My last post invoked quite a mixed reaction from the Orioles fanbase, but one of the things I saw come up in the comments the most was:
Who is going to replace Buck Showalter if you fire him?
This is a fair question, and one that needs it’s own post to explore potential candidates.
First let’s look back at the managers that replaced him in each setting where he was fired:
New York Yankees – Joe Torre
Joe Torre was picked as Buck’s replacement after the 1995 season and it will go down as one of the most successful manager changes in baseball history. Not only did the Yankees win the 1996 World Series, but they went on to win the 1998, 1999 and 2000 World Series and appeared and lost in 2001 and 2003 under Torre’s management.
Torre had just been fired as the Cardinals manager in 1995 part way through the season and he had managed the Cardinals since 1990, and the Braves (1982-1984) and Mets (1977-1981) before that. Between managing jobs with the Braves and Cardinals, Torre worked as a color commentator for NBC and the California Angels.
Torre played for the Braves, Cardinals and Mets in his MLB career and was a 9-time All-Star winning the NL MVP in 1971.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Bob Brenly
The D’Backs chose Bob Brenly to replace Showalter in Arizona. Brenly of course guided the Diamondbacks to an improbable win over the Yankees for a championship as Showalter’s two former teams met in in the 2001 World Series.
Brenly had never managed before and had last coached with the Giants in 1995 before becoming a broadcaster with Fox, where he remained until hired by Arizona after the 2000 season.
Brenly was a catcher for the Giants and Jays during his MLB career finishing his career with the Giants in 1989.
Texas Rangers – Ron Washington
The Rangers picked Ron Washington to replace Buck Showalter after the 2006 season. Like Brenly, Washington had never managed before but had served as a third base coach with the Oakland A’s helping to develop young stars like Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez.
Unlike Brenly and Torre, Washington didn’t have immediate success until 2010 when he managed his team to back to back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011, both losses.
Washington was a former journeyman MLB shortstop that played with the Dodgers, Twins, Orioles, Indians and Astros.
So all three teams chose managers with a variety of backgrounds. The Yankees chose to go with an experienced manager that had to see any real success, while the Diamondbacks and Rangers chose to go with former coaches that had never managed.
Who is the best fit for the Orioles? I’ll go over a few candidates that the Orioles could pursue:
Varitek is my number one choice to be the Orioles’ next manager. He really doesn’t need much of an introduction for Orioles fans because he tormented the Orioles for his playing career, including catching two of the four no-hitters he caught in his career against the Birds.
Varitek knows pitchers, as he has caught some of the best in the modern era – so there’s no doubt to me that he could help fix this weakness that the club currently has.
Coming from the Red Sox organization, he also has an appreciation for hitters that get on base, instead of the free-swingers that Buck Showalter continues to advocate to acquire and put in his lineup night after night. He would be a much better fit for Dan Duquette in that regard as the two would see more eye-to-eye on the need to increase the Orioles’ on-base capability.
Speaking of Duquette, there already is a connection there as Dan Duquette brought Jason Varitek to the Red Sox originally in a 1997 trade with the Mariners. Needless to say that move set up the Red Sox success over the next decade as Varitek became the team captain and was the symbol of their success.
It would be great to see Duquette bring Varitek to the Orioles to start another era of championships and success.
Currently Varitek is serving as a special assistant to Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowksi, and actually turned down an offer from the Mariners to manage after interviewing for the position in 2015.
Varitek has said he wants to manage a team in the future so why not the Orioles if the opportunity came up?
There are thoughts that he may be waiting for the Red Sox managerial post as Farrell’s contract is up after 2018 so he may only accept that role, but it’s certainly worth pursuing him.
Thome briefly played for the Orioles in 2012 under Buck Showalter after he was acquired by Dan Duquette at the deadline, so there is already a tie to the organization. Unlike Varitek, Thome’s ideal managing spot in Cleveland is likely going to be tied up for the near future with the success of Terry Francona, so he would be more likely to take the job in my opinion.
Thome would be ideal to work with this ballclub because of his success as a hitter, with his approach and on-base ability something he could pass on to the Orioles’ hitters. Just like Varitek, he’d be a better match for Duquette because of that approach being important. He’s well liked enough throughout baseball that he could likely put together a good coaching staff as well.
Here’s what his former teammate Paul Konerko had to say in 2014 about Thome possibly managing:
“Jim is probably the most positive guy I’ve been around,” Konerko said. “Whether it’s a person in baseball or on the street, he handles people right. That’s more of the bulk of the work now because you have a lot of people helping you make decisions.”
I doubt you’d see a situation like Hyun Soo Kim’s with Thome in the dugout.
Thome is currently working for the White Sox as a special assistant and as an analyst for MLB Network.
I honestly hadn’t thought of Billy Ripken as a manager until somebody asked me about it on Twitter.
After giving it some thought, the other Ripken would be a good managing candidate as he grew up with “The Oriole Way” with his father and brother and has deep ties throughout MLB with his job as an analyst at MLB Network. His most recent coaching experience came as a coach for the 2009 World Baseball Classic United States team.
He would be a longshot though, as he’s said that managing doesn’t currently interest him in an interview with Thom Loverro earlier this year, but if the Orioles came calling?
If you want to restore “The Oriole Way” hiring a Ripken would be a good start and I think Billy actually would do better than his more famous brother.
Chris “Tractor Man” Hoiles is arguably the franchise’s best overall catcher, backstopping the Orioles during their mid-90s playoff runs and former Orioles ace Mike Mussina always wanted him behind the plate when he was on the mound.
Hoiles managed the Atlantic League’s York Revolution for three seasons before stepping down for personal reasons in 2009 and is now a roving catching instructor in the Orioles’ minor leagues and owns and is a hitting instructor with Gold Glove Sports Academy.
Here’s what he had to say in 2012 before re-joining the organization:
“The job I’d really enjoy is working in-game with pitchers and catchers, and with the pitching coaches, and having a plan before the games like we used to do. Go over the opposition and have a game plan, and then work with them in-game, talk to them,” Hoiles said. “I could help with their hitting, too. I think I have a lot to offer with that.
A manager does all of these things, and while he hasn’t any major league experience, neither have many managers lately before they’ve been given a shot.
Hoiles would definitely be an outside-the-box choice, but perhaps that may be all it would take to flip the switch into the Orioles being a World Series contender.
Anderson is viewed as an heir to Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette when Duquette’s contract expires, but he has a much more personal relationship with the players than any front office executive would normally have.
He’s not high on my list at all, but he has the trust and support of Peter Angelos already, so one would think he’d be high on the list of candidates if he wanted it so that’s why his name has to be put out there.
Frankly, Anderson as manager might be the best move for the Orioles moving forward if he stays with the the organization as the last two contracts he’s been involved with (Darren O’Day and Mark Trumbo) seem to already be albatrosses.
So those are a few candidates that I can see realistically replacing Buck Showalter.
Any candidate the Orioles pick needs to improve on the weaknesses that have shown up under Showalter’s tenure – an inability to get consistent starting pitching and a lineup that is poorly constructed and favors free-swingers with power over professional hitters with on-base ability and solid plate approaches.
Now you can say Dan Duquette acquires the players, but Showalter has a big say and decides playing time so the next manager must have a better relationship and kindred thought process on how to build the roster. Right now that’s a big missing link in Baltimore and it has shown up over the past few seasons.
Fix that missing link, and the Orioles will be one step closer to the World Series.
Top images: CC Images courtesy of Keith Allison on Flickr