Manager farm: 1988 Indians produced 5 current MLB managers, including John Farrell, Bud Black
|07.04.13 at 8:31 am ET|
For a team that went 74-88, the 1988 Indians have a lot of names that the average fan might recognize today. That’s because the club featured five men that are currently MLB managers, including Red Sox manager John Farrell and Padres manager Bud Black.
Black and Farrell were both members of the Indians pitching staff in 1988 and remain good friends. The two are the only former full-time pitchers who are currently managing in the majors. Farrell credits Black for paving the way for a pitcher like him to have a career as a manager.
“He blazed this path before I did,” Farrell said. “The fact that we were teammates a while ago — he’s always been someone I’ve learned a lot from as a teammate. … He’s been willing to share some of his experiences.”
Black began his post-playing baseball career as a special assistant to general manager John Hart in 1996 before shifting his focus to coaching in 1998. He was the pitching coach for the Indians’ Triple-A club in Buffalo before signing on as the pitching coach of the Angels in 1999. Three years later, he won the World Series with the Angels and his pitching staff had a 3.69 ERA. He signed on as manager of the Padres before the 2007 season.
It is that type of resume that Farrell went to when he got his first managerial position in 2011 as the bench boss of the Blue Jays. One thing he noted Black did as a manager was utilize a former catcher in his bullpen to help his pitching staff. However, Farrell started learning from Black back as a peer in 1988.
“Even as a teammate there was always a perspective on his part,” Farrell said. “He always had a way to slow the game down through our conversations, and I learned a lot from him. Whether it was in the same uniform or going into a similar role, it’s a trusted perspective on his part.”
Farrell’s praise of Black certainly is warranted. Black was named National League Manager of the Year in 2010, when he led the low-budget Padres to 90 wins — their highest win total since 1998. Black is 504-552 in seven seasons in San Diego.
Black’s background as a pitching coach is rare for a MLB manager, and some question the success of pitching coaches turned managers. According to him, though, managerial success has less to do with the position a player played and more to do with the manager’s personality and intelligence. Those are two qualities that make Farrell an effective major league manager.
“He knows baseball,” Black said of Farrell. “He has got a great baseball mind and he thinks like a player. That can combine both pitching and position play. He has got a great feel for the game, he has got a great feel for the players. His background prior to getting back in professional baseball after he retired as a player set him up for this.”
Farrell had won exactly half of his games as manager entering Tuesday night’s game (204-204). That win total puts him fifth among members of the 1988 Indians, as he trails Terry Francona (1,073 wins), Charlie Manuel — the team’s hitting coach (986 wins), Ron Washington (568 wins) and Black.
Having that many players with high baseball IQs did not translate to success on the field, as the Indians finished sixth in the AL East that season. However, then-Indians manager Doc Edwards said having those five men on his team made his job a lot easier.
“You’re lucky that you don’t have to take them by the hand to lead them,” Edwards said in an interview with WEEI.com’s Alex Speier. “You just say, ‘Hey, go play.’ Because the talent that they had was a hell of a lot better than I had, and maybe intelligence-wise I hoped I could hang with them. You’re lucky when you get ballclubs with players like those guys and you just tell them, ‘Hey, go out and play and do the best you can to win.’ ”
Edwards spoke very highly of Farrell as a player, even comparing him to Roger Clemens as a pitcher. However, when elbow injuries derailed Farrell’s playing career, Edwards knew that he was the type of person who could find another job in baseball.
When Farrell moved on to coach at Oklahoma State University and later work as a director of player development for the Indians, it was no surprise to Edwards. It was not a surprise for Edwards when Farrell found a job as the manager of the Blue Jays and the Red Sox. Farrell — like the other four members of the 1988 Indians who went on to manage in the major leagues — was as self-motivated as they come.
“You could tell that someday if he wanted to go in that direction he would have no problem doing it,” Edwards said. “He had a great personality and he is one of those guys that he didn’t have to talk a whole lot. He is concentrating on getting ready to do his job.”
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