Is Terry Francona the best manager in baseball? He might just be.
Ranking Major League Managers can be a tricky business. Managing can be like standing on a razors edge; one wrong move and you'll get cut.
It seems that no matter what the city or team, managers are always on the hot seat. Security in this job is never guaranteed so it comes as no surprise that, entering the 2011 season, we have twelve teams sporting new managers.
What may come as a shock is that seven of these men are rookie managers and are untested in any way, shape, or form. This makes ranking these seven men as difficult as a blind man judging a beauty pageant.
With this in mind, I am going to give it, that "old college try" and rank these men from bottom to top, heading into the 2011 season.
Can Kirk give the D-backs the magic he had in the 1988 world series? not likely
"In a year that has been so improbable... the impossible has happened!"
More famous words were never echoed throughout Gibson's career as a player. Everyone remembers him, for his dramatic walk-off Home Run in game one of the 1988 World Series which propelled the Dodgers to the title.
However, Gibson faces a daunting task taking over a Diamondbacks team that has finished last in their division each of the past two seasons.
Gibson could easily prove me wrong, but he does not inspire a lot of confidence. Remember, he was the bench coach of a Tigers team that lost 119 games in 2003.
He inherits a young team for sure, with talents such as Justin Upton and Chris Young who can be a force in the lineup for years to come.
But, I'm not sure how well he will fare the first time Upton or Young gets lazy and decides to loaf after a ball in the gap. Again it's all purely speculation, but for now Gibson is at the bottom of the heap.
Next up on our list is John Farrell. Again, it's hard to rank him because, like Gibson, he's never managed before.
All signs point to him having the makeup and experience as a pitching coach to make an impact as a manager, but it will be with a wait and see approach.
Farrell has been highly recruited for open manager positions in the past so it seemed just a matter of time before he was hired.
Now he steps into big shoes, filling in for the legendary Cito Gaston, who began a crusade to turn a floundering franchise around.
Things might just turn out alright with Farrell at the helm. However, he's never been "the guy", so it's hard for me to rank him any higher than this.
It seems weird, that a Yankee legend is now sporting Dodger Blue. Hopefully that's now how the fans feel about Donnie Baseball's managing.
It seemed like a sure thing a few years ago that Don Mattingly would be the heir apparent to Joe Torre in pinstripes.
As it turned out, Mattingly did eventually succeed Torre, just not in New York. Mattingly takes over the Dodgers after Torre's retirement and now faces the challenges that come along with this job.
While it may not be New York, Los Angeles is hungry for a winner, and if Mattingly struggles early look for the media to be all over him.
His season certainly does not start out easily, as LA is taking on the world champion Giants on opening night at Dodger stadium.
If Donnie Baseball can get his team over .500, that will be a good start. Once again, he is untested as a manager so it's hard to place him any higher.
Can Rodríguez improve on his 500 record from last year, and have the Marlins make a serious push in the N.L. East?
Next on the rankings comes Edwin Rodríguez of the Florida Marlins.
Rodríguez stepped into a tough situation with the Marlins last season, after the dismissal of Fredi Gonzalez, and performed admirably. Edwin, amassed a .500 record during his time with the Marlins.
Now that the interim tag removed from his name it should be interesting to see what he can do with a full year.
He does have two very good names on his pitching staff, one in the rotation (Josh Johnson), and one in the bullpen (Leo Núñez), so he seems to be somewhat set in that regard.
However, because of his limited experience, it's hard to really predict how he will turn out.
It was an interesting choice saddling Acta with the Indians. He didn't do much in Washington...
To be honest, without so many untested managers in the Major Leagues, Acta probably would not be this high.
Acta, did not have very good teams during his time at Washington, but still, every move he made seemed to be the wrong one.
Manny has yet to have a winning season in the Major Leagues, and with an Indians team still trying to rebuild, it's difficult to see where Acta can improve.
If the Indians continue to struggle under Acta he may be walking that long unemployment line very soon.
Mike Quade started his career out, over 500. Maybe he can, put a better playoff record together for the long-suffering Cubbies.
Talk about stepping into big shoes. Mike Quade has his work cut out for him taking over the Cubs after the departure of the legendary Lou Piniella.
Quade isn't going to fly out of the dugout and get two inches away from an umpires face, or take a base and fling it into the outfield in frustration, like Sweet Lou but he did manage to get his team to play over .500 baseball (24-13), for the last part of another disappointing season.
Quade is in a tough spot because many fans wanted Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg to take over the team after Piniella left, but instead got saddled with Quade. It's a tough job to take on and because of his limited record for now this is where he sits on the rankings.
