Red Sox managerial candidate Pete Mackanin hopes to round out his resume
|11.01.11 at 2:16 am ET|
Almost all of the boxes in the “prior experience” part of Pete Mackanin‘s resume have been checked. The bench coach of the Phillies for the last three seasons, who on Monday became the first candidate whom the Red Sox interviewed for their managerial vacancy, has seen the game from a wealth of perspectives that can be matched by few in the game.
“My qualities are my versatility, the fact I have a rounded-out career,” said Mackanin. “I’ve been a scout, I’ve been an advanced scout, I’ve done major-league coverage, I’ve been a major-league player, a minor-league player, a third-base coach, a bench coach, an outfield instructor, infield instructor, minor-league coordinator ‘ just about anything but manager. As a matter of fact, I did manage in the big leagues. I forgot about that.”
The reason why Mackanin was able to “forget” his experiences as a big league manager was because of the circumstances and adjectives that surrounded that responsibility. He has twice been an interim manager. He was promoted from bench coach to manager in Pittsburgh in September 2005, after Lloyd McClendon had been fired, and guided the Pirates to a 12-14 record.
And in 2007, he served as the interim manager in Cincinnati for the final three months of the year after Jerry Narron was fired by the Reds. Though he had been serving as a big league advance scout, Mackanin returned to the dugout, took a team that had the worst record in the majors (31-51) and guided it to a winning record (41-39). After the season, however, the Reds elected to hire Dusty Baker, and Mackanin ended up spending 2008 as an advance scout for the Yankees before joining the Phillies.
While Mackanin has twice been the man selected to navigate clubhouses through the awkwardness of firings, he has never had the chance to put his own imprint on a major league club. But he does have 14 seasons of minor league managerial experience, along with winters spent as a manager in far-flung corners of the world, including Puerto Rico, the Dominican, Venezuela and Australia.
Yet even though being the manager of a big league team is “something I’ve wanted for a while,” it is an opportunity the 60-year-old has never been given.
‘I don’t ask (why),’ Mackanin said. ‘My wife asks me all the time. Of course I’ve wondered. I don’t know.”
Even so, he makes no secret of his ambition to complete his professional baseball experiences by reaching that goal. He’d love for the opportunity to present itself with the Red Sox.
“Coming up through the minor leagues, having played in the big leagues, it’s the top of the industry. It’s a premier franchise,” said Mackanin. “The way I look at it is, who wouldn’t want to manage the Boston Red Sox?’
Other notes from the interview:
–Mackanin treated a question about beer in the clubhouse as a toxic subject that he did not consider appropriate to breach in his introductory session with the Boston media.
“I don’t want to go there,” he said. “I’m not at that point yet. I’d rather not discuss that. We can talk about that later at some point.”
–Asked whether he was a player’s manager or disciplinarian, Mackanin refused to be drawn into an artificial dichotomy.
“I consider myself both. I think you have to have an element of both sides of that in order to be a good motivator. To me, it’s like the way you handle your kids,” said Mackanin. “I used to tell my son, I wear two caps, one has a D on it, one has a P on it. One is for Dad, the other is for Pal. When I have the P cap on, we’re pals, when I put the D cap on, you do what I tell you. There’s a juggling act that’s involved in that to where you have to have enough discipline but at the same time let the players play easy.”
–In similar fashion, Mackanin suggests that both statistical analysis and observational scouting are important tools when breaking down an opposing club.
‘I love statistical analysis. I scouted for another team (the Yankees in 2008), and I won’t mention the team because I know they’re not popular here in Boston. I used a lot of statistical analysis when it came to evaluating players. Numbers mean something. If you’re a .250 hitter, you’re a .250 hitter. There’s other, OPS, on-base percentage, all these leverage situations. They’re important because they paint a picture of a player,” said Mackanin. “However, when you paint a picture of the player, it doesn’t give you the whole context or what the situation you’re in might be like.
“A player might have sexy statistics and have good numbers overall but over a 10-day period, he might not be swinging the bat very well. Statistics are important to give you that overall picture, but at the same time, in a given game, if that guy’s not swinging the bat very well because he doesn’t, for example, see the pitcher very well that day or he’s in the throes of a slump, you have to use your intuition to make a decision based on that.”
–Mackanin arrived at Fenway Park and began his day of interviews at 9 am and remained at the ballpark past 6 pm.
–While much of the process was personality-driven — as Mackanin had a chance to introduce himself to Sox officials and those same officials had a chance to do the same with him — the Red Sox did offer game simulations as part of the interview process. The Sox had also used game simulations during their last managerial interview process in 2003.
–GM Ben Cherington said that the Sox will interview Dale Sveum on Wednesday, but that the team has yet to request permission to conduct first-round interviews with any other candidates. Even so, he expected that the Sox would interview at least five or six first-round candidates and possibly more over the course of this week and next. Cherington is hopeful that the process can be wrapped up before Thanksgiving, though he also noted that Francona was named the Sox manager just after the holiday.
–The Sox had been the only team engaged officially in a managerial search, but that changed on Monday when Cardinals manager Tony La Russa announced his retirement. The Cubs, too, could soon jump in the managerial search mix, depending on how new Chicago president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer decide to proceed with Mike Quade, the Cubs manager in 2010.
Even so, Cherington said that he would not alter the pace of the Red Sox managerial search based on the idea that other teams are also conducting a search.
“If we sort of narrow in on someone we really want to hire, it becomes, ‘Hire that guy before someone else does,’” said Cherington. “But we’re nowhere near that. I’d much rather take our time and get it right than hurry into one guy or another guy just because we think someone else might be interested.”
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