The Cleveland Indians Should Target These Chief Managerial Candidates
With Eric Wedge's ousting in Cleveland, Mark Shapiro has to use this October and find himself a new skipper.
Shapiro plans to have a replacement in by the end of the World Series, but he's going to formulate a list of about 10 candidates to interview over the phone. From there, he'll narrow it down to a few candidates, make them public and then pick from there.
It would behoove Shapiro follow up on his wishes of hiring someone that possess a lot of the qualities Eric Wedge did. He wants someone that won't conform to his opinions every time out, like Wedge did, but someone he can get to buy into the ideals of the Cleveland Indians organization, like Wedge did.
He also is being pressured to hire someone with some major league experience. Someone who will command respect immediately from the young players and veterans like Grady Sizemore on the team. Eric Wedge's shortcomings were largely debated, but one thing that beefed a lot of people when he was hired was his lack of major league experience.
With that, I've put together a list of 10 candidates that Mark Shapiro will no doubt at least think about. Whether they are on his final list to contact and pursue is another story.
Who is Torey Lovullo?
Torey Lovullo is the current manager of the Cleveland Indians Triple-A affiliate Columbus Clippers. He's been the manager of the Indians Triple-A affiliate (split with Columbus and Buffalo) since 2006.
He won manager of the year awards with Kinston and Akron, the Single-A and Double-A teams in Cleveland.
Lovullo was a candidate for both the Dodgers job in 2005 and the Pirates job in 2007. He's spent the past few years managing teams in Columbus and Buffalo that have seen some of Cleveland's top prospects come through, yet he's quickly lost them to Cleveland to fill holes.
Why he makes sense.
Lovullo is perhaps in the position that Eric Wedge was when he was hired as the Cleveland Indians manager. This would lead most fans to think he's more of the same.
Lovullo has received high praise for the work he's done with the Indians minor leaguers though and some regard him to have a big league managing future, if not with the Indians, somewhere else.
Ideally, it would be nice if the Indians could hire someone else and bring Lovullo up to be the bench manager or the third base coach. Major league experience would be something to benefit both him and the Indians if they really think he's major league worthy.
Who is Bobby Valentine?
Do we really not know who Bobby Valentine is?
Fresh off a successful stint as the manager of professional Japanese team Chiba Lotte, Valentine has returned to the United States and is listening to all offers. He's signed on with ESPN for the postseason, but is rumored to have been in contact with the Marlins in some capacity.
Valentine last managed in the majors with New York, where he led the team to a World Series appearance in 2000. In his first two seasons with New York, Valentine led the team to 88 wins in each year.
The most memorable moment from Valentine came when he donned a disguise in the Mets' dugout an inning after he was ejected from the game.
Why he makes sense.
Bobby Valentine might just be the spark that the Cleveland Indians organization is in need of.
Stories of him are legendary and he has a cerebral mind that Tribe fans would enjoy. He'll do something that Eric Wedge did as well and that is butt-heads with Mark Shapiro.
Many don't think they disagreed, but Shapiro had Wedge around because he didn't always agree with him. We don't see the behind the door meetings the two had. You can be sure Bobby Valentine will challenge Shapiro's thinking and together they'd both be better for it.
Who is John Farrell?
John Farrell is currently the pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox. His ties to the Indians, however, run very deep.
To start it off, Farrell was drafted by the Cleveland organization as a player back in 1984. Farrell enjoyed some success at the big league level, but ultimately never was the same after missing two years due to injuries.
From there, Farrell went into coaching at the collegiate level until 2001 when he returned to Cleveland as their Director of Player Development. He spent five seasons in the Tribe organization helping set the foundation for what would produce some of the better players the indians system produced this decade.
Farrell left Cleveland for Boston to become their pitching coach. It's reported that he has a clause in his contract that prevents him from taking a major league managerial post until after 2010.
Why he makes sense.
Officially, John Farrell has told the Indians that he does not wish to partake in the Indians search for a new manager. However if you want someone bad enough, don't give up on them.
If Mark Shapiro and company really have Farrell at the top of their list, respect his wishes for the time being. But if the Red Sox get eliminated from the playoffs in the next few weeks, would it hurt to call again?
The ties to the organization are noted. Farrell's been with Cleveland before and he has a big familiarity with a lot of the players and personnel around the club.
He's also wanted by many others for the job he's done with Boston's pitching staff.
If this is Cleveland's guy, then they should make every effort to get him, even if he says no the first time around.
Who is Dave Clark?
Dave Clark has ties to the Indians organization that start from the very beginning.
Clark was a first round pick of the Tribe back in 1983. He played four seasons with the Tribe before moving on to Pittsburgh, the destination he'd get his first coaching opportunity. He did spend 13 years in the majors as an outfielder.
