Bud Black, John Farrell, and now Bryan Price have restarted the pitching coach-turned-manager debate. Black and Farrell, once teammates with the Indians, are making a case that yes, pitching coaches can make good managers. And Price hopes to do the same with the Reds.
The reason is obvious — pitching is becoming a bigger part of the game. Teams win with pitching, and lose when they don’t have enough of it. Sure, they have to score runs, but it comes down to pitchers keeping their teams in games and bullpens finishing things off.
So, if the game is that slanted toward pitching, why wouldn’t you consider a pitching coach a legitimate managerial candidate? The feeling that a pitching coach can’t succeed as a manager because he doesn’t know enough about the other positions is gone.
While Farrell understands that a former position player is perhaps involved in more aspects of the game, he contends that a pitcher has more time to study the game.
“I still think as a pitcher, if you have a true desire to learn all aspects of the game, and if you have a way to maybe connect with individuals, in this case players, and you want to lead people and work toward combining efforts to achieve a goal, which has been my approach to a post-playing career, I don’t know why the stigma is there for former pitchers as managers,” Farrell said.
“Obviously, Bryan Price now makes the third former pitcher who is currently managing. Bud Black has blazed a trail recently that we are now following.”
At some point, you’re going to hear the names of other pitching coaches crop up for managerial openings. Mike Maddux of the Rangers was in demand for interviews the last couple of years, but he’s chosen not to pursue managing jobs. And brother Greg Maddux could also be considered managerial timber.
Also, don’t be surprised if you hear the name Juan Nieves. The Red Sox pitching coach is bright and articulate, and also bilingual, which is a tremendous asset. Nieves was the White Sox’ bullpen coach for years and worked mostly with relievers. He got the most out of Bobby Jenks and Matt Thornton, and helped develop Addison Reed, among others.
Nieves never speaks publicly about managing, and after all, he’s in his first year as a major league pitching coach. But he has made quite an impact with the Red Sox. In fact, while some believed Farrell would work directly with the pitchers, it’s turned out Nieves has handled that. Farrell has delegated well.
“Juan is a very, very smart man,” said Red Sox special assistant Pedro Martinez, who worked with Nieves in spring training. “He’s an excellent communicator. When he speaks, people listen. He knows how to work with each individual pitcher and figure out how to correct things and how to get the most out of the pitcher. You’ve seen what he’s done with this staff. It’s been excellent all year long. Juan deserves a lot of credit. Obviously, with John there’s that emphasis on the pitching, anyway. And Juan has had a lot of help too from [bullpen coach] Dana Levangie and [bullpen catcher] Manny Martinez. Both guys really know the game and pitching.”
Giants general manager Brian Sabean has long touted pitching coach Dave Righetti as a future manager, as well as San Francisco bench coach Ron Wotus. Wotus is getting some attention from the Mariners, who have an opening after Eric Wedge (who will interview with the Cubs) resigned when management was slow to address his job status.
As Black and Farrell will tell you, it’s about delegating authority to the right people. Farrell relies on bench coach Torey Lovullo, whom the Cubs, Mariners, and Tigers are interested in talking to about their managerial openings, along with coaches Brian Butterfield, Arnie Beyeler, and Levangie.
Black has had bench coach Rick Renteria to help guide him through the positional stuff, and now Renteria appears to be a top managerial candidate.
Another pitching coach who could soon make the leap to manager is the Rays’ Jim Hickey, who has been to the World Series with Houston and Tampa Bay. Hickey has nurtured the Rays’ young pitchers, and has worked under Phil Garner in Houston and Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay.
Some believe that recently deposed Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee has what it takes to succeed as a manager after spending several years as Charlie Manuel’s righthand man.
Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild already has been a manager, but it was with the expansion Devil Rays from 1998-2001. Rothschild could always get another shot, but his previous tenure included many challenges that he couldn’t overcome.
Napoli set to cash in if he hits the market
What’s the skinny on Mike Napoli moving forward?
Here’s what one GM had to say about the future of Boston’s first baseman: “If the Red Sox don’t tie him up for three years, someone will. He’s a power righthanded bat. If the risk of his hip condition getting worse is minimal, and that’s what everyone would have to find out, the righthanded power bat is pretty enticing.”
Napoli, who will become a free agent after the World Series, will go into a first base market that includes Kendrys Morales, James Loney. Justin Morneau, Mike Morse, and Corey Hart.
Napoli’s agent, Brian Grieper, doesn’t anticipate his client will have to settle for a one-year deal or qualifying offer. Unfortunately for Napoli, he probably won’t see a lot of time at first base in the three Series games in St. Louis, with David Ortiz likely to play at least two.
If the Red Sox had landed Cuban Jose Dariel Abreu, they likely would have decided not to re-sign Napoli. But they missed out and now are back to the drawing board. They would want a short-term contract, but Napoli may not have to settle for that, though he loves playing in Boston.
Of the other free agent first basemen, Morales would likely be Napoli’s stiffest competition for a big contract. Morales (23 homers) had a very good year in Seattle, and he’s a switch-hitter. Loney had a big season in Tampa Bay and would like to remain there, but he’ll also want more than a one-year contract.
Morneau is trying to reinvent himself after his superb career in Minnesota, but it doesn’t appear the Pirates will attempt to re-sign him. Hart is coming off a season-long knee injury, but when healthy can be a very good player who can also play the outfield.
So, Napoli finds himself in a nice position. He also hasn’t sworn off catching again. Napoli has said he has never experienced any symptoms of the avascular necrosis in his hips, but talk of that could still be problematic in free agency.
