I’m still shaking my head at the Dodgers-Red Sox deal, which is now finalized. Among the things that wouldn’t have made sense to me if you told me about them this time yesterday:
I’m surprised that the Dodgers — whose owners just paid $2 billion for that team — took on $271 million in financial obligations and actually gave up real talent to boot.
Though I understand the Red Sox wanting to get rid of Beckett and Crawford, I’m surprised they actually did it. There has seemed to be so little consistency and coherence in that front office over the past two years I’m frankly shocked that a consensus to start over, more or less, was reached.
Heck, I’m surprised that someone decided that the deal had to include Nick Punto. Like, on that call, at some point, either Ned Colletti insisted that Nick Punto was a must-have or Ben Cherington decided that Punto and his $450K or so that he’s owed for the rest of the season had to be unloaded too.
But expectations flummoxed or not, it did happen, and it’s hard to see how this isn’t a win for the Red Sox. Albeit maybe not as big a win as some folks are making it out to be.
The winning part: A cleansing purge of Josh Beckett, who no one liked anymore and who seems to be a shadow of his former self. A liberating purge of Carl Crawford’s contract which, while it seemed like an overpay when it was signed before the 2011 season, has quickly turned into an all-out albatross given two years of injury and the realization that, no, he’s not gonna age as well as some thought.
And, of course, the acquisition of some young, promising players in Rubby De La Rosa, who — even if we should never put too much hope in any one pitching prospect — could be an ace one day, and Jerry Sands who may find Fenway to his liking and should have a greater chance to play on these new-look Sox. Throwing in Ivan DeJesus as depth and Allen Webster who, while maybe a year or two away, could definitely feature in the Sox rotation one day, and you have a lot of pieces for the next good Red Sox team. I don’t think James Loney is worth mentioning, but I’m sure he’s a nice fellow.
But let’s temper our expectations. Upside or not, none of the pieces coming back is a sure thing. De La Rosa could struggle with command as so many post-Tommy John pitchers do. Sands has been a creation of the Pacific Coast League so far, so he’ll have to prove himself. But the biggest place to temper expectations should come in the financial relief the Red Sox received. Because while, sure, it’s awesome to have $50 million+ free a year going forward, it’s not like there’s a never-ending supply of talent to spend it on.
Teams are locking up young talent so early these days, leaving far fewer blue chippers to actually hit the market. Matthew will take a look at this in greater depth later, but let’s quickly look at who’s available this offseason: Josh Hamilton. Zack Greinke. Robinson Cano. Jhonny Peralta. David Wright. Michael Bourn. Only two of them — Cano and Wright — are unequivocal game-changers, and those two are highly unlikely to actually be available when it’s all said and done. UPDATE: Er, scratch that. I forgot that Cano and Wright have team options, so that makes it worse. The other free agents have question marks or aren’t slam dunks. They’re all basically Carl Crawford, right? And the Sox are clearly repudiating the idea of signing the Carl Crawfords of the world right now.
So, you take that $50 million and plow it into player development, right? Well, some of it. The new collective bargaining agreement prohibits teams from doing that with any sort of gusto. Between the draft and international signings you can only spend a fraction of that money. So no, you can’t use that to really go crazy on either the free agency market or player development. At least not all at once.
Put differently: the Red Sox are retrenching for the long-haul, and the days of them being somehow exempt from the success cycle that every other team but the Yankees is subject to are over. There’s a lot of talent on this team and a lot more flexibility now, but if you overhear any Red Sox fan saying, thank god, now the team can go out and sign some real free agents, you should feel free to ignore them. Because there’s a better chance that the biggest short term upside of this deal for Boston are increased profit margins due to decreased labor costs as opposed to some quicky-re-load of a rebuild. That doesn’t make it a bad deal for them — I think Boston won this trade — but it’s not like there isn’t risk about it all and it’s not like there aren’t some rough days still ahead.
Turning to the Dodgers: man, where is all of this money coming from? I know the new ownership is flush with cash and/or credit — how can you pay $2 billion for the team if you’re not? — but they also just jacked their payroll up to the $190 million range for 2013. I know they have a new TV deal in the offing and I know the fans are coming back to Dodger Stadium now that Frank McCourt is gone, but this is not quite the money-printing market that, say, New York is. And even the Yankees have pushed their payroll down in recent years.
But the finances of it all are between Mark Walter, Magic Johnson, their silent partners and their gods. What’s it mean for the baseball side? An improvement, sure, but not a dramatic one, necessarily. And, like Boston, there’s risk here, albeit risk of a different kind.
