Well it’s that time of year again…managerial musical chairs. Unfortunately for baseball fanatics like myself, there are only 3 teams looking for new managers this year (Nationals, Astros, and Indians). There are so many different ways to go about predicting who the next manager of a team will be—you can go with the safe choice, the stretch, the underdog, the person who has a 1% chance of managing, and the list goes on. For fun, I am going to examine who could be the next skipper of each of the three teams in a three part series. Since my prediction is that the Astros are going to make the first hire, they are the first ones I am going to take a look at:
This team is quite unique. They have not been bad in recent years, yet they have not been good. They have been pretty average. However, they have the talent and potential payroll to put together a team that can win the NL Central next year. However, before that they need someone to lead the ship. With this being said, here is a detailed breakdown of three potential candidates to right this ship
THE “INTERIM” MANAGER: Dave Clark
Why he is a good candidate—He knows the team and has some experience managing the team (if you count 13 games). Clearly the organization also sees potential in him as they gave him the reigns this September when Cecil Cooper got the boot.
Why they should pass on him—He has 13 games of managerial experience at the Major League level and the Astros have said they are looking for an individual with experience to manage in 2010…do 13 games really qualify him to manage?
THE MANAGERIAL PROSPECT IN NEED OF A SECOND CHANCE: Manny Acta
Why he is a good candidate—He is young, bright, and has over 15 years experience in the Astros minor league system. For years he has been dubbed the future managerial star. This might be the perfect organization for him to become that star.
Why they should pass on him—He could not right the Nationals ship when given the opportunity so what’s to say he will be a great manager in Houston?
THE WORLD SERIES MANAGER: Phil Garner
Why he is a good candidate—You know the saying that you don’t know how good you have it until it’s gone? I think the Astros may be realizing how good they had it with Garner leading the ship until that fateful day 2 years ago when he got the pink slip. Additionally, he is the only manager to bring the ‘stros to the World Series so he has brought success to the organization before…why can’t he do it again?
Why they should pass on him—To use another saying, “been there done that,” Garner has been the manager of the Astros and was fired. Obviously, something went wrong for them to fire him a month before the season’s end. Why go back to something that did not work after the first year?
THE UTILITY MAN: Tim Bogar
Why he is a good candidate—He retired after the 2001 season; yet, he has already won 3 manager of the year awards in the minor leagues…not too shabby. He has clearly shown that he can manage in the minor leagues, so maybe it’s time to give him a shot in the big leagues.
Why they should pass on him—He has 1 year of experience coaching in the big leagues—that’s it. Additionally, no one knows anything about him as a player, manager, or coach. In turn, he may have a very small following.
THE MOST POPULAR MAN IN JAPAN: Bobby Valentine
Why he is a good candidate—He has a fire that burns within him that is so unique and powerful. If the Astros are looking for someone to light a fire under the players within the organization, who better than Bobby V? He has managerial experience in Texas (while managing the Rangers) and experience managing in a major city (New York)…maybe Houston is the perfect combo?
Why they should pass on him—Towards the end of his tenure with the Mets, it seemed as though he “lost” the clubhouse. Bobby V just finished a contract out in Japan and was more popular than a Big Mac is in America. Could this have transformed him into a diva? I hope not, but it’s something to consider.
HE GOT FIRED?: Bob Melvin
Why he is a good candidate—He has shown that he can win if given the chance. Unfortunately for him, the Diamondbacks did not want to give Bob a chance to win in 2009 or 2010 and wanted to give that job to a man in their front office for the next four years. Frankly, I think Bob is a very smart man who has a lot of potential as a manager in the majors. All he is really guilty of is working for teams that did not have him in their long term plans.
Al Pendrique: his record as a manager with the Diamondbacks a few years ago sucked and he seems to have found his niche in the front office. Chances are, he should and will stay there.
Luis Pujols: He has experience managing in the majors (Detroit in 2002), experience managing in the Astros system since 2008 (Corpus Christi—the Astros AA affiliate). However, I think the only way he gets a nod as the Astros next manager is if he can convince them that hiring him will guarantee that his cousin Albert will join the team after 2010.
Terry Collins: He managed the Astros for 3 seasons and produced a team with a record over .500 each of the 3 years. However, he never brought the team to the playoffs. He has a lot of experience managing and is supposedly quite similar to Bobby V. However, this might have been one ship that already sailed as far as its going to go.
Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, or Brad Ausmus: Biggio and Bagwell are two of the most popular icons in Astros history. Thus, it would seem to be fitting that they manage the team they both spent 20+ years with. However, they have no experience managing or coaching, which makes their chances of managing slim to none. The same goes for Ausmus except he also is still active, thus he needs to retire before being considered a candidate to manage.
The Verdict: Given his history with the organization, extensive upside, and experience managing in the minor and major leagues, I believe that Manny Acta is not only the best candidate for the job in Houston, but also the most likely to get the position (not too often this happens). Only 40 years old, it would not be unreasonable to say that Acta could potentially manage the Astros for 10+ years if things go right.
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