"The players make the manager. It's never the other way."—Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson
It's not easy being a manager in Major League Baseball these days.
From all of the egos in the clubhouse to the increased expectations on the field, being a successful manager today requires a certain kind of individual. He has to be able to deal with the multiple personalities of multi-million dollar stars, and he's got to be able to deal with them in a way that can still garner their respect. That's not always an easy task—just ask the managers that had to deal with Manny Ramirez on a daily basis.
If there is a feud between a star player and a manager, very few managers will come out of it on top. Owners are more likely to stick with their $100 million player and assume the manager lost control of his clubhouse.
Just last season, rumors surfaced out of Milwaukee that All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun wanted manager Ken Macha gone. It was already known that Macha had issues relating to today's players, and sure enough he was fired immediately after the season. Braun was just signed to a $105 million extension.
Out of the 30 MLB teams, there are 12 which have new skippers to begin the 2011 MLB season. Six have had previous managerial experience, three took over on an interim basis at some point last season and three are brand-spanking new.
When ranking all 30 managers it was based on one question—if I could hire any manager currently in baseball to manage my team, who would it be?
Let's get started.
Here is our Mr. Irrelevant.
To date, he has a career .443 winning percentage across parts of 12 seasons. In 1,430 games, he has a record of 633-797.
Riggs, who took over the Nats on an interim basis in 2009, hasn't always been stuck managing horrible teams, either. He was skipper of the San Diego Padres for parts of three seasons in the early 90s when Tony Gwynn was still good, then managed the Chicago Cubs in the mid-to-late 90s.
In 1998, he (on the back, or bat, of Sammy Sosa) led the Cubbies to the playoffs where they ultimately lost in the NLDS to the Atlanta Braves.
Other than the 1998 season, the most wins a Riggs-led team has reached in a season is 76. You'd figure at some point owners would realize he is not a manager that is going to win them a championship.
How Riggs continues to find managerial jobs is beyond me.
Bob Geren was groomed in the Boston Red Sox organization, managing in their minor league system from 1995-98.
He later moved to the Oakland Athletics organization and served as bench coach for Ken Macha in 2006 before taking over as manager in 2007.
Since being the A's manager, Geren has led them to modest 75-plus win seasons all four years. Not bad considering GM Billy Beane pieces together a lineup each season.
This season could be different, however, as the A's are loaded with young pitching and are ready to make noise in the AL West. If they don't, Geren will be gone.
In all fairness to Manny Acta, he hasn't always been hired into the greatest of situations. Yet, we are a results-based society, and a .406 winning percentage (240-351) in parts of five seasons is not getting it done.
Acta, known for his enthusiasm, was fired by the Washington Nationals before the aforementioned Riggleman took over in 2009.
He is currently in his second season as skipper of the Cleveland Indians, and if they maintain their fast start to the 2011 season he could shoot up this list heading into 2012.
Brad Mills, who served as the Boston Red Sox bench coach from 2004-09, is currently in his second season as manager for the Houston Astros.
The long-time minor league manager in the Cubs organization led the Astros to a 76-86 record in his inaugural season, which saw him lose cornerstones Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman along the way.
Mills may very well end up being a good manager, but I don't think the fact that he had success as the bench coach for a team with the second-largest payroll means that he will be a great manager.
He faces the tough task of turning around a team in the process of being rebuilt, but by the looks of it he is still in good spirits!
Unfortunately, Kirk Gibson will probably always be known more for his clutch home run in the 1988 World Series and less for his managerial prowess. Maybe that's how it should be though.
It's good to see Gibson back in the game in this capacity, however, and it'd be great to see him turn the Diamondbacks organization around.
After serving as their bench coach beginning in 2007, Gibson became interim manager for Arizona midway through 2010 and was given a two-year contract extension following the season.
In his first 100 games as skipper, he has led them to a 42-58 record.
Another Terry Francona protege, Farrell is in his first season as a manager at any level.
Farrell began his MLB coaching career as pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox in 2006. Before that, he was the Director of Player Development for the Cleveland Indians from 2001-06.
