Tag Archives: Possible Manager

Possible Manager: Clint Hurdle

"Aw, crap. Did I leave the lights in my Prius on again?"

Clint Hurdle is best known as the longest tenured manager in Colorado Rockies history. Hurdle began his managerial career in the Mets system back in 1988, managing their Single-A team for two seasons, their Double-A squad for two seasons, and finally their Triple-A club for two seasons. He then spent 1994-96 as the minor league hitting coordinator for the Rockies before becoming their major league hitting coach in 1997. (Hurdle pulled double duty in 1997 and 1998, also acting as the team’s first base coach.) Hurdle became the Rockies manager mid-season 2002 and served in that position until being fired mid-2009, taking the team to the World Series in 2007. He spent 2010 as the hitting coach for the AL Champion Texas Rangers. Hurdle earns himself a 104 on the managerial experience scale, the highest of any candidate being interviewed by the Mets.

Hurdle played ten years in the major leagues as an outfielder, first baseman, and occasionally even a catcher. He played with the Kansas City Royals for five seasons, showing promise with a 116 OPS+, doubles power and decent plate disciple, and even appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Hurdle also put up an .845 OPS in 38 postseason plate appearances with the Royals, including a .500 on-base percentage in the 1980 World Series. However, he fell apart after leaving Kansas City, posting a 68 OPS+ in five partial seasons in the National League, including a .195 average in scattered parts of three seasons with the Mets. Hurdle was worth 3 wins above replacement for his major league career.

Strategically, Hurdle likes to call for bunts … no, that’s not it. Hurdle loves to call for bunts. Loves it. His Rockies led the National League in sacrifice hits in 2008, 2007 and 2006, and finished third in 2005 and 2004. Colorado had a whopping 119 sacrifices in 2006, and between 2006-08, the Rockies laid down 58 more bunts than any other team in the NL. And remember: the Colorado Rockies play in the best hitter’s park in baseball. He makes Jerry Manuel look like Bill James. Hurdle called for an acceptable number of intentional walks, and his teams were pretty good on the basepaths. He gets a 5 on the strategy scale — which will go up if he lays off the bunts.

Hurdle has a confusing resume. He managed the Rockies for parts of eight seasons and took them to the World Series in 2007 — that’s a lot of experience managing. He was often the face of the franchise. However, his teams had losing records EVERY SEASON except for the magical 2007. He began his managerial career with five straight losing seasons, which I believe is a record. He wasn’t always the best judge of talent on his roster, but he wasn’t always given a great deal of talent to work with, either. He was the right manager for a franchise that was moving out from under several albatross contracts earlier in the decade, but Hurdle couldn’t repeat the crazy run of 2007. He was fired for the poor play of his players in 2008 and 2009. It was simply time for a new voice, nothing more.

Managerial Odds: 6 to 1. Hurdle has significant experience, never complained about the often lackluster rosters he was given in Colorado, and has ties with the Mets organization already. He makes a lot of sense for an Alderson run team, provided he can stop bunting so #*$%* much.

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Possible Manager: DeMarlo Hale

DeMarlo Hale, currently the Boston Red Sox bench coach, began his coaching career in 1992 managing the Red Sox Double-A affiliate. He managed in the Red Sox system at the Single-A and Double-A levels between 1992 and 1999, being named Midwest Manager of the Year in 1995. Hale’s 1999 Trenton Thunder team finished 92-50, and Hale was named Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America and The Sporting News, and also won the Eastern League’s Manager of the Year award. Hale jumped the Rangers organization in 2000, acting as their Triple-A manager in 2000-01 and then the major league team’s first base and outfield coach from 2002-05. Hale came back to the Red Sox organization in 2006, serving as their third base and outfield coach until making the jump into the dugout for 2010. He had an excellent reputation as a third base coach, which is apparently quite common for third base coaches named Hale. All this comes out to a 73 on the managerial experience scale, easily giving DeMarlo Hale the highest score of any candidates without major league managing experience.

Before coaching, Hale spent five years playing in the minor leagues, four seasons in Boston’s system and one in Oakland’s (when Sandy Alderson was GM). He hit .267 with a .364 slugging percentage in 548 minor league games playing first, second, third, and the outfield. Hale never played above the Double-A level, and thus did not reach the major leagues. This happened because he wasn’t any good.