Why did the Mets choose Collins? It's anyone's guess.
Here's a name not many people expected to be back in the MLB. Terry Collins takes over a drowning Mets Franchise in 2011.
With a high payroll and a low win total last season, Collins has been thrust into a tight spot. He does have plenty of experience under his belt (managing in over 800 games) and is ten games over .500 during that time.
However, in his last stint he was fired halfway through a dismal Anaheim Angels season, which could raise red flags for the Mets and their fans.
It's impossible to tell what team Collins will have going into Spring Training and all he can really hope for is that big contract of Carlos Beltran to pay off, as well as so many others.
Fredi's back in Atlanta. Hopefully that doesn't mean Nightmares for Brave fans.
"One, Two, Freddy's coming for you..." well not that Freddy. Fredi González returns to the Braves after a three year, tenure with the Marlins.
González, was booted from his job in Florida, after failing to reach the playoffs despite having the miniscule payroll. Now he takes on the task of replacing Atlanta's favorite son, Bobby Cox.
Atlanta had a fine season in 2010 but can Fredi repeat that performance, and maybe improve upon it? It's tough to say yes.
#22 really? Not one winning season and still this high?
I know what everyone's thinking: "How can a guy who's managing the worst team in baseball be ranked this high?"
"Is the writer high?"
Actually, I'm not. But I do think Riggleman deserves more credit than he gets. Riggleman is facing a tough task; the Nationals haven't had a winning season since moving into Washington, and are not built to win right now.
After looking at the stats, it's amazing that things haven't been worse for Riggleman so far.
Since Riggleman took over mid-season in 2009 Washington has gone 102-135.
He improved in 2010 by 10 games games, moving the Nationals win total to 69 (they won 59 in 2009). Riggleman is armed with a young team and might be able to push it to 70-75 wins in 2011.
Ned Yost took a struggling, Brewers Franchise (with help from CC Sabathia), and turned them into a playoff team. Can he do it without the bonafied Ace, in KC?
Ned Yost, turned one franchise around in Milwaukee, (*Cough* Thank you CC Sabathia for pitching everyday *Cough*) and took them to the playoffs in 2008, a place they haven't been in 26 years.
Now he takes over yet another struggling franchise in the Kansas City Royals. The similarities, in this job, to the one he took in Milwaukee, are staggering.
The Royals haven't sniffed the playoffs since 1985—26 years. they are struggling with attendance after renovating Kaufman Stadium, and are suddenly lacking an ace in their rotation.
Sound familiar anyone? Royals fans might be excited about all these facts, but it's not likely that Yost can take this team and turn them around in one season.
If he improves their win-loss record, Royals fans should consider that an outstanding achievement. He's got some young talent so he might just be able to do so.
Ron Roenicke comes up next. Roenicke, started his career out at 4-0, so I'm sure many Angels fans were asking: "Why couldn't he just keep managing?"
Well, for one, Angels manager Mike Scioscia was suspended during that time and he had a suspension of his own to serve once Scioscia got back.
That having been said, he's another manager facing his inaugural season, but probably the one with the most talent of all.
Names like Fielder, Braun and Hart light up his lineup. The question is, can he handle the pitching staff?
Acquiring Zack Greinke from the Royals and Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays could, and should, help immensely.
However, the back end of his rotation is full of holes and his bullpen is suspect at best. If he can piece all of it together the Brew-Crew should have a good 2011.
Is he trying to do his best Connie Mack impression, in this picture? Mariner fans, are hoping he repeats Mack's performance..... Unlikely as it may be he's probably the best man for this job.
The 2007 Manager of the Year comes up next. Looking back, Wedge really had only one great season with Cleveland.
That year, Wedge managed to get wins out of a team led by C.C. Sabathia, Grady Sizemore, and Victor Martinez (they were one win away from the 2007 World Series, lest we forget).
When he got to Cleveland, the Indians were in a rut and struggling to get something going. He improved the team over the next five seasons before falling flat again in 2009.
Now he takes over a team that has only two big names: Ichiro, and Felix Hernandez.
The Mariners really don't have a lot outside of that so if Wedge can work his magic, he might just add another Manager of The Year award to his cupboard.
Geren took an A's team to 81 wins in 2010, 6 more than in 2009 and 2008. Can he push it over the 90 mark this season?
Bob Geren comes in at no. 19. Geren has been with the A's for three years now taking over for, Ken Macha, and compiling a rather pedestrian 307-340 record.
Most A's fans probably hoped that he'd be able to do what Macha could not, and recapture the glory of the mid-70's.
