Evaluating External Managerial Candidates
By Ben Perry
Sep 21, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Chicago White Sox third baseman Marcus Semien (5) is congratulated by third base coach Joe McEwing (47) as he runs around the bases after he hit a 3-run home run during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Rangers recently announced the eight individuals whom they will interview for their managerial vacancy. Jon Daniels has said that he aims to have a new permanent manager by the time the World Series begins. Considering the ALCS matchup is already set, this date figures to be quickly on the way. Here is a quick breakdown of each of the men outside of the Rangers organization named as possibilities for the position.
Jeff Banister – Banister is a 49 year old Oklahoma native who has spent the majority of his time in baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Most recently he has served as bench coach under Clint Hurdle and the breakout Pirates. Despite getting just one plate appearance as a major league player, Banister collected a hit in that chance giving him a 1.000 career lifetime batting average. As a minor leaguer, Banister owned a .247/.307/.357 slash line.
In five seasons as a minor league manager, Banister has accumulated a 367-400 win/loss record managing from low-A ball to Double A. Banister had the position of Major League Field Coordinator for Pittsburgh from 1999-2002 and spent a while as the Minor League Field Coordinator thereafter.
Banister interviewed twice for the Astros managerial vacancy before they hired A.J. Hinch. Considering the Pirates recent success with him deeply in the fold of what is considered an effective coaching situation, Banister has built up his appeal considerably in the last few years it seems as a candidate.
Torey Lovullo – Lovullo is a 49 year old former middle infielder and native of Santa Monica, California. In his playing days, he was a switch hitter who had a lengthy career in the minor leagues where in 1,433 games he had a .267/.356/.447 slash line. That offensive success did not quite translate over to the Majors as Lovullo received inconsistent playing time throughout his Major League tenure, but did accumulate 165 hits good for a .224/.301/.335 slash line.
From 2002 to 2010, Lovullo managed at varying levels in the minor leagues. His overall record is 661-609 (interestingly, Ron Washington’s career W/L record with the Rangers was nearly identical at 661-611) and most of that time was spent with AAA affiliates in Buffalo, Columbus, and Pawtucket (although his AAA record is 337-375, worse than how he faired at the lower levels).
Lovullo has had a strong and successful relationship with Red Sox manager John Farrell. In the last four years Lovullo has worked for Farrell both in Toronto and Boston as either an on-field coach or as his bench coach. Playing for a World Series winning team as well as some struggling groups has surely helped Lovullo progress and learn while under the well respected Farrell.
Joe McEwing – Joe is a 41 year old native of Bristol, Pennsylvania and currently the third base coach of the Chicago White Sox. As a player, Joe was nicknamed “Super Joe” given his ability as a utility player to play nearly all the positions on the field proficiently. In his career, Joe spent 256 games in the outfield, 238 at second base, 99 at short stop, 92 at third, and 61 at first illustrating his versatility.
McEwing has spent three seasons managing at the Minor League level. From 2009 to 2011 he has a .532 inning percntage (223-196) ranging from A+ ball to AAA. This season will be Joe’s third as the White Sox third base coach. Aside from the Rangers, McEwing has also been named as a candidate for the Arizona Diamondbacks managerial position.
Alex Cora – Alex is 38 years old and from Caguas, Puerto Rico. Cora made his MLB debut in 1997 with the LA Dodgers and had a successful 13 year career thereafter. From 1998 to 2011, Cora accumulated 828 hits and 286 RBI’s. He has been said to be an excellent teammate and to have a good baseball mind.
Considering his relatively long career and young age, one might wonder how Cora has collected managerial experience. In short, he has not yet acquired the track record in coaching/managing that the aforementioned candidates have.
To his credit, Cora does manage the Caguas in the Puerto Rico Winter league, the main baseball league in Puerto Rico. Additionally, it has become a trend to give former player with less managing experience a short of late; consider both Mike Matheny of the Cardinals and Robin Venture of the White Sox.
Kevin Cash – Cash, the youngest of the interviewees, is just 36 and was born in Tampa, Florida. He retired as recently as 2012 and became an advanced scout for the Toronto Blue Jays in the same year. As a player, Cash won two World Series titles (one with the Red Sox, one with the Yankees) in parts of eight seasons with several teams.
Like Cora, Cash does not have any managerial experience in Minor or Major league baseball (although Cora has managed in Puerto Rico and Cash has yet to anywhere). Kevin has spent the last two seasons as the bullpen coach for Terry Francona in Cleveland.
I think in the cases of these last two options, the Rangers management will pay particularly close attention to their interviews. Lack of a track record makes the in-person performance that much more integral to their decision.
Some thoughts on these decisions:
- Not a single candidate is 50 years or older, this suggests the Rangers are in fact looking for a manager that ideally can stick around for awhile and fall in line with Jon Daniel’s philosophy and culture. Fun fact: Kevin Cash is younger than Michael Young.
- Every candidate minus Kevin Cash was a former middle infielder. Catchers a stereotypically the future managers but the Rangers might feel they are shored up in the catching department with Bengie Molina and Pudge Rodriguez in the fold for their young catchers in particular. Not a single candidate was a pitcher.
- Experience is not mandatory. Both Cash and Cora lack managing experience in the major or minor leagues, but will both interview.
- Mentors are likely being taken into account. Terry Francona selected Kevin Cash to be his bullpen coach; Jeff Banister has been working under Clint Hurdle; Torey Lovullo was selected not once, but twice by John Farrell to be a part of his coaching staff. Jon Daniels might be taking these veteran managers perceptions of coaches into account while looking for a manager of his own.
- None of these coaches seem to have an intimate history with the Rangers. Obviously, the Rangers have three other internal candidates, but it might be worth noting.