A Case for Torey Lovullo Heading the Cleveland Indians

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IOctober 23, 2009

3 Mar 1998:   Torey Lovullo #73 of the Cleveland Indians in action during a Spring Training game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida.  The Devil Rays defeated the Indians 12-5. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart

You could say that things are going ahead of schedule for Cleveland and their search for a new manager. So much so, Mark Shapiro may add one or two more final candidates.

At least that is the latest word out of Cleveland as they prepare to interview one of their own on Friday.

Thursday, Bobby Valentine faced the media after his sit down with Shapiro and assistant general manager Chris Antonetti. What he said is for another day and another article, but let's just say he disappointed and leave it at that.

With the elimination of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Indians final candidate Don Mattingly, could probably schedule his interview for sometime early next week before the World Series even starts.

And because Shapiro is doing his due-diligence and wants to get the right guy, he could take that extra time and incorporate a few more candidates into the race. One of the names being floated around is former Rockies' skipper Clint Hurdle.

Friday is Torey Lovullo's day though. Originally left off the final listing in favor of another Indians minor league manager Travis Fryman, Lovullo is currently the manager of Cleveland's Triple-A Columbus affiliate.

He's spent years in the system working his way up and has interviewed for major league managerial jobs in the past. He's no stranger to this party and he's quietly been waiting for his opportunity. I truly believe Lovullo is destined to be a major league manager someday.

The question now becomes, will it be for the Cleveland Indians or someone else?

Familiarity Equals Comfort

There is one thing that Torey Lovullo holds above every other candidate for this job.

It's familiarity with the system, the coaches, the players, the management, the city, the fans, the way of doing things.

He's been to many spring trainings with the big leaguers and the minor leaguers. He's seen a majority of the Indians players that are currently on the active roster come through his stops in Buffalo, Columbus, Kinston, and Akron.  He's spent time with the big league club after the minor league season ends as an extra coach.

The Indians know him and he knows the Indians.

Now that can be an advantage or a disadvantage, but knowing the way Mark Shapiro works, he'll only look at in a positive manner. Where I think Shapiro is going to get concerned about Lovullo with is the parallels with Eric Wedge.

Lovullo is very much in the same position Eric Wedge was when he got hired to manage the Indians. Everything points to Lovullo being a good manager and even a good fit for this type of situation.

All of the players know him, as mentioned. There's a certain comfort level that they can have knowing that a complete outsider isn't coming in and shaking a ton of things up. Whatever moves Lovullo is going to make, they've seen him before and know what he's about.

Shapiro can hire Lovullo knowing full well in what he's getting as far as a motivator and instructor. He should have no worries as far as what he's getting as a manager and a teacher.

That works to his advantage and if you think otherwise, you are crazy.

What could work against him though is something that Lovullo has no control over, at least not now.

The one downfall with Eric Wedge when he was hired was the lack of big league experience, not necessarily big league managing experience, but just flat out big league experience in any role.

Lovullo matches that situation, someone who has not been in the major leagues as a manager or coach. He's been in the Indians minor league system since the start and while he's interviewed for big league jobs, he hasn't even been a third base coach.

That may have worked for Eric Wedge, because the Indians were already in the process of blowing things up. The team Wedge was dealing with was not expected to win immediately; the concept was that he'd grow with them.

Lovullo is coming into a situation where they may not be expecting to win this year, but there is a core already established. There is sort of a mold that has already been sculpted by Wedge and Shapiro and Lovullo would have to either change that or grow into it.

How does someone who has not managed on the big league level do such a thing?

When you manage in the minor leagues, you are more of a teacher and a groomer. The big leagues are a new game and that is something Lovullo would have to learn on the job.

There isn't to say anything is wrong with that though. The familiarity he has erases so many of those issues. Another time and another place, Lovullo is probably the perfect candidate because of this singular reason.

Other Ways of Convincing

We've talked about his absolute best reason and probably his one downfall. Unfortunately his one downfall is something he can't control. The precedent has been set and Shapiro's goals have been as well.

Shapiro made it a point that he wanted big league experience. While it isn't the only thing he's basing his decision on, it is a huge factor into his decision. There isn't anything Lovullo can do about that.

What he can do is continue to display the other attributes that has made him a success at the minor league level.

Lovullo is a class communicator, something a good manager needs to be successful. It’s part of the reason that I have no doubts about him eventually getting a shot at a big league job.

The players respect Lovullo because of the relationship he fosters with his players. He'd call his players into his Columbus and Buffalo offices and talk to them if they didn't get the call when there was a shot they would or if they did.

And he'd talk to them about it.

Lovullo is a guy who can relate very well to the minor leaguer. His career was one of a journeyman, playing the majority of his professional career for teams like Buffalo and Columbus, teams he would later manage at the minor league level.

Shapiro saw the potential in Lovullo as a manager or coach even when Lovullo was still playing. When Shapiro was in the lower levels of the Indians organization himself, he brought Lovullo on as a player in 1995 to play for Buffalo. He knew eventually he wanted to get Lovullo as a teacher after his playing days were over.

And Lovullo eventually warmed up to such an idea and took it head on.

This is someone who has everything you need to be a successful manager. He has the communication skills, the drive, the knowledge, the personality, and the understanding to relate with players.

The one thing he lacks is something that he's trying obtain.

If Lovullo loses out to someone else, which is looking like a real possibility because of his lack of major league experience, I think the time has come to give him that experience in a different way.

If you don't hire Lovullo, bring him onto the staff anyway. Get him up here and start the process that needs to be started. Bump him up a rung in preparation for what eventually will be his one day.

It may not be the Indians job, but there ever comes a day that something needs to happen, Lovullo will be ready.


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