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Baseball turns to new directions for managers

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Have we run out of baseball managers?

You know the stereotype. A baseball lifer who gravitates from one team to another, spitting and swearing, changing this uniform for that one. As long as he has a dugout, that’s OK.

The thing is, it really isn’t that accurate anymore.

Of the current 30 managers in the big leagues, were you aware that 19 of them are currently in the only job they have ever had, including Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash? Seven more are in their second job. Only one – Baltimore’s Buck Showalter – has been with as many as four teams.

Teams are after new faces with new approaches to the analytics of the game. They want fresh minds who think the way the front offices think.

In other words, it isn’t your father’s dugout anymore.

All of this came to mind last week when the Miami Marlins made an interesting hire for a new manager when they replaced Mike Redmond. They hired general manager Dan Jennings, the old Tampa Bay front office exec, a man who had no field experience.

“It is outside the box, I will not deny that,” Jennings said at the time. “My mom, whom I love deeply, asked me, ‘Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind?'”

It has not been a seamless transition. Jennings was only 2-6 going into Wednesday night’s game. He had just fired first-base coach Brett Butler, who had flashed a hit-and-run sign that the dugout said it never called. And opposing managers have taken their digs. According to the Miami Herald, Jennings has been criticized for not having a right-handed pitcher ready when a situation called for one and for misusing his bullpen.

Could it be that other managers resent that Jennings didn’t work his way up on the field? Perhaps.

“I think it’s frustrating in a way for guys who’ve done it,” Arizona manager Chip Hale said of Jennings’ hiring.  “When you finish playing or get into Major League Baseball on the minor-league level, you say, ‘OK, what do I want to do? OK, I want to manage in the big leagues.

“What do I have to do? I’m going to bust my hump coaching and teaching and become the best manager at the minor-league level that I can, then get to the big leagues.’ It’s not looking like that track is going to be the way anymore.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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