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Who are some potential external candidates to manage the Royals?

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Royals are one of six teams currently without a manager, along with the Angels, Cubs, Giants, Padres, and Pirates, with rumors that positions with the Mets and Phillies could open up as well soon. According to Jeffrey Flanagan, the Royals will consider internal candidates already with the team like Mike Matheny, Pedro Grifol, and Dale Sveum, but they could also look outside the organization as well.

Earlier I took a closer look at the internal candidates who could be up for the job. Today, let’s take a look at others who could be candidates for the job.

Former managers

John Farrell was an Oklahoma State grad and a MLB pitcher for eight years and he is the father of former Royals pitcher Luke Farrell. He was pitching coach for the Red Sox when they won a title in 2007 and became manager of the Blue Jays from 2011-2012 where he had a .475 winning percentage. The Red Sox traded for him and he won 97 games and a World Series in his first year. The slumped to finish in last place the next two seasons, but rallied to win division titles in 2016 and 2017.

Despite a division title, Farrell was dismissed after the Red Sox fell to the Astros in the ALDS due to tensions between him and GM Dave Dombrowski, who inherited Farrell when he took over the job. The clubhouse had also become fractious, although many blame David Price for that. However, some players believed Farrell did not have their back enough. Farrell served as a scout for the Reds in 2018, but was not part of baseball last year. He is interested in getting back into managing, and is expected to be a candidate for the Angels job.

John Gibbons managed the Toronto Blue Jays in two separate stints, totalling eleven seasons. He had a record of 793-789 in Toronto, with a winning season in five of his nine years there, including a division title in 2015, when he lost to the Royals in the ALCS. In between his stints in Toronto, he served as a bench coach with the Royals in 2009 and 2010 under managers Trey Hillman and Ned Yost.

Gibbons has been known for a fiery attitude, getting ejected from several games. He has also had several run-ins with players including a physical confrontation with pitcher Ted Lilly back in 2006. Gibbons believes a manager’s role is maintaining a clubhouse and handling the pitching staff, and delegating to players. He was an old school coach, but receptive to analytics. Gibbons was let go after the 2018 season, but is said to be seeking a return to managing.

Joe Girardi managed the Marlins for one season before heading to the Bronx to run the Yankees for ten years, winning a championship in 2009. Overall, he has a record of 988-794 (.554 winning percentage) with three division titles and six playoff appearances. Girardi was fired after a 91-win season amid heavy criticism for not calling for a review during the post-season in 2017. Yankees GM Brian Cashman cited a lack of “connectivity and communication” with the clubhouse as reasons for Girardi’s dismissal, particularly as the team got younger.

According to metrics, Girardi was terrific at handling a bullpen and getting the most out of platoon splits. He says he loves analytics and is open to using it in managing. He turned down the open position in Cincinnati before this season, so he may be holding out for a more ideal situation. But this year he has said he is interesting in getting back into baseball, and could be a candidate for the Cubs position.

Clint Hurdle was once considered a rookie phenom with the Royals, but his managerial career has eclipsed his playing career. Hurdle has managed for 17 years, running the Rockies and then Pirates before he was dismissed following this season. He has an overall losing record of 1269-1345, but won 90+ games three times, reached the playoffs four times, and won the 2007 National League pennant.

Many felt Hurdle was fired as a scapegoat for management’s failings, after losing records in three of the four seasons since they won 98 games in 2015. The Pirates had a disaster of a clubhouse this year, with pitchers Kyle Crick and Felipe Vazquez coming to blows, and a confrontation between Keone Kela and a bullpen coach leading to suspensions. Some players felt he was a “yes man” to owner Bob Nutting and didn’t stand up for his players. The 62-year old Hurdle is known for being charismatic and upbeat, and while he values analytics, he also stresses the human element.

Joe Maddon has managed parts of 16 seasons with the Angels, Rays, and Cubs, winning 54 percent of his games, two pennants, and a championship with Chicago in 2016. He has won 90 or more games in nine of his last twelve seasons. He was let go at the end of this season after the Cubs collapsed and Maddon was criticized for letting the clubhouse get too soft. His team began making sloppy mistakes, although some put the blame on management.

