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 press conference to discuss the departure of manager Don Mattingly. "For us to cast as wide as 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 Tampa Bay 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.
Today: Tim Wallach
He's still waiting for his big break and the Dodgers might want to hire him before somebody else does. Wallach already has interviewed with the Washington Nationals, according to reports, and many people consider it only a matter of time before the 58-year-old bench coach is a manager somewhere.
Wallach already is widely respected within the Dodgers' clubhouse because of his passion for the game and his solid grasp of X's and O's. Some people thought he should have been hired ahead of Mattingly going into 2011, but Joe Torre had a pre-existing arrangement with his former New York Yankees coach. Wallach had a 16-year major league career and, while he wasn't as big a star as Mattingly, he was a steady grinder who made five All-Star Games and won three Gold Gloves. He's in the Canadian baseball Hall of Fame, unlike -- we're guessing -- any of the other candidates!
One of his biggest contributions to the Dodgers in recent years came from a chance encounter with Justin Turner at a Cal State Fullerton alumni event two winters ago. Turner had just been cast off by the New York Mets and Wallach made a phone call to then-general manager Ned Colletti suggesting the Dodgers sign him. He got a minor-league deal and took off with the opportunity. Turner has been arguably the Dodgers' best right-handed hitter the last two seasons. Wallach recognized Turner's tough approach in the batter's box and thought he would be a good fit for the Dodgers, who were trying to craft a more professional approach. An eye for talent and seeing how the pieces fit together is a key asset for a manager.
Wallach managed at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2009-2010 and has been on the major-league staff the last five years, including the last two as bench coach, the next in the hierarchy after the manager.
Wallach would be a solid choice and an easy sell to the players. He probably would have a somewhat firmer hand in the clubhouse than Mattingly did. He already has strong working relationships with the members of the front office. The Dodgers would be foolish not to give him serious consideration and they almost certainly will.