Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jim Leyland and the End of an Era

Jim Leyland formally announced his retirement last week with his Tigers being defeated in the ALCS by the Boston Red Sox. This season is significant because two old school managers (Davey Johnson retired at the end of the season from his position as manager of the Washington Nationals) have stepped down which leads me to believe that we are entering a new phase when it comes to managers in MLB.

Aside from established older school managers Mike Scioscia, Bruce Bochy, Ron Gardenhire, Terry Francona and Buck Showalter, it seems that teams are willing to take chances on younger, less experienced managers. Look at the examples of Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals, Walt Weiss of the Colorado Rockies, Bo Porter of the Houston Astros, Ryne Sandberg of the Philadelphia Phillies, Mike Redmond of the Miami Marlins and Robin Ventura of the Chicago Cubs all have two years or less managerial experience (at the end of this past season). Even "seasoned" managers like Kirk Gibson, John Farrell, Don Mattingly and Ron Roenicke only have four years or less under their belt as managers at the Major League level.

Now this isn't taking account any coaching experience at the lower levels or as bench coaches. I'm just highlighting that there seems to be a trend that has younger and possibly more progressive managers at the helm of Major League teams. Billy Beane's "Moneyball" philosophy eschews many of the old school philosophies that might be associated with older more established managers who might be hesitant to try something new. The younger managers might be more pliable and open to trying new methods and unorthodox baseball techniques in the way Joe Maddon has utilized in Tampa Bay and to a certain degree Clint Hurdle in Pittsburgh.

How does this bode for former managers Charlie Manuel and Dusty Baker? Will they be relegated to the position of scouts, advisors and/or television analysts? I believe that we will indeed see less of the hiring of the old names. I think many of the younger General Managers are willing to hire managers that are closer to their age than an older manager that would cause conflict due to age and philosophical differences. The recycling of old managers and the same names of the past might have come to an end. I believe this is actually a good thing. It might be time to bring in some new blood.

Agree? Disagree?

Sisco Kid