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Ranking MLB managers by . . . handsomeness

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — The thing about the Winter Meetings is that, if you have some silly idea, there are a lot of people around you drinking cocktails, convincing you that the idea is not silly. That, to the contrary, it’s important and vital and if you don’t follow through with that idea, you’re making a huge mistake. And, since you are drinking cocktails as well, you are easily persuaded.

This is the product of that dynamic.

All week I’ve half-jokingly noted that Brad Ausmus is a handsome, handsome man. As a result of that, people have asked me which manager is next handsome. And next handsome. And next handsome after that. And who’s the least handsome manager too. So, inevitably, it has come to this: a list ranking the managerial beefcake.

First, a couple of notes:

  • This is only one open-minded man’s opinion of managerial handsomeness. If you’re not into the Ausmus/Matheny types, I totally appreciate that. Maybe you’re more of a Ron Gardenhire or Fredi Gonzalez admirer. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Understand that I and others will privately judge you for thinking Gardenhire and Gonzalez are handsome, but that reflects poorly on us, not you. Let no one besides you dictate your feelings.
  • I, in no way, shape or form believe that any baseball manager is ugly. All of them have inner beauty, I’m sure. And even if you don’t buy that, realize that we are in a golden age of manager handsomeness. There are no Don Zimmers or Joe Torres around anymore. The bottom of this list would represent dashing managerial beauty a mere 15 years ago. So, let no one say that even my 30th-ranked manager is not handsome. In his own way. If you squint just right.
  • Finally, because some of you will inevitably offer a neanderthal comment about all of this, let me head it off by assuring you that this is merely a list of aesthetic handsomeness, not one of love or longing. I hate that even in 2013 I feel as though I have to say it, but I will say that I am a totally straight man making these judgments. If you find something wrong or amiss with that, I feel sorry for you. There is far too much beauty among people in the world for us to fail to acknowledge 50% of it merely because we’re worried about appearing less than traditionally masculine or feminine. Free your mind, the rest will follow.

And now, on to the rankings, with some comments:

source:  1. Brad Ausmus: When my girlfriend was here in Orlando over the weekend we were sitting in the lobby and Brad Ausmus came in the front door of the hotel. She sprung up, followed him and said “I’ll text you later.” And I wasn’t even mad, man. I get it. He’s movie star handsome. And this isn’t new. There are factions of female baseball fans who have been beating the Ausmus drum for years in various places on the Internet. He is probably the best looking manager in the history of baseball.

2. Mike Matheny: Of course it isn’t a blowout. The 1-2 in manager handsomeness is a close race, with Matheny right on Ausmus’ heels. I just think he is missing a moodiness and depth to his gaze the way Ausmus has it going on. That said: when I tweeted about Ausmus over the weekend what I assume to be the entire female population of Cardinal Nation responded to me to tell me I’m wrong. Easily The Best Fans of Handsome Cardinals Managers in Baseball. They ogle managers The Right Way.

3. Robin Ventura: Just a couple of years ago he’d be number one. Now he inevitably slides to three. Just an unbelievably tough market. Bonus: he’s got a sensitive side, I’ve heard. A lover, not a fighter. Definitely not a fighter.

4. Ned Yost: I know. I’m as shocked as you! But he was here in Orlando yesterday gliding through the hallways with a confidence and swagger befitting a 1980s nighttime soap anti-hero. Ned Yost: he’ll marry you, have affairs with your sister and simultaneously destroy your father’s (rival) business while enriching himself and building his legend.

5. John Farrell: Reasonable people could swap out Yost and Farrell. Maybe he’s the more urbane version of Yost’s nighttime soap star. The “Dynasty” to Yost’s “Dallas.”

6. Bud BlackAging so well. No Just for Men here. Gray is the new Black.

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7: Bo Porter: Best mustache/goatee combination in all of baseball. Not just among managers. All baseball people. It’s usually an unfortunate look, but Porter makes it work, mostly because he understands that less is more. And he has fantastic eyes. Go on, tell me he doesn’t have fantastic eyes. Pfft, you’re just wrong, dude.

8. Ryne Sandberg: He’s always been good looking. I feel like Philly is going to age him, though.

9. Mike Redmond: Piercing eyes. Owned Tom Glavine during his career. What’s not to love?

10. Bob Melvin: His boss was played by Brad Pitt in a movie, yet Melvin is better looking than his boss. That’s just truth.

11. Don Mattingly: It’s like he was on a makeover reality show. He went from mullet and mustache, seemingly yesterday, to this formidable specimen. Nice glasses. Chin dimple. L.A. is treating him well.