Under his reign, the Indians were named "Organization of the Year" twice by Sports Weekly, and Baseball America named them as having the best farm system in 2003.
So we know he can develop players, but will he be able to take an up-and-coming franchise like the Blue Jays to the next level? Time will tell, but I think he could be the right man for the job.
For years, it was assumed Mattingly would be the successor to Joe Torre in the Bronx. After Torre turned down a one-year extension in 2007, the job was seemingly in Mattingly's hands.
The Yankees surprised everyone by instead hiring Joe Girardi, so a snubbed Mattingly hitched a ride to Los Angeles to serve as Torre's bench coach.
It's too bad for Mattingly, because at this point it seems the Dodgers are only going to get worse before they get better. For "Donnie Baseball's" sake, I hope they let him stick around to rebuild under what we can only presume will be new ownership.
Considering he won over 1,000 games as a manager at the minor league level, what took Mike Quade so long to become a skipper on the big league level?
Quade was actually a finalist for the Cubs job back in 2007 before Lou Piniella came out of retirement to lead the Cubs to a World Series title. After failing miserably, Piniella gave up on the team midway through last season, handing command over to the much-deserved Quade.
Quade actually managed to turn the Cubbies around after taking over, going 24-13 over the final 37 games to earn himself a contract after the season.
If he can somehow lead the Cubs to a World Series title, he would end up being the default No. 1 on this list. However, history proves there is a good chance that will never, ever, ever happen.
Ned Yost doesn't always get the credit he deserves for turning the Milwaukee Brewers around from 2003-08.
He took a franchise that hadn't made the playoffs in 25 years (or had a winning record in 15), and won 80-plus games three times in those six years. In 2008, he was fired when the Brewers were 83-67. That had to be a tough one to swallow.
Rightfully, he was given another chance with the Kansas City Royals, where he took over as skipper on an interim basis early into the 2010 season and was eventually given a contract extension.
Yost has the Royals off to a fast start in 2011.
That's the same exact look I made when I saw the Mets hired Terry Collins as manager prior to the 2011 season.
In all honesty, Collins has proven successful at all of his managerial stops. He managed the Houston Astros from 1994-96 and the Anaheim Angels from 1997-99, leading his teams to a winning record every year except his final season.
After Angels players forced management to fire him in 1999, Collins disappeared until managing in Japan in 2006.
Now he is leading the New York Mets?
Clint Hurdle spent eight years as the manager of the Colorado Rockies before being fired midway through the 2009 season.
In 2007, Hurdle and the Rockies won 14 of their last 15 games to force a tiebreaker game for the NL wild-card berth. The Rockies won and made it all the way to the World Series before losing to the Boston Red Sox.
Hurdle was hired to manage the Pirates before the 2011 season, a job that at best will be a stepping stone to a more prestigious managerial job with another team.
With all the young talent in the Pirates organization, Hurdle may be the man to turn them into a respectable franchise heading into the future.
Surprisingly, Leyland is only 66 years old. It seems like he has been around forever, and the fact that he smokes a few packs a day hasn't helped him age well.
In his 20th season as a MLB manager, Leyland is 1,502-1,528.
Leyland spent the bulk of his managerial career with the Pirates from 1986-96 before taking over the Florida Marlins in 1997 and winning a World Series.
After a one-year stint in Colorado, he took a seven-year break before turning around a dreadful Detroit Tigers franchise. During his first season in Detroit in 2006, he improbably led them to an AL Pennant before losing in the World Series.
Edwin Rodriguez replaced Fredi Gonzalez as manager of the Florida Marlins midway through the 2010 season, going 46-46 over the last 92 games.
Rodriguez was a scout in the Minnesota Twins organization from 1989-96 before working his way up as a manager in the minor leagues. He is the first Puerto Rican-born manager in MLB history.
His strong leadership skills make him a perfect fit for a young and talented Marlins squad.
If I had to choose my next manager off of any coaching staff in baseball, it would be off of Mike Scioscia's.
Scioscia's former coaches have proven to be successful when given managerial duties around the league, and Ron Roenicke will be no exception.
Although he just became the Brew Crew's manager before the 2011 season, all signs point to success for Roenicke in the future.
