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Ranking the NL Central Managers: Sveum, Baker, Mills, Roenicke, Hurdle, Matheny


Managers get too much credit when a team does well and too much blame when his team struggles. It’s a refrain that’s heard frequently. Is it true? I suppose you could answer yes and no. Kind of the same with quarterbacks in the NFL.

The managers of the NL Central are the first rankings list I’ll cover. As I stated yesterday, I do have a surprise here.

There was no clear cut criteria for the rankings of the skippers. This was a complete gut feel and a couple of other small things that were considered. Here ya go…

1. Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee
2012 may provide a real understanding of what Roenicke can do from a managerial point of view. He has lost his first baseman via free agency. His left fielder is looking at a 50 game suspension. A portion of a darn good bullpen has also flown the coop.

Good thing the Brewers added a third baseman that may have revived his career and a closer that was a virtual lock to end a game.

2. Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh
Remember last season when the Pirates sat atop the NL Central? It was brief, but, to be honest, it was exciting even for this Reds fan. I really want the Bucs to become players in the division and Hurdle is the guy to direct them in that direction.

I like the continued youth movement in Pittsburgh. I would love if the organization could find the means to keep Andrew McCutchen forever, too.

3. Dusty Baker, Cincinnati
Two things usually get mentioned when Baker is the subject: the reluctance to play young players and extending pitchers. Baker may not have the convenience of a veteran at short and he may have a couple of arms on his starting staff that will surely have innings limits.

The wild card could be out in left field. With Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick, Baker may have to resist one of his natural urges especially if Heisey goes on a tear.

4. Brad Mills, Houston
Maybe a bit of a surprise to some to see Mills here. I honestly believe Mills is a better manager than the record shows (132-192). If only he hadn’t lost the likes of Roy Oswalt, Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence and Lance Berkman. With 2012 being the last season for the Astros in the division, you can hope for the best for Mills. He’s deserved far better than what he’s be given.

Add this. You have to have personal stability to endure what Mills has.

5. Mike Matheny, St. Louis
This is Matheny’s first managing gig. He knows the Cards way which is a big advantage and I personally liked the hire. He just has a lot to overcome and that has nothing to do with the great roster he has.

Imagine this. Your first time as a manager. The team you take over won the World Series in the previous season and you’re replacing a future Hall of Famer.

6. Dale Sveum, Chicago
This isn’t Sveum’s first rodeo as he replaced Ned Yost for a stretch back in 2008. He went 7-5 as the Milwaukee Brewers interim skipper and led the Brew Crew in the playoffs. I understand that Theo is wanting to change things to his liking, and Sveum does have some young pieces and a decent starting staff. The Cubs are looking down the road. I hope the fan base can do the same.

I said it last year and it didn’t happen, but the Cubs could surprise.

To recap…
1. Roenicke
2. Hurdle
3. Baker
4. Mills
5. Matheny
6. Sveum

I know 2011 was Roenicke’s first go as a skipper and he had the plus of a nice roster in which to work. Hurdle’s position was the opposite. I’m of the opinion that I could have put Hurdle atop the list and while that would have met with some disagreement, I also believe there may have been a couple of voices that agreed.

I had no reservations placing Baker at third, but that would be the highest I would go.

Some may take the bottom three and put them in a different order. To a great extent, I would agree with that as I did have difficulty with my bottom three. I do feel the roster makes a manager and Mills has not had that luxury. Matheny will be blessed with that roster and Sveum has the opportunity to do big things, but those will be on down the line.

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Tags: Baseball Brad Mills Chicago Cubs Cincinnati Reds Clint Hurdle Dale Sveum Dusty Baker Houston Astros Mike Matheny Milwaukee Brewers MLB National League Central National League Central Managers Pittsburgh Pirates Ron Roenicke St Louis Cardinals

  • beeker

    Wow, Steve, that was no easy task. There is as subjective of a list as you’ll have in your series, but I have to agree with your logic. I am tempted to flip Hurdle to the top of the list for how much he did with so little compared to the others, but when they hit the wall, he could not steer the car back onto the road. Roenicke had a lot more to work with, but he was able to heat up his crew late in the season after a virtual 3-way tie for 1st for most of the season.

    I will be very interested to see what happens with Matheny. He has plenty of resources to use, and sky-high expectations to meet. When the Cards hit a skid (as all teams do), I am curious how long it will take fans to turn on him.

