When the news of the Texas Rangers firing manager Jeff Banister broke back on September 21st, you could definitely count me as one of the people who were very surprised by the news. Although there had been whispers from various local reporters that Banister, the 2015 American League Manager of the Year in his first year with Texas, was on the hot seat, they seemed to be very speculative at best. Once the news became official on the Friday nine days before the season ended, the search for a new skipper got going in a hurry.
Even though the team’s front office seemed to give interim manager Don Wakamatsu just as much of a chance at the job as anyone outside the organization, it never truly seemed like he was a real candidate simply because his “message” or “approach” was probably too similar to Banister’s after being a member of his staff this season and the 55 year-old had been a manager/coach in the majors dating back to 2003. The Rangers should be focusing on a new approach, a non-typical voice. Not just another generic middle-aged, former fringe-major leaguer that could be confused with any random actor that played the stereotypical manager in any of the 1990’s baseball movies we watched growing up.
A lot of the names of interviewees have really begun to leak in the last week or so. Jon Daniels and his front office are definitely taking their chance to play “The Bachelor” this fall as there is definitely no shortage of candidates. Here are some of my thoughts on some of the names that have leaked:
I think any Rangers fan immediately thought of franchise legend Michael Young as a possibility, but every member of the media that has had interactions with him since retirement has made it known that the timing doesn’t make sense with his children still being young and his retirement in 2014 not too far in the rear-view mirror. This tweet from Bob Nightengale definitely didn’t help contain the excitement from Rangers fans, however:
If former Texas #Rangers All-Star Michael Young wants the Rangers’ managerial job, it’s his, but there’s no indication from Young that he wants the job. If Young turns down the job, #MLB TV analyst Mark DeRosa and #Yankees bench coach Phil Nevin are the leading candidates
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 6, 2018
A Dallas Morning News article from Evan Grant last week said the Rangers have done “significant due diligence” on several external candidates like former Rangers catcher Rod Barajas, current Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espoda and long-time Cleveland Indians catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. Former Ranger Mark DeRosa was also mentioned, but it has been reported this week that the current MLB Network analyst declined an opportunity to interview for the gig.
Of those names, Rod Barajas is most intriguing to me simply because he’s a Rangers player I remember from being a young and excited fan of the team in the mid-2000’s. Barajas spent three seasons in Texas from 2004-2006 and played in the majors from 1999-2012. Only 43, the former backstop is bilingual, still close to his time in the show, has some decent skins on the wall as a player, and he is currently the manager for the San Diego Padres AAA affiliate the El Paso Chihuahuas.
Sandy Alomar Jr. is another interesting option as he had a very respectable major league career and has performed a variety of roles for the Cleveland Indians coaching staff since 2010. At 52, the Puerto Rico native is a bit older than I’d want the manager of a young, rebuilding team to be, but his tenure as a player and coach at the major league level would surely allow him to be a respected voice in the clubhouse.
The big name being interviewed that dropped over the weekend that I simply didn’t like was former New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. The 54 year-old managed the Yankees for ten seasons from 2008-2017 and even won a World Series back in 2009, but this kind of move would just seem like adding a big name for the sake of the headlines. For Girardi, managing the Texas Rangers would certainly be an easier gig to take on than managing one of the most iconic organizations in pro sports like he did in one of the most iconic cities in the world for ten years, but the fit with the Rangers takes some squinting to see at all.
While the search for the new Rangers skipper seems far from over and any hiring announcement probably won’t come until after the World Series, there are already a lot of ideas and names to keep fans entertained. Whoever the hire ends up being, it will be an important moment for a franchise desperately searching for a clear direction and identity.
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