By: Andrew “Fish” Fain
So as has been discussed and talked about since before the Dodgers were even eliminated from the post season, Don Mattingly is no longer the team’s manager. Ironically, he was not let go by the team, he was even offered an extension. No, this was Donnie Baseball’s choice. He decided rather than work for an ownership group that did not hire him, Mattingly will decide his own fate. As a Dodger fan, I wish him well. He was not a horrible manager; he just wasn’t the RIGHT manager.
Personally I wish they had made this move last off-season. The biggest reason being, had they done it then, Joe Maddon would be the man leading the Dodgers from the dugout instead of leading the Cubs to heights they didn’t think they could achieve this year. Of course, if the Queen had balls she’d be the King, so all the wishing in the world won’t make it so. Since Maddon is not on the market, now the Dodgers need to find the right guy to lead this squad.
So who is? Who will be the man to lead this team of pricey contracts and great youth into the future? Over the next few weeks there will be six names that will be bandied about as possible replacements for Mattingly. As a fan, I know who I want to take the position (there are actually two I would be good with), but as a member of the media and a self-proclaimed baseball guy, any of these six would not surprise me.
So let’s take a look at the candidates and I promise you this, one of these six men will be the guy who the Dodgers hire.
Candidate 1 Ron Roenicke – An LA guy through and through, as he grew up in West Covina, went to UCLA and was drafted by the Dodgers in the 1st round (17th overall) in the 1977 Draft. He was a career utility guy as a player, but after his playing days were over he entered the Dodgers minor league system as a coach and manager. But it wasn’t until 2000 when his career took off when he was hired to be a member of Mike Scioscia’s staff on the Angels. In 2006 he took over as bench coach when Joe Maddon took the Tampa Bay job, and remained there until the Brewers hired him as manager in 2010. Roenicke’s first season as the Brewers manager was a resounding success as the Brewers finished the season 96–66, the most wins in franchise history, and also won the National League Central Division title, the first divisional title for the team in 29 years. The Brewers went on to win the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks but lost the NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals. The team lost the momentum in 2012 and finished 4 games above .500, but it was the 2014 season that really cost him his job. The Brewers led the NL Central for most of the season, but a mammoth collapse in late August and September ended up with the Brewers finishing 82-80 and out of the post-season. When he started 2015 7-18, he was done. The Dodgers hired him to be their 3rd base coach on August 17th 2015.
Odds of getting the job 3:1
Candidate 2 Gabe Kapler – Another LA guy, Kapler was born in Hollywood and played high school baseball at Taft High School in the San Fernando Valley before attending Cal State Fullerton. Drafted by the Tigers in 1995, Kapler played portions of 13 seasons with 6 different teams. He was always a 4th outfielder type. He has been a minor league manager, but only for a short time. He was hired by the Dodger brain trust to be the Director of Player Development, as he is an analytic guy, which is something this front office values very much. His relationship with Andrew Friedman from his days in Tampa as well as with the Dodgers may be the strongest thing Kapler has going for him, but his lack of real managerial experience may keep him out of that spot for a Dodger team that needs the experience to take them to the next level.
Odds of getting the job 5:1
Candidate 3 Kevin Kennedy – Kennedy’s name seems to pop-up every time the Dodgers are looking for a field boss. Kennedy is best known for his managerial stints in both Texas and Boston, and was even able to bring the Red Sox back to national prominence after they languished in obscurity for several years. Since that time, Kennedy has been an announcer for FOX Sports nationally, as well as the Tampa Bay Rays and the Dodgers. Kennedy was brought along in the Dodger farm system and was a minor league manager for the Dodgers for years before getting his break in Texas. He is a true Dodger along the lines of Tommy Lasorda and will always be associated with the team. His time away from managing the game may be his biggest drawback.
Odds of getting the job 17:1
Candidate 4 Bud Black – Another member of the Mike Scioscia coaching tree, Black was the manager of the San Diego Padres for eight plus seasons, always seeming to make the team competitive despite their small market payroll. Black was fired during this season after a new ownership group was brought in and spent a ton of money in the off-season to not so great results. Still, Black is considered a very hot commodity in the managing market and I can almost guarantee, even if it is not with the Dodgers, Black will find a managing gig this off-season. He has the fewest ties to the Dodgers of all the candidates and that may be his biggest downfall. But his track record in the NL West speaks for itself and that may be able to tilt the scales in his favor.
Odds of getting the job 10:1
Candidate 5 Dusty Baker – This is one of the names that I would favor the Dodgers hiring. Baker played left field in Los Angeles for 8 seasons, including World Series teams in 1977, 1978 and 1981 when he was co-MVP of the series. Baker has managed the Giants, Reds and Cubs leading each team to the post-season, including a World Series appearance with the Giants in 2002, when they lost to the Angels. On a side note, Baker was also the first ever recipient of a “high-five” when Dodger teammate Glenn Burke slapped Baker’s hand after scoring on October 2nd 1977. He was always a fan favorite, and his background with the team along with his positive managing experience may give him an edge over some of the other candidates. He is also available right now after taking 2 seasons away from the game.
Odds of getting the job 11:2
Candidate 6 Mike Scioscia – The longest tenured manager in the Majors right now, Scioscia is still under contract to manage the Angels. But if the Dodgers really wanted him, there is no doubt that they could get him from the Angels for some kind of compensation. If he was available right now, he would be the no brainer candidate. He was drafted by the Dodgers, was a key member of 2 World Championship teams and played 13 years for the team. He was always a hard-nosed player and was adored by the fans for his blue collar style of play. He is also one of the best managers in the game, but has fallen a little out of favor with the Angels after missing the post-season this year. As I mentioned, he is still under contract there, but that could be worked around. Scioscia is responsible for several managers currently managing in the bigs or that also happen to be on this list (Joe Maddon, Ron Roenicke, Bud Black). He is and would be the number one choice if the Dodgers could pry him away from the Angels.
Odds of getting job 3:2 (if they can work it out with the Angels)
There you have it, the six guys who will be considered for the gig, and one of them will be the next manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers The only question is, can any of them get this team back to the place it hasn’t been since 1988, the World Series.