Maddon has worked for two of the most analytics-savvy organizations in the Rays and Cubs, and he integrates statistical analysis in his decisions. Maddon has been known as a player’s manager who doesn’t have rules, understands his players, and allows his team to have fun. Maddon was the highest-paid manager in baseball with a salary of $6 million per season with the Cubs, and could command a similar salary on the open market. Maddon is rumored to prefer being near his home in southern California and is said to be interested in the Angels job.

Others: Jeff Banister won division titles in each of his first two seasons as manager of the Rangers before slumping badly in his next two seasons, and is expected to be a candidate for the Pirates job. Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren managed the Athletics from 2007-2011 and is expected to be a candidate for the Giants job. Don Wakamatsu was a bench coach with the Royals from 2014-2017 and managed the Mariners to a 127-147 record in 2009-2010. Ron Washington began his playing career with the Royals, managed the Rangers to three playoff appearances and two pennants, and has drawn praise for his work with the Braves this year, but had drug problems as a skipper and at age 67, is older than Ned Yost.

External candidates without experience

Sandy Alomar, Jr. could be someone new owner John Sherman could bring over with him from the Indians organization. Alomar has spent the last ten years in Cleveland on the coaching staff as a first base coach, coaching instructor, and bench coach, even serving briefly as interim manager in 2012. Alomar has been around baseball his whole life as a 20-year MLB vet and the son of former MLB player and longtime coach Sandy Alomar, Sr. Alomar has been considered for many openings before, interviewing with the Indians, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Cubs, and Red Sox.

Carlos Beltrán has no coaching or managerial experience, but he could be a popular candidate this winter due to his reputation as a clubhouse leader when he was a player. Beltrán had an exemplary 20-year career that included seven seasons in Kansas City and was known late in his career as a terrific mentor. He was specifically targeted by the Houston Astros for those reasons in their pennant push in 2017 and was given credit for much of their success. Beltrán interviewed for the Yankees job after the 2017 season and he has already been linked to the Mets job if it opens up.

Tommy Hottovy could be a bit of a long shot after just one year as the Cubs pitching coach. But the Kansas City native has developed a strong reputation as someone well-versed in analytics that can implement those ideas with players. Hottovy, who graduated from Park Hill High School and pitched briefly with the Royals in 2012, led the Cubs to the third-best ERA in the National League despite a number of injuries. The 37-year old may be a bit green, but he could be an interesting gamble that could bring fresh new ideas to the organization.

Raul Ibañez enjoyed a 19-year career that included four seasons in Kansas City, capped off by a role as the clubhouse veteran who inspired the Royals to make a playoff run with his speech in 2014. After retiring that year, Ibañez interviewed for the Rays managerial job, but withdrew his name from consideration citing “family concerns” and took a job with Fox Sports as an analyst. Since then, he has taken his analysis to ESPN, but also serves as a special assistant to Andrew Friedman with the Dodgers. Despite no coaching or managerial experience, Ibañez has been sought out by many teams to be a part of their coaching staff. Specifically, the Cubs and Giants are reported to be interested in him as a manager.

Joe McEwing has been a minor league coach and manager who drew accolades, and currently serves as bench coach for the White Sox. He had a nine-year career as an infielder, spending one season in Kansas City. McEwing brings a “good mix of old-school and new-school metrics” who believes in set lineups, loves to bunt, and is against too many extreme defensive shifts. He has been considered for many jobs in the past, and his name has already been floated for some jobs this year.

Dusty Wathan is the son of former Royals catcher and manager John Wathan. Dusty grew up in the area, attending Blue Springs High School, and he played briefly for the Royals in 2002. He currently serves as the Phillies third base coach after a decade of managing in the minors. He was a very successful manager in the minors, handling young players like Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, and J.P. Crawford, many of whom sung Wathan’s praises. Wathan uses analytics in his role and oversees a “catching lab” the Phillies use to improve their catchers. Wathan has interviewed for managerial openings in Texas and Philadelphia and could be a candidate in Philly again if they fire manager Gabe Kapler.

Others: Astros bench coach Joe Espada has become a popular name after his work in Houston and with the Yankees. Former Royals infielder Carlos Febles was Boston’s third base coach when they won the 2018 World Series and has a lengthy minor league managerial career with the Red Sox. Sam Fuld is a Stanford economics grad who played against the Royals in the 2014 Wild Card, but now serves as Major League Player-Information Coordinator for the Phillies where he coordinates analytics with the on-field staff. Derek Shelton is the Twins bench coach and has been a hitting coach for the Indians and Rays, and is open to analytics.