With Cito Gaston’s second stint as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays set to expire on Oct. 3, general manager Alex Anthopoulos has a big decision on his hands.
It will be on Anthopoulos to find a skipper who is capable of leading a young Blue Jays team to the post-season for the first time since 1993 – when they won their second World Series title.
The responsibility lies with Anthopoulos to find a skipper capable of leading a young Blue Jays team to the post-season for the first time since 1993 – the year they won their second straight World Series title.
There has been a lot speculation over the past few weeks about who the young executive will name, but he appears to be in no rush, patiently taking his time to ensure he finds the right fit for the club.
“You would love to get it [naming a manger for next season] done sooner than later, but at the same time, it takes as long as it takes to get it right,” Anthopoulos told reporters.
According to the Boston Globe, there are roughly 200 candidates that are being considered. Rumour mills around baseball have also churned out a few names that seem to continually popup, in particular, Brian Butterfield and Rob Thompson.
Butterfield is currently the third base coach for Toronto and first joined the organization in 2002. If he were to get the job, it would be his first crack at managing a major league team. Butterfield’s familiarity with the organization may give him an edge in the interview process.
His staying power with the team despite three different managerial tenures means the organization must approve of his performance, and it might be time for his good work to be rewarded.
Thompson is another third base coach, currently with division rival New York Yankees.
For the Jays, this hiring makes sense because of the kind of championship pedigree the Corunna, Ontario native brings to the table. Even though he would be a rookie manager, Thompson has big league managerial experience.
In 2008, he took the reigns of the Yankees for three games during Joe Girardi’s absence, becoming the first Canadian to manage a major league team since 1934 when George Gibson guided the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Manning the helm with the Blue Birds would also allow Thompson an opportunity to work with the Canadian national baseball team during the World Baseball Classic, a position he would love, but previously spring training duties have precluded him from taking part in the event.
Other names that have emerged are Sal Fasano, Don Baylor, Bob Melvin, Pat Listach, Don Wakamatsu, Nick Leyva, Juan Samuel and Luis Rivera.
Samuel and Rivera are of particular interest because of their Latino heritage, which could help the team’s increased financial commitments to scouting in Latin America.
However, Gaston believes that Anthopoulos shouldn’t worry about choosing a candidate of a specific ethnic background, rather select the best person for the position.
“I’ve always said take the best guy, the guy that’s best for the job, whether he’s Latin or African American or Caucasian,” Gaston said to the Toronto Star.
Experience is another factor at play when choosing a new manager. Thus far, the majority of names that have emerged are young guys with little to no time spent managing at the big league level.
This has led to some questions about whether the Jays want to specifically have a younger manager in place. Anthopoulos said this is not necessarily true as he claims the focus is about finding someone to mesh well with the club.
“I’ve been asked what kind of manager I want,” Anthopoulos said. “Do you want an experienced guy, a young guy, a guy you can grow with? There’s no template to this thing.
“I want the right guy. I can’t tell you who that is yet because I haven’t been through it, but I think the right guy will present himself, and if that means someone who hasn’t [managed] before, I’m fine with it. If it’s someone who has 20 or 30 years of experience I’m fine with that as well.”
According to Anthopoulos, filling the position is the No. 1 priority, believing the front office should always be on the same page as the manager.
In order to run a successful baseball team, the GM and manager need a good working relationship to create an environment of stability that allows the players to grow.
Finding a new manager is going to be a tough job for Anthopoulos, who is facing his most important decision since he took over from J.P. Ricciardi in 2009.