KANSAS CITY — We’ve talked a lot lately about the trend of clubs hiring no or low-experience guys as managers. About how they no longer tend to hire managerial lifers or guys with a ton of minor league managing or coaching experience. About how the real road to a manager’s job is by being close with the front office, regardless of whether or not you’ve ever made an actual pitching change in your life.
I and many others have been critical of this trend. One thing that strikes me is that no matter who wins the World Series this year, the team’s manager will be an old salt who has been around a long time. As has the manager of every World Series winner going back, well, forever. The greenest manager in recent years to win a Series was probably Joe Girardi, and he was at least a bench coach and a big league manager with another team before winning it all with the 2009 Yankees. It makes me wonder if, maybe, teams would be better off with someone who has been down on the farm and worked their way up through the ranks rather than the next yes-man who comes along.
Terry Collins met the media here before Game 2 today, and someone asked him about the managerial hiring trend. I found his answer to be pretty interesting in that it specifically refuted the idea that, in this day and age, the minor league experience matters that much. Why? Because minor league managers aren’t really managing anymore:
As we’ve all talked, the game of baseball is different today. And that’s just the way it is. Guys are going into the front office. They are assistants to general managers, where the conversations are about the team every day, and general managers are hearing these guys are sharp. They have a great feel for perhaps talent or perhaps how the game should be run, so they’re getting jobs. Where years ago you had to go through the Minor Leagues.
I was a Minor League director. And I tried to run it the way I was brought up, and that was let the guys manage in the Minor Leagues, and that’s not really done today. Lineups are being written for them. This guy has to pitch today at this amount and you can’t pinch-hit. These guys got to hit the whole game. They don’t manage anymore. They’re kind of dictated what goes on.
Collins’ tone wasn’t a “back in my day we did it better” thing. It was matter-of-fact. To be sure, he clearly thinks there is value to minor league experience generally speaking, referencing later how long bus rides and stuff make a man more thankful about making the bigs, but he sounds pretty realistic about where the game is today.
The notion that minor league managers aren’t really managing anymore and that, rather, the front office dictates this stuff, isn’t one I think about too much when I think about this issue. But it certainly bears on the idea of what makes an experienced manager.