Any venture capitalists out there? Somebody with some spare cash burning a hole in his pocket? Hey. Charlie Sheen’s a huge baseball guy and a serious Cincinnati Reds fan. He’s got wads of cash to invest in a project that would surely be a big hit with the young up-and-coming sabermetric minds currently upsetting the apple cart in traditional baseball circles. Hey, Charlie? Call me. We need to find a baseball geek near you out in Palo Alto who can write some code for a new Google-like endeavor. Call it the MLB Magical Managerial Search Engine. It would work like this:
A button for choosing your search venue: NL; AL; AAA; AA; plus choices for current and out-of-work managers. Multiple fields with dropdown lists containing valued managerial attributes. Additional fields for choosing important situational qualities that might be of value to the desperate GM. Once the various menu of choices were entered, hit <GO> and a map would display flagged at the all the places the potential skipper fitting the above criteria would be found. It might look something like this:
Whoa. Methinks I’m on the right track.
The talk so far has centered around what we think is probable choice Bryan Price, then Jim Riggleman and a handful of others that people have fallen in love with because they once wore the uniform, were great players, were fan favorites—or all of the above.
Of all the opinions we have about the Cincinnati Reds, how they’re run, how they play, how they’re managed, etc., this topic leaves us the least equipped to carry on an intelligent conversation at the old water cooler. Thus the need for our Magical Managerial Search Engine.
And although it’s not on store shelves yet, I’ll go there for a moment without it because, as you well know dear reader, I can’t help myself.
Whatever happened to Pete Mackanin?
Mackanin is a 62 year old former middle infielder who broke into baseball in 1973, bounced around with four different organizations and was done playing by age 30. He managed the Pirates for a very short stint in 2005, but because the higher-ups were more interested in sampling from the very boring and very safe managerial carousel, he lost the job to ex-Dodger manager Jim Tracy. He wore the Reds’ wishbone C in 2007, taking over midway thru the season from Jerry Narron and as I recall, did a terrific job with a fairly bad team, leading them to a 41-39 record the rest of the way. His big flaw once again was name recognition. Owner Castellini wanted to make a splash and this time his name not only wasn’t Jim Tracy, it wasn’t Dusty Baker, either.
That’s how most Reds fans remember Pete Mackanin, if they remember him at all. But, in fact, Mackanin had been with the organization more than 20 years ago, managing the Reds’ AAA Nashville Sounds. It was there he was promised a managerial shot by then Scouting Director, Jim Bowden, before being let go after a disappointing season.
Since leaving the Reds, Mackanin has traveled to Philly, where he was a valued voice as bench coach alongside Charlie Manuel, then went off to be a scout for the New York Yankees. Now, he is back with Philadelphia, having just signed on as their third base coach. He interviewed for the Red Sox job of cleaning up the Chicken & Beer mess in 2011 and according to the NY Daily news, is greatly admired by Yankee GM Brian Cashman and was a dark-horse favorite for the job had Girardi left.
I know nothing about Mackanin’s managerial style or philosophy. However, the fact that both the Red Sox and the Yankees—two big money clubs heavy into advanced metrics—would be interested enough in Mackanin to interview the fellow, tells me he’s either a sabermetric guy or someone who at the very least is open-minded to the advancing wave of the new metrics. More importantly, it tells me how highly regarded he is around the league. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox don’t hand the keys to the Mercedes over to just anybody.
Yet Mackanin, whom the Reds have a real history with, appears to have been nowhere on Bob & Walt’s search map. At the very least, you would have liked to have seen him considered for a position, perhaps as Price’s bench coach, were Price indeed to get the job. There are certainly worse choices than having an accomplished and admired MLB guy sitting next to a pitching coach who has never managed before. Especially one who would relish a shot at getting one step closer to proving—after all these years—that all those GMs were oh so very wrong.