Now, let's reveal the candidates and apply the scoring.
I segmented my 12 potential managers, a list is likely longer than the one general manager John Mozeliak is working, into three groups.
The first is the internal candidates, including third base coach Jose Oquendo, bench coach Joe Pettini and former player Mike Matheny. The latter has also been employed by the team as a special instructor, but was not interested in assuming a greater role due to time away from family.
The second group is the external candidates with MLB experience. Since his departure from Boston at season's-end, Terry Francona is a hot name around baseball circles. Though his most recent managerial experience was in Japan, Bobby Valentine seems to emerge any time a high-visibility job opens. Then there is a man with a lot of Cardinals history, Jim Riggleman. Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon is still under contract and may not be available. Because he is so popular, I will include him in the scoring, anyway. Last is former Cardinals third baseman Terry Pendleton, a member of the Atlanta Braves coaching staff since 2001.
Finally, there are the first-timers from the minor leagues. Memphis manager Chris Maloney certainly is here and we will also include Springfield skipper Ron "Pop" Warner. Then, there are a couple of a surprise candidates, a minor league manager from the Cubs and Phillies systems, Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg and former Cardinal Joe McEwing, most recently coaching in the Chicago White Sox system.
Who is not included?
Whitey Herzog was a great manager in his day. That day is forever past and the clock will not be turned back. The White Rat is a Hall of Famer, has a retired number and will very soon turn 80 years of age. Time to move on.
Pitching coach Dave Duncan is already under contract for 2012. Despite his wife's serious illness, Duncan plans to return next season, but made it clear he wants to remain the best tutor of pitchers in the business.
OK, now let's apply the formulas to the candidates, category by category. Each potential manager receives a score from 3 (best) to 1 (worst) in scoring categories ranked on the same scale.
Right up front, here are my scores. The explanation of each follows, with the final rankings totaled and summarized at the end.
|In-house||Fit (3)||Mgr (3)||PR (3)||Cost (2)||Dev (2)||Min (1)|
|Jose Oquendo||high (3)||low (1)||med (2)||low (3)||med (2)||high (3)|
|Joe Pettini||high (3)||low (1)||low (1)||low (3)||med (2)||low (1)|
|Mike Matheny||high (3)||low (1)||med (2)||low (3)||low (1)||low (1)|
|Jim Riggleman||high (3)||med (2)||low (1)||low (3)||high (3)||low (1)|
|Terry Francona||med (2)||high (3)||med (2)||med (2)||med (2)||low (1)|
|Bobby Valentine||low (1)||med (2)||low (1)||med (2)||med (2)||low (1)|
|Joe Maddon||high (3)||high (3)||high (3)||high (1)||med (2)||low (1)|
|Terry Pendleton||med (2)||low (1)||med (2)||low (3)||low (1)||med (2)|
|Pop Warner||high (3)||low (1)||med (2)||low (3)||med (2)||low (1)|
|Chris Maloney||high (3)||low (1)||med (2)||low (3)||high (3)||low (1)|
|Ryne Sandberg||med (2)||low (1)||low (1)||low (3)||high (3)||low (1)|
|Joe McEwing||med (2)||low (1)||low (1)||low (3)||high (3)||low (1)|
Organizational fit – high
It makes sense that incumbent coaches Oquendo and Pettini would seem to offer the most seamless transition from the La Russa administration. Same with Matheny, who has been a spring training instructor and works well with the front office. Giving them a "3" score here assumes the organization would see value. I also gave the two Cardinals minor league managers, each very successful over time, the maximum score.
Francona has tasted considerable success, but has no ties to St. Louis nor allegiance to the current coaches. On the other hand, neither did La Russa in 1996. Valentine has the reputation of a good baseball man, but may push for high levels of control and could be disruptive to a smooth front-office operation.
Major League managerial experience – high
One would think this is pretty black and white. Eight of the men have never managed a major league club, while four external candidates have. However, there is some tuning downward required.
Valentine lacks the championship pedigree of the others and has not managed in the US since 2002. On the other hand, Riggleman has so much managerial experience that it is a bit of a concern. He has been fired from three big league jobs - in San Diego, with the Cubs and in Seattle. When he did not receive a vote of confidence from Washington ownership this summer, he walked out on his team – in mid-season. Some see that as being highly principled, while others see it as career suicide. One point reduction for Valentine and Riggleman.
