The NL Central added another marquee manager over the weekend when the Cincinnati Reds hired Dusty Baker.
Baker won 53 percent of his games in 14 seasons with the Cubs and Giants. He joins a high-profile group that includes Lou Piniella (Cubs) and Tony LaRussa (Cardinals … for now, at least).
Houston’s Cecil Cooper, who had the interim tag removed at the end of September, doesn’t have much of a managerial track record yet, but it’s hard to argue with his resume as a player (five-time All-Star, .298 career batting average). The Brewers lost 90-plus games in Ned Yost’s first two seasons, but they have been in the hunt for the division title in two of the past three years.
It makes you wonder who the Pirates will hire. I don’t see first-time GM Neal Huntington hiring someone who is older, flashier and pricier. To do otherwise could set up an eventual power-grab showdown between Huntington and the manager. The Pirates have enough problems without having to deal with that potential distraction.
That takes Joe Girardi, Larry Bowa, Joe Torre (if Steinbrenner whacks him) and the like — that is, anyone who’s ever managed in the majors — out of the mix.
That’s good news for guys such as Torey Lovullo, who has taken a fast track through the Indians’ minor league system and had done a superb job the past two years in Triple-A.
Also, remember that Huntington and team president Frank Coonelly were under-the-radar names when they were hired. A surprise pick for manager would just follow the trend.
Whomever the Pirates hire, his job likely got a bit rougher when the Reds brought in Baker.
On a side note to Baker’s hiring, you’ve got to feel sorry for Pete Mackanin. Of the four interim manager’s in the game last season, Mackanin was the only one not to be rewarded with the full-time gig — despite having the best record (41-39) of the four. It was the second time “Coach Pete” failed to stick after doing a decent job as an interim manager. Mackanin is a good baseball mind and a great guy. He deserves a shot somewhere.
Here’s hoping Neal Huntington’s has Mackanin’s number on speed dial.