12th Man Report: Next in line…
The Tigers’ managerial hunt
On Monday, Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland officially retired from baseball as a manager. While many were sad, some happy, and others indifferent, there’s one thing everybody agrees on: the Tigers need a solid replacement. There are just a lot of potential candidates.
The first question is whether the Tigers should hire from within or go outside the organization. I for one think they should not hire somebody from within. However, there are a few options. One is Gene Lamont, who’s currently the Tigers’ bench coach and twice has managed in his career (the White Sox and Pirates). Although he might be a little too Leyland-esque, he certainly has a resume that makes him a fine candidate. It ultimately depends on what the Tigers want in their next manager.
The second in-house coach to be considered is hitting coach Lloyd McClendon. He managed the Pirates from 2001-2005 (very unsuccessfully, albeit an extremely untalented team) and has also been with the Tigers since his dismissal from Pittsburgh. He started out as the bullpen coach, then became the hitting coach in 2007 and has held the role since. His most attractive quality for the job is his familiarity with the team. These guys know him, respect him, and would probably transition very nicely under his leadership. But a few people blame the Tigers’ post-season hitting woes on McClendon. So again, it will be a matter of whether the Tigers front office wants to go that direction.
The next two guys are attractive for similar reasons: they both have strong Latino ties and they both are veterans to the league. Manny Acta and Ozzie Guillen are two available managers who fit these criteria. Acta, a 44-year-old Dominican native, most recently managed the Indians from 2009-2012. Guillen on the other hand managed the White Sox from 2004-2011, where he became the first Latino manager to win a World Series. Guillen does, however, have a bit of a reputation as a wild card, which could help or hurt his chances in Detroit. It’s also interesting to note that both managers recently spent at least a few years managing teams in the AL Central, giving them familiarity with the Tigers’ players and organization.
Finally, current Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson is on the top of a few people’s wish lists. He has the Detroit ties — he was instrumental in the Tigers’ 1984 World Series victory. He has the experience — in his first three years in Arizona he successfully led them to three seasons over .500 and an NL West title. And he has the passion — he’s known to mold his managerial style from his former manager in Detroit, Sparky Anderson, who happens to be quite the fan favorite around these parts. There is a slight problem: he’s currently under contract with the Diamondbacks. Detroit will either have to some how lure him away, or cut a deal with Arizona.
However you look at it, Dombrowski has his work cut out for him. This list doesn’t include every possible candidate, but a lot of the major suspects. The Tigers have a lot of options; the front office just needs to choose the guy who’s right for the job…whoever that may be.