Carl Crawford won’t play this year. Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez have each had down years, though Gonzalez has had a much better second half. Even assuming, however, that Gonzalez and Beckett suddenly take on vintage form, there are only 36 games left to play and they’re in a three-game hole in the west and a 1.5 game hole in the wild card. Sure, it’s possible that their addition pushes the Dodgers past San Francisco and/or the other wild card contenders, but it would take a hell of a month or so from them to do it.
The long-term is murkier. I feel like Adrian Gonzalez has several good years left in him and he may find himself rejuvenated to be back in the NL (and in his homeland of Southern California). Beckett and Crawford, however, are much shakier bets.
It’s hard to remember that Beckett is only a year removed from a season in which he put up a 2.89 ERA and a WHIP of 1.026, but that’s one year surrounded by two in which he looks like any old palooka, not the ace he once was. Nothing about him at this point suggests a pitcher who is going to age particularly well — Josh, it’s called a treadmill, please hit it — but it could happen. Crawford had Tommy John surgery just this week. I really have no idea what he’s going to be like going forward. Speed ages well and, assuming his arm isn’t toast after all of this, his defense will be a bigger plus in L.A. than it was in Boston. He could have a couple of All-Star years left in him or he could turn into Roberto Kelly.
The money here is the ultimate arbiter. If the Dodgers are like every other team in the history of baseball, they will not be able to absorb three gigantic contracts which correspond with only one elite player. There just is no way to eat that much cash and still field a consistently competitive team. If, however, Beckett and Crawford find the fountain of youth, or if the Dodgers’ brass really has tapped into some crazy new revenue that we’re really not appreciating right now, it could all work out.
Going back and reading all of that it sounds like a bunch of negativity. I really don’t mean it to be. This deal is as exciting as all hell. It’s one of the biggest trades in baseball history, really, in terms of both big names and cash. And with a trade so big it’s understandable that there are downsides for each side. No one ever completes a monster deal without some sort of risk or misgiving because, at the highest levels of business sophistication, no one truly gets suckered.
But on balance, if I had to say who won this one, I’d say it’s the Red Sox. Mostly because they now have far, far less to lose.
SAN DIEGO — Once upon a time Brad Ausmus was the undisputed Most Handsome Manager in Baseball. But when he was fired by the Tigers it felt like Napoleon being exiled to Elba.
But then he came back with the Angels last year! And, like Napoleon taking control of the The Grande Armée in 1815, he returned to the top of these rankings!
Sadly, like Napoleon in 1815, he was quickly banished again, fired by Los Angeles after just one season. When you’re fired by the Angels you may as well be on Saint Helena. I suspect and fear that, like Napoleon in France, we shall never see Brad Ausmus here again.
Which is for the best. Both for the 30 teams in Major League Baseball — Ausmus is cute but he ain’t much of a manager — and for the vitality of these rankings.
New blood is important. Progress is important. Just as France had to show that it could live among the major nations of the world without Napoleon’s will to make it so, the Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers rankings must live on without the man who first inspired it and who would become its greatest champion to show that it is a living, breathing institution instead of some cult-of-personality-based bit of ephemera.
Luckily for us, big league clubs keep hiring some fine lookin’ dudes.
When I started these rankings back in 2013, some of the men in the bottom third of the list were in the top third. They didn’t get any less handsome. They just fell because most of the men who have been hired over the past six years have been — by historical managerial standards anyway — ridiculously good looking men. The competition is so much tougher now. A fairly good looking manager by, say, 1995 standards taking on almost any of today’s skippers would be like Napoleon’s Grande Armée attacking the current United States Army.
But don’t take just my word for that. Let’s look at all 30 dashing managers and rank them by handsomeness.
But first, the usual disclaimers:
No baseball manager is ugly. All of them have inner beauty, I’m sure. More to the point, reporters have taken to asking managers near the bottom of these rankings how it feels to be called “ugly.” Please don’t do that, members of the working press. I am not ranking ugliness. I am ranking handsomeness. Just as being the 25th man on a roster means you’re one of the best baseball players on the planet, being the 30th-most-handsome manager means you’re . . . wait, that analogy is starting to break down. Let’s move on.
This is a subjective list, obviously. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I will privately judge you for thinking unattractive managers are handsome, but that reflects poorly on me, not you. Let no one besides you dictate your feelings.
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 2019 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.
1. Rocco Baldelli, Twins
As you probably guessed from the photo up above, we have a new Most Handsome Manager. A couple of things put Baldelli on top.
For one thing, I caught all kinds of hell last year for ranking him fourth. No, working the judges (well, judge) does not guarantee results. Indeed, I actually tend to downgrade guys when their fans nag me about it. But it does make me take a closer look at them to make sure I didn’t miss something, and I have concluded that, yep, I totally missed something with Baldelli.
