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June 29, 2010

Top 10 Week

Manager Prospects

by John Perrotto

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Top 10 Week continues here at Baseball Prospectus as we look at the 10 best managerial prospects in the game. Only those who have never managed in the major leagues on a regular basis were considered for this list, which was compiled with the help of numerous people in all facets of the game.

Dave Brundage
Age: 44
Current Position: Manager of the Braves' Triple-A Gwinnett farm club.
Background: Brundage spent seven seasons as a minor-league outfielder then 14 years working in the Mariners' farm system from 1993-2006, four as a hitting coach and 10 as a manager. He has been a manager in the Braves' farm system the last four seasons.
Why He is Qualified: This is all you need to know about Brundage: Those close to the Braves believe if they stay inside the organization to replace the retiring Bobby Cox at the end of the season that Brundage will likely be general manager Frank Wren's choice. Though Brundage has never played or coached in the major leagues, his knowledge of the game and ability to communicate and motivate would allow him to overcome any experience disadvantage.

Joey Cora
Current Position: White Sox bench coach
Age: 45
Background: Cora was an infielder in the major leagues for 11 seasons from 1987-98 with the Padres, White Sox, Mariners and Indians. He became a minor-league coach with the Cubs in 2000 then was a minor-league manager for two years with the Mets (2001-02) and one with the Expos (2003). Cora was hired by the White Sox as their third base coach in 2004 then shifted to bench coach three years later.
Why He is Qualified: Cora is a highly intelligent guy and in many respects keeps the White Sox steadied while manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Ken Williams continued their never-ending drama on the South Side. Cora can be a bit of a tough guy, though, and would likely need a "good cop" bench coach to serve as a buffer with the players if he becomes a manager.

John Farrell
Age: 47
Current Position: Red Sox pitching coach.
Background: Farrell pitched in the major leagues for eight seasons from 1987-96 with the Indians, Angels, and Tigers. He spent five seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Oklahoma State, his alma mater, from 1997-2001. Farrell returned to professional baseball in 2002 as the Indians' player development director before joining the Red Sox as their pitching coach in 2007.
Why He is Qualified: Farrell has a wealth of experience, both on the field and in the front office, and is considered one of the game's progressive thinkers. He is also able to adeptly handle all the media attention that comes from being the Red Sox' pitching coach, something that would serve him well as a manager.

Tom Foley
Age: 50
Current Position: Rays third base coach
Background: Foley was an infielder in the major leagues for 13 seasons with the Reds, Phillies, Expos, and Pirates from 1983-95. He joined the Rays as their minor-league field coordinator in 1996 and worked in that capacity for four seasons before serving a two-year stint as their minor-league director then becoming the third base coach in 2002.
Why He is Qualified: Foley has been with the Rays since their inception and has a great understanding of how the game works from the ground up. He is an understated guy and certainly not a self-promoter, which has kept him under the radar, but is extremely bright and those close to him strongly believe he would be an outstanding manager.

Torey Lovullo
Age: 44
Current Position: Manager of the Red Sox' Triple-A Pawtucket farm club.
Background: Lovullo spent eight seasons as an infielder in the major leagues from 1988-99 with the Tigers, Yankees, Angels, Mariners, Athletics, and Phillies, and also played in Japan. He joined the Indians as a roving minor-league coordinator in 2001 and was a manager in their farm system for eight seasons from 2002-09, including four at the Triple-A level. Lovullo moved to the Red Sox' organization last winter.
Why He is Qualified: Lovullo has been considered ready to manage in the major leagues for the last few years and the biggest factor that caused him to lose out to Manny Acta for the Indians' opening last November was the perception that the organization was not willing to look outside for a different perspective. Lovullo is known as a great communicator who likes to play an aggressive style of baseball that puts the pressure on the opposition with steals and hit-and-runs.

