Orioles looking for an experienced manager (cont.)
Here are some other definite and possible managerial openings for 2011.
Bobby Cox has said he will step down after the season, whether he wants to or not. If the Marlins' Fredi Gonzalez, a Cox disciple doing excellent work in Florida, is available, he has to be the choice.
Cito Gaston has done his job but it's time to go. The team and job are both better than most envisioned.
Their bosses privately tell folks they worry about Lou Piniella's health. Sandberg, who has done the apprenticeship by managing in the minors (he's currently at Triple-A Iowa), is the natural pick. But that would be a gamble in a difficult job.
Joe Torre and owner Frank McCourt couldn't reach agreement this spring on a new contract for 2011. The Dodgers made an offer, but Torre declined it. This looks like a repeat of Torre's L'Affaire Yankee, where the offer isn't to his liking. Most baseball people see McCourt moving on. Dodgers bench coach Don Mattingly, a great guy, hard worker and Yankee icon, is the heir apparent, though some still wonder whether he's ready.
Ken Macha is in the last year of a two-year deal. While the pathetic pitching isn't his fault, word is some players don't especially love him, either.
John Russell's contract for 2011 was secretly extended last winter and news of it just came out within the past days. But the team's on an 11-game losing streak, and even they have some standards.
Gonzalez doesn't seem to be as appreciated as he should be by owner Jeffrey Loria, who seems to think he has a championship-caliber roster.
There are all sorts of crazy rumors out there. One thing's for sure, GM Josh Byrnes is fighting to keep his handpicked choice, A.J. Hinch. But there are some whispers that even the well-regarded Byrnes might not be totally safe. Apparently everything is under discussion, but firing the bright young Byrnes would be absolute insanity.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said in a phone interview he was going to give it a little more time before he makes ace pitcher Cliff Lee available. Once he does, Lee will be by far the most coveted pitcher on the market.
Some believe Seattle will seek a catching prospect -- though there are a few needs there. If so, the Twins, with top catching prospect Wilson Ramos, could be in good position to obtain Lee (assuming they'd part with Ramos, a greater likelihood considering they are committed to Joe Mauer -- though Mauer is also athletic enough to change positions). The Yankees aren't desperate for a starting pitcher but they have a strong trio of young catchers in Jesus Montero, Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli.
The Mets appear more likely to seek a starter than a reliever, though they could reverse course there. The initial guess is that they wouldn't spend the $30 million for Roy Oswalt (they wouldn't be alone there) and would prefer Lee, anyway.
The starting pitcher market has a few other arms, such as Baltimore's Kevin Millwood (who needs a change of scenery), Jake Westbrook and Ben Sheets. Though one scout calls the talented, injury-prone Sheets "a risk.''
The initial number going around for No. 1 overall draft choice Bryce Harper is $12 million -- though a person close to Harper called that a "management'' number. Many execs see Harper beating Mark Teixeira's $9.5 million record for a position player but falling short of Stephen Strasburg's record $15.067-million bonus -- though the Nationals are making so much money on Strasburg, it'll be interesting to see whether that loosens their purse strings on Harper.
Chipper Jones deserves praise for confronting reality and understanding it may be time to retire. He's had a great career and it's a true blessing to know when to go out, too.
Condolences to the family of longtime Dodgers and Red Sox scout Jerry Stephenson, a former big-league pitcher, who died of lung cancer at 66. He was beloved in baseball circles.
The Johan Santana Foundation is holding its annual bowling event June 21 at Lucky Strike at 42nd St. and 12th Ave. in Manhattan. Santana's charity targets melanoma, which claimed Lynne Greenberg, the wife of Ed Greenberg, one of Santana's agents, at age 42. It's a great cause.