Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Looking for the next Ron Gardenhire

Managerial candidates Wally Backman and Jose Oquendo were middle infielders on the Mets in the '80s, as was Tim Teufel, now managing in the Mets' system. But the best choice among those Met '80s-era middle infielders is unavailable - he was just named AL Manager of the Year.

In nine years as Twins manager, Ron Gardenhire has finished first six times, second once and third twice. He finished under .500 only once, going 79-83 in 2007. Since the Twins traded Johan Santana, they have won at least 87 games all three seasons. All this with a team that had a limited payroll until 2010.

Gardenhire played for the Mets from 1981-1985. He was the starting shortstop in 1982 in an infield that included Backman, Dave Kingman and Hubie Brooks. The only other year Gardenhire got significant playing time was 1984, when he shared shortstop with Oquendo, who was on the Mets from 1983-1984.

If Backman, now one of four finalists, gets the job, that will mean that managers will have come from players who started games at three of the four infield positions on the 1984-85 Mets, since Ray Knight managed the Reds in 1996, 1997 and one game in 2003.

Who would have guessed that the only 80s-era Mets infield position with no managerial possibilities would be Keith Hernandez' first base?

If you count catcher as part of the infield, the mid-1980s Mets also produced a manager there. Sorry, Gary Carter, it was John Gibbons, who played briefly for the Mets in 1984 and 1986 and managed the Blue Jays from 2004-2008. Gibbons was both hired and fired by then-Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi, who was also Gibbons' roommate in the Mets' farm system. Gibbons, now the Royals' bench coach, reportedly took himself out of consideration for the Mets' job last month.

If the new Mets' moneyball front office ends up hiring Teufel down the road, it would bring things full circle - when the Mets acquired Teufel from the Twins before the 1986 season, one of the players they gave up was Billy Beane.


Uncle Mike said...

If the Mets can lure Gardenhire out of Minnesota, it would be a good hire, but I can think of another good one.

Someone who will not be fazed by the New York media. Someone with postseason experience, having won postseason series as both a player and a manager. Someone older than some recently retired player on his first managing job, but younger than, say Joe Torre. As the 1960 JFK campaign would say, "A man who's old enough to know, and young enough to do." Someone who can probably be had from his current employer for a song, maybe a short medley (as Jim Bouton would say). And someone who really didn't get a fair shake the last time he was managing.

Of course, I'm talking about Willie Randolph. No, I'm not joking: For the way Omar Minaya treated him, the Wilpons owe him, big-time. Met fans will hate him again, but, as Richard Schiff (admittedly a Yankee Fan) would say, they'll love him when he wins.

nutballgazette said...

- BREAKING NEWS--Len Berman Sports has learned--That the Mets announce

their are FIVE finalists for their managerial position. Terry Collins, Bob Melvin, Chip Hale, Wally Backman,
and in a surprise
Bristol Palin
has made the final cut

Jon Lewin said...

It would figure that in the Mets' version of Moneyball, the BP in OBP would stand for Bristol Palin.
And Willie Randolph deserves a second chance with the Mets about as much as Omar Minaya does. The Mets need a fresh start after the last few years.

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