Pete Mackanin
Age: 58
Current Position: Phillies bench coach
Background: Mackanin was an infielder in the major leagues for nine seasons from 1973-81 with the Rangers, Expos, Phillies, and Twins. He managed in the minor leagues for 13 seasons, winning 917 games for the Cubs, Reds, Expos, and Pirates. Mackanin was also the Expos' third base coach for four seasons from 1997-2000 and the Pirates' bench coach for three years from 2005-07. He served two stints as an interim manager in the major leagues, with the Pirates in 2005 and the Reds in 2007. Mackanin has also scouted for the Reds and Yankees.
Why He is Qualified: Mackanin is the oldest person on this list, which unfortunately is likely to work against him, but he is an outstanding baseball man who did a fine job in his two interim stints as manager in what were obviously very difficult situations. He relates well to people, commands the respect of players without being overbearing, has a tremendous wit, and handles the media extremely well. He truly deserves a chance to be a big-league skipper on a permanent basis.

Don Mattingly
Current Position: Dodgers hitting coach
Age: 49
Background: Mattingly spent his entire 14-year major-league playing career as a first baseman with the Yankees from 1982-95. He rejoined the Yankees as a special instructor in 1997 and spent seven years in that capacity before becoming their hitting coach for three seasons from 2004-06 then their bench coach in 2007. Mattingly was hired as the Dodgers hitting coach midway through the 2008 season.
Why He is Qualified: Mattingly brings instant credibility to any clubhouse, as he was a superstar player in the game's biggest media market. He also has an outstanding personality, which allows him to easily connect with the players and others around him. Mattingly has learned at the side of Joe Torre, a master when it comes to maintaining a calm clubhouse environment and handling the media.

Jose Oquendo
Current Position: Cardinals third base coach
Age: 45
Background: Oquendo was a super utility man, before the term was invented, in the major leagues for 12 seasons from 1983-95 with the Mets and Cardinals.  He has spent his entire coaching career with the Cardinals, serving as a minor-league field instructor in 1997, a minor-league manager in the 1998, and the major-league third base coach for the last 12 seasons.
Why He is Qualified: Oquendo was nicknamed "The Secret Weapon" as a player and is much the same way as a coach as he works in the large shadows of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, hitting coach Mark McGwire, and pitching coach Dave Duncan. Oquendo knows the game inside and out, has good people skills, is bilingual, and his easygoing manner wears well with players.

Ron Roenicke
Age: 53
Current Position: Angels bench coach
Background: Roenicke was an outfielder in the major leagues for eight seasons from 1981-88 with the Dodgers, Mariners, Padres, Giants, Phillies, and Reds. He began his non-playing career with the Dodgers, spending five seasons as a minor-league manager, before becoming the Giants' Triple-A manager for one year in 1999. Roenicke has been on the Angels' staff the last 11 seasons, six as the third base coach before becoming the bench coach in 2006.
Why He is Qualified: Roenicke has spent more than a decade working on Mike Scioscia's staff and learning from perhaps the best manager in the game. Roenicke has the reputation of being a very calm and steady guy, who is also a great teacher, traits that would seemingly make him a great fit for a rebuilding organization. Some feel Roenicke is too nice to manage, but that was also said about the Angels previous bench coach, Joe Maddon, who has turned out to be an outstanding skipper with the Rays.

Lee Tinsley
Age: 41
Current Position: Mariners first base coach
Background: Tinsley was an outfielder in the major leagues for five seasons from 1993-97 with the Mariners, Red Sox, and Phillies. He spent two seasons as a minor-league hitting coach and three seasons as the roving minor-league outfield instructor with the Diamondbacks and another season as the outfield rover in the Angels' organization before coming to the major leagues as a coach in 2006. He was the Diamondbacks' first-base coach for three seasons before assuming the same job with the Mariners in 2009.
Why He is Qualified: The primary knock against Tinsley is that he has no managerial experience. However, his many supporters say that he would quickly make up for the lack of experience because he is smart and has a deep knowledge of the game. Tinsley hasn't interviewed for any major-league manager's jobs yet, but he will in due time.

John Perrotto is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see John's other articles. You can contact John by clicking here

Related Content:  Minor Leagues,  A's,  Major Leagues,  The Who,  Bench,  Manager,  Hitting Coach

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Prospectus Q&A: Andrew... (06/29)
<< Previous Column
Top 10 Week: General M... (06/28)
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Top 10 Week: The Super... (06/30)
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