Hale didn’t seem to have a distinct strategical style managing in the minor leagues a decade ago. Some of his teams were good running the bases, some were not. He bunted often in some years, and less in others. Sometimes his pitching staff would be near the top in intentional walks, sometimes near the bottom. He seemed to base his strategies on the strengths and weaknesses of each individual team. He gets a 6 on the managerial strategy scale, but it’s really arbitrary this time around.

Interestingly, Hale appears open to modern (read: intelligent) baseball thought. As the first base coach in Texas, Hale preached the importance of stolen base percentage, saying, “You don’t want to run into outs now because of the possibility of the long ball … A lot of it depends on the situation, but steal percentage is really the key.” He told Baseball-Prospectus radio earlier this year that he believes advanced statistics can be a tool. “[If it can] affect you doing your job in a positive way, I’m all for it … I think there is a place for it.”

If that made him sound a bit too nerd-friendly for some of you, here’s a video of Hale taking James Shields to the ground hard in a brawl at Fenway Park back in 2008.

Hale, who is a minority, has interviewed for several managerial positions already. He interviewed with Texas in 2002, Boston in 2003, Arizona in 2004, Seattle in 2008, was a finalist for Toronto’s vacancy last month, and now the Mets. Hale has ten years of experience managing in the minor leagues, and nine coaching in the major leagues. His manager experience score of 73 is higher than the 54 of Don Wakamatsu and comparable to Bob Melvin’s 76, and only Terry Collins (99) and Clint Hurdle (104) have significantly higher scores among candidates the Mets are interviewing. Hale has more than enough experience to manage major league players. He just needs an opportunity.

Managerial Odds: 4 to 1. I have no idea why, but I have a good feeling about DeMarlo Hale’s chances with the Mets. I like that he would be a new face for a mostly unchanged team in 2011. Although he hasn’t managed in the majors yet, Hale also hasn’t been fired as a manager, either. He sounds willing to buy into an organization’s philosophy, something the Mets now have. I like everything I’ve read about him.

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Possible Manager: Don Wakamatsu

"I'm sorry, son. We had to put Lassie down."

If there is one sure (and perhaps unfair) way to get fired as a manager, it’s to have a team massively overachieve one season and then underachieve the next. Bob Melvin fell victim to his in Arizona, after the Diamondbacks made it to the NLCS in 2007. Willie Randolph felt the heat when the Mets disappointed after their NLCS run in 2006. And this is exactly what happened to the Mariners between 2009 and 2010, and it’s exactly why Don Wakamatsu was fired. Overachieving creates unrealistic expectations for the future — this is why you should never work hard at anything.

Before serving as manager of the Mariners from 2009-2010, Wakamatsu began his coaching career in the minor league systems of both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Angels, managing at the Single-A and Double-A levels between 1997-2000. He spent 2001-02 as a roving catching instructor for the Angels before becoming the Texas Rangers hitting coach in 2003. Wakamatsu spent five seasons on the Rangers coaching staff, the hitting coach for four seasons and third base coach for one. He then spent a season as the Oakland Athletics bench coach in 2008, before taking the Seattle gig. Wakamatsu has already been named the Toronto Blue Jays bench coach for 2011, but will reportedly still interview for the Mets job. This scores him a 54 on the managerial experience scale, near the low end for someone with experience managing at the major league level.

Wakamatsu spent twelve seasons catching, including all of 18 games with the Chicago White Sox in 1991, his only time spent in the majors. Wakamatsu played in the minor league systems of seven teams, batting .258, walking a little bit but having almost no power. He had two decent years for the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate in 1992 and 1993, posting .812 and .917 OPS respectively in part-time duty. His 18 games with the White Sox earned him minus-0.1 wins above replacement.

As a manager of the game, Wakamatsu was middling in Seattle. He loved to call for bunts — the 2009 Mariners led the AL in sacrifice hits — but he also stayed away from intentional walks — the 2009 Mariners were last in issuing IBB. His teams were average in terms of stealing bases. Wakamatsu has said he likes the idea of a set lineup and defined roles for his pitchers, but tinkered often with his struggling offense. He went through all of 2009 without being ejected, but was thrown out of three games in 2010. Wakamatsu gets a tentative 6 on the managerial strategy scale, but just under two seasons with a terrible offense isn’t a lot to base it on.