12. Ron Roenicke: Another controversial choice. And I know he’s about the farthest thing from beefcake there could possibly be. But he looks like the guy who will marry you after you recover from that bad divorce and be a great role model to your kids. Just a super step-dad type, and that has abundant appeal.

13. Terry Francona: A textbook case of embracing baldness rather than fighting it. Does so much to take advantage of a bad set of genetic cards.

14: Joe Maddon: Maybe a niche taste. Certainly a silver fox — you can’t take that away from him — but he’s not in Bud Black’s league as far as that goes. And he doesn’t have the same apparent inner appeal that Roenicke has. He’s just as likely to be seen wearing socks with sandals in an RV as he is to be seen drinking wine and doing something suave. Plus: he’s the type who would probably tell you how smart he is, whereas true Adonises like Ausmus and Matheny are confident enough to let you talk more. That matters, I think.

source:  15. Joe Girardi: Definitely in better shape than any other manager. Maybe in better shape than any manager in the history of the game. But he’s got a bit too much drill instructor in him for me. He could use a bit of a softening around the edges. If you’re into the ruggedness he’s obviously way, way higher up your personal list.

16. Bryan Price: One of the best looking pitching coaches-turned-managers in baseball history, I figure. Bud Black probably is the top of that list. Farrell is up there too. But Price is likely third. Which, given that the competition beyond those three is Roger Craig and Jimy Williams, it’s not hard. But a fine looking man. I may have underrated him.

17. Matt Williams: Williams has maintained his playing days shape quite admirably, and like Tito he understands the realities of his hairline. I’d recommend powder for TV appearances. I know from experience.

18. John Gibbons: Sorta has a “Fall Guy”-era Lee Majors thing going on. I feel like he looks better in his second stint with the Jays than he did the first time around. Can’t put a finger on it, though.

19. Kirk Gibson: An unfortunate case. I feel like Gibson goes out of his way to look worse than he should given what he has to work with, which is not terrible. He scowls a lot. Seems to have a perpetual four-day growth. A tall, well-built guy who could use some time with a grooming expert. Smile, Gibby. It’ll improve everything.

20. Walt Weiss: Same as Gibson, really. Maybe there are personal reasons why they feel the need to hide behind stubble. But now we’re more in psychological territory than physical, and I’d like to keep this light.

source:  21: Fredi Gonzalez: He needs to have a long sit-down with Bo Porter about the in and outs of facial hair. It would also help if he didn’t look confused every single time the camera finds him, but that’s a baseball point, not a function of inherit handsomeness.

22. Lloyd McClendon: He has a winning smile, I’ll give him that. And if he flashes some of the fire he showed in his Pittsburgh days he could shoot up this list quickly. Maybe this should be a power ranking now that I think about it. We revisit it a few times a year with an added boost or deduction for in-season deportment. Hmm.

23. Buck Showalter: Rumor was that Showalter smiled once in 1992. No one was around with a camera, sadly, but we’re told it happened.

24. Terry Collins: He is a lot more relaxed as a Met than he was back in his Angels and Astros days, that’s for sure. And that goes a long way. There’s always something a bit unsettling behind those brown eyes, though. Maybe that appeals to the types who like the troubled ones, but I feel like life with Terry would be turbulent. Ron Roenicke would never be unpredictable like that. And maybe that’s boring, but he’s home for dinner every night and will always give you a reassuring hug. Terry has demons, I bet.

25. Rick Renteria: If jowls come into fashion he’s much higher than 25.

26. Mike Scioscia: If you met him for the first time today, sure, he’d not be bad. But we knew him back when. It’s like meeting the high school quarterback at the reunion and thinking only of what he was.

source:  27. Bruce Bochy: The opposite of Scioscia in that regard. Look at THAT unfortunate class picture. But even though he’s come a long way, let us not pretend he didn’t have a long way to go. But you know what they call a less-than-handsome man with two World Series rings? That’s right: a champion. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently, Bruce.

28. Ron Gardenhire: The jowls of Rick Renteria, the facial hair issues of Fredi Gonzalez and the troubling inner rumblings of Terry Collins. Just a bad combination.

29. Ron Washington: He’s a very funny man. He’s had much success as a manager. His players love him. Let us leave it at that.

30. Clint Hurdle: None of us are ever as bad as our worst days make us out to be. But some people’s worst days are worse than others.

I’d like to thank you all for your time and patience in this exercise. I feel like baseball history is better served by us having engaged in it.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.