However, that hasn't happened and it seems like time might be running short for Geren.
Even with the support of Billy Beane the organization has to be frustrated with the lack of his productivity. However, if he can get his pitching staff in order, 2011 might be kind to the A's.
Mills has two championships as a coach. Can he get one as a Manager?
The Bench Coach for the Boston Red Sox from 2004-2009, Brad Mills has already won two World Series.
After taking over an Astros team that made the World Series in 2005, fans were hoping that his success would translate.
Unfortunately it didn't. Mills, and the 'Stros put up an unimpressive 76-86 record, missing the playoffs for the 4th straight season.
Cecil Cooper couldn't do the job so the Astros turned to Mills, and insofar he hasn't been able to either. Now, that's only through one season, so there is a silver lining for the Astros and their fans.
Mills also, did improve on their record from 2009, albeit by six games, but if Mills can some how summon up the magic, he had with the Red Sox in 2004, and 2007; he might be able to get things back on track, in Houston.
Jim Tracy, didn't do much until he got to Colorado. But has had the Rox, in the running for the playoffs the last two seasons.
Ask any Dodger fan, and the name Jim Tracy is comparable, to Satan in Los Angeles. It must really burn them up, that he was anymore than 93 wins out of teams when he was in Los Angeles.
Then he moved to Pittsburgh, and started to turn the Franchise around with 67, and 68 wins, in 2006, and 2007 respectively. Tracy, moved on to the Rockies; as a bench coach in 2009, under Clint Hurdle.
After Hurdle, resigned 46 games into the 2009, season Tracy took over. He managed to, get the Rockies into the postseason, winning an impressive, 74 of the last 116 games.
However, the 2010 Rockies didn't pan out so well, as the Rockies ended up in third place in the N.L. West, and missed out on the postseason.
Tracy will look to rebound in 2011, and will likely have the Rockies in it again, if he can continue to high-level production out of team leader, Troy Tulowitzki.
If he can, continue to produce wins for the Rockies Franchise, he'll be higher on these lists, as the years go on.
Bud Black struggled early. But a 90 win season in 2010 might have saved his job.
Three years ago, Bud Black probably would have been somewhere in the mid-20's on this list. However, after barely missing the playoffs, the future for Black is anything but that.
After struggling, for two straight seasons, Bud Black came back with a vengeance, in 2010, but it just wasn't enough.
Looking forward to 2011, Black needs to have, another good season, or once again face a world of criticism.
Though not, an incredible addition, Aaron Harang should give Black, the ace he needs to push the Padres to the Playoffs, this year.
Yes Hurdle comes in above both, Black, and his protégé Jim Tracy. I'm sure everyone Pirates fan, has thoughts of what he did in Colorado, and hopes that he can repeat that in Pittsburgh.
If Clint can do it again, he'll certainly move up the rankings, on everyone's list. However, Pittsburgh is a team that just lost their best pitcher, in Zach Duke (to the D-Backs), and really have no one to take his place.
If there's one thing though, that Clint is good at, it's picking players out of obscurity, and turning them into stars, Ubaldo Jiménez anyone?
If he can improve with the Pirates, he should get comfortable in Pittsburgh.
Ozzie wins. But he certainly does not make friends doing it.
Outspoken, crude, arrogant, pompous, eccentric; go ahead pick an adjective. Almost anyone of them, can describe Ozzie Guillen.
Sure, he rubs a lot, and I mean A LOT, of people the wrong way, and he certainly is not on, many umpires Christmas cards list, but the fact is Ozzie wins.
Since being, brought on by Kenny Williams, in 2004, Ozzie has only had two seasons, where his team has ended up below .500.
Sure he makes moves, that make fans scratch their heads, and yell curses, but no one can deny, that he will always have his team in contention come September. 2011, will probably be no different.
He's been to the playoffs, twice in his seven seasons, and won one World Series in a 4 game sweep of Houston.
Bruce Bochys Giants Won the 2010 World Series. Can get them to repeat? It remains to be seen.
Bruce Bochy deserves a lot of credit. He as an uncanny ability, to take teams that no one would expect, and take them deep in the playoffs.
He did it in 1998 with the Padres, and again in 2010 with the Giants. In 2010, he brought the Giants their first championship, since 1954, and their first ever in San Francisco.
He has 16 Major League Seasons, under his belt, he has over one thousand wins. His overall record may be under .500, but he has revived a franchise, many left for dead just two years ago.
Heading into 2011, Bochy will look to keep the World Series, in San Francisco, and become the first repeat champion since, 1999 and 2000 Yankees.