As a manager of personalities, after an impressive 2009, Wakamatsu appeared to lose the Mariners clubhouse in 2010. The benching of designated napper Ken Griffey Jr. did not go over well. Second baseman Chone Figgins got into an in-game, in-dugout physical confrontation with Wakamatsu that was caught on camera. Players grumbled to the press, and Mets-esque communication problems seemed to surround the entire organization. As a second year manager, he was put in the difficult situation of having to tell one of the game’s icons it was time to hang them up. Things just didn’t work out, and the players appeared to turn on him because of it. Wakamatsu was saddled with a terrible team and a poor mix of personalities. He was made the scapegoat for the Mariners struggles, but he didn’t help himself, either.

Managerial Odds: 12 to 1. Big league experience and time spent as both a hitting coach and catching instructor are pluses for the possibly rebuilding Mets, but things ended poorly in Seattle. Wakamatsu will get another job managing someday, but it might be better if spends a year or two as a bench coach so that everyone can forget about the Mariners miserable 2010.

For more on Wakamatsu, check out SNY’s Ted Berg and Lookout Landing’s Jeff Sullivan on “The Baseball Show” yesterday. (Ted beat me to the Fozie Bear reference. )

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Possible Manager: Tim Teufel

Tim Teufel will reportedly receive an interview for the Mets managerial position. This seems weird to me, but I have a hypothesis that we’ll get to in a second.

Teufel has been managing in the Mets minor league system since 2003, taking a one-year sabbatical in 2006. He has managed at the Single-A levels (Brooklyn, St. Lucie, and Savannah) every season except this past one, when he managed the Double-A Binghamton B-Mets. This nets Teufel a 15 on the managerial experience scale — out of all the candidates to be interviewed, only Wally Backman received a lower score. Teufel of course lacks Backman’s reputation, though perhaps that’s a good thing.

As a player, Teufel spent eleven seasons in the majors leagues, six with the Mets (though Teufel never played more than 97 games in a season for New York). His best year was 1987, when he batted .308, with a .398 on-base percentage and a .545 slugging percentage. This is probably the best season by a Mets second baseman not named Edgardo Alfonzo, and Teuful only played 97 games that year.

In fact, Teufel may be underrated as a player — his career batting average sits at an uninspiring .254, but he walked and hit enough doubles and home runs that his career OPS+ is 104, respectable for a second baseman. He was below replacement level only one season in his eleven year career, and his 14.2 career wins above replacement are more than every Mets managerial candidate, other than Ken Oberkfell.

As for his tactics as a manager … Teufel has a lot in common with his former platoon-mate. Teufel likes to bunt and issue intentional walks, though not quite at wacky Backman levels. Also, for reasons that aren’t clear to me, all of Teufel’s teams are comically terrible at stealing bases. They tend to be near the bottom of the league in stolen bases and near the top in caught stealing. Over the past three seasons, his teams have stolen bases at a 58% success rate, while the league success rate sits around 65-70%. I don’t know if he has been saddled with particularly slow and stupid players, but something weird is going on there. Teufel gets a 4 on the manager strategy scale, which is only better than Backman’s score. It would go up if he put the stop sign on a bit more.

So this is what’s interesting to me here: The only thing Tim Teufel (potentially) has going for him in this race is that he’s not Wally Backman. That’s it. He is incredibly similar in terms of his credentials … just, he’s not Backman and everything that comes with that. It’s almost weird that Teufel is getting interviewed. He has just one year of experience above the Single-A level, and his teams haven’t been particularly impressive. I can’t imagine he is a serious candidate.

So here is what I think is happening: Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi, Donnie Wahlberg, and the other New Kids on the Block are using these interviews for two purposes. 1.) To evaluate the in-house candidates as potential managers and 2.) to decide if these dudes should even stick around at all. The new front office didn’t hire Teuful, Backman, Oberkfell, or any of the other in-house candidates. I’m thinking — and keep in mind this is just a hypothesis — that these interviews are partially just to decide if these lower-level managers are going to be retained in the organization. While a little of both, I think Teufel’s interview is more of a “are you going to keep your job,” rather than a “you might get promoted.”

Teufel may also simply be receiving an interview as a courtesy, seeing that he outranks Backman, who also received an interview.

Managerial Odds: 50 to 1. Teufel is probably the longest shot of any candidate being considered. I would be shocked if he were hired.

