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    Tuesday, July 16, 2019

    Which Active Managers Could Get Their Numbers Retired? Part Two

    In part one, I looked at what it generally takes for a manager to get their number retired by a team. Now that we have a framework established, we can pretty easily go through each team’s manager and see which ones measure up. Of course, in some cases, the manager is relatively new, so I also threw in a few other recent managers for some teams who seem to fit at least one of the major criteria. There’s a lot to get through here, so let’s get to it:

    Red Sox-It's still way too early to say for sophomore manager Alex Cora. Obviously, winning a title in your first season is a pretty good start, but the last guy did that too, and he was let go after five years with a .533 record. Cora definitely seems better than that, of course, but it's still going to be an uphill battle.

    On the subject of recent managers, while he was technically three managers ago (already???), he's still active with some pretty good credentials: I'm speaking, of course, about Terry Francona. He didn't even make it to a decade in Boston, which might seem a little short, but it was actually the second-longest managerial tenure the team has ever seen (and the longest excluding player-managers). Two World Series, including the one that broke The Curse, should be more than enough to smooth over whatever anger ownership felt towards him when he retires (also, like Cora and John Farrell, Francona won a World Series in his first year with the team. That means every manager since the curse ended except Bobby Valentine did that. I don’t know that it means anything, but it’s weird that it’s happened three times now). They might wait for him to make the Hall first (which he seems like a lock for), and we'll get to his Indians number later, but I expect #47 to get retired shortly after Francona hangs it up for good.

    Orioles-Brandon Hyde was just hired this past offseason, and it’s too early to call whether he’ll still be in place by the end of the Orioles’ present rebuilding, let alone anything beyond that. His predecessor Buck Showalter had the second-longest Orioles tenure ever, and is second in team history on wins (both behind Earl Weaver), but it’s hard to see him getting a number retired given the lack of pennants.

    Blue Jays-Charlie Montoyo is another first-year manager, so again, it’s probably not worth getting too into. I got into it last time, but their interesting manager in recent history is Cito Gaston, who won two World Series managing the Blue Jays from 1989 to 1997 (then came back for a second, less successful fun from 2008 to 2010). He’s also the all-time winningest Blue Jays manager. I’m not sure why they haven’t retired his number yet, but they did add him to their “Level of Excellence” that seemed like their twist on retired numbers right up until they actually started to retire numbers as well. So we’ll see how that goes in the next few years, I suppose. I still think they’ll eventually retire his number, unless they’re leaving retired numbers to Hall of Famers exclusively (Gaston might not make the Hall, but I haven’t looked at his case too hard yet either way to be 100% sure of that gut reaction).

    Rays-Kevin Cash is only four games above .500 at the moment and had a tough first three years, but the Rays have looked like a strong team since last year, so maybe he’s on the upswing. If he brings the Rays their first World Series, he’ll likely also take over their franchise win record, so that would make him a strong contender.

    Joe Maddon is also interesting, as the current franchise win leader and the guy who brought Tampa their first pennant. If Cash actually wins a World Series, it takes a lot of the luster off of Maddon’s achievement. Conversely, if Maddon makes the Hall (which still seems pretty feasible), the Rays may honor him for getting his start there. I can see it going either way.

    Yankees-Aaron Boone, again, seems like he’s off to a decent start, but just winning a World Series doesn’t seem to be enough for the Yankees, so he has a tougher hill to climb than just about anyone else. His predecessor Joe Girardi managed the team for a decade, but his lone title probably isn’t enough for their standards. Maybe it could happen if the owners decide they like him more in retrospect, like with Billy Martin.

    Indians-Francona has been in Cleveland for almost as long as he was in Boston now, which shocks me for some reason. He's been at the helm for a good run in Cleveland, even bringing them a pennant back in 2016, and he's moving up the franchise wins list; he should hit 600 and pass Tris Speaker (617) for third this year, and finish within 100 from Mike Hargrove (721) and Lou Boudreau (728). Of course, a lot of wins and a pennant isn't necessarily enough; just ask Hargrove. He'll probably need to end The Curse, Cleveland Edition, or do something else to endear himself to their fans so much that the team decides to join in and honor him when he goes to Cooperstown (no idea what could do that other than a World Series win, though).

    Royals-It kind of feels like they have to retire Ned Yost's number, no? They retired Dick Howser's number, who was manager during their first World Series and retired as second in team history in wins (just six behind Whitey Herzog). Yost brought them their second, ending a really rough period for them, and has blown past Howser's 404 wins (in fact, Yost, in his tenth season with Kansas City, is their first manager to stick with the team for more than six years). The biggest knock against him is probably that he has a losing record overall with the team, so maybe they won't, but the other two factors feel like they'll matter more.

