As the Cito Countdown reaches Ten Games, and JB has nailed #50...and we even had a sighting of the rare and elusive JPA today (wonder how many of those M's runs would have scored with an actual good defensive catcher behind the plate . . .) the major focus of discussion in jays-land turns to who the next manager will be.
I'll defer to Parkes at DJF for a thumbnail sketch of the oft-mentioned candidates but I did want to throw together a list of all the names I can find that have been mentioned, with a brief thought where appropriate:
EDIT: I've re-ordered the list a bit to try to reflect a ranking of who I think has the best odds, with the exception that I really think Gonzalez lands in Atlanta but he's just too good to rank lower, IMO)
1. Brian Butterfield - top in-house candidate, if familiarity with the organization is a big consideration, that's an ace in his hand.
2. Fredi Gonzalez - if you go outside the organization, this is the guy you probably want - but the assumption is he's a lock to follow Bobby cox in Atlanta.
3. Eric Wedge - One time indians manager, still widely well-regarded
4. Tim Wallach - perhaps the most highly praised out-of-system candidate who hasn't yet managed in the majors, he's the Dodgers AAA manager. the last time the Dodgers passed over their AAA manager and hired someone else, that guy went on to get a job elsewhere - and Mike Scioscia has turned out pretty well.
5. Ryan Sandberg - The "name" guy, reportedly under consideration but seems an awkward fit - if he's good, it would be insane if the Cubs didn't hire him, that's the job he wants. If they don't, that would be a red flag, no? 'Course it could just mean the Cubs are stupid too. You could argue he's a better choice than Wallach but as long as he's holding out for the Chicago job it weakens his chances here.
6. Dave Martinez - One of Joe Maddon's coaches in Tampa, good place to pick up lessons applicable here.
7. Nick Leyva - Has openly declared his desire for it, if jays go with him they might lose Butterfield to Baltimore.
8. Don Baylor - Cito has put in a plug for him.
9. Rob Thomson - Yankees 3B coach, NOT the guy who used to play 2B for the Giants. But he is Canadian, for what that is worth.
10. Pat Listach - yes, the one-time Brewer SS, said to be an "up and comer"
11. Don Wakamatsu - Everyone seems to agree he's got skills and got a raw deal in Seattle.
12. Juan Samuel - another former Jays player (along with Martinez) buzz has cooled lately on him as the list has grown.
13. Luis Rivera - AA manager, probably not his time yet.
14. Sal Fasano - Lansing manager, not his time yet, but likely will work his way up to a big-league staff within a few years.
15. Bobby Valentine - A lot of folks are enamored with him - I've never understood why. Spotlight in TO probably not hot enough for his tastes.
16. Joey Cora - was all the buzz over the last couple of years but less has been said this time around, probably for no important reason.
17. Alan Trammell - Nobody has mentioned him lately, particularly in relation to the Jays. But many feel he was doomed by the talent level in Detroit, and he has good mentors (Sparky Anderson and Lou Pinella).
18. Willie Randolph - Was once the "next big thing" - the dew might be off that rose - or not.
19. Bob Melvin - won manager of the year in Arizona . . . but has lost two different jobs pretty quickly.
20. Bob Brenly - won a ring in Arizona, hasn't managed since they fired him in '04. One has to wonder about the D'Backs penchant for firing people quickly. Also a prominent candidate for the Cubs job. I hope he gets it.
I'll add more as the names come over the wire. It's also necessary, for the sake of thoroughness, to mention that there will be a carousel of "big names" which will be in play this off season as several high profile managers are in the last year of their contract. Notably, the Yankees' Joe Girardi and the Cardinals Tony LaRussa. You can bet Valentine won't take his name out of that dance early. Also, besides Atlanta, Seattle, the Dodgers, the Cubs and Brewers also have openings, and the Mets are sure to join that group. Likely the Pirates as well. So technically, you have to include LaRussa (for instance)as a "candidate" in Toronto but there doesn't seem to be any buzz that they will go for the name choice.
Note: If I misspelled any names, overlook it. I was too rushed to hunt down a spelling verification on all these guys.