The Royals have a new manager, and his name is Matt Quatraro. Many Royals fans have never heard of Quatraro, or at least had never heard of him until the Royals began looking for a manager. He is not a big name like Joe Maddon, Ron Washington, or Bruce Bochy, who came out of retirement to manage the Rangers. But the Royals weren’t interested in making a splashy hire, they were interested in making the right hire.
The names fans have heard of are names that have accomplished things in the past. Joe Maddon has a ring. Ron Washington won two pennants. Bruce Bochy won three titles and is almost certainly going to be in Cooperstown someday. The Royals are looking for someone that will accomplish things in the future. After all, they just fired a manager who won a pennant, and an executive who won two pennants and a title. As they say in the commercials, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.”
“It’s pretty obvious that teams want to tap into whatever it is that has made Tampa Bay so successful even with all their market-size limitations,” said one exec when asked about Quatraro. The 48-year-old has worked with two of the organizations the Royals are seeking to emulate - the Guardians and Rays. He has watched from the dugout as the Rays have built a pennant-winner and one of the most envied pitching staffs in baseball. He is described as organized, intelligent, and a good communicator with players, just what Royals General Manager J.J. Picollo said he was looking for in a skipper.
He has a low-key demeanor. He was jokingly called “the Fun Police” in Tampa Bay.
“They like him, so it wasn’t a negative thing,” one reporter said. “He just has a serious demeanor. He’s actually very sharp, and he’s good with the barbs sometimes with players and the rest of the coaches.
He has managed in the minors, but never at the big league level. He’ll have to learn how to address the media, how to handle an entire clubhouse of personalities, how to be the one making the decision whether to take the ball out of Brady Singer’s hand. The knowledge and expertise he carries over from the Rays won’t work if the Royals don’t have the organizational infrastructure in place to develop pitching and identify talent. He could fail just as many promising young managers have failed.
But the quiet move can be the smart move. The Phillies brought in a splashy hire at manager three years ago - Joe Girardi, the World Series-winning former Yankees manager. But he lost the clubhouse and they fired him two months into this season with a 22-29 record. They replaced him with Rob Thomson, who is only the third-most famous player in baseball over the last 100 years with that name behind this guy and this guy. He is also managing in the World Series right now.
“I want somebody who is going to be there for the next 10 years,” said former catcher Anthony Recker, who once played for Quatraro in the minors. “I want to find the next guy, not the guy who’s already done it, and from my own experience with Matt, I’d take a chance with Matt.”
To get back to contention, the Royals need to be ahead of the curve, to find the next Hall of Fame manager, not the last one. Past performance is in the past. Matt Quatraro can be the one to lead the Royals into the future.