Phil Rogers: Everybody's changing managers

Or so it seems with 11 teams making the switch

October 10, 2010|By Phil Rogers

Presented in the spirit of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, we give you a primer on baseball's hiring season. Call it Who the Hell is Bo Porter?

Eight teams are in the process of filling vacancies at manager, including the Mets, who also must hire a general manager. Tony La Russa and Joe Girardi could cause that list to grow to 10, but their leaving the Cardinals and Yankees, respectively, seems unlikely.

This year, though, who knows?

If your team didn't make the playoffs, there was a 50 percent chance it switched managers. Including the Orioles, Dodgers and Diamondbacks, who already have locked in Buck Showalter, Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson, 11 of 22 also-rans hit the eject button. There never has been this much turnover at the top.

This means it is a very good time to be the 38-year-old Porter. He's a former 40th-round draft pick of the Cubs from the University of Iowa who got to Wrigley Field in his sixth season and knew he wasn't likely to last long. He hung up his spikes in 2004 after hitting .214 in 126 at-bats for three teams. He became a coach and quickly worked his way back to the big leagues.

Porter, who started last season as A.J. Hinch's third base coach in Arizona and ended it out of work after serving as Gibson's bench coach, has been linked to the Marlins' and Pirates' job searches. He isn't seen as a front-runner anywhere, but if nothing else he's making a name for himself with readers of mlbtraderumors.com.

Other things to know:

•Exposure never hurts. Don Baylor, who will interview with the Blue Jays, is back on the radar after not managing since the Cubs fired him after 2002. The Mets fired Bobby Valentine after 2002 and he managed in Japan for five seasons, but like Showalter and others before him has used the ESPN platform to increase his visibility, with the Mariners and Marlins his latest possible destinations. Bob Brenly, a candidate for the Brewers after turning down a chance to interview with the Cubs, is another manager turned broadcaster looking to manage again.

•Somebody has to go to Pittsburgh. The Pirates have had five managers in their record 18 consecutive losing seasons, with John Russell the latest. Yet GM Neal Huntington will be treated respectfully when he solicits interest, even from Hall of Famers. Ryne Sandberg has said he would listen if the Pirates talked, an acknowledgement of how difficult it is to get a start in managing at the highest level.

•Guys who go around, keep coming around. Bob Melvin (headed to Milwaukee?), Eric Wedge and Juan Samuel are doing the most interviews. They all have managerial experience, although Samuel only briefly as an interim for the Orioles before Showalter was hired. Sandberg, the Cubs' Triple-A manager, Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale and Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke all could be great managers but, like Joe Maddon in 2006, first have to convince a team to give them a chance.

•Size matters. Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson are 5-feet-nothing but combined to win 3,674 games and go to nine World Series. But high-profile jobs more often go to the tall, as Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner chronicled in the great book "Freakonomics." Fredi Gonzalez just looks like a big-league manager, which is what he will be once again when he moves into Bobby Cox's office. Joe McEwing, manager of the White Sox's team at Winston-Salem (N.C.), is considered a guy to watch but stands 5-10. There's hope, however. Showalter is 5-9.

•Early birds do not get the worm. The Cubs and Blue Jays have been doing interviews for weeks and other clubs entered the fray with a frenzy last week. But some of the most attractive candidates still are tied up on playoff teams. Girardi may not jump into the pool, but Rangers hitting coach Clint Hurdle, the former Rockies manager, is considered a very strong bet to land one of the openings, possibly with the Marlins or Mets. For what it's worth, he's a strapping 6-3.

The last word: "I've hired my last manager." — Astros GM Ed Wade on Brad Mills, who he views as a miracle worker after a 76-86 season that included Wade's trades of Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman.

progers@tribune.com

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