It is said that backup catchers make the best major league managers. They sit on the bench next to the manager and get to bend his ear from game to game on all the dos and don’ts of managing a team. Now, I would agree there have been some pretty great managers who started their career as a backup catcher (I’m looking at you, Joe Girardi), but what about other positions? Could we possibly field a starting lineup or even a team with their current lot?
First thing we have to do is eliminate all the managers who never made it. Looking at the pool, that’s a lot that are cut. Especially one who never played a single second of pro ball: Mike Shildt. Makes you feel any one of us as a shot, right? That leaves us 18 players to work with…and with several of them being catchers (surprise, surprise), it’s going to be tough to get some sort of a starting 9.
1B: Cleveland Guardians Stephen Vogt. Hey, we are starting off strong here! Vogt had a couple of seasons I’ll take as my starting first baseman ... especially since the only other guy I could put here is Diamondbacks’ skipper Torey Lovullo. Vogt’s best season had him hitting .261 with 18 HR and 71 RBI. I like it.
2B: Chicago Cubs Craig Counsell. I had several to choose from, but Counsell gets the nod. Solid at both second and short, he didn’t hit for power, but did have some speed on the bases (a career-high 26 steals in 2005) and who could not fall in love with his batting stance? An all-time great.
SS: Boston Red Sox Alex Cora. I could have put Counsell at short and used either Ron Washington or Skip Schmaker at second, but I think this would be best for up the middle defense and Cora did have, surprisingly enough, a little pop when he got some playing time in LA in 2004. He connected 10 times that year. Yeah, I know … not eye popping, but I give him the slightest of edges.
3B: Cincinnati Reds David Bell. He gets the start over Aaron Boone. He had a better and longer career, hit better, and was a much better third baseman than Boone. Still would take David’s dad over him, but he’s not available.
LF: Los Angeles Dodgers Dave Roberts. Here’s my top of the lineup guy. Tons of speed and the guts to use it when everything is on the line. I LOVE Roberts in this spot!
CF: Oakland Athletics Mark Kotsay. Might be my toughest choice because I really want to pick Rocco Baldelli. I think Baldelli would have been a much better player, but injuries got to him and he never lived up to his potential. Kotsay is still a great choice due to his combination of speed and power, along with a great glove in center.
RF: Washington Nationals Dave Martinez. Well, since I only have four to choose from, I’m going with Martinez in right. It’s a good choice, too … played 16 years, hit 91 HR, piled up 183 stolen bases, and played a good right field.
C: Seattle Mariners Scott Servais. There were several to choose from, all of them brutal (remember, the backups make the best managers!) so Servais was an easy choice. His best year was in 1995 when he hit .265 with 13 HR and 47 RBI in only 264 at-bats. That had the potential to be a really great season, if he only got the playing time.
P: Colorado Rockies Bud Black: The easiest choice of them all … there’s only one pitcher who is a manager. Hopefully, Bud has a rubber arm, because he’s starting all 162 games for us! I’ll take his 1984 season when he went 17-12 with a nifty 3.12 ERA. Led the league in WHIP, too. He even got a ring in Kansas City the next year, so we’ll get some playoff experience.
Detroit Tigers: A.J. Hinch C
Tampa Bay Rays: Kevin Cash C
Texas Rangers: Bruce Bochy C
San Francisco Giants: Bob Melvin C
Los Angeles Angels: Ron Washington SS, 2B, 3B
Arizona Diamondbacks: Torey Lovullo 2B, 1B, 3B
Miami Marlins: Skip Schumaker 2B
New York Yankees: Aaron Boone 3B
Minnesota Twins: Rocco Baldelli OF
The final challenge in our Managers as Players game: Make a starting lineup.
1. LF Dave Roberts
2. 2B Craig Counsell
3. CF Mark Kotsay
4. 1B Steven Vogt
5. 3B David Bell
6. DH Rocco Baldelli
7. RF Dave Martinez
8. C Scott Servais
9. 2B Alex Cora
Do you agree with my choices? How about that lineup? Let us know!!