5. Robin Ventura – White Sox
The former all-star third basemen for the club is now their manager, with no experience. It’s a hard sell, especially coming from a team that underachieved so much last season it booted Ozzie Guillen all the way to South Beach. GM Ken Williams should better hope this works out or it could be himself that gets the boot next. A few choice words to Ventura though: avoid Nolan Ryan at all costs when facing Texas 😉
4. Ozzie Guillen – Marlins
Oh Ozzie, even as a White Sox fan, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with you all these years. After all the outspoken zaniness times in Chicago now behind you, only one of two extremes can happen in Florida: One, the players listen to you immediately (signing Jose Reyes helps) and the Marlins become an NL perennial power. Or, you’re given too much control and authority and become even more outspoken, in which the players become increasingly apathetic and numb to your uncouth managerial ethic. OK, that was a rant. Forgive me. But that’s my honest opinion. #1 could very well come true here.
3. Mike Matheny – Cardinals
Call me a little crazy. But right now, I think Matheny would be a better hire over Guillen. Less risk with Matheny. He’s a safe play, but will it pay off? Catchers tend to make good managers because they are used to managing games down to the finest detail, and Matheny is inheriting a team fresh of a World Series with tons of talent coming back, Pujols or not.
2. Dave Sveum – Cubs
Everyone seems to think the Cubs got a real winner in this one. Theo Epstein has already worked with Sveum in Boston, where he was a third base coach while winning their World Series. Brewers players respect and listen to him, something that’s not always easy (ie, Terry Francona). It’s obvious the former Milwaukee hitting coach is known to be a great people person, something critical when you’re kind of starting from scratch with player development, such as the Cubs are doing in 2012.
1. Bobby Valentine – Red Sox
I love this hire. Valentine not only claims to have invented the wrap, but he has something all the other newly acquired managers don’t have (other than zany ol’ Guillen). Previous experience + success. Funny as it sounds, he’s never finished in first place, but he’s known to turn around teams quickly and led the Mets to the 2000 World Series. He’s hard around the edges and doesn’t always play nice, but that’s what Boston needs. The Red Sox players are going to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ rather quickly this spring training. I guarantee there won’t be beer and chicken during games under Valentine’s watch…. Unless of course those are things Bobby V invented too.
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