Public reaction – high
A segment of the fan base would welcome the long-serving soldier Oquendo. Others wonder if he has the personality and temperament for the public relations part of the job, a necessity. Fact is that Pettini has long held the unofficial assistant manager job, bench coach, but is still mostly unknown. Matheny was a very popular player but has never been a coach at any level. That has to be a concern for some.
Let's face it. Sandberg is known as a Chicago Cub. While it might be nice to tweak the nose of the Northsiders, many long-time Cardinals watchers are going to experience considerable heartburn if this candidate is hired. Southsider McEwing was admired while with St. Louis for a period a long time ago, as was Pendleton for a longer time even more years in the past, but neither man's hiring would make a large wave.
Warner and Maloney, especially the latter, have paid their dues, but cannot score highest because they haven't been on the major league staff. That is, unless you count Warner's stint as the Cards' batting practice pitcher in 2000.
Maddon would be wildly popular both due to his success in Tampa Bay and because of his stated love for the Cardinals. Francona has a good reputation, but upon his exit from Boston, the local media questioned his commitment to his team. His divorce and reported use of pain killers were cited as potential problems. Perhaps it is unfair to even mention this, but it is in the public record.
Valentine has the reputation of having a large ego and does not necessarily seem a Midwest type. In all fairness, one could have said that about La Russa as well, but it took him years to win over some segment of the fans.
Availability/cost - medium
This is the only category in which "3" points are assigned to "low," as in cheaper is better.
Here, I assumed everyone was a "2" unless I had a reason to raise or lower him. All of the in-house candidates would work cheaply and would be easy to secure, as would Riggleman, Sandberg, McEwing and Pendleton, I imagine. So they are "3s".
At the other end of the spectrum, Maddon is under contract with the Rays and they might not be inclined to give him up at all. Even if they would, Maddon would not be released without Tampa Bay receiving a decent player or two in return. A demand for Shelby Miller-type player, for example, could be a show-stopper, even if discussions were to get that far.
In between, Francona and Valentine could seemingly be had, but would certainly expect more than the minimum in time and money. They might also be most likely to want to bring in their own coaches at potentially higher cost and greater disruption.
Player development - medium
Riggleman and three of the four current minor league coaches score best here. Maloney is a two-time winner of the George Kissell Award for excellence in player development and Warner is also a previous recipient. Warner is younger while Maloney has more experience and manages at a higher level. I knocked Warner down to "2" since he has not progressed past Double-A.
Because Oquendo has just one year of minor league managerial experience, way back in 1998, he would get knocked down to a "1" here except that his Spanish-speaking and infield coaching skills are of considerable value. Pettini hasn't managed in the minors for going on a decade, but had a long history prior with considerable success.
Matheny, with no bench experience, scores low here. Pendleton has been a major league coach for a decade but has logged no time as a minor league coach or manager.
This category is very clear, albeit weighted lowest. Oquendo is a "3" because of his relationship with free agent Albert Pujols. No one knows for sure how important that is to either man's future, but it is certainly worth a point here. With Pendleton as a "2", everyone else sits at "1".
The final score
Again, three points were given to a "high", two to a "medium" and one for a "low" score, both in the six scoring criteria and the prospective manager's ranking in each. The two numbers are multiplied to develop a score for each cell and are totaled for a final score for each candidate. In this table, the candidates are ordered from highest to lowest score.
The front runner using this scoring system is Maddon. The former coach under Mike Scioscia in Anaheim has led his Rays into the playoffs three of the last four years. This occurred despite having to compete with young players and a low payroll in the American League East. The only reason Maddon was not the runaway winner was noted above - his availability and acquisition cost are both uncertain. In fact, if media reports are accurate, Maddon is not even on Mozeliak's list.
Oquendo leads a group of three, scoring three fewer points than Maddon. The others are Riggleman and Maloney. With a more positive score on any given question, any one of this group could vault to the top. Of course, it could work the other way, too.
Francona is just one point behind that bloc, with Warner just after. Matheny, Pettini, Pendleton, Sandberg, McEwing and Valentine bring up the rear.
It may get down to what the Cardinals value most. Will it be La Russa's trusty lieutenant and a possible favorite of Pujols, the long-time minor league manager from Triple-A looking for his first chance in the bigs or the rebounder in his fifth MLB managerial stint, a man who also has organizational ties? Or, will it be someone else entirely?
This isn't a prediction as much as what was intended to be an objectively-focused analysis of the thought process that might go into the selection of the next manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Disagree? OK, I am fine with that. Want to share your opinions? Stop by our premium message board today to weigh in on this subject or any other topic related to the Cardinals system, whether the majors or minor leagues.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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