His demeanor and his ability to captivate a locker room should lead to good things in Milwaukee.
Wedge had on and off success while managing the Cleveland Indians from 2003-10. He led the Indians to 96 wins during the 2007 season and was named AL Manager of the Year.
That is pretty impressive considering the Indians essentially traded away all of their stars for prospects during Wedge's tenure.
The Indians chose not to retain Wedge after his contract expired following the 2010 season and the Seattle Mariners promptly swooped in to grab him.
Given the Mariners financial flexibility (in comparison to the Indians), Wedge may be able to make Seattle sleepless once again.
Jim Tracy began his managerial career successfully with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2001-05. In five seasons, he led them to at least 85 wins four times before stepping down after the 2005 season.
After making a mistake by trying to turn around an awful Pittsburgh Pirates organization in 2006-07, he came back strong with the Colorado Rockies.
After Clint Hurdle was fired early into the 2009 season, Tracy took over and led them to playoffs, going 74-42 over the final 116 games.
After winning 83 games in 2010 in his first full season as the Rockies skipper, Tracy has his team off to a dominant start in 2011.
In my opinion, Fredi Gonzalez may end up being baseball's next elite manager.
Gonzalez did a great job as the Florida Marlins manager from 2007 until he was fired halfway through 2010. He wasn't fired for not doing a good job, rather for butting heads with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.
The Marlins' loss is the Atlanta Braves' gain.
Gonzalez increased the Marlins win totals in each season as manager. After being fired in 2010, he was named heir to the Bobby Cox throne in Atlanta.
If you want to turn around your franchise, Buck Showalter is your man.
At every stop in his managerial career, he has taken a losing team and turned them into winners. The only knock on Showalter is that he hasn't been able to sustain the success once he turns the organization around.
He took the Yankees from 76 wins in 1992 to 88 wins in 1993. He took the Diamondbacks from 65 wins in 1998 to a ridiculous 100 wins in 1999. Then he took the Rangers from 71 wins in 2003 to 89 wins in 2004.
After being hired during the back end of the 2010 season to turn around the struggling Baltimore Orioles franchise, he led them to a 34-23 record in the formidable AL East.
After a hot start to the 2011 season, the Orioles have cooled down as of late. History says to expect them to heat back up soon.
Bud Black, another product of Mike Scioscia in Los Angeles, was the Angels pitching coach from 2000-06.
After being hired away by the San Diego Padres, he jumped out and won 89 games in his first season as manager in 2007.
After the organization began cutting payroll the Padres took a dive in 2008 under Black. After improving in 2009, Black led the Padres to an improbable 90 win season in 2010.
Black is the reigning NL Manager of the Year.
Sorry Yankees' fans, but even I could win games if I could "piece" together a team for $200-plus million every season.
Girardi was the first victim of Jeffrey Loria in Florida, as he was fired after one season and replaced by Fredi Gonzalez. Big mistake by the Marlins organization. Apparently Loria can't get along with anyone.
It's hard to tell how good of a manager Girardi actually is. Yes, he won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009—but that expected in New York.
His career record as manager is 375-289 (74-88 with Florida).
If I wanted the most eccentric manager in baseball, Ozzie Guillen would definitely be the guy.
Guillen has been successful on the field as well, currently at 608-546 in his eighth season as the White Sox skipper.
In 2005 he led the White Sox to a World Series championship in his second season as manager, winning AL Manager of the Year along the way.
Guillen is one of the few managers today that was good as a player. Although his career numbers aren't eye-popping, he did make a few All-Star teams as well as winning the 1985 AL Rookie of the Year with the White Sox.
Dusty Baker is in his 18th season as a manager, spending his first 10 years with Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants.
In 1993, his first season as manager, he led the Giants to 103 wins. He has led his squads to the playoffs five times and has 10 winning seasons under his belt.
Baker managed the Chicago Cubs from 2003-06, losing to the Florida Marlins in the 2003 NLCS which included the infamous Steve Bartman incident.
He was hired to manage the Reds before the 2008 season and led them to the NL Central crown in 2010.
