The Cubs, Reds Nationals, and Mariners are headed into the offseason without managers and a number of other teams have already made managerial moves for the 2014 season. Joe Girardi batted his eyes at the Cubs, only to stay home in New York. Ron Gardenhire got himself an extension. The Dodgers are "leaning toward" bringing back Donnie Baseball. The Phillies dropped ol' Cholly for Ryne Sandberg. And somehow, Mike Scioscia and Ned Yost were retained. It's been a busy skipper market already, but the "Dust" hasn't settled yet.
Here's a look at the teams with current vacancies to fill:
The lone opening in the American league is in Seattle's clubhouse. Eric Wedge stepped down after posting 4th place finishes in all three years as manager. Team officials have said Wedge was in their plans for the future and were "looking forward to having him back." Wedge said he was leaving not because of his contract, but because he had different visions of the future than management. Which is a fancy way of saying, "It was about my contract."
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik will have some internal options to choose from in former interim managers Robby Thompson and Darren Brown (the team's current third base coach). Jack Z could also turn to former All Star catcher Ted Simmons, who has served as a special assistant to Zduriencik in the past. Other names floating around SAFECO include: former M's infielder Joey Cora, Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams, and Rays bench coach Dave Martinez.
Like Wedge, Davey Johnson stepped down voluntarily despite his team's public desire to retain him. Johnson set himself up with a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy after a disappointing end to the 2012 season, saying he should be fired if the Nats failed to win the World Series in 2013. Maybe he just really hates losing or maybe he would've retired even if the Nats had won the Series this year. In any event, Washington General Manager Mike Rizzo is now searching for a new skipper.
Hall of Fame shortstop and former special assistant to the Nationals Barry Larkin has been generating a lot of buzz in our nation's capitol. Larkin managed the Brazilian WBC team to through the qualifying rounds this year. Of course, he may get a long look from the Reds as well, for obvious reasons. Another Hall of Fame shortstop has been mentioned as well. Cal Ripken, Jr. has stated recently that he'd be open to managing and Washington is rumored to have interest.
Nationals giving serious consideration to Cal Ripken Jr.as a Managerial Candidate according to source— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) October 9, 2013
Other options include: the recently fired Dusty Baker -- who requested he be considered for the job, Matt Williams, current bench coach Randy Knorr, and the manager of the team's AAA affiliate Tony Beasley.
Staying true to their blueprint for once-a-decade mediocrity, the Royals wasted no time in scooping up Dale Sveum after he was fired by the Cubs. Chicago has a lot of young talent coming through the pipeline, so the front office will likely be looking for candidates with experience as a mentor. Sveum didn't get much of a chance, as the Cubs must've seen an outcome similar to their '13 record as highly probable.
Regardless, the Cubs job may be the most prestigious on the market. Padres executive A.J. Hinch and former Indians manager Manny Acta are the most common names being uttered at the moment. Other names: Padres bench coach Rick Renteria, Dave Martinez, and Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.
Apparently, the Reds were just sick of Dusty. Baker led his club 187-137 record over the last two seasons, only Oakland Atlanta were better. He was often criticized by the numbers crowd -- and rightfully so, as Baker tended to use outdated methods -- but those shortcomings weren't enough to keep the team from staying in contention. The margin of a manager's influence is exaggerated by almost everyone. They play a significant role, of course, but the blame and often the praise is too often credited to an entity that only plays a role on the field in screaming contests and pageantic trips to he mound.
Barry Larkin's name will be mentioned a lot until the Reds fill the position, but the Hall of Famer hasn't been interviewed for the post yet. Another former Red, Paul O'Neill is also on the short list to skipper the team in 2014. The Reds are reportedly looking at internal options as well in pitching coach Bryan Price and Triple-A manager Jim Riggleman. Other names to watch: Davey Johnson, former Red and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, and former interim manager Chris Speier, amongst others.