He's been with Houston since 2005, helping lead their Double-A affiliate Corpus Christi to a league championship. Clark got his second taste of major league experience in 2009 when he was named third base coach of the Astros.
Clark took over for the Astros as interim manager after they fired Cecil Cooper. A few players, including Lance Berkman, have voiced their support for Clark if he were to become the permanent skipper of the club. However, Houston will be interviewing candidates, including Clark, in their search.
Why he makes sense.
If Clark doesn't get the job in Houston, who knows if he'll return. It wouldn't be radical for him to lose the job to someone else and return to the Astros. But if he doesn't and is looking to go elsewhere, he could be a candidate in Cleveland.
Not being someone close to the Astros, I have to go off what I hear. Roy Oswalt said Clark demands a lot from his players. According to some, the problem with Cooper was his communication with players.
If Clark has earned respect from his current players by communicating with them, then he's good enough to be a candidate.
Clark wouldn't be my first and probably not my second choice, but I respect some of the things I've heard about him.
Who is Ron Roenicke?
A first round pick of the Dodgers back in 1977, Ron Roenicke spent eight seasons jumping around the major leagues.
Roenicke brings a lot of coaching experience to the table, starting in 1992 with the Dodgers. After years in the Dodgers organization as a minor league manager and coach, Roenicke spent a year in San Francisco's organization before beginning what is now a decade stint with the Angels.
After six years as the third base coach, Roenicke moved to the dugout in place of Joe Maddon as bench coach after he became manager of Tampa Bay.
Why he makes sense.
The last Mike Scioscia bench coach with no major league managerial experience to move on to such a job had some success.
Why not this one?
Ron Roenicke would bring the Scioscia-brand of baseball to Cleveland. Not so much the small-ball ways, but the ideals that the Angels skipper imprints on his team. Spending ten years under a manager, and four of them as his right-hand man, it would be tough to not have some of his ideals rub off on you.
He's been around for awhile, so he's had some time to watch and learn and he's learned from one of the best. The Indians want someone with major league experience and Roenicke provides that.
Who is Brad Mills?
Brad Mills spent four years playing for Montreal as an infielder.
His most notable accomplishments in the game of baseball as a coach and manager. He spent 10 years as a coach and manager before cracking the big leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1997 as a first base coach for Terry Francona.
He returned to Montreal in 2003 as the bench coach for the Expos. A year later he went on to Boston to reunite with his friend Francona as his bench coach where he's won two titles with the Red Sox.
Brad has a connection to Cleveland as his son, Beau, is a first baseman in their minor league organization. He became the first round pick of the Indians in 2007 and has quickly risen to the Double-A level as a power-hitting prospect.
Why he makes sense.
Brad Mills brings heaps of major league experience and a culture of winning to the table.
Working under one of the best managers in the game today, Mills has no doubt picked up enough to handle the job on his own.
The question is, what kind of personality does he bring to the table and would it fit in with what Cleveland is looking for? He's a rather ho-hum candidate, but then again, I don't know much about him.
Who is Jose Oquendo?
Better known as "The Secret Weapon" during his playing days, Jose Oquendo brings a lot of versatility to the table.
It should be of no surprise that someone who was versatile during his playing days, has become as versatile as you can be in a coaching aspect.
The skilled defender has won a World Series, both as a player for the Cardinals and as a coach. He's been the right-hand man of a manager and a third base coach.
He's had a taste of minor league ball and of course major league ball, but also international competition as skipper of the Puerto Rico squad in both World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009.
Why he makes sense.
Any Latin-born player that goes onto manage or even coach has my eternal respect. I can imagine it's difficult to communicate to your players even if a majority of them speak your native language and some of them don't.
How Ozzie Guillen is able to command the love his players have for him is amazing to see. How he can relate to them despite the language barrier that might be there.
Oquendo's skill set is very rare. Someone who's done a lot already and has a background that no other candidate can bring to the table.
Cleveland has a core of Latin-born players that could benefit from having the trust of someone who was in their position once. Three-fourths of their current infield are all from Venezuela and the Domincan Republic.
Oquendo's interesting resume is definitely one the Indians should throw in the mix.
Who is Fredi Gonzalez?
Fredi Gonzalez is the current manager of the Florida Marlins. He took over the post when Joe Girardi was let-go because of disagreement with the ownership.
Well the latest rumors have the management upset with Gonzalez's job so far. The most recent report has Gonzalez's job safe, but with the Marlins, you never know what could happen. If they really want Bobby Valentine, they'll go after him.
Why he makes sense.
He makes a boat load of sense if he's available for the Indians to take.
He's worked with young talent and had nothing but early success. He's worked with a low-budget and has made the most out of the least. He understands the issues that face the Indians and compared to the Marlins, it would probably be an upgrade for him as far as situations go.
