Dan Schlossberg's Weekend Notebook: Musical Managers • Latino Sports


Dan Schlossberg’s Weekend Notebook: Musical Managers


Like a carousel full of screaming children, major-league managers are taking a ride they won’t soon forget.

Davey Johnson has retired. Joe Girardi is a free agent. Dale Sveum and Dusty Baker have been fired. Mike Scioscia, Bo Porter, and Mike Redmond could soon follow.

Remember 1964, when first-year manager Yogi Berra won a pennant for the Yankees but was fired after losing the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals? New York brought in Johnny Keane, the man who beat Berra, in a move no one suspected.

History could be repeating itself.

What if Girardi, realizing that age and injuries will dog the Yankees until they start developing their own players, suddenly opts for greener pastures? A Northwestern product who played for the Cubs and lived in Chicago, he could be coaxed back to the National League if Theo Epstein assures him that a youth infusion will accompany the cosmetic changes to ancient Wrigley Field.

Will Don Mattingly wear pinstripes as a manager?

Will Don Mattingly wear pinstripes as a manager?

What if Don Mattingly, bypassed for the Yankees job after Joe Torre left, sees an opportunity to don pinstripes again and rejuvenate his old team?

Girardi will interview for the Washington vacancy created by Johnson’s retirement while Scioscia could jump from one Los Angeles team to the other if Mattingly leaves. After all, Scioscia was a star Dodgers catcher for years and cultivated a fine reputation as a manager before the high-priced Angels went belly-up this season.

Just days after his firing by the Cubs, Sveum landed a coaching spot with Ned Yost’s up-and-coming Kansas City Royals. But he’s a young guy whose managing days are certainly not over.

Porter and Redmond had the misfortune of managing the worst clubs in the game. Houston, in its first American League season, led the American League in losses, while Miami limped to the National League East’s finish line with a moribund offense outside of Giancarlo Stanton. The Fish have already fried several front office hands, including general manager Larry Beinfest.

The Astros, under new ownership, will do anything to fill the seats of Minute Maid Park — even hiring a publicity hound like Ozzie Guillen to keep the sinking ship afloat. Fans don’t often flock to the stadium for the manager but Guillen, Billy Martin, and Earl Weaver were vociferous exceptions to that rule.

Dusty Baker played for the Braves and might manage them too

Dusty Baker played for the Braves and might manage them too

Baker should wind up somewhere too. A three-time National League Manager of the Year, he’d be a perfect fit in Washington if Girardi keeps his pinstripes or opts for Cubbie blue. Baker has managed the Giants, Cubs, and Reds with remarkable success and is held in high esteem by both players and media members.

Once billed as “the next Hank Aaron,” Baker could even return to Atlanta — where he broke into the game as a slugging outfielder — if the Braves decide they’re not going to win with Fredi Gonzalez.

Baseball makes strange bedfellows.

Other thoughts that crowd an editor’s mind on the cusp of the weekend:

The Braves can blame the Mets for drawing the Dodgers as their Division Series rival. If Atlanta had won any one of the nine games it lost to the denizens of Flushing, it would have secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs — and the right to play the wild-card team in the first round.

Instead of Braves-Pirates and Dodgers-Cardinals, however, the two NL Central rivals are playing one set of NLDS games while the Braves face the daunting task of denting a Dodger rotation headed by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Grienke, the second coming of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. All Kershaw did in Game 1 of the playoffs was fan a dozen Braves in seven sparkling innings.

The Dodgers feature a formidable front four in their rotation

The Dodgers feature a formidable front four in their rotation

Zack Wheeler, the rookie righthander who joined the Mets in midsummer, is the villain in all this. He went 3-0 against Atlanta but 4-5 against the rest of the league. No other pitcher beat the Braves three times in 2013.

AWARDS SEASON starts soon, with front-runners Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) and Max Scherzer (Tigers) likely to snag Cy Young Awards, Yadier Molina (Cardinals) and Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) front-runners for Most Valuable Player, and Jose Fernandez (Marlins) the best choices for Rookie of the Year in the American and National Leagues, respectively . . .

Terry Francona (Indians) and Clint Hurdle (Pirates) are Managers of the Year but both have strong challengers . . .

The last time Joe Girardi was named Manager of the Year, he did not return to the same club the following season. That could happen again . . .

How could Kris Medlen (Braves) win National League Pitcher of the Month honors in September, with a 1.00 earned run average, but fall flat on his face in the first postseason game? . . .

NOW do you think the Yankees regret letting Russell Martin leave as a free agent last fall? Plagued all season by a gaping hole behind home plate, the Yanks winced when Martin homered twice against the Reds to clinch the NL’s wild-card game.


About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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