Jim Bowden Weighs in on MLB's Coaching Carousel From WhatIfSports.com image

Major League Baseball's Coaching Carousel

Why do the same names pop up?
By Ryan Fowler, WhatIfSports.com
July 1st, 2010

Fanny Bag Check!

Rollercoaster People watching at amusement parks is a sport

As a kid, my summer vacation itinerary consisted of three things: 1) little league baseball games at Mooney Park 2) flashlight tag at dusk with Rivershannon Drive's finest 3) and trips to the amusement park, more specifically Cedar Point.

Now when one enters the pearly gates of their favorite amusement park, they are guaranteed to encounter specific classes of ride warriors. My favorites include:

1) Those rocking the fanny pack

2) Those donning the latest in "I'm with stupid" threads (matching shirts also apply)

3) Those who frequent amusement parks to play the carnival games first thing in the morning only to get stuck lugging an oversized stuffed St. Bernard around the park for 8 hours while the heat index is approaching 105 degrees

This is not a joke. This is law. Every trip to the amusement park includes a special cameo from each of the preceding characters. It's as if they were signed to a contract in some backroom meeting to appear in amusement parks every summer.

Major League Baseball's recent behavior suggests their coaching carousel follows the same set of principles. For as each manager is fired, the same three or four faces hit the front page ready for the interview process to begin.

Fredi Gonzalez

We just witnessed this the last few weeks in Baltimore and Florida. The Orioles fired Dave Trembley and brought in Buck Showalter and Eric Wedge for interviews.

The Marlins told Fredi Gonzalez his services would no longer be needed and showed him the door. Within 48-hours, Bobby Valentine's name was swirling around South Beach.

Media reports and repetitive rhetoric have forced our psyches to accept the fact these few good men are the best options. Unlike collegiate athletes working their way into rookie ball, up through the minors until they reach the big show, it seems managerial positions in MLB are harder to acquire than the neon-yellow pouches wrapped around that woman's waist.

Whatifsports.com MLB insider, and former general manager, Jim Bowden tried to help me, and most likely a lot of you, understand why a managerial fraternity seems to exist within baseball where a fraction of the coaches possess the experience for the job.

"Unlike a lot of positions in America where there might be a million people qualified or 500k people qualified, how many are really qualified to be a major league manager?" Bowden asked. "The problem is it's a very small pool. It's not a matter of it's a fraternity and people are trying to hire their friends. People (Front offices) try to hire people who have spent their life in baseball. That's why you see the same names pop up."

Jim Leyland won the 1997 World Series with the Marlins only to lose 108 games the following season. After stepping away from baseball for 7 years, Leyland came back to manage the Detroit Tigers. In his first season, one of those familiar faces led the Motor City Kitties to the American League pennant. This grizzled vets' managerial experience will always push him to the front of the line until he wants to retire.

"You want people who have learned from their failures," Bowden said. "That's why you see the same people pop up. We've seen great managers lose 100 games and those same managers win world championships. We've seen great managers get fired, like Joe Torre, and go on to win world championships."


Eric Wedge

Sources down in the Marlins' camp say although Bobby Valentine is not going to manage the fish this season, don't be surprised to see him hired before the start of the 2011 season. A lot depends on the success of Edwin Rodriguez who was just named Florida's manager for the rest of the season.

In Baltimore, Eric Wedge is the leader in the clubhouse to take over the Orioles. He and Buck Showalter both interviewed for the position over the last two weeks.

"(Baltimore general manager) Andy (MacPhail) has to decide what he thinks is the best for that club," Bowden said. "What style is going to be lead and develop the team? They aren't going to win quickly. Who can develop the young kids they do have quickly? Who has the patience to work with him and the front office to build a team the way Andy McPahil wants it?"

Think of the Orioles as that kid at the amusement park with the electric green Mohawk waiting in line for a funnel cake.

They are still trying to discover who they are.

Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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