So, we're going to attack the list of names which the Astros could end up considering for their permanent manager position in a couple of different ways. Since there are a ton of names available, why don't we break it up into posts all week in different categories? Sounds like fun, huh?
Today, we're starting out with a short list, floated by Jon Heyman (yeah, yeah, I know) yesterday. Who's on it?
Joe Pettini, current Astros bench coach
Here's the guy pretty much everyone assumes will get the job eventually. Heck, everyone assumed that when he was hired and everyone assumed he'd be the interim manager.
Yet, Jeff Luhnow and this front office threw us a curveball. Pettini is still the bench coach, leaving us to wonder why they didn't just give him the job now. My theory, which I brought up on the podcast last night, is that if we all assume he's getting the job, then any potential candidates to be interviewed might view him the same way.
By keeping him on the bench, Houston can make him a candidate and still hear from the other likely guys on this list. Plus, he gets to avoid having the last stench of this 100-loss team on his resume. Instead, he'll just have next year's 100-loss team to worry about.
Pettini worked with Luhnow before, but we have no idea whether he's as open to the new ideas of this front office as they might want. After all, Tony La Russa wasn't exactly a GM's friend in St. Louis, as they constantly bickered and feuded over things. Will Pettini be more old-school or adopt the new info that Houston will throw at him?
Chris Maloney, Cardinals first base coach
Here's the reason why Maloney's name is being floated here, besides him just being a Cards coach. Maloney was a minor league manager in the Cardinals system for basically the entire time Jeff Luhnow was farm director for St. Louis.
He has had a ton of success in the minors, winning over 1,000 games and taking a PCL title for Memphis. He was briefly in the Houston system for three years as manager of Triple-A New Orleans. Part of that may have been because his dad was a partner in Round Rock Baseball, the group that runs the Express.
Oh, and his nickname is Hammer, which is pretty awesome.
Considering how the Astros will likely be structuring this club in the next few years, I found this line in his bio very telling:
His work with young Cardinals players was formally recognized when he was presented with the 2006 and 2009 George Kissell Awards, presented annually for excellence in player development. The 2009 award made Maloney the first two-time winner.
Luhnow is a player development guy, so you have to assume if Maloney is really that excellent at it, he's going to have a great shot at this job. The Kissell Award, btw, appears to be specifically for the Cardinals organization and is not a league-wide award.
Jim Riggleman, Reds Double-A manager
This is an interesting name for many reasons. The first is the way things ended for him in Washington. In case you don't remember, Riggleman was the manager for the Nationals last season, leading them to a 38-37 record, but was in a very public dispute over his contract.
The Nationals weren't exactly ready to extend his contract, which ran out after the season. Riggleman wanted to talk about it. The Nats refused, so Riggleman resigned. I'm guessing he thought he could force their hand and get a conversation going, but all it did was push him out of the job.
Riggleman is the only guy on this list with actual big league managerial experience. He's been an MLB manager for 12 seasons in four different organizations. None of them were the Cardinals, either.
Of course, in those 12 seasons, he only managed two teams to winning records. The first was the 1998 Cubs, who finished 90-73, but out of the playoffs. The second was last year's Washington squad, so...yeah...
With the exception of the 2008 Seattle team (which Riggleman finished out as an interim guy), Riggleman's teams have gone on to have success right after he coached there, as San Diego went on a run after he was fired in 1994, Chicago had success after he left in 1999 and, well, the Nationals.
From what I can find, he's also considered something of a player development guy. When he was hired as the Double-A guy for the Reds, Walt Jocketty said this:
"He's a very good baseball man and he's very good at player development," Jocketty said of Riggleman. "We thought it would be good to have him in the organization in that role."
Sure, that's not telling at all, but it's something. Of course, the way Walt Jocketty got pushed out of St. Louis with Jeff Luhnow there, they might not exactly share the same opinions on guys.