    White Sox-Again, I don’t even know if Rick Renteria will make it to the end of his team’s current rebuild. Ozzie Guillén is an interesting case, since he ended The Curse, White Sox edition, and had a pretty successful tenure at the head of the White Sox, but is also a pretty polarizing figure within the game. I get the sense the White Sox fans generally like him more than not, and they’ve already honored a couple of players from that 2005 team, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they retire #13 someday in the near future. The team has already kept it out of circulation as is

    Tigers-Ron Gardenhire is another manager who will need to survive a rebuild, so it’s not likely here. Jim Leyland might be an interesting case, given that he passes the “Three pennant” rule I established last time, but only two of them (and no World Series) came in Detroit. His tenure there was fairly successful, outside of that one glaring hole on the resume. Maybe they’ll honor him if he makes the Hall of Fame (like they did with Sparky Anderson), but I doubt it happens without something like that, and even that doesn’t make it a given. It’ll strongly depend on who much the team and fans like him.

    Twins-Rookie manager Rocco Baldelli is off to a good start, but it’s definitely too early to tell. Ron Gardenhire had a long Twins term in recent memory, but his failure to make even a League Championship Series is pretty glaring. He’s probably the second-best manager in team history, but that alone probably isn’t enough.

    Astros-I covered this last time, but this is another one that feels like it's destined to happen, right? Like, he won the team their first World Series, he seems poised to take over the team lead in wins sometime next year (and in a lot less time than it took Bill Virdon), and he's generally overseen the best period in Astros history. They retired Larry Dierker's number after his managerial stint, and Hinch's tenure has been so much better (granted, Dierker also pitched and broadcasted for the Astros for years, so it wasn't retired just for his managerial term, but still). Like the Royals, it feels like it would be weirder to not retire it. Any titles he adds at this point only solidify his case.

    Rangers-Chris Woodward just took over this year. Ron Washington is the more interesting case, given that he has more wins than anyone else in team history and brought the team their first two pennants (albeit no title). This is a team that retired Johnny Oates’s number just for reaching the postseason, after all. But the sudden end to Washington’s tenure (which is still messy and confusing years later, especially for a more surface-level look like this) might have soured some goodwill, so it’s not as much of a given as it might seem.

    Angels-Once more, Brad Ausmus just started this job, so his predecessor is more interesting. Mike Scioscia managed 19 seasons with the Angels, won 1650 games with them (which puts him eighteenth all-time), won them their first World Series back in 2002, and oversaw their run of dominance over the AL West in the 2000s. That all seems like a recipe for a retired number, and the astute viewer may note that no one on the team this year is wearing #14. They’ve kept Tim Salmon’s #15 out of circulation for a while without retiring it (for whatever reason), so maybe nothing is imminent here, but it’s not nothing.

    Athletics-Bob Melvin has been fine in nine seasons with the A’s. But he still hasn’t advanced past the Division Series round. If the A’s still haven’t retired numbers for Dick Williams (who managed the 1971 and ’72 A’s to a title and made the Hall of Fame) or Tony La Russa (who made the Hall, won three straight pennants with the team plus the 1989 World Series, and recorded more wins than any A’s manager outside of Connie Mack), then I’m not sure what Melvin brings to the table that they don’t have.

    Mariners-If Scott Servais brings the M’s their first World Series, he has as good a chance as anyone, I guess. We’ll see how the current rebuild/retool goes. Also worth noting here, Lou Piniella’s #14 has been out of circulation since he left, which was 17 years ago at this point. I’m not sure if they’re waiting for something there; maybe the Hall of Fame? It seemed like that was partly why they held off retiring Edgar Martinez’s #11 for so long, but after the voters dithered on his case for a few years, Seattle went ahead and retired it anyway (which is what every team should do; don’t wait on Cooperstown), beating them to the punch. We’ll see if Piniella plays out the same way.

    Nationals-Like I’ve said a few other times, if Dave Martinez finally brings the Nationals a World Series, he has as good a chance as anyone. Maybe Felipe Alou or Dick Williams would be drawing discussion as well if they were still recognizing the Expos days, but they don’t seem to be.

    Braves-Brian Snitker is still only in his fourth season (third full one), and got a late start (he was 60 in his first year at the helm), but the team is looking for their second straight division title under his watch. There’s nothing here but potential right now, really, but that beats a lot of other managers, I guess.

    Phillies-Gabe Kapler is still in his second year and is basically at .500, so he’s another “wait and see” type. Charlie Manuel is this franchise’s “interesting recent manager”, winning the team their second World Series ever, adding a second pennant, and taking over the franchise win record. I feel like one day, those late-2000s Phillies will get a few number retirements, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Manuel is one of them.

    Marlins-I just don’t see it happening with Don Mattingly, sorry. Probably not Jim Leyland, either; despite winning them the 1997 World Series, he only made it two seasons with the team before leaving after the 1998 season. Maybe Jack McKeon, who was in charge of the 2003 team and stuck around in a front office role after quitting for a while, before coming in as an interim manager again in 2011. Really, who can even say what the Marlins are ever thinking, though?

    Mets-I’m not even sure if Mickey Callaway will make it to 2020, at this rate. Their “historic guy with a case” is ‘80s manager Davey Johnson, who won them their second World Series back in 1986 and built what I think is a compelling Hall of Fame case for himself. I think it could go either way, but getting elected to Cooperstown would probably help a little.

