It was announced yesterday that Eric Wedge will not be returning as manager next season. Wedge chose to leave under his own power, likely disheveled by the lack of straightforwardness on the part of the front office. Obviously, this means a replacement must be hired for next season. Hopefully one who helps turn this thing around, or at least in the correct direction as to win more games.
Before I get into the list of potential candidates I feel I should give my opinion on Wedge. I personally have never been a fan of Wedge. I have never blamed him totally, but I do believe he has made a lot of head-scratching decisions over his time with the team, decisions that likely didn’t help what was already a poor team.
And as a side note, I think the role of a manager is often far overblown in both directions. They get too much blame for a team’s struggles, or credit for their success. It still comes down to the players, and unless he does a piss-poor job of utilizing them, there isn’t much the skipper can do.
I have compiled a list of four names who could (or could not) be in the running to replace Wedge.
Robby Thompson – The current Seattle bench coach filled in for Wedge during his health problems, and he did a suitable job. The team went 12-15 with Thompson at the helm, which is slightly better than the teams overall record, comparatively. Thompson has been in a few different coaching roles since 2000, including a base coach, assistant to the GM, and obviously bench coach. So while he does not have full time managerial experience, he has a lot of experience in other positions that could speak to his ability to handle different situation on the fly. Thompson did make the mistake of calling for the wrong pitcher, but that was more of a technicality that is unlikely to happen again. If the Mariners want to stay in house, Robby in an option.
Daren Brown – Brown is the current manager of the Tacoma Rainiers, as he has been since 2007. However, he has been a coach in the M’s organization since 2001, starting at the Single-A level and working his way up. But as many of you know, Brown spend a large portion of the year as the third base coach at the major league level, after Jeff Datz was diagnosed with cancer. And that isn’t the only MLB experience he has, as Brown was the interim manager in 2010 after Don Wakamatsu was fired. Brown has been talked about as a Wedge replacement before, so if the M’s want to stay in-house, but go with someone with more managerial experience than Thompson, Brown is the guy.
Matt Williams – The former Giants and Diamondbacks All-Star currently serves as the third base coach for Arizona. He was hired for first base in 2010, and then moved to third after one season, where he has been since. Williams’ name has been brought up in many different managerial openings including the Rockies and Nationals, the former of which he interviewed for last year. With Davey Johnson retiring this year, Williams has been brought up as a candidate. Those talks speak to Williams potential as a manager, as teams seem to believe he can succeed in that role at some point.
Charlie Manuel – The veteran manager (the only one of the four) was fired by the Phillies this year after the team held a lowly 53-68 record. Despite that, Manuel managed more than a few good teams in his career, and had an overall 780-636 record in his time with Philadelphia, a time that included five straight division titles, and two straight World Series appearances (one of them a series win). While Manuel is far from perfect, a lot of fans blame Phillies GM Ruben Amaro more than they do Manuel, who was forced to work with an overpaid and aging roster that likely wouldn’t have won no matter what. If the M’s are looking for experience to lead this young team, Manuel makes a lot of sense.