With Cito Gaston’s departure from the Toronto Blue Jays’ dugout, the foreseeable future is a little cloudy for the Blue Birds.
The man charged with clearing things up is Jays’ G.M. Alex Anthopoulos, who came to Toronto as a scouting director in 2003, and is well underway in his search for a new bench boss.
Let’s sift through the list of reported candidates for the managerial vacancy.
He is considered to be one of the front-runners for the job. Experience is one of his strongest attributes as he managed in the big leagues for 15 seasons, compiling a 1,117-1072 career record.
With a career .510 winning percentage, he also has a World Series appearance on his resume. In 2000 with the New York Mets, he led the squad to 94 wins and lost to the New York Yankees in the Subway Series.
The average age of that squad was just over 30, so he managed a blend of veteran hitters and younger players.
What does it mean for a squad like Toronto?
Youth is certainly one of the characteristics of the current Jays’ roster, with the combined average age of anyone who appeared a Toronto uniform this past season was just over 28.
Valentine may not be the best fit for this team as he hasn’t managed in Major League Baseball since 2002, and he currently works for ESPN as an analyst. With so much time out of professional baseball, he may be a long shot.
While less experienced than Valentine, Melvin has managed in seven big league seasons and five were spent with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Under Melvin’s tenure, the D-Backs won 90 games en route the NL West title before losing in championship series to the Colorado Rockies.
The average age of that squad was just over 27, more akin to Anthopoulos’s team. His experience managing a younger core group of players could help his chances with the Jays.
The 2008 Diamondbacks were also a pitching nightmare for opposing hitters, as they placed first in the NL in complete games and third in earned runs.
On the flip side, their bats needed a kick-start for most of the season. They ranked seventh in total home runs, but hit a combined .250, good enough for 16th.
One may be reminded of the homer-happy Blue Jays, whose pitching staff was good enough this year to keep them in games, and utilized the long-ball to lead the league in home runs (257).
To his credit, Melvin’s managing style may coincide with the current Jays’ approach. Toronto ranked 10th in batting average this season, eerily similar to Melvin’s 2008 squad.
But does Anthopoulos really want someone like Melvin or does he want a fresh face with more emphasis on team hitting?
If familiarity breeds success, Butterfield might be the man for the job.
He joined the Blue Jays’ organization as third base coach on June 3, 2002 and was appointed their bench coach on Sept. 30, 2007.
The fact he has never managed a big league game in his career may hinder a potential promotion for the 51-year-old.
He has, though, coached at the collegiate level at Florida Southern, so if Anthopoulos is feeling like taking a gamble, Butterfield would be a good bet.
Wedge has seven years of managerial experience at the big league level, all with the Cleveland Indians.
At the ripe age of 42, he may be able to relate to the players better than the older candidates.
His most successful season was 2007 when the Indians won 96 games en route to the AL Central title. The pitching on that squad was dominant, boasting the likes of CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and a strong season from a then 23-year-old Fausto Carmona.
These three proverbial aces combined for 53 wins that year, so clearly he has experience working with pitchers and getting the most out of them.
Their hitting wasn’t too bad either, ranking fifth in team home runs and seventh in overall batting average.
When comparing that team to the 2010 edition of the Blue Jays, this might be a match made in heaven.
Wedge’s age, his ability to get the most out of his pitchers, and the fact that in part, his tutelage brought along the likes of Grady Sizemore to become a five-tool player, might sway Anthopoulos’s sights in the former Cleveland manager.
The 61-year-old has just over eight years of managerial experience and a 1995 NL Manager of the Year Award (Colorado Rockies) to stand out on his resume.
He is considered a hitting guru, his ’95 team ranked first in total hits, runs, triples, home runs and batting average.
Yet, he hasn’t been at the helm of a big league club since 2002 with the Chicago Cubs.
Some may say hitting in a thin atmosphere certainly doesn’t hurt a team’s batting, but this guy has overseen the rise of MVP-candidate Carlos Gonzalez, a fact that may catapult him to the top of the Jays’ list.
When Gonzalez debuted with the Oakland Athletics in 2008, he hit .242. This season, under Baylor’s guidance, he hit .336 with 34 home runs.
The Texas native just may be another strong candidate to lead the Blue Jays in the coming years.