Throughout the month of October, I have been reviewing some of the top stories that were in the newly completed regular season. I have written about the amazing 2010 rookie class, and whether 2010 was the year of the pitcher. Today I’m taking a look into the massive amount of change with regard to the managers that occurred this season.
As it is with every season, there were a number of managers who lost their jobs during the season. Some weren’t all that surprising, as Trey Hillman was let go by the Royals on May 13th, and Dave Trembley by the Orioles on June 4th. It was a huge surprise when Fredi Gonzalez was fired on June 23rd by the Marlins, but the biggest was yet to come. Easily the biggest surprise was the dual firing of both manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes by the Diamondbacks on the 1st of July. It became clear that the reason Byrnes was fired was for failing to comply with ownership’s desire to fire Hinch. The final in-season firing occurred on August 9th, when Don Wakamatsu was fired by the Mariners.
As is also the case, there were also a few managers fired after the final games of the season were completed. Nothing particularly surprising out of New York, with both field manager Jerry Manuel fired and general manager Omar Minaya “reassigned” elsewhere in the organization. Also let go after the season were the managers of the Pirates, John Russell, and the Brewers, Ken Macha.
We already knew that Bobby Cox would be retiring after the 2010 season, and indeed he did so after the Braves’ elimination from the playoffs. But the bigger surprises were that Lou Piniella announced not just that he was retiring, but then that he would be leaving immediately to help care for his ill mother. While it was a bit of a surprise that he retired, it wasn’t entirely a surprise that Joe Torre might want out of the devolving situation that is the divorce of the McCourts and the Dodgers.Also among the retirees was a manager I honestly had forgotten had a job, Cito Gaston of the Blue Jays.
The New Hires
With only 30 jobs available at the Major League level for managers, there are generally going to be people qualified just waiting for the chance to manage in the big leagues. While a few of them are on their second chances, there were also some who are getting their first chance. The hires so far: Eric Wedge by the Mariners, Buck Showalter by the Orioles, Fredi Gonzalez by the Braves, Don Mattingly by the Dodgers, and Mike Quade by the Cubs.
The thing that really stands out to me is the fact that this really seemed like a mass exodus of the heavyweights of the field. Tony LaRussa will return in 2011, and at this point he is probably the biggest heavyweight left in the field with Torre, Piniella, and Cox all retiring. There remain some of the fabled names of the game with Jim Leyland, Bruce Bochy, and Dusty Baker, but the group of them don’t necessarily seem to be in that same group as the LaRussas and Piniellas of the managing world. But there is also a group of new managers coming along who are not only seeing success, but really appear to be the cream of the newest crop. To me, managers like Mike Scioscia, Terry Francona, and Joe Girardi have already seen success, and newer managers like Fredi Gonzalez and Bud Black who appear to have a good foundation to build from already. It seems to me that while we will notice this missing group of managers next season, there are definitely a lot of up-and-comers who will more than fill in over time.
Some information pulled from Wikipedia page on the 2010 season.