching phenom
• The White Sox look like the favorites to land
• According to one NL scout, the Dodgers were "bailed out'' big-time by the Mets' letting
• If GM