New management

by Chris Haffenreffer | 11/7/00 6:00am

The 2000 Major League Baseball season has ended with the New York Yankees repeating as World Series Champions, and it is already time to start looking towards next season. While it will be several weeks before free agents begin to stir up the market, it is already time to start thinking about what managerial decisions will do for some of the teams. Six new managers were hired last week, and all inherit ball clubs with good potential. Interestingly, four of the six have never managed in the big leagues before, and three have never managed at any level. In a game where the old-boy network often prevails, the inexperience of these six managers is rather extraordinary. Let's take a step-by-step look at the effect each of these skippers will have on his new team.

Unwilling to spend the amount required to lure other candidates to the Cincinnati position, the Reds' front office settled with Bob Boone, a former special assistant to Cincinnati General Manager Jim Bowden. After playing 19 seasons for the Phillies, Boone managed Kansas City for three years and compiled a 181-206 record. Boone led the Royals to an impressive second-place finish in his first season with the club, but failed to capitalize on his own success and was fired after two poor seasons. Boone was criticized for his inability to handle the pitching staff as well as overmanaging. He is a genius who can't let a team play without trying to tinker with something. If Boone finally lets his club simply play ball and allows sluggers like Ken Griffey Jr. do what they do best, Cincinnati will again be at the top of the National League Central.

The Phillies' new manager, Larry Bowa, is the other new manager with previous big-league experience. An all star shortstop with the Phils, Bowa captained the Padres in the late eighties to an unimpressive 81-127 record. Until 1996, Bowa was the third base coach for Philadelphia. He spent last season with Seattle as third base coach. Phillies fans can only hope that Bowa's hard nosed attitude is what the team needs, because nothing else points to success.

Both Buck Martinez (Blue Jays) and Bob Brenly (Diamondbacks) make the transition from the broadcast booth to the baseball diamond, and it should be interesting to see their effect on both teams. Martinez's ties to the Toronto club date back to his days as catcher in the early eighties. An ESPN analyst since 1992, Martinez will need to find some way to push more innings out of his young pitching staff. With his communication skills, it won't be terribly difficult for this baseball genius to lead Toronto to success. Unlike Martinez, Brenly has coached before (with the Giants from '92 to '96), and his relaxed style could be what Arizona's numerous veterans need.

Jim Tracy's appointment as the Dodgers' new manager came as somewhat of a surprise to the baseball community. Most expected a big-name manager would succeed Davey Johnson, a big-name signee himself not so long ago. However, Tracy seems to be the most qualified of all the new skippers. With two seasons as the Dodgers' bench coach, four as Montreal's bench coach and seven as a minor league manager, Tracy should succeed with a veteran-laden team.

In Pittsburgh, Lloyd McClendon takes over as skipper after four seasons as the Pirates' hitting coach. Although Pirates hitters haven't necessarily played well under McClendon, it will be fascinating to see how McClendon does in a managerial position. Considered a favorite with the players, McClendon could very well take a struggling Pittsburgh franchise and turn it around.

It is rather difficult to gauge the success of a new manager, and with so many new managers without previous experience. Can Brenly and Martinez follow in the footsteps of Larry Dierker and succeed after leaving the broadcast booth? Can previously unimpressive managers Boone and Bowa turn their careers around? Can Tracy and McClendon start successful careers? With so many questions to be answered, it will be interesting to watch how next season pans out. And with free agents such as Manny Ramirez available to sign, the standings could shuffle around significantly.