Ron Washington Took the Rangers to the World Series in 2010. Can He finish the Job in 2011?
After some unsavory, offseason admissions Ron Washington righted himself, and took the Rangers the furthest they've ever been in October.
Even though, Texas fell short in 2010, 2011 looks good for Washington's Crew. Ron Washington, who took over the Rangers job in 2007, has steadily improved them, from 70, to 80, and finally broke the 90 win threshold in 2010.
He has been living proof, that given the right amount of time, and with the right players, a team can rebound from years of obscurity, and losing. Washington has done a great job in Texas, and will continue to do so.
Joe Girardi brought the Yankees their first championship in 9 years in 2009. Missed the Playoffs in 2008, and Got to the ALCS in 2010. Who knows what, will happen in 2011.
Joe Girardi, man's the helm for a fourth season, in one of the most scrutinized, overbearing, and toughest jobs in the M.L.B., as manager of the, New York Yankees.
In 2006, Girardi made headlines in Florida, posting 78 wins, on a very young, inexperienced, and green Marlins team. However, butting heads with management, did him no favors and he was out after only one season.
After Joe Torre, left the Yankees, Girardi emerged as the man who would take his place, and plastered #27 to his back. In 2009, he delivered said championship, to the Yankee franchise.
In 2010, Girardi didn't have the same success as the Yankees, were eliminated from the postseason, in the ALCS.
In 2011, Girardi has plenty of questions on his plate, concerning the rotation, Derek Jeter, and bullpen. However, if he can find a way to make things work, he may be in line, for high praise in New York.
Gardenhire may never be able to figure the Yankees out. But he has figured out pretty much everyone else.
Ron Gardenhire starts our top 10, in Managerial Power Rankings. Gardenhire, joined the Twins in 2002, and has made a tremendous impact with his team.
Since Ron's hiring, the Twins have made the playoffs all but two times. Twin fans, seem unsatisfied though, however, when you continually run into the buzz-saw that is the New York Yankees, it makes it difficult to go anywhere in the playoffs.
Maybe someday, Gardenhire will get the Championship he so richly deserves, but until that time, the Twins will have to take solace in the fact that, he has won six A.L. Central Titles.
In his nine seasons, had seven playoff births, and always seem to be hanging around the playoff hunt come September.
If he can ever find a way, to beat the Yankees, he will likely win the championship that has so eluded him, during his tenure.
Dusty Baker has turned the Reds around. Can he keep it going? Good young pitching, and offense are promising.
Dusty Baker, certainly did not leave Chicago on a good note. He receives, a lot of criticism for his old school tactics, as a manager.
Many fans blame him, for the demise of the potential great careers, of Kerry Wood, and Mark Prior due to overuse, when he managed them.
Putting all that aside, Baker has had a track record of success, where ever he has managed. Even without a World Series title to his name, Baker has gotten his teams, to the playoffs numerous times, turned around two franchises, and even won a Pennant.
Old school? sure, but a winner nonetheless.
Things look good for his Reds, with young fire-ballers, Edison Volquez, and Johnny Cueto, headlining his rotation, and Jay Bruce as a force in his offense, 2011 might just be a great year, for Cincinnati.
9=8.... I dont get it but apparently his team has.
When Joe Maddon took over the Rays in 2008, they were the laughing stock of baseball. Now it seems every year they are in contention, for the playoffs.
Joe Maddon managed, to take a broken franchise, pick up the pieces, and put together a winner in Tampa.
Now he does make a lot of moves, that make people scratch their heads, and his quirky sayings remind many of Casey Stengel, but every button he pushes seems to work out just right.
Tampa, is no longer a team, that the Yankees, and Red Sox can steam roll anymore, they are now a threat, to take the A.L. East crown every year.
This all reflects off Maddon, and what he has done. Now, with some major pieces missing in 2011, it might be difficult to get 90+ wins again, but don't count anything out, so long as Maddon is the Manager.
The Serious one. Jim Leyland is a no nonsense guy, who puts team chemistry, and hustle above all else.
The Ageless one, Jim Leyland has certainly has a lot of wear on his tires. However, that does not change the fact that, Leyland is still at the top of his game, despite being one of the oldest managers in baseball.
Now it's true, that in recent seasons, Leyland's teams haven't won, but that doesn't change the fact that he still manages to average 80 wins a season.
A testament to Leyland, is the fact that he took over the tigers in 2005, when they won only 71 games. He took over in 2006, brought them 95 wins (there most since 1987), and an American League pennant.