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Possible Manager: Dave Jauss

Dave Jauss began his managerial career in the Montreal Expos system, coaching one year apiece at the rookie ball, Single-A, and Double-A levels. He was named the Eastern League’s Manager of the Year in 1994, when he lead the Harrisburg Senators to an 88-51 record, best in the league. Jauss spent time as a coordinator for the Orioles before jumping to the Red Sox, serving as their first base coach from 1997-99. He stayed in the Red Sox organization for ten years, becoming the Dodgers bench coach in 2006-07 under Grady Little, and then the Orioles bench coach from 2008-09 under Dave Trembley. Jauss served as the Mets bench coach this season under Jerry Manuel. This all comes out to a 41 on the managerial experience scale, right around the Hale-Oberkfell range — I guess 40 is the amount of experience you need to become a serious managerial candidate. This is weird, because I just made up this scale last night.

As a player, Jauss never played above the college level. He jumped directly from playing college baseball to coaching college baseball at the age of twenty-one. Jerry Manuel, then field coordinator for the Montreal Expos, hired Jauss as a minor league manager back in the 1988, beginning his career in professional baseball. Jauss is probably the worst player among all the managerial candidates.

It is difficult to establish the managerial style of Jauss. The last team he managed was the 1994 Double-A Harrisburg Senators: Jauss’ squad issued just 6 intentional passes all season (the league median was about 19), but they bunted a decent amount and made plenty of outs on the base paths. This gets a 5 on the strategy scale, but it’s based on a minor league team from sixteen years ago. It’s a really loose 5. He might be adaptable, or he might not.

As for his temperament, Jauss has possibly been banned from the Dominican winter league for the next two seasons. Apparently — and this is based on some iffy Google translations — Jauss bumped an umpire, refused to leave the field, and then chased after said umpire after being ejected for ordering a beaning in a game last winter. The commissioner of the league suspended Jauss for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, which is probably reasonable. If you read Spanish, you can see for yourself. I guess this makes him fiery. (Having written about managers all day, the proper spelling of fiery is really beginning to bug me. Why is it spelled that way? Why not firey?)

And as you might have seen by now, Jauss did an interesting interview with Baseball Prospectus last winter. Talking about motivating players: “It’s not new tricks. It’s the basic fundamentals. The same basic fundamentals string all the way from the high-school level to the big leagues. At each successive level, the execution of those fundamentals has to be sharper, because the game is faster. But if a player is ready for that level, he’s capable of it. And every club drills. They drill in different ways— not every club has their second baseman and shortstop out at 4 p.m., when they’re going to stretch at 4:15 p.m., taking extra ground balls. Not every team has their catchers throwing at 2 p.m., but they all get it done somewhere or another. The drilling is done everywhere. However, certain drilling makes you more successful. Certain venues allow players to execute better. Certain confidence-building things allow players to execute better. Certain motivational things allow players to execute better.”

I like that Jauss has been a bench coach for five years; I don’t like that he’s been a bench coach under Grady Little, Dave Trembley, and Jerry Manuel. Those are three scary, scary names. While Jauss has a good amount of experience, having coached baseball since he was 21-years-old, given the choice between Jauss, Hale, and Oberkfell, I would take Hale. Jauss hasn’t managed a professional American team in sixteen years, and that should be a knock.

Managerial Odds: 10 to 1. Jauss doesn’t have a significant advantage in experience over Hale, the candidate he’s most comparable to, and I believe Hale’s resume is more impressive overall.

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Possible Manager: Terry Collins

"Oh, no. Sorry to disappoint you. I was actually talking about the Guns N' Roses album."

Rob Castellano beat me to this post over at Amazin’ Avenue. I’ll point you that-a-ways, but here’s this anyway.

Terry Collins is currently the Mets minor league field coordinator. I have no idea what that means. He’s old, so take a deep breath, because he’s been around the block: Collins began his managerial career in the Dodgers system in 1981 (one year before Michael Jackson’s Thriller was released), managing at the Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A levels for eight seasons, being named the Sporting News’ Minor League Manager of the Year in 1987. He then managed at the Triple-A level for the Pirates for three seasons, before becoming a coach for the major league team from 1992-93. He managed the Houston Astros from 1994-1996, and the California Los Angeles Anaheim Angels of Anaheim from Los Angeles from 1997-1999. Despite the support of the front office, Collins resigned as manager of the Angels in the middle of 1999 after some players in a divided clubhouse reportedly petitioned to have him fired. So that probably didn’t go so well. Collins was a bullpen and then bench coach for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2000-2001. He has managed in Japan, and was sent by MLB to manage China’s national baseball team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. (He’s probably not a communist, but I’m not sure.) All this comes out to a 99 on my managerial experience scale, higher than any other candidate.

