On managerial decisions

By Jason Wojciechowski on October 29, 2005 at 3:59 PM

Lee Sinins's ATM Report points me to a couple bits of interesting news. I'll put them in reverse order of what's the most interesting and relevant for A's fans.

First, Mike Schmidt has interviewed for the Devil Rays's managerial job. This is only interesting in that I think a lot of people assumed he was being groomed for the Phillies job eventually. However, with the changes at the top (see next item), it's not obvious that the team will retain the same feelings for Schmidt as they did under Ed Wade. Thus it makes sense for Schmidt to look anywhere he can for an opportunity.

There haven't been that many managers who were also Hall of Fame players, or even close to Hall of Fame players. Frank Robinson jumps out at you, of course, because he's still hanging around. Perusing the list of managers at Baseball Reference, though, here's the entire list of post-WWII major league managers who were Hall of Fame players:

  • Luke Appling managed Kansas City for just 40 games, winning only 10.
  • Yogi Berra managed in three different decades despite working just seven seasons, and compiled a .522 winning percentage in 930 games, with two pennants, one in each league, and no last-place finishes.
  • Lou Boudreau was a player-manager, but continued to manage after he stopped playing, working seven seasons for three teams, but never finishing higher than fourth place.
  • Max Carey managed two seasons with the Dodgers, winning 47.6% of his games.
  • Larry Doby managed the White Sox for 87 games in 1978, winning 37 of them.
  • Billy Herman managed three full seasons, plus two games in 1964 (he won both games). His full-season teams finished 7th, 9th, and 9th.
  • Rogers Hornsby managed two seasons after retiring as a player and went 113-135.
  • Bob Lemon managed in nine different seasons, winning 51.6% of his games and one World Series (in 1978, when he was the third Yankee manager of the year).
  • Ted Lyons managed three years, never finishing higher than fifth.
  • Eddie Mathews managed in three different seasons, going 149-161.
  • Tony Perez managed in two different seasons, going 74-84.
  • Frank Robinson has now managed in 15 seasons and won 47.8% of his 2080 games, never finishing higher than second. He's just six wins from 1000, though.
  • Red Schoendist twelve full seasons and parts of two others, winning 52% of his games, two pennants, and one World Series.
  • Ted Williams managed four years but never finished higher than fourth.

This list isn't an overwhelming testament to managerial ability. For the most part, I'm guessing a lot of these guys were chosen for box-office draw, or other reasons than necessarily for their overall managerial ability.

After all that, the second bit of news is that Pat Gillick and Gerry Hunsicker have been interviewed for the Phillies GM position. It's interesting to see that despite the sort of copycatism that's going on with regard to teams hiring the next hot young statistical analyst as their GM (see next item), there are still places where guys who are a little older, maybe a little more conservative in their baseball views, have a chance. That said, I do recall Hunsicker being known for his open-ness to statistical analysis in his time in Houston, so it's not like we're bringing back Herk Robinson or anything. (Here's some commentary from Jeff Hildebrand.)

Third, Josh Byrnes has been hired as the GM of the Diamondbacks. Byrnes as an assistant in Boston under Theo Epstein and is one of those whiz-kid types. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, because Arizona has Jeff Moorad running the team as CEO. It seems that more teams are going with these types of arrangements: see the hiring of Sandy Alderson in San Diego, as well as the Larry Lucchino situation in Boston. Coming from the Red Sox and one of those "crowded front office" situations, Byrnes will probably be at less of a disadvantage in dealing with it than other candidates might have been.

Finally, and most interestingly to us, Paul DePodesta is apparently set to be fired this weekend by Frank McCourt. It seems ridiculous that McCourt would want to get rid of DePodesta after giving him all of two seasons (one of which he didn't really have a chance to put his team on the field) to prove himself. A huge part of a GM's job is in building a whole system, creating the kind of thing the A's have where injuries and outgoing free agents don't hurt the team because they've got talent coming up. That kind of system takes years to put in place, particularly in a situation as difficult as the one DePodesta inherited in Los Angeles. Suppose Billy Beane had been told after 1998 that since the team had won about 43% of its games since he took over, he was going to be fired. The owners gave him time, and he rewarded them for their patience.

That said, I'm sure if DePodesta wants to come back to the A's, Beane will be glad to have him. Back to the fold, Paul, back to the fold!