Jeepers creepers, where’d ya get them peepers, Rocco?
I will also note that I recently determined that I have been grading bald men too harshly in these rankings. Which is ironic given that I am myself a bald man. Probably something I need to take up with my therapist. For now, though, let us appreciate Baldelli’s baldness:
Most bald guys would have the cap on for the pregame presser. Not Rocco. He’s just that damn confident. “God only made so many perfect heads and the rest he covered up with hair,” my bald grandfather used to say. He was also a Teamster who thought Jimmy Hoffa should be president and he used to say a lot of super bigoted things about European hockey players while watching Red Wings games, but I think that bald thing was a salvageable observation.
2. Mike Matheny, Royals
Matheny was, at one time, Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager. The latter portion of his tenure in St. Louis — and the ascent of Gabe Kapler — knocked him down a peg, but he’s still, quite obviously, one of the best-looking men to ever manage a baseball team. Know what would ensure that he was number one again? If the Royals would let him manage in a suit and tie, Tom Landry-style. Check out the first few seconds of this video from his introductory press conference, before he puts on the jersey. The man can wear a suit:
“To able to be a part of a great organization like the Kansas City Royals, in any capacity, is a gift.”
We’ll see some other examples of how being out of a baseball uniform can make a manager look way better.
And by that I mean “out of a baseball uniform and into other, non-baseball clothes.” Get your minds out of the gutter, you degenerates.
3. Gabe Kapler, Giants
The closest thing Major League Baseball has to a male model slips another spot in the rankings this year. We’ve discussed this in the past: the strain of the job takes some of the shine off a guy. So too does being fired. Unless you’re Brad Ausmus, you’re a tad less handsome the second time around. On the bright side, though, going from the one-time 30th-ranked manager in the game in Bruce Bochy to Kapler is a massive, massive improvement.
Of course, if you’re more of a fan of Giants baseball than you are of managerial handsomeness, you’re really gonna wish you had Bochy back this year, methinks.
4. Kevin Cash, Rays
Most of the photos you find of Cash show him with about a three-day growth of gray stubble that does not do him any favors. When he breaks out the Mach 3 and Barbasol, however, good things happen.
5. Craig Counsell, Brewers
How does this guy turn 50 next season?! There are pre-arbitration players who look older than he does. He’s the Dick Clark of major league managers.
6. Carlos Beltrán, Mets
Beltran has always been a damn handsome man, but he has made some questionable fashion choices in his past. Anyone remember this look back when he played for the Mets?
We all have our awkward phases, especially when we’re young. He’s cleaned it up quite nicely in recent years.
Anyway, Mets fans thought I underrated Mickey Calloway for a long time, and maybe I did, so here’s hoping they’re happier now. Though I suppose they would take the ugliest manager in baseball if he knew how to properly handle a bullpen.
7. David Bell, Reds
I did Bell a grave disservice ranking him as low as I did last year. It was based primarily on the only available photo of him after he was hired, taken during his introductory press conference and it was not a flattering photo. After a year with him, however, I think he’s very much like the Cincinnati Reds team that he manages: maybe not the best, but always kind of interesting in a fun way:
That’s some good hair, man. And he’s got a Lou Gehrig vibe going. Solid as hell.
8. Joe Girardi, Phillies
Joe’s back. And so is that jawline:
And like Matheny he should also be allowed to manage in a suit:
9. Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks
When you do photo searches for managers in the sports media databases to which I have access, the vast, vast majority of the results are either (a) a manager, looking out of the dugout onto the field with a tense expression; (b) a manager on the field arguing with an umpire; or (c) a manager with a scrunched up face or talking during a press conference which has the effect of making them look slack-jawed. Which is to say that, to the extent I can ever find photos of happy, smiling managers, it greatly enhances their prospects for this feature.
There are some managers for whom it’s almost impossible to find smiling photos. Torey Luvollo has a LOT of them, actually. He smiles during press conferences more than most and there are a good number of photos of him smiling or laughing in the dugout as well. That suggests to me a guy with a good nature and some good perspective and that kind of balance is an attractive feature in my view.
10. Derek Shelton, Pirates
You may consider this a surprisingly high ranking for the new Pirates skipper, especially considering that, because he’s been a bench coach the last couple of years, most of the photos which accompanied his hiring were of him yelling at the field during a Twins game in the way that bench coaches tend to do (i.e. a half-step behind the manager, but able to be a bit more vociferous since the umpire isn’t paying as much attention to him). Not a great look for anyone.
