As many as 13 MLB teams could play managerial musical chairs

Baker's dozen of teams could make change in dugout

September 19, 2010|By Phil Rogers

Cross one off from the long list of managerial question marks. Don Mattingly will replace Joe Torre as the Dodgers' manager, but it's unclear what happens to Torre, along with so much more.

We have known for a long time this was going to be a historic offseason in terms of manager movement, given the scheduled retirement of Bobby Cox and Cito Gaston and the uncertainty surrounding Lou Piniella, Tony La Russa and Torre. But the scope of the potential turnover has continued to grow, hitting epic proportions with blossoming rumors about Ozzie Guillen and Joe Girardi.

Would Girardi really leave the Yankees to come to the Cubs? Would Jerry Reinsdorf allow Guillen to say bye to the White Sox and hello to the Marlins?

Both propositions seem unlikely, but Girardi and the Reinsdorf/Ken Williams tandem have done little to put those possibilities to bed.

The Orioles and Dodgers have charted their courses for Buck Showalter and Mattingly. But as many as 13 teams could open 2011 with new managers, including four (the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Marlins and Mariners) who are finishing 2010 under interim managers. Here's a rundown, listed in order of most likely to most surprising:

1. Braves: Fredi Gonzalez, who coached under Cox from 2003 to '05, almost certainly will be his successor. He recently pulled his name out of the Cubs' search to pursue the opening in Atlanta, where he lives, exclusively.

2. Blue Jays: A scout recently told the Toronto Sun the Jays have a list of 200 candidates they're trying to narrow to 10 as possible replacements for Gaston. Two to watch are Juan Samuel, who was 17-34 as an interim leader for the Orioles this season, and former Cubs and Rockies manager Don Baylor.

3. Mariners: A disastrous season has raised questions about everyone, including GM Jack Zduriencik. It's hard to see interim manager Daren Brown (13-21 entering the weekend) hired full-time. White Sox bench coach Joey Cora and Bobby Valentine are expected to be candidates. There's some support for at least interviewing Ryne Sandberg, a native of Spokane, Wash.

4. Marlins: Interim manager Edwin Rodriguez has almost no chance to stay. Valentine is close to owner Jeffrey Loria but had a near-offer pulled earlier this season. Tony Pena, Larry Bowa and Guillen have been subjects of speculation.

5. Cubs: GM Jim Hendry is willing to wait to see if the Yankees re-sign Girardi or let him walk away, as they did Torre three years ago. Interim manager Mike Quade (14-7 entering the weekend) has been impressive but still seems a long shot. Sandberg would be an easy pick, but Hendry is making him sweat.

6. Diamondbacks: The jury is out on Kirk Gibson, who took over for A.J. Hinch on July 1. Arizona is working on its GM hire. If interim GM Jerry DiPoto stays on the strength of his Edwin Jackson-for-Daniel Hudson trade, Gibson probably will stay. But former Padres GM Kevin Towers is the favorite for the job and might have other ideas.

7. Mets: GM Omar Minaya is clinging to his job, and his firing would make it almost automatic the team wouldn't exercise Jerry Manuel's option for 2011. The GM search could be fascinating, with Towers, White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn and even Rangers GM Jon Daniels (whose contract includes an out clause that could be exercised after the team's sale) among those listed as possibilities by SI.com's Jon Heyman. Valentine, who managed the Mets to the 2000 World Series, could return for a second stint.

8. Brewers: GM Doug Melvin is signed through 2012, so the public sentiment for change probably means Ken Macha won't have his option picked up. Former Mets manager Willie Randolph, Macha's bench coach, would be an easy hire. Melvin also could reach out to Sandberg.

9. Pirates: John Russell is signed through 2011 and favored by GM Neal Huntington, but President Frank Coonelly said last month that "nobody's job is absolutely safe" for next season, and a 110-loss season could dictate change.

10. Cardinals: Is this the end for La Russa? The Cubs' one-sided sweep last week in St. Louis left him uncharacteristically candid, calling the situation "troubling.'' The Cardinals were built to win over the short term but haven't responded to La Russa. He said last spring he wouldn't manage elsewhere if he left the Cardinals, but circumstances change. He would be a great choice for the Yankees or White Sox if they lost Girardi or Guillen, and he's being mentioned for the Mariners job, possibly with Whitey Herzog-style influence on personnel.

11. White Sox: Will Reinsdorf allow the Marlins to talk to Guillen, who is signed through 2012? He wouldn't have a year ago, but Guillen and his son Oney have been far too public about "White Sox business," as Williams calls it. Plus Reinsdorf might have a chance to take a mulligan for his 1986 firing of La Russa.

12. Yankees: Girardi is a factor because the Yankees overlooked signing him to an extension after they won the 2009 World Series. He's a Midwestern guy with Chicago ties, but would the Yankees really allow a successful manager to leave? They can make it very, very hard to leave.

13. Reds: Dusty Baker seems to love his young, talented team, but he has left the offer of a contract extension (rumored to be for only one year) in his desk, saying he will consider it after the season. Would he be interested if the Yankees or Mets came calling? Probably not, but he always has viewed free agency as the same for a manager as a player.

The last word: "We can get through the regular season without him, but I don't think we can get through the postseason without him." — Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira on Andy Pettitte, who starts Sunday for the first time since July 18.

progers@tribune.com

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