The Phillies, Blue Jays, Angels and Rangers must decide what to do with their interim managers. The Marlins need to find a replacement for Don Mattingly. The White Sox and Royals almost certainly will make changes in the dugout; and then there are the Astros, a 102-win team with a manager, Dusty Baker, and general manager, James Click, unsigned beyond this season.
‘Tis the season for upheaval in baseball, and those are only the clubs known to be in flux. Hardly anyone anticipated the Cardinals would dismiss Mike Shildt at the end of last season, or that Bob Melvin would leave the A’s for the Padres. Philosophical differences (the reason the Cardinals gave for firing Shildt), contractual disputes and even postseason failures all could prompt additional changes.
As the managerial merry-go-round begins to spin, a number of former managers want another shot. Shildt is one. Joe Maddon and Joe Girardi, both fired this season, are two others. Bruce Bochy told me, “I’m not ruling anything out.” A’s bench coach Brad Ausmus said he still has interest in managing. Some in the game believe Mike Scioscia would pursue the right opening. Braves coaches Ron Washington and Walt Weiss surely would love to manage again, too.
A win-now team such as the Rangers or White Sox likely would prefer a manager with experience, and second chances — and third and fourth — hardly are unprecedented in this sport. Baker and the Mets’ Buck Showalter are with their fifth clubs. Joe Torre did not become a major success until the Yankees gave him his fourth opportunity.
Other teams might finally be willing to anoint Astros bench coach Joe Espada, who has interviewed for at least eight managerial positions, or Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, who has interviewed for at least five. Before ESPN analyst Eduardo Pérez resigned as Puerto Rico’s general manager for the World Baseball Classic, citing differences with the commonwealth’s baseball federation, his plan was for Espada to manage the club and Red Sox first base coach Ramón Vázquez to be bench coach. That way, if Espada got a major-league job, Pérez would have had a ready-made replacement. Instead, Puerto Rico on Thursday named Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina to manage its WBC team.
Espada and Quatraro are not the only former or current coaches who will draw consideration. Among the others people in the game mention (and this is by no means a complete list): Pérez, who coached previously with the Marlins and Astros; Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough; Pirates bench coach Don Kelly; Red Sox bench coach Will Venable; and Phillies third base coach Dusty Wathan.
The coming wave of changes will renew the scrutiny on baseball’s minority hiring. The Blue Jays’ firing of Charlie Montoyo left the league with five permanent managers who are minorities — Baker, who is Black; the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts, who is Black and Japanese; and the Red Sox’s Alex Cora, Cardinals’ Oli Marmol and Nationals’ Dave Martinez, all of whom are Latino (the Rangers’ Tony Beasley, who is Black, and White Sox’s Miguel Cairo, who is Latino, are serving as interims).
The Tigers’ firing of GM Al Avila, meanwhile, left the sport without a Latino GM. Chicago White Sox executive vice-president Ken Williams is the only Black leader of baseball operations for any club. Marlins GM Kim Ng is the only woman and Asian-American in a general manager position. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who is of Pakistani descent, is the only other minority in a lead decision-making role.
Here’s an assessment of the eight teams currently facing decisions, based on information gathered from major-league sources and leading off with the most fascinating and bizarre situation in the sport:
Does anyone else find it odd that Click and Baker are not certain to return when their three-year partnership has resulted in an ALCS appearance, a World Series appearance and an expectation the team again will play deep into October?
Good. I thought maybe I was missing something.
To understand the situation in Houston, go back to Jan. 13, 2020, and owner Jim Crane’s firings of GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch in the wake of the team’s penalties for illegal sign stealing. Crane hired Baker, a veteran manager, 16 days later, and Click, a first-time GM, five days after that. Usually, the GM comes first, then they pick the manager. But Crane needed the stability Baker could offer before he could worry about the GM.