Saturday, January 18, 2020

Managers needed

The spectacle before us today: Three teams with postseason ambitions are suddenly, less than a month before spring training, without managers. One of them has to rebuild its front office. Two of them -- including the one without a baseball ops head -- apparently need a major culture change.

This is intriguing stuff. In some regards the needs of the Astros, Red Sox and Mets are similar. In others, they are not. Let's scroll through and consider the issues involved:

New York Mets

I liked this line uttered on MLB Network by Joel Sherman: This is not their scandal, but they've been splattered by the blood.

Carlos Beltran was hired after a rather lengthy interview process that appears to have emphasized, at least late in the process, inexperienced managers. One of the finalists, former Twins bench coach Derek Shelton, wound up with the Pittsburgh job and is therefore unavailable. Another, Eduardo Perez of ESPN, might still be the pick.

But with pitchers and catchers due to report in a few weeks, the Mets might benefit from an experienced hand who doesn't need months to organize and set up a spring training routine. Dusty Baker, not considered in the initial search, has reportedly emerged as a major candidate.

My thought: Baker should be a candidate for all three of these jobs, but Boston or Houston might be a better fit. If the Mets thought in November that Beltan checked their boxes, they probably should go with Perez, who appears to check the same boxes.

Boston Red Sox

A major market, high-stress environment with a major star eyeing free agency, rumors of a financially-motivated teardown in the offing, a newbie at the helm of the front office and unknown penalties in the offiing.

This sounds like a job for Johnnie B. Baker. who seems to have a way of making problems disappear by walking in the door. The obvious issue is age. Baker is 70. He's so old -- how old is he? -- he's so old he was teammates with Tito Francona.  Not the Tito Francona who manages Cleveland, his dad.

Chaim Bloom, the new Red Sox GM, may wish to go younger and bring in somebody who can be a long-term pairing with him.

My thought: Baker ought to be the guy. No, he's not likely to be a five-year solution. But he is equipped -- if anybody is -- to deal with the current complexities. Install him and worry about the future later.

Houston Astros

If there is substance behind the "they're still cheating" chatter of recent days, if indeed such crucial players as Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman are involved, this team has to have a hard hand at the helm.

Buck Showalter has reportedly already interviewed. He seems the perfect fit for a team that lacks an established general manager and needs a drastic change in attitude and approach.

My thought: Why haven't they hired this guy already? The biggest drawbacks on his well-established record are, in this case, features, not bugs. Yes, he's had clashes with veteran teams; yes, he has been accused of overreaching into areas not in his job description. The Astros can, at least for 2020, not just tolerate those risks but benefit from a bit of a control freak.

1 comment: