Folks who’ve been reading me lately know how frustrated I’ve been with Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who is in the last year of his contract. The frustration stems from the Tigers having a golden opportunity to seize a division while their arch enemy White Sox and Twins are struggling, yet they are giving games away (my opinion) with questionable lineups and personnel moves.
While the latter isn’t Leyland’s responsibility, the former is, and with the Marlboro Man not having been extended yet by owner Mike Ilitch, it begs the question: who should the Tigers look at as a possible replacement?
The team isn’t likely to move on this during the season, unless the Tigers completely go into the tank. The Tigers have only made three in-season managerial moves since 1973 (1979,1998 and 2002).
But if they’re looking for a new skipper, the Tigers might want to add the following five guys’ names to their speed dial.
Tom Brookens, Tigers third base coach.
I’m a little squeamish about promoting from within, especially a guy who was hand-picked by Leyland to replace Andy Van Slyke as first base coach before the 2010 season.
But Brookens only has 212 games of Leyland’s stench on him, and he was a great Tiger and a pretty good minor league manager. One of my first thoughts after I heard that the former third baseman was returning to the big club was that he might be Leyland’s successor one day.
Could that day come next season? Tommy’s a long shot, because typically first base coaches don’t make the leap to manager, but Brookens has managed before, just not at the MLB level.
DeMarlo Hale, Red Sox bench coach.
Hale was promoted to bench coach for the Red Sox before the 2010 season by manager Terry Francona, after several years as third base coach.
Hale is an astute baseball man who was rumored to be among the finalists for the Blue Jays managerial job last winter.
Hale’s managerial career began in 1993 in the Red Sox lower minor league system. He managed at the AAA level in 2000-01 while in the Texas Rangers system.
Hale’s promotion speaks volumes, and his being in the running for the Toronto job tells me that he might be a hot commodity of the up-and-coming variety.
Hale will turn 50 in July, and he’s a Chicago guy, so he knows the midwestern area and how passionate the baseball fans are around these parts.
Pete Mackanin, Phillies bench coach.
Pete Mackanin, the Phillies bench coach, has served as a big league manager twice in interim stints—with the Pirates in 2005 and with the Reds in 2007. He didn’t overwhelm in either instance, but he was interim.
Mackanin has been the right hand man of Charlie Manuel since before the 2009 season. Mackanin’s been a big league player, a scout, a coach, and an interim manager.
If the Tigers want to poach a bench coach of a successful organization from the National League (a la with Hale of the Red Sox), then they could do a lot worse than Mackanin.
Jerry Manuel, former White Sox and Mets manager.
Jerry Manuel is another who has ties to the Tigers organization, having made his big league playing debut with them in 1975.
He’s also managed in the big leagues, and in the Tigers division—with the White Sox. He’s also noted for being left twisting in the wind with the Mets as their skipper.
Manuel, nicknamed “The Sage,” is a little longer in the tooth these days (he’ll be 58 in December) but if you can handle managing in New York and survive with your dignity (and sanity!), then you would presumably be well-prepped to manage the Tigers.
Manuel was the AL Manager of the Year in 2000.
Bob Brenly, former Diamondbacks manager.
Bob Brenly, currently broadcasting for the Cubs, hasn’t managed in the big leagues since 2004, and only has managed for 3+ seasons at the big league level, period.
But oh, how successful they were.
In 2002, Brenly’s team again won the NL West with 98 wins, but flamed out in the NLDS, getting swept by the Cardinals.
In 2003, the D-Backs won 84 games but finished third. The following season, Brenly was relieved after a 29-50 start.
But he still wants to manage; Brenly has been applying and interviewing, but hasn’t been able to find his way back into a dugout.
Brenly, a former big league catcher (those types seem to make good managers) is an Ohio native, which would suit him well managing for the Tigers.
And two who’d be great but who aren’t coming: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays manager; and Kirk Gibson, Arizona D-Backs manager.
Tampa Bay’s Joe Maddon, I think, would be terrific for the Tigers, and his effusive praise of some of the Tigers young players last week while the Rays were in town raised my eyebrows.
But Maddon is under contract with the Rays through the 2012 season, making it highly unlikely that he’d be hired by the Tigers.
Also under contract through 2012 is Arizona’s Kirk Gibson, and I don’t think I have to list why Kirk would be a good fit in Detroit, especially seeing the success he’s having so far with the D-Backs.