2/4/2013 10:18 A.M. ET
Managerial mix includes fresh and lined faces
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
The face of the Major League manager underwent quite a makeover the last few years, with several iconic figures posting lineup cards for the final time and a deluge of switches at the helm reaching historic proportions.
Starting in 2010 and continuing through this offseason, managerial change had come to 20 of the 30 teams in the Majors -- that's a lot of turnover. Come Opening Day, there will be nine managers who have made their debuts since '10 -- that's a lot of new blood.
As this select group of baseball men prepares to lead their teams into Spring Training camps, the face of the Major League manager has changed. Yet this group remains one with deep lines of experience and success, eyes that have seen a lot of baseball from both the field and the dugout, and the fresh, rosy cheeks of promise for the future.
During a two-year run of changes on the dugout steps that rivals any in baseball history, several big names left the list, including Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Lou Piniella. They were only part of the wave of change since 2010.
Things settled down only slightly this past offseason, and heading into Spring Training 2013, there are six managers taking over clubs, looking to make that first impression.
As Spring Training beckons, here's a look at the state of the Major League manager heading into 2013:
The new blood
Among the six new skippers for 2013, three have reputations as managers that precede them: Terry Francona in Cleveland, John Farrell in Boston and John Gibbons in Toronto (again). The rest are new to their roles, with Bo Porter taking the Astros into the American League, Mike Redmond hoping to get the Marlins on track and Walt Weiss assuming the helm of the Rockies.
Weiss played under both La Russa and Cox, and for a 49-year-old former infielder who only last year was coaching his son's high school team, Weiss has a pretty good grasp of the general nature of his first year ahead.
"I think the bottom line is you're trying to lead men," said Weiss, whose 14-year playing career included three appearances in the World Series, with one victory. "And for me, I think we've got to try to create an environment where we respect each other and we trust each other, and then you've got a chance at something special."
Redmond, who as a former backup catcher has a common background for a successful manager, parlayed two years in the Minors into the Marlins' gig after Ozzie Guillen's tumultuous one-year stay. Porter, meanwhile, had only scant Major League experience as a player, actually getting more of it as a coach before taking on the opportunity to lead the Astros into AL West after two straight 100-loss seasons in the National League Central.
While Francona, Farrell and Gibbons will need to establish -- or in the case of Gibbons, re-establish -- a relationship with the players under their charge in 2013, they've all done this before. Francona has 12 years, more than 1,000 wins and two World Series titles with the Red Sox to his credit. After two years managing in Toronto, Farrell is returning to where he served as pitching coach for Francona during four of those glory years, and Gibbons is back at the helm in Toronto five years after being bounced from that spot.
Younger veterans include 2012 rookies Mike Matheny of the Cardinals and Robin Ventura of the White Sox, both of whom fared well in their debut seasons. They followed Kirk Gibson, who led the D-backs to a division title in his first full season in 2011, and Ron Roenicke, who did the same with the Brewers that year. There's also Don Mattingly, who in his third season is poised to lead a Dodgers roster that has grown in star stature since he first took over for Torre, and the Cubs' Dale Sveum, who's heading into his second season trying to lead a team in transition at Wrigley Field.
And then there are some who have shown serious staying power, led by the Tigers' Jim Leyland as he enters his 22nd season as a Major League skipper, the most among this current group. It's actually Davey Johnson of the Nationals who got started first, though, beginning a journey in 1984 that has seen him manage a total of 16 seasons with five teams, reaching the postseason with four of them after the successful 2012 run in Washington that earned him the NL Manager of the Year Award in a runaway.
That said, the manager who has held a post (albeit with two teams) the most consecutive years is Bruce Bochy, the Giants manager who enters his 19th successive season of managing, his seventh with the Giants after 12 with the Padres. That's a one-year break better than Dusty Baker, whose 20th season in 2013 comes in 21 years since the Giants first hired him. It's Mike Scioscia who has been with his club the longest, heading into his 14th year of setting the tone for the Angels, while Minnesota's Ron Gardenhire notches his 12th year on the Twins' bench.
Other veterans have set a solid foothold in the skipper's spot: the Phillies' Charlie Manuel (since 2005), the Rays' Joe Maddon (2006), the Rangers' Ron Washington (2007), the Padres' Bud Black (2007) and the Yankees' Joe Girardi (2008).
Ned Yost of the Royals and Eric Wedge of the Mariners are among those getting a second chance, along with Fredi Gonzalez as Cox's heir with the Braves after a stint in Florida with the Marlins. Clint Hurdle has brought the Pirates into contention each of his two years in Pittsburgh, and Terry Collins is steering the Mets for a third season. Along with this year's three returnees to the fraternity, they're getting another crack at managerial success, all hoping they might find it the way Buck Showalter did last year with the Orioles in his 14th overall season as a Major League manager.
At the top of the redemption list among current managers has to be Bob Melvin, the reigning AL Manager of the Year Award winner with the A's. Abruptly and startlingly shown the door in Arizona just two years after winning the NL Manager of the Year Award there, he's found a new home in Oakland, his third stop. Melvin's first full season there was a remarkable renaissance that reclaimed the AL West title for the A's.
And he accepted his individual honor with the type of response most teams want from their leaders: Just as with team, there is no "I" in manager.
"The great part and the good feeling in all of this is it validating the season we had," Melvin said upon winning the AL Manager of the Year Award. "These awards, they're more about the organization than anything."
Perhaps the true veteran face of the Major League manager circa 2013 is seen in the Casey Stengel-esque visage of the Tigers' Leyland, who views the job these 30 select men have heading into this season through a relatively simple lens.
"I think the main responsibility for a manager is to have his players ready to play each and every day, and if you can do that over a long period of time, normally you've done a pretty good job," Leyland said.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.