    Cardinals-Mike Shildt is only in his second year, and his first full season. Let’s come back to him in a few years.

    Cubs-Joe Maddon feels pretty likely here, right? Ending The Curse, Cubs Edition has to win you a lot of brownie points, it seems like he has one of the stronger Hall cases for an active manager, and he’s probably the best Cubs manager since the days of the player-manager. More postseason success couldn’t hurt, but I’d say he’s without a doubt one of the five or so strongest cases for an active manager, and he looks at least as strong as most of the recently retired guys who I’ve covered as possibilities, if not more so.

    Pirates-Clint Hurdle is basically dead-even with Chuck Tanner in winning percentage and win total with Pittsburgh. Chuck Tanner actually won a World Series with the team. The team doesn’t seem likely to win the World Series this year or next, and I don’t know how much longer Hurdle’s leash is, but even if he did pull out that miracle, I’m not sure why they would retire his number if they haven’t done it with Tanner’s. Maybe he’ll get extra credit for ending their losing streak? I still don’t really see it happening.

    Brewers-Craig Counsell hasn’t asserted his case yet, but this is probably one of the easiest ones to imagine the current manager jumping up the list quickly. He’s already fifth in team history for wins, and he took them to the League Championship Series last year for just the third time ever. If they make the postseason again under his watch, he’ll become the first Brewers manager ever to reach multiple postseasons, believe it or not. And to top it all off, he’s from Milwaukee, so he’s a hometown hero. If he manages to win them their first World Series, I think he instantly moves to the same level as A.J. Hinch.

    Reds-David Bell just started, and I’m not sure who their best recent-but-unrecognized manager is supposed to be. Dusty Baker is third in team history in wins, but never got them past a division series. Lou Piniella won their last World Series, but left after three seasons. Nothing is really jumping out at me.

    Giants-This one is probably the easiest call; if any active manager is going to get his number retired by his team, it's Bruce Bochy. Despite having a losing record with the Giants, he has more wins than anyone else in franchise history, and he not only brought the team their first World Series since moving to San Francisco, he did it three times. I can't imagine the team will hesitate too long to retire #15. Maybe they'll wait for him to make the Hall of Fame first, although as I’ve made clear, I'm not a fan of that strategy (and maybe they're moving away from that as well, based on their recent retirement of Barry Bonds's #25).

    Padres-Like so many other teams, I guess it could happen if Andy Green wins them a World Series. They look like they’ll be good soon, so it could happen. He’s already fourth in team history in wins, albeit with a losing record. But maybe he gets fire before the rebuild ends.

    Maybe they’ll retire Bruce Bochy’s number too? I’m not sure. He’s the franchise leader in wins (951), and will probably make the Hall of Fame, but he has a losing record with the team overall. He did bring them their second pennant, but on the other hand, that did nothing for first-pennant-winner, former-wins-leader, and Hall of Famer Dick Williams. But on the other-other hand, Williams also only led the team for four seasons before being let go, whereas Bochy led the team for twelve years and accounts for four of the team’s five playoff appearances. Maybe winning three World Series with a division rival hurts his standing in San Diego? I don’t know. I guess I wouldn’t be shocked either way.

    Dodgers-The Dodgers have a weird history with managers. The team has existed for over 130 seasons and has had 32 managers, but three of them combined (Walter Alston, Tom Lasorda, and Wilbert Robinson) account for over six decades. You just aren’t going to pass any of those three in wins with the team, so that’s probably out of the question for Dave Roberts.

    But making the top four is very doable (Leo Durocher, 738), and in just his fourth season, Roberts already has 347 wins, three straight division titles, and two pennants. The team looks like it will finish 2019 with the best record in the majors, and Roberts will end the year with already the eighth-longest managerial tenure in team history. He’s going to have to win a World Series or two at some point, but as long as the team keeps making it to October, anything can happen. I wouldn’t call it “likely” at this point, but it’s definitely feasible.

    Diamondbacks-I guess there’s no reason Torey Lovullo couldn’t do it, but there’s not much of a reason yet, either. As for “historic” candidates, Kirk Gibson is the franchise win leader, believe it or not. That’s not happening. Bob Brenly only managed the team for four seasons, but he could maybe get a combined case for his World Series win as manager plus his seven-plus years as their color commentator, sort of like Larry Dierker has with the Astros (although Dierker also played with the team). It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing, at least.

    Rockies-Like the Brewers, this one seems like it would be very easy to climb the ranks. I think Bud Black is a good manager, and he’s had a good first few years in Colorado. He could easily be in the top three in wins by the end of 2020 regardless of whatever else happens. Clint Hurdle, the franchise leader, only has 534 wins total and a losing overall record (as well as the team’s only pennant). If Black manages to bring the Rockies a World Series, it’s not hard to imagine he’d wind up with a longer tenure, more wins, and better winning percentage than Hurdle. As long as he can get them to the playoffs a few times, there’s always a chance they get hot at the right time.

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