He has won, only one world series, and may seem surly, and standoffish, at times, but no one can deny he is one of the top managers today, if not of all time. 2011 may be a tough season for Detroit, but expect Leyland to have his team ready to play, and contend.
Steel eyes of Buck Showalter now, are cast in Orange and Black. Can he turn the Os into another one winning franchise.
Buck Showalter, has an amazing history of building young teams, into winners. From the glimpse, he gave the Major Leagues at the end of 2010, it looks like he'll be able to do it again.
He put the entire M.L.B., on notice that his Orioles won't be the joke, that they've been for the better part of twelve years.
In 2011, he'll look to continue to build a solid team, and continue to build them into a winner. If his history is any preivew, Showalter should have no problem continuing to build the Orioles in 2011.
He deserves, a lot of credit for what he built in New York, and in Arizona (both leading to championships even though he wasn't manager), and he'll have to hope the third time is the charm.
Charlie Manuels only losing season, lead to him being fired halfway through. Probably wont have to worry about that ever again.
A man who has really only had success in the places he's gone Charlie Manuel, has become a top manager in baseball.
After being out of baseball for a few seasons, Charlie took over a struggling Phillies team with talent, but not a lot of guidance.
It seemed Manuel, was just the right man for the job, and took over in 2005.
Since then, the Major League's most losing franchise, has only known success.
Winning the World Series in 2008, only helped solidify Manuel as a top MLB guy, and he certainly has the team to do it again in 2011.
The Angels found their man in Sciosia. Even though he was an enemy in Blue for a long time.
Mike Scioscia, is another example of how, a great manager, can breed a great team. Scioscia, came to the Angels in 2000, and slowly began to turn the broken franchise around.
Things culminated just two years later, when the Angels won the 2002 World Series. Since then, Mike Scioscia's teams have only missed the playoffs, twice, and won a considerable amount of playoff games.
His record stands more than 100 games over .500, and he still manages to keep his team winning despite the fact, that the organization refuses to put up the money to sign players.
2010 was an abnormal year, for Mike Scioscia, not only missing the playoffs, but also finishing below .500. That doesn't necesarilly mean, his seat is any hotter, but if it's a sign of things to come, 2011 might be tough for Angel fans to stomach.
LaRussa is the definition of how loyalty can be rewarded. He is one of the longest tenured managers in baseball.
Tony LaRussa: just saying his name is synonymous with success. In his career, he has won over two thousand games, five pennants, and two World Series titles.
Everywhere he has gone, his teams have won. Since coming to the Cardinals, in 1996 he has had his team in the playoffs what seems like every season.
He is a man, respected not only in his clubhouse, but in many others as well. Even with, some off the field issues, LaRussa manages to keep on winning, and even though completely missed the postseason in 2010, should have his team back in contention in 2011.
LaRussa, always commands the respect of his team, which is why his teams always seem to be, in or around, the playoff hunt late in the year.
2010 is a perfect example of why Terry is #1. He had his team in contention for a playoff birth, until the last weeks of the season, despite all his injuries
Since bursting on the scene in 2004, breaking the curse, that held Boston for 86 seasons of torture, Terry Francona has been the epitome of excellence in managing.
The funny part is, that during his time with Philadelphia, Francona had no success, and hadn't even tasted the postseason. After a heart-wrenching loss in the 2003 ALCS, the Red Sox reached out to him, and he accepted.
Little did they know, they were about to have the best manager in baseball on their hands. From the time, he arrived in Boston, he's won, won and won some more.
He seems to always have his team, above the mid-90 win mark, by season's end, and if in the postseason, he hardly loses. He's inspired 2 incredible comebacks in the playoffs (2004, and 2007) both of which lead to his team winning the World Series, and one more that just fell short in 2008.
Beyond that, when his teams make the World Series, they never lose (he's 8-0, in World Series play). 2010 even though, he missed the postseason, was a great run for Francona's Sox, who were still mathematically in the playoff hunt, until the last week or so of the regular season.
With a reloaded lineup, and healthy pitching, 2011 could be another banner year for Tito.
Bruce Bochy Hoists the 2010 Trophy. Who will in 2011?
So what makes a great manager?
Is it his win total?
His World Series rings?
His Postseason numbers? His Experience?
It could be one, or all of these things combined. With, a position that is always in flux, around baseball it's very difficult to say who is the best out of all 30.
Everyone is going to have their own view, on the subject, but overall there is no right, nor wrong answer to said question.
2011, marks a year of many Managers, who are either with their first team, or with a new team. It should, be one amazing season.
Let's PLAY BALL!!!!