  • Steven Engbloom

    @beeker LaRussa could tell you. Even during last season, I read articles where some fans wanted him gone. It happens with every manager and we should know that all too well.

    I actually think Matheny will do well. Former catchers just have a knack.

  • beeker

    Wow, Steve, that was no easy task. There is as subjective of a list as you’ll have in your series, but I have to agree with your logic. I am tempted to flip Hurdle to the top of the list for how much he did with so little compared to the others, but when they hit the wall, he could not steer the car back onto the road. Roenicke had a lot more to work with, but he was able to heat up his crew late in the season after a virtual 3-way tie for 1st for most of the season.

    I will be very interested to see what happens with Matheny. He has plenty of resources to use, and sky-high expectations to meet. When the Cards hit a skid (as all teams do), I am curious how long it will take fans to turn on him.

  • Steven Engbloom

    @beeker LaRussa could tell you. Even during last season, I read articles where some fans wanted him gone. It happens with every manager and we should know that all too well.

    I actually think Matheny will do well. Former catchers just have a knack.

  • dgsapba

    Nice job, but to rank managers you have to rank the gms and pretty much IN LINE WITH THE SKIPPERS EXCEPT sT, lOUIS WHOSE GM PULLED the greatest joke on baseball maybe of all time with his wheeling and dealing at the time the Reds stood still—-What do think bad start Reds get new Manager,

  • Steven Engbloom

    @dgsapba I disagree. The GMs get the players, but the managers, well, manage them…hopefully.

  • dgsapba

    @Steven Engbloom Can not argue there ,however the manager can only manage the players he is given—you were correct in the ratings of the managers, but do you think Roenicke would be better with the Reds than the Brewers thanks for the chance to present my case right or wrong.

  • dgsapba

    Nice job, but to rank managers you have to rank the gms and pretty much IN LINE WITH THE SKIPPERS EXCEPT sT, lOUIS WHOSE GM PULLED the greatest joke on baseball maybe of all time with his wheeling and dealing at the time the Reds stood still—-What do think bad start Reds get new Manager,

  • Steven Engbloom

    @dgsapba I disagree. The GMs get the players, but the managers, well, manage them…hopefully.

  • dgsapba

    @Steven Engbloom Can not argue there ,however the manager can only manage the players he is given—you were correct in the ratings of the managers, but do you think Roenicke would be better with the Reds than the Brewers thanks for the chance to present my case right or wrong.

  • Steven Engbloom

    @dgsapba Yes, but that’s part of the gig. It’s what you do with what you’re given. Roenicke was expected to win…and he did. On one front, he met expectations which can be difficult to do when you have no prior managerial experience at the MLB level. Baker had to a fair extent the same roster as he did in 2010.

    As for Roenicke leading the Reds and wondering if he’s better or not, it would be merely a guess at best. Just because he was successful in Milwaukee by no means can predict if he would be in Cincinnati.

    Side note here: LaRussa was successful for two different organizations because he was afforded both the opportunity and the time to do so. Today’s game does not normally afford such a luxury. It’s become a win and win quickly game.

    Another…With LaRussa leaving, Baker now is the longest tenured manager in the division.

  • dgsapba

    @Steven Engbloom One thing for sure we can see eye to eye on some things,but argue on others I guess that is being a baseball fan—–I still like the article and still pick the Reds in the central.

  • Steven Engbloom

    @dgsapba Yes, but that’s part of the gig. It’s what you do with what you’re given. Roenicke was expected to win…and he did. On one front, he met expectations which can be difficult to do when you have no prior managerial experience at the MLB level. Baker had to a fair extent the same roster as he did in 2010.

    As for Roenicke leading the Reds and wondering if he’s better or not, it would be merely a guess at best. Just because he was successful in Milwaukee by no means can predict if he would be in Cincinnati.

    Side note here: LaRussa was successful for two different organizations because he was afforded both the opportunity and the time to do so. Today’s game does not normally afford such a luxury. It’s become a win and win quickly game.

    Another…With LaRussa leaving, Baker now is the longest tenured manager in the division.

  • dgsapba

    @Steven Engbloom One thing for sure we can see eye to eye on some things,but argue on others I guess that is being a baseball fan—–I still like the article and still pick the Reds in the central.