He’s got a sort of Jeff Bridges vibe which always works and I’m rather intrigued by the ink on his left arm. I don’t know what it says — and I’m not sure I have the guts to ask him, because it may be very personal — but it suggests some soul and introspection which always wears well on a person.
Seriously, though: if someone does track this down and it turns out to be, like, the lyrics to “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy or something, just don’t tell me, OK? I want to assume it’s inspirational and cosmic.
11. David Ross, Cubs
Ross the player:
Ross after he retired:
Ross the manager:
I feel like his handsomeness has an inverse relationship to his stress level. A lot of people are like that. I don’t care about the Cubs so much but, for Ross’ sake, I hope he wins because I really like the carefree, circa 2017 Ross the best. If stuff gets tense at Wrigley Field this year, it’s gonna show up all over his face.
I mean, he’s sorta got the worried eyes of that lady in the Peloton commercial:
12. Alex Cora, Red Sox
He’s slipped a bit over the past year, but to be fair, his bosses have more money than God yet are telling him that they have to trade their best player and cut payroll. It probably takes all the energy he can muster to not to have a perpetually-gobsmacked look on his face these days.
13. Aaron Boone, Yankees
Your mileage may vary on what aggression does for one’s handsomeness, but Boone’s “Savages in the box” rant is probably a watershed moment in that regard. After that you’re either devoted to him forever or you never will be.
14. A.J. Hinch, Astros
The Roman playwright Plautus once said, “I would rather be adorned by the beauty of character than of jewels.” In related news, the Astros have still not been punished in the sign-stealing scandal.
15. Dave Roberts, Dodgers
Chris Traeger: “Dave Roberts, you are lit-trally the best-looking Dodgers manager since Ned Hanlon helmed the Brooklyn Superbas in 1905.”
His nickname was “Foxy Ned,” though I think that referred to his baseball wiles — he invented the hit-and-run play — as opposed to his inherent foxiness in the manner in which we use that term today. Nevertheless, Hanlon was, as the kids say these days, a total snack. If he was alive today I’d hand him the number one ranking and shut down this feature permanently for lack of any chance at meaningful competition. I mean LOOK AT THAT MAN.
16. Joe Maddon, Angels
As I said with Kapler, getting fired — or, in Maddon’s case, asked not to return — can take a bit out of you, but going back home again and soaking up some of the warm California sun will likely do him some good. At the very least, the look he flashed here at his introductory press conference was enough to let Maddon reclaim the title in the baseball manager Silver Fox division from Bud Black.
17. Bud Black, Rockies
Black is maybe the best example of the bit I said above about how managerial standards of beauty have so radically changed in recent years. If we sent him, as-is, back in time to manage the 1993 Rockies instead of the 2020 Rockies, his whole “James Brolin’s stunt double” thing probably makes him top-five material. Now he’s 17. That’s no slight! It’s just a tough, tough crowd these days.
18. Brandon Hyde, Orioles
He’s entering his second year as the O’s skipper but this is his first year in the rankings because the Orioles, amazingly, had not yet hired a manager at this time last year. What an organization.
As for Hyde:
Good eyes and eyebrows, but as we can see below . . .
. . . his facial hair does him no favors. With some proper grooming, he stands a chance to make a massive leap up the list next year. Assuming, of course, the front office’s obvious tank job doesn’t cause the O’s to lose 127 games, after which they scapegoat Hyde for it and he’s not around for the 2020 rankings.
19. Bob Melvin, Athletics
In the past I’ve talked about how certain men look better when they’re older than when they’re younger. One of the best examples I can think of is Joe Torre who, in his 20s, was almost frightening in some ways but who, as a Man of a Certain Distinguished Age, has become almost dashing. There are a lot of reasons for that — being rich enough to be able to afford nice grooming and grooming products and being surrounded by people (read: women) who will give you good advice on how to dress and carry oneself are two big ones — but there simply are some guys who age like fine wine.
Melvin, I think, may be on that track. He was no Joe Torre — he was a standard-issue handsome man when he was a player — but his middle years were a bit . . . uncertain. He’s approaching 60 now, however, and he’s rounding into very nice shape in my view. Look at that photo of him: give him some different eyeglasses frames and he could be playing a general in one of those epic World War II miniseries they kept putting out in the 80s. Like, he beat out Robert Mitchum for the role. I sense good things ahead for the guy.
20. Charlie Montoyo, Blue Jays
As was the case with David Bell, I did Montoyo a disservice last year in ranking him 30th. Again, there were limited photos of him I could use and the ones I saw weren’t great. He’s not a top-10 guy or anything but nor is he the 30th-most handsome manager in baseball. If for no other reason than (a) like Torey Luvollo, there are a TON of photos of him laughing and smiling and joking around and thats just an attractive damn qualify. And (b) . . .
