Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team will go into the search for its next manager with no preconceived notions. "We'll have candidates who have managerial experience and others who don't," Friedman said at the news conference to discuss the departure of manager Don Mattingly. "For us to cast as wide a net as we want to, we're going to go into it with an open mind."
Friedman's track record suggests he'll do exactly as he said. One of the first things he did after taking over as general manager of the Rays after the 2005 season was to hire Joe Maddon, a longtime Angels coach with whom Friedman had no previous connection. Maddon simply blew him away in the job interview.
Let's explore some of the presumed candidates who could take over for Mattingly.
Friday: Dave Martinez
Last month, ESPN.com’s Jon Greenberg did a nice profile of Joe Maddon’s right-hand man with the Chicago Cubs, bench coach Dave Martinez.
“The fact that he hasn’t become a manger yet is kind of difficult to understand,” Maddon told Greenberg.
Well, maybe this is his chance, considering he was with Friedman and Maddon in Tampa Bay starting eight years ago. If the Dodgers blew their chance to get Maddon when he opted out of his Rays’ deal, Martinez might be the closest they’ll ever come.
Martinez has become one of these perennial candidates in recent seasons, not unlike Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach. The Rays interviewed him, but didn’t hire him. The Chicago White Sox snubbed him in 2011. He was a candidate to replace Dale Sveum on the Cubs before Maddon arrived, but they went with Rick Renteria.
Martinez, like Maddon, has a reputation for keeping things light but preparing carefully. In Greenberg’s piece, he’s credited with starting the tradition of dance parties when the Cubs won, with telling Maddon that Kris Bryant could play the outfield and with keeping shortstop Addison Russell relaxed during games.
Martinez, 51, had a 16-year journeyman career in the major leagues as an outfielder and first baseman, playing for nine organizations, none of which were the Dodgers.
Martinez grew up in New York and Florida to Puerto Rican parents, but he admitted that when he went to play winter ball in Puerto Rico when he was 19, he couldn’t get by in Spanish. He could generally understand it from having been around a grandmother who spoke it exclusively, but had to re-train himself to be fluent in his parents’ native language.
In an interview with Fangraphs three years ago, Martinez said, “I do everything Joe does, except I don’t have to deal with the media and I don’t get credit for anything. I help manage the game the way I see fit. I’m very opinionated and give Joe my opinions. Ultimately he makes the final decisions, but I do the best I can to manage the games alongside him.”
If the Dodgers go with Martinez, he’ll find out what it’s like to get the credit for those in-game decisions and – just ask Mattingly – the blame when they don’t work.