Today, the AL and NL All-Star coaching staffs were announced.
NL manager Charlie Manuel of the Phillies took Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre, two deserving candidates. Both have been around a very long time, and both are enjoying success with their current teams. Torre's Dodgers have the best record in baseball despite losing Manny Ramirez, while LaRussa's Cardinals are second in the NL Central. Plus, since the game will be played in St. Louis, LaRussa was an obvious choice.
You read that right.
Trey Hillman, of the Kansas City Royals...the fourth-worst team in the American League.
Don Wakamatsu, of the Seattle Mariners...second-to-last in the AL West.
Neither manager's team is above .500. For that matter, Maddon's Team Sunshine is a mere three games above that mark.
Maddon should look at his own division before making such decisions. His team is in fourth place, and there are three teams ahead of him with deserving managers.
Cito Gaston has done an excellent job since taking over the Blue Jays last year, and of all AL managers, he's the first I would have chosen. Joe Girardi's Yankees are enjoying a bounce-back season despite missing cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez for the first six weeks of the year. And I hate to mention Terry Francona, but the Red Sox do have the best record in the AL.
How about Jim Leyland? The Tigers are surprisingly leading the AL Central after last year's debacle. The Texas Rangers are enjoying relevancy for the first time in a very long time, leading the AL West. Surely Ron Washington deserves some credit. Even Mike Scioscia would be a better choice. His Angels may trail the Rangers, but they're still having a decent season, and Scioscia is at least a respected manager.
And all the teams listed have better records than the Rays, not to mention the Royals and Mariners. Hillman and Wakamatsu have never been to the All Star game before. Big surprise there. What, exactly, was Maddon smoking?
(For the record, my picks would have been Gaston and Washington.)