He wears actual jerseys — and sometimes high socks — most games as opposed to those windbreakers or hoodies or whatever the hell so many managers now wear. That’s just a pro move in my book. If he got rid of the sneakers and went with old school spikes like Bobby Cox used to wear he’d be the best-dressed manager in the game.
Anyway: sorry for last year, Charlie. I did you wrong.
21. Don Mattingly, Marlins
Wait a damn minute here . . .
Mattingly! I thought I told you to trim those sideburns! Go home! You’re off the Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager’s list for good!
22. Dave Martinez, Nationals:
“My fellow Americans: You can rank me anyplace you want to and I don’t give a rat’s butt because I just won the World Series.”
23. Chris Woodward, Rangers
Sorry to repeat the same idea from last year, but I still can’t shake this:
24. Mike Shildt, Cardinals
One of the biggest criticisms of both the book and the movie “Moneyball” was the portrayal of Oakland Athletics manager Art Howe. Many thought the book and the script of the movie maligned Howe as a baseball man, portraying him as a dumb or obstinate when he was and is, according to those who know him, nothing of the sort. But that stuff aside, many questioned the casting of Philip Seymour Hoffman as Howe.
Hoffman, to be sure, was the best character actor of his generation, but there was little for him to work with given the writing of Howe’s character and, to top it off, he looked absolutely nothing like him:
Seems like a fair criticism to me. If Hoffman were still alive, however, and if Mike Shildt or the Cardinals were to do something cinematic, I feel like the casting would be totally uncontroversial:
25. Scott Servais, Mariners
Servais has some serious “As your Congressman, I am committed to stamping out corruption in government, but for the good of the nation, I cannot support this Committee’s fake news-driven investigation into the president’s business dealings” energy here.
26. Jayce Tingler, Padres
Tingler here looks like he’s going to:
A) Announce the launch of a new piece of database software, but only after he explains how “great achievers are driven, not so much by the pursuit of success, but by the fear of failure”;
B) Explain to Mr. Bond that, no, he expects him to die; or
C) Give an impassioned speech, the final line of which is “Blessed are the destroyers of false hope, for they are the true Messiahs!” after which he will disappear in a puff of acrid smoke.
27. Terry Francona, Indians
Here’s Terry Francona when he was hired by the Indians before the 2013 season:
Here’s Terry Francona at the end of the 2019 season:
Cleveland’ll do that to ya, man.
28. Ron Gardenhire, Tigers
Gardy has been Gardy for a long time so there’s not much to say about his current handsomeness, but I am desperately afraid that the Tigers’ apparent belief that losing 114 games in 2019 was not enough of a tank job and that, in 2020, they should shoot for a good 123 losses or more, is going to turn poor Ron into an actual corpse.
29. Rick Renteria, White Sox
If the managing thing doesn’t work out for Renteria he has a great future in playing that angry police captain who has had it UP TO HERE with his loose cannon detective, telling him that THIS TIME we do it BY THE BOOK. You got that?! If not, your badge and gun ARE MINE. Not GET OUT OF MY OFFICE!
30. Brian Snitker, Braves
As I mentioned at the outset here, we are not ranking the ugliest managers. Indeed, as a rule, I do not use the term “ugly” in these rankings if it can be helped because that’s not the point. We are ranking the most handsome managers, and just because one of these men has to be ranked 30th does not make him ugly. It just makes him the 30th most-handsome.
And I should note that, if anything, the 30th most-handsome manager on these rankings has almost been a place of honor in practice.
Bruce Bochy and Clint Hurdle each landed here in the past. Each of them were outstanding managers. Each of them, also, were asked by the press about their ranking here on occasion and each of them found it rather funny. Hurdle, in fact, once said something to the effect of him being happy to be last because he didn’t want to be known as a pretty face. In contrast, as far as I know, Brad Ausmus was asked about his being the #1 guy once and I was told that he was kind of testy about it. I was also told that a Tigers player had a t-shirt of some kind made up referencing his handsomeness and he didn’t care for that at all.
Which is to say that there is — and dammit, there should be — some extra respect granted to the dudes at or near the bottom of this silly little list I do each year. After all, no one would claim for one minute that handsomeness is a prerequisite for being a good manager, and dear Lord, no one should take me of all people seriously about anything having to do with physical attractiveness.
That said, we do need a number 30 and this year I have decided that it’s Brian Snitker, mostly because the first, oh, dozen or so photos I found of him in the database were of him offering up an 80-grade frown:
Now, go out and win three World Series like Bochy has, Brian. I want to see if someone can frown while champagne is being poured over their head.