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A Snapshot Look At the Tampa Bay Rays’ Managerial Candidates

By David Egbert
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Matt Silverman and the Tampa Bay Rays front office have been quite busy assembling a group of potential managerial candidates to replace Joe Maddon. It’s an eclectic bunch that ranges from ex-managers to bullpen coaches to ESPN analysts. They all have their strong points, but some do come with baggage. Silverman is now stepping back to decide who will make the first cut. Let’s analyze all ten and predict who wil get a second interview.

Dave Martinez: The current Rays bench coach has been linked at the hip with Joe Maddon since the 2007 offseason. That would seem to make him the front-runner, but that may not actually be the case. He may be too much of a Joe Maddon clone and Maddon did have his weaknesses. Silverman may be looking for his own man. The fact that Martinez has been passed up for other jobs doesn’t necessarily work against him here, but it is still worth asking why he was never hired before.

Manny Acta: Acta managed the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians for six years. That’s good experience, but he managed just a 372-518 record for that time. Acta is a bright guy, but you can’t like recycled managers, especially ones with losing records.

Don Wakamatsu: Another ex-skipper, Wakamutsu was a hot managerial candidate when he took over the Seattle Mariners in 2009. He got off to a good start in 2009 with a winning record, but stumbled in 2010 as Seattle had a losing record halfway through the season. In strange move, the Mariners fired him then and there. He then served as the Toronto Blue Jays’ bench coach from 2010 to 2012 and held the same position for the Kansas City Royals in 2014. He seems like a good candidate, but I would like to know more about his 2010 firing.

Ron Wotus: Wotus is a Joe Maddon look alike with a great background. Wotus spent 26 years in the San Francisco organization and has been the Giants bench coach for the last 14 years, winning three rings in the process. He has worked under highly regarded manager Bruce Bochy . This is a very worthy candidate.

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Charlie Montoyo: Montoyo is the longtime manager of the Durham Bulls and has compiled a 614-492 record over eight years. He knows the Rays system and a lot of the present and future players. Unfortunately for him, Triple-A managers usually don’t get their team’s big league job. He is probably better suited to be a bench or third base coach before he can even think about a big league managerial position.

Kevin Cash: The first of several surprise candidates, Cash was a career backup catcher who played parts of eight big league seasons with five teams including the Rays. He is currently the bullpen catcher for the Indians. He seems like a smart guy, but he does not have much of a resume considering the bullpen catcher’s job is to signal when relievers are ready.

Craig Counsell: Counsell was a gritty, well-regarded utility player who spent fifteen years in the big leagues with a number of different teams. Since retiring in 2011, he has spent the last three years as special assistant to Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin. He is a well-rounded guy who knows how both the field and the front office works. He would be an interesting choice.

Raul Ibanez: It is very unusual for a player to go straight from a 25-man roster to a manager’s job. Ibanez seems to think he can make that move. He is certainly a thinking man’s ball player who spent 19 seasons with five different teams. He probably would continue Joe Maddon’s “be your own man” philosophy, but his lack of experience running a team hurts him.

Doug Glanville: Talk about a surprise candidate! Glanville has not been associated with organized baseball since he retired in 2004 after a nine-year big league career. Most recently he has been a guest columnist to the New York Times and an analyst for ESPN. He’s quite intelligent and you would wonder why he would want to give up the suit and tie world of journalism for a baseball dugout. However, not many analysts make seven figures.

Barry Larkin: I have to wonder how he made the list. First of all, not many Hall of Famers make good managers unless they are caretakers on a big stage. Even Joe Torre (who wasn’t a Hall of Fame player, but was awfully close) compiled a losing record over nine years of managing before he became a legend with the Yankees. To make matters worse, Larkin’s former team, the Cincinnati Reds, didn’t hire him in 2013 and he backed out of consideration for the Detroit Tigers job in 2014. He’s a big name, but the Rays can do better for a manager.

My guess in that Silverman will now cut the list of Tampa Bay Rays managerial candidates to five. I’m going to speculate that five will be Martinez, Wotus, Wakamutsu, Counsell and, just a hunch, Glanville. In the end, the job will go to Wotus. Fourteen years as a bench coach with one team and three World Series rings mean a lot. I’m sorry for Davey Martinez, but it’s time to turn the page on the Joe Maddon era.

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