The changing landscape for managers
SAN FRANCISCO -- Why hire Jack McKeon, at 80 years old? Why hire Davey Johnson, at 68 years old and more than a decade removed from his last managerial position in the majors?
Part of the reason, some general managers say, is that there are not a lot of strong managerial candidates these days. "It's one of the biggest talent deficiencies that the industry has these days," says one longtime executive.
There are plenty of managers and coaches -- in the majors and minors -- who could suitably run a game, but the position now requires so much more.
The manager, in 2011, is the de facto spokesman for the franchise because he is always with the team. He is needed to deftly handle wave after wave of media requests, before games and after games. With the climate of the industry turning increasingly corporate, the manager must deliver the message for his bosses. So a reticent, tobacco-spitting old-time baseball man isn't going to cut it.
The manager, in 2011, must be able to cope with the 25 players in his clubhouse -- the insecurities, the egos. He needs to have a little Dr. Phil in him.
The manager, in 2011, must know how to handle a pitching staff, because pitching is regarded as the most valuable commodity in the sport. The game has been veering sharply away from the manager who stands back and watches his right-hander throw 135 pitches for the sake of winning a game in July. The manager must be comfortable with working within the limits of the pitch and innings counts prescribed by his bosses.
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