Francona began his managerial career with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997-00. He didn't find much success in Philly, never winning more than 77 games in a season.
I was surprised to see the Red Sox hire Francona as manager in 2004 considering he had no previous ties to the organization and he hadn't had past success as skipper.
He proved doubters wrong, breaking the "Curse of the Bambino" in his first season as the Red Sox won the World Series, coming back from a 3-0 series deficit to the Yankees in the ALCS.
Francona led the Red Sox to another World Series title in 2007.
Washington, about as old-fashioned as you can get as a manager in today's MLB, spent 11 seasons in the Oakland Athletics organization before getting his first managerial gig with the Texas Rangers.
He is credited with developing many infielders in the A's organization during his tenure in Oakland, although he was outspoken in his dislike for GM Billy Beane's use of sabermetric strategies.
After taking over for Buck Showalter in 2007, he has increased the Rangers win total each season since. In 2010 he led the Rangers to their first World Series in franchise history, where they lost to the San Francisco Giants.
Washington has his Rangers off to a fast start in 2011.
Bochy has been an MLB manager ever since 1995, spending his first 11 seasons in control of the San Diego Padres.
After winning the NL Pennant with the Padres in 1998, the franchise had a few down years before coming back to life from 2004-06.
With lingering financial concerns within the Padres organization, Bochy bolted to San Francisco after the 2006 season to take over a soon-to-be rebuilding Giants franchise.
It proved to be a wise decision, as Bochy has increased the Giants win total each year under his tenure, making the playoffs the previous two seasons and delivering a World Series championship in 2010.
Manuel has found success at both stops in his managerial career, which began with the Cleveland Indians from 2000-02.
Hired to manage the Phillies in 2005 and in his 10th season overall, Manuel has a career .555 winning percentage, going 777-624 in 1,401 total games.
It's clear he knows how to win, as his teams have reached at least 85 wins in each of his eight full seasons as manager.
He led the Phillies to a World Series title in 2008.
Maddon is probably the most successful (if not most popular) manager to come from under the wings of the aforementioned Mike Scioscia.
Maddon was an interim manager for the Angels for parts of both 1996 and 1999, but was passed over for the full-time job each time.
At one point, he was even considered the front-runner for the Red Sox vacancy before they went with Terry Francona in 2004.
The Rays snagged him in 2006 and haven't looked back.
Maddon took over a young and talented, yet pitiful franchise and has won two AL East titles in the past three years. He even led them on one of the greatest Cinderella runs in MLB history, going from 66 wins in 2007 all the way to 97 wins in 2008 which included an AL Pennant and trip to the World Series.
He was AL Manager of the Year in 2008.
Scioscia, who has been the Angels skipper since 2000 and is the longest tenured manager in the AL, has led the Angels to at least 89 wins in seven of his 12 seasons as manager.
The 2002 and 2009 AL Manager of the Year has a .550 career winning percentage, going 992-810 in 1,802 games.
The Angels have made the playoffs six times under Scioscia, winning the World Series in 2002.
Scioscia also won two World Series titles as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
What Gardenhire has done with the Minnesota Twins is nothing short of amazing.
On the job since 2002, Gardenhire has compiled a .548 winning percentage, going 810-668 in the small-market of Minnesota.
He has led them to six division titles in nine seasons, plus another season where they lost a one-game playoff to determine the division winner in 2008.
Gardenhire finally won his much-deserved first AL Manager of the Year award in 2010 after finishing runner-up for the award on five previous occasions.
If I had my choice to hire any manager currently in baseball, the only man I would want for the job is Tony La Russa.
How can a person even doubt his greatness?
Just look at the numbers:
Chicago White Sox (1979-86)—522-510
Oakland Athletics (1986-95)—798-673
St. Louis Cardinals (1996-2011)—1,329-1,119
La Russa has won at every stop over his 33-year managerial career. He took the Oakland A's to three straight World Series from 1988-90, winning the championship in 1989.
He later led the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title in 2006, and has won five Pennants overall.
He has won three AL and one NL Manager of the Year awards, and his 2,649 career wins rank as third most in MLB history.