Last week, we profiled Gabe Kapler as probably the leading candidate to be the next manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. According to Bovada, the next leading candidate is Dave Martinez, bench coach of the Chicago Cubs.
Just as with Kapler, the thinking here is: because of the prior relationship between Martinez and Andrew Friedman, the front office might be more comfortable with the immediate future compared to building a working relationship with a manager who’s never worked in Friedman’s preferred culture. The thinking here makes sense.
Quick tangent: The overwhelming response from those who do not support Kapler was to call him some kind of puppet for the front office.
Look, I understand the blowback against the analytical movement occurring in baseball. “Spreadsheet baseball” can get nauseating because of how much smarter those who flaunt numbers can at times consider themselves over the more traditional baseball fan — at least that’s the typical criticism. That said, the desire for communication between the front office and the manager shouldn’t be revelatory.
Of course Friedman wants someone who will be completely open to the sabermetrics that went into building the roster. Why wouldn’t he want the thought process to extend from the front office onto the field? A manager who fulfills the role as such wouldn’t be a “puppet” necessarily. There’s a role between “maverick manager who does things his way” and Pinocchio. That place in the middle is where the Dodgers’ next manager would idealistically reside.
Back to Martinez, though.
Drafted back in 1983, it took three years to make debut with the Chicago Cubs in 1986. As an outfielder, he struggled mightily at the plate and was optioned back down to the minor league after only a couple months. He would make the Cubs’ major league roster the following year. His career would continue until 2002, when he announced his retirement.
- Dave Martinez’s career notes:
- 1,919 games played
- .276 batting average
- 1,599 hits
- 91 home runs
- 795 runs scored
- 580 RBI
In 2006, the Tampa Bay Rays hired Martinez as a spring training instructor, then, in 2007 as their bench coach alongside Joe Maddon. The two would work together in Tampa Bay until last season, when Maddon took the job in Chicago as the Cubs manager. Martinez and Maddon worked together last year, bringing us to now, when Friedman might be interested in the second-in-command to Maddon – who many pegged as a lock to be the Dodgers’ manager when Friedman took his current job in Los Angeles’ front office.
Maddox’s outside-the-box thinking has garnered plenty of attention. The transformation the Cubs underwent this season was something to behold, but crediting Maddon alone cheapens the talent that matured this season under his watch. Again, statistics show that managers rarely make a notable difference in a team’s wins, though if any do, Maddon would probably ranked up near the top.
I’m not of the opinion that because a coach has spent time with a one of the game’s greats there is a definite link to future greatness on the part of the pupil. Yes, it would probably help, but the idea of coaching trees is usually a sure way to make my eyes roll backwards.
For me, the easily more important part of this is whether Martinez can help the young guys grow while relating to the veterans and instilling a productive culture in the lockerroom. Whoever he coached alongside prior is much less important.
Hiring either Kapler or Martinez would be a good way to show the organization’s direction. If the Dodgers are to fully entrust its future to Friedman, giving him that kind of rudder to steer with makes a lot of sense.