Apropos of nothing
1. Ran into Ace Adams and Roger LaFrancois, who are employed by the Cardinals. Adams used to be the Red Sox’ batting practice pitcher and has gone on to a nice career as a minor league pitching coach. LaFrancois, a scout, hit .400 for the Red Sox in 1982. He was the third catcher for Ralph Houk and had four hits in 10 at-bats.
2. Good guy Tim Purpura was part of the Rangers’ purge. He’s been reassigned to the business office after leaving minor league baseball to become the team’s farm director.
3. So, what do the Red Sox do with Ryan Lavarnway?
4. The story goes that there were five pilots for “The Damons,” but the reality show never got off the ground. It starred former Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon, his wife Michelle, and their family. Wish I could get my hands on those five episodes. Maybe Tom Werner could turn this into something.
5. I asked Derek Lowe and Pudge Rodriguez, both of whom appear to be in fine shape, “Why can’t you guys play baseball anymore?” Lowe: “I think I could if I were a starting pitcher. But you get to be my age at 40 and you get pegged into a relief role, and that I can’t do anymore. But I know I could start.” Rodriguez: “I think I could still play, but I put it in my head that I was going to retire and I’m OK being retired.”
6. It’s amazing how advanced Orioles minor league pitching coordinator Rick Peterson’s biomechanics pitching program is, but how little attention he gets for a major league job, including that of Orioles pitching coach, which is available.
7. How many teams will package prospects to offer the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton? I’m guessing the Phillies, Red Sox, Rangers, and Mariners, for starters.
8. So, we think that Shane Victorino got hit with pitches a lot this season (18 times)? Do we forget that in 1986 Don Baylor was hit by pitches 35 times with the Red Sox?
9. Just saw Ben Bradlee’s new book on Ted Williams. It’s more than 800 pages and includes a lot of details about Williams’s personal life, some not so flattering.
Updates on nine
1. Daniel Nava, OF, Red Sox — A few teams are hoping the Sox will listen to trade offers, but it doesn’t appear they will be eager to deal a .300 hitter with a .385 on-base percentage. One National League scout said, “He fits so well in a lot of lineups around the league. He had great plate discipline, so if you stick him in the middle of a lineup that doesn’t, he’s going to rub off on people. I’ll bet the Red Sox get a lot of inquiries about him.”
2. Rick Renteria, bench coach, Padres — Renteria is suddenly an attractive managerial candidate because of his fine work on Bud Black’s staff, but also because he’s bilingual. With more and more Latin players, Renteria’s ability to speak Spanish is valued. That’s why he’s a major candidate with the Cubs, and may soon be on the Tigers’ and Mariners’ radar.
3. Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Angels — The Angels will listen on a deal for Trumbo, but they would have to get a front-line starting pitcher, according to a source with knowledge of their thinking. Righthanded power is hard to come by, and with the futures of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton not clear, trading Trumbo may not make sense.
4. Mike Napoli, 1B, Red Sox — It’ll be interesting to see whether the Red Sox will be spooked by Napoli’s hip condition to the point where they don’t commit to a multiyear deal. If they decide to let him go or if Napoli does not accept the $14.1 million qualifying offer, he should have some suitors who will offer more than one year. Napoli will have an exit physical and MRI, and at that point the Sox will likely formulate their game plan. The Blue Jays, Indians, Twins, Brewers, and Rangers could all have interest.
5. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers — Is the time right to move Kinsler to first base? The Rangers will ponder this over the offseason. It appears they will pull the plug on Mitch Moreland and move him. The Rangers could always upgrade at first base or sign someone like Justin Morneau short term.
6. DeMarlo Hale, bench coach, Blue Jays — Once again you hear how well Hale interviewed for a managing job — this time in Washington. But the Nationals appear to be closing in on Matt Williams. Hale must feel used to some degree, being an African-American candidate, and the fact he has now interviewed a few times without receiving a job offer. Hale was supposedly the runner-up to John Farrell in Toronto three years ago, but when the job came up again, it went to John Gibbons. Hale deserves a legitimate chance to manage.
7. Brad Mills, bench coach, Indians — Mills, a former Red Sox coach and Astros manager, interviewed for the Reds managing job that went to Bryan Price. Mills’s first managerial experience included a lot of frustration as the Astros were transitioning to the perennial 100-loss team they’ve become. Teams are looking for managers with recent experience, and Mills fits the bill.
8. Joe Maddon, manager, Rays — There was major speculation that if the Dodgers hadn’t retained Don Mattingly that Maddon would have been a target (via trade). Maddon, who earns $2 million per year, which is around 10th on the salary list, lives in the Los Angeles area. But Maddon loves managing the Rays and it would have been interesting to see if he would even entertain leaving.
9. Kevin Youkilis, 3B/1B, free agent — According to his agent, Joe Bick, Youkilis had back surgery performed by Dr. Robert Watkins on June 20. He has rehabbed and would have been “likely ready to play if the Yankees had made the postseason.” Bick said Youkilis has no limitations and will be in the market.
From the Bill Chuck files: “Yu Darvish allowed just 145 hits in 209⅔ innings this season, the fewest for an over-200-IP season since Pedro Martinez only allowed 128 hits in 217 innings in 2000.” . . . Also, “In Ubaldo Jimenez’s first 16 starts of 2013, he had a 4.63 ERA; in his last 16 starts, he had a 2.18 ERA.” And, “Matt Garza was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA with Texas after going 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA for the Cubs.” . . . Happy birthday, Pedro Beato (27), Jim Burton (64), LeeStange (77), and Pumpsie Green (80).Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.