Gonzalez fits a lot of what Mark Shapiro is looking for in the next man to head up the Tribe. In all likelihood though, he won't be available.
Who is Terry Pendleton?
Terry Pendleton brings a totally different set of credentials to the job than a lot of these other candidates do. Perhaps this makes him an intriguing choice.
For one, he's a former MVP, something no one else on this list can really boast. His playing career far exceeds his coaching achievements, where as most of the candidates on this list, cannot say that.
He's also never really had a taste of minor league ball. He didn't pay his dues like so many of the other coaches and managers on this list had done. He was thrown right into the fire in 2001 as the hitting coach of the Atlanta Braves.
He's spent the past eight seasons in that role.
With Bobby Cox a year away from retirement, who knows if the Braves have any interest in letting him be the successor.
Why he makes sense.
You want different? Here is different. Pendleton brings a lot of major league experience both as a good ball player at the level and a long time hitting instructor.
But he doesn't have that managerial background that so many other candidates have. Could there be some on the job learning, even though he's been through the wars of a 162 game season as a coach?
Who really knows. Pendleton brings a lot of intrigue with his candidacy and if the Braves really wanted him to be Bobby Cox's successor, you would think they would have taken measures to make sure that happened.
Who is Ned Yost?
Most recently, Ned Yost was the manager of the Milwauke Brewers in 2008. He was fired in the stretch run of the season as the team started to falter from playoff contention.
Post-firing, the Brewers and interim manager Dale Sveum made the playoffs and were promptly eliminated in the first round.
Yost was in question prior to the 2008 season when his team faltered and ended up giving way to Chicago in 2007 after holding a big lead mid-year.
Another Bobby Cox disciple, Yost spent 12 seasons with Atlanta as a bullpen and third base coach, along for the ride of Atlanta's decade of NL East dominance.
Yost then got his first managerial post in Milwaukee were he spent less than six seasons at the helm of a young franchise.
Why he makes sense.
You want someone who's been through the wars of building teams, dealing with young talent, and then understanding success, you can look at someone like Ned Yost.
The Milwaukee Brewers were a lot of fresh faces in Yost's early years as their manager. He was the man in charge when they started to run the system of bringing up young talent in waves and have them grow together.
He's been highly criticized for the meltdown in 2007 and the near-meltdown in 2008, leading many to believe he can't handle the pressure, but if you are looking for someone to help bring a long a young core of talent, Yost may have to be a candidate.
The Short List
So now that we've narrowed things down to 10 candidates that I'd like to see Mark Shapiro go after, who among those candidates are best suited to manage the Tribe in 2010 and beyond? Assuming John Farrell says no and is definitive about it, this is my top five.
5. Torey Lovullo
Out of respect for Lovullo's efforts with this club and the sheer potential that he has as a manager, I think Lovullo is a fantastic fall-back option if it came to that.
However as I said earlier, it would be very wise of the Indians to give him major league experience as the third base coach or bench coach, so he can go through the wars of a season. Him or Double-A Akron Manager Mike Sarbaugh would both be individuals I'd consider for that role, and encourage the new manager to bring aboard.
4. Ned Yost
This is where the plan of action would be to hire Ned Yost, or a candidate in his position, make Lovullo bench coach and get him experience for the future. If in fact Yost has not learned from his past experiences and still has the same shortcomings he did with Milwaukee.
From the names I can come up with, Yost seems to fit the bill of this plan of action the best.
3. Ron Roenicke
There is something about the fact that Roenicke has had time to soak up all this experience from a great manager that makes me positive towards this idea. Also looking at Joe Maddon's success in Tampa Bay is something that I think works in favor of Roenicke.
He could be a totally different person than Maddon in that aspect of dealing with young players, Maddon is certainly one of a kind with his mannerisms. However Roenicke can be someone with a lot of experience, yet have the hunger to get a shot.
2. Fredi Gonzalez
If the Marlins were to make such a move and fire Fredi Gonzalez, he'd float to the top of my list in a heart beat. Someone who's had success with young talent at the major league level, with a completely strapped payroll in a market with virtually no fan support? Sign him up and sign him up now.
1. Bobby Valentine
I'm in love with the idea of having someone with Bobby Valentine's knowledge and insight around. If Mark Shapiro to go out and sign Bobby Valentine up to manager the team in the offseason would be the equivalent of signing Kerry Wood to close in 2008.
Hopefully it would produce better results, but it would send shock waves through the city, "The Indians just hired a big name with a bigger personality." I respect his credentials and would respect the fresh ideas he'd bring to the table.
He's someone that would challenge the way the organization thinks and with Shapiro's open mind to change things on the fly, it could work out to be very beneficial.