Barring a surprising development, it’ll be several months before we see another managerial change in Major League Baseball. The Pirates, the last of eight teams that sought a new skipper on the heels of last season, filled the position with the hiring of former Twins bench coach Derek Shelton on Wednesday. The Angels, Phillies, Giants, Royals, Mets, Cubs and Padres previously landed new managers.
Of the teams that went in different directions in the dugout this offseason, half hired individuals with previous managerial experience. The Angels and Phillies, two big-spending clubs looking to break long playoff droughts, each tabbed a prior World Series winner. Los Angeles selected Joe Maddon, whom the Cubs parted with at the conclusion of the season, while Philadelphia went with Joe Girardi after he enjoyed an eminently successful run with the Yankees from 2008-17.
Girardi’s taking over for Gabe Kapler, whose tenure in Philly was not always sunny (far from it). The Phillies parted with Kapler on the heels of two straight mediocre-at-best years, but that didn’t stop the Giants from hiring him to succeed three-time champion and potential Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy. The rebuilding Royals also had to find someone to grab the reins from a former championship winner, Ned Yost, who retired. They chose ex-Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who – like Kapler – wasn’t particularly popular in his prior stop.
Meanwhile, the four first-timers are stepping into differing situations. Carlos Beltran, who’s not far removed from wrapping up what could be a Cooperstown-caliber playing career, doesn’t even have any coaching experience. Nevertheless, the Mets are putting their faith in the 42-year-old Beltran – once of their stars – to outperform predecessor Mickey Callaway. Beltran proved capable of handling New York’s special brand of pressure when he was a player, but it’s anyone’s guess whether he’ll be able to do the same in his new role with a Mets team that expects to push for a postseason berth in 2020.
Likewise, longtime major league catcher David Ross has assumed the reins of one of his former clubs, the Cubs, who will enter next season with playoff aspirations after petering out this year under Maddon. Ross is a fan favorite in Chicago thanks to his time with the Cubs, though he’s yet another managerial pick with no coaching experience.
On the other hand, Shelton and the Padres’ Jayce Tingler have coached, though neither one is inheriting a team that looks especially likely to contend next season. That said, there will be pressure for San Diego, led by general manager A.J. Preller, to at least get back to .500 for the first time since 2010. The hope for the club is that the 38-year-old Tingler, a former Rangers assistant who’s now the second-youngest manager in the game (Twins AL Manager of the Year winner Rocco Baldelli is younger), will emerge as something of a wunderkind.
So, who made the best hire among this large group of franchises? Is it one of the clubs that went the experienced route? Or do you like one of the rookies the best?
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