Collins played ten seasons in the minor leagues in the Dodgers and Pirates organizations. He played second base with some shortstop and third base mixed in, walked more than he struck out, but had almost no power to speak of. He never made it to the majors.

Collins hasn’t managed in the big leagues since the 1990s, but his style then was somewhat indistinct. He would get ejected a handful of times a year, bunt a lot, but limit the number of intentional walks issued. He gets a 5 on my strategy scale, though the statue of limitations might be up on that, seeing it was over ten years ago.

Collins will reportedly be interviewed for the Mets managerial position, but I would point out this interview with the Star-Ledger from earlier this year. When asked if managing at the major league again was a goal, Collins said this: “It isn’t. I did my thing. I had a great time. I was very fortunate to be around good players. When I first got my first major-league managing job, my whole thing was to prove that I belonged there, and I think I did that. So for me, I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I’m working with great people. My job right now is to build this organization up to where our minor leagues are going to produce not only major-league players for the Mets but major-league players throughout baseball.”

So that doesn’t sound likely. Collins has the most extensive resume, but I don’t know how interested he is in managing again.

Managerial Odds: 12 to 1. Collins is certainly qualified, having managed all over at almost every level, but I don’t know if he wants it. Then again, he is being interviewed, so who knows.

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Possible Manager: Wally Backman

"Sorry folks, park's closed. Moose out front shoulda told ya."

Wally Backman was born in a crossfire hurricane, if you believe the rumors. He managed in the Chicago White Sox system for three seasons (2001-2003) at the High-A and Double-A levels, being named Minor League Manager of the Year by the Sporting News in 2004. He was the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks for five days in 2004, before revelations about his past caused the Diamondbacks to rescind the agreement and hire Bob Melvin. Backman managed in independent leagues until this past season, when he managed the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets Low-A affiliate. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a total of four seasons managing in minor league baseball. This comes out to a whopping 9 on my managerial experience scale, easily the lowest of any candidate.

As a player, Backman spent fourteen years in the major leagues, nine with the Mets. He led the National League in fielding percentage as a second baseman in 1985 and 1988, and led the NL in sacrifice hits in 1985. He was worth 10 wins above replacement for his career, making him the second best player in the bunch.

Strategically, Backman has not been Alderson-friendly. He believes in an aggressive style of baseball, forcing the defense to make mistakes. His teams bunt and run like it’s the deadball era, resulting in plenty of steals but also plenty of caught-stealings. He also loves to issue intentional walks. This comes to a 3 on my managerial strategy score. (The lowest possible!)

However, he is popular among his players. Dan Uggla has now famously said: “I’ll tell you what, if you play for Wally Backman, you’re going to be able to run through a brick wall, because we have the same emotions toward him as he has toward us. I mean, I would have run through a brick wall for him.” (Side note: Dan Uggla looks like the kind of guy who might actually try to run through a brick wall.) Backman’s managerial tirades directed towards sassy umpires are YouTube sensations, but there are also videos of him gently explaining rules to independent league umpires who might not be familiar with them. There are many sides to Wally Backman.

But Backman remains divisive. This is because he’s the only candidate we know the much about, allowing us to form real opinions about him. He has very little experience, having never managed about Double-A and never coached at the major league level, yet his players seem to love him. He’s also also a terrible, terrible strategist. He gives away outs like candy on Halloween (look, seasonal humor) and puts opposing runners on base far too often. But he has a mustache and yells, so he reminds me of the terrifying Latin teacher from my Catholic middle school. If Backman is willing to be an organizational soldier and adopt modern strategies, he could be a viable candidate. Seeing that he appears desperate to manage at the major league level, I actually think this is possible.

But there is all that other stuff. Backman has an unfortunate habit of lobbying for managerial jobs held by Jerry Manuel, both in Chicago and again in New York. Then there is the DUI, the financial and domestic issues, and whatever the hell Adam Rubin alluded to the other day. Rubin is an excellent reporter who occasionally finds himself as part of the story, but I also can’t remember him being wrong about anything Mets-related. I don’t know if Backman should be the Mets manager, but I don’t think he will. At least not anytime soon.

Managerial Odds: 15 to 1. I would surprised if Backman were hired as the next Mets manager. I think he needs to rebuild his reputation for a few years, managing in the minor leagues without any incidents. If he wasn’t on the 1986 Mets, I don’t think he’d be a serious candidate.

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