The Candidate Collection: Some Likely Suspects

Today's trio features at least one guy the Brewers will interview for sure, along with one that's expressed interest:

Follow the jump for scouting reports on all three, then vote in the poll below!

Bob Melvin:

The basics: Melvin was a ten year major leaguer between seven teams from 1985-94, then spent a few seasons as a scout and in the Brewer front office before becoming Phil Garner's bench coach in 1999. He joined Garner in Detroit in 2000 and spent a couple of years on staff with the Diamondbacks before joining the Mariners as manager in 2003.

Melvin managed the Mariners for two seasons and the Diamondbacks for most of five, compiling a 493-508 record with one playoff appearance (2007).

Brewer connection: As mentioned above, Melvin is a former scout and coach for the Brewers.

Scouting report: This report comes from Jim McLennan of AZ Snakepit.

I must admit, I wasn't a great fan of Melvin during his time with the Diamondbacks. It may be selective memory at play, but I seem to recall more games lost by managerial blunders, than won by his skill. He was a bit too fond of the bunt and small-ball. Not just in the late innings of close games and with pitchers, but early on with position players, which drove me nuts. 

Melvin was known as the "Mad Scientist" for the way he mixed things up here, and it was rarely the same line-up twice - in 2007, he used an amazing *157* different line-ups (including pitchers!), which aggravated me, for no logical reason on which I can put my finger. This is why we used to refer to the Melvin Line-up Dice...

He certainly got the most out of the team in 2007, when we made the playoffs, despite allowing more runs than we scored. He had a very solid bullpen that year, which helped us go 32-20 in one-run games. Next season, that dropped back to 22-23, so 2007 seems more like a fluke than any indication of great management skills. All told, I wasn't sorry to see him go, but I can't say he caused irreparable damage in his time here.

Juan Samuel:

The basics: Samuel was a 16-year major leaguer, playing for seven teams before retiring after the 1998 season. After retirement, he spent six years on the Tigers' coaching staff, one year managing in the minors for the Mets, and four years coaching third base for the Orioles.

Samuel managed 51 games for the Orioles this season between the firing of Dave Trembley and the hiring of Buck Showalter, and went 17-34.

Brewer connection: None

Scouting Report: This report comes from Stacey of Camden Chat.

It is tough to evaluate Juan Samuel‘s managerial skills in Baltimore as he was hired to be fired. Samuel knew he didn’t have a chance at the permanent position, the players knew he was a placeholder, and the fans were counting the days until his replacement came along. Did he do things the way he wanted or was he just keeping the seat warm? Did he try to implement changes that the players resisted because he was essentially a substitute teacher? There’s just no way to know.

When Samuel replaced Dave Trembley as manager for the Orioles on June 4th, he didn’t change anything about the way the Orioles had been doing business.  He didn’t change the lineup and he didn’t make any decisions that varied from what Trembley would have done in the same situation.  Considering Trembley had just been fired, it didn’t seem like much of a strategy for getting the bosses to notice his skills. But again, Samuel knew from the time he was hired that the Orioles didn’t want him, so perhaps that had something to do with it. And the Orioles didn’t waste much time, hiring Buck Showalter to replace Samuel after just fifty-one games.

So what kind of manager was Samuel for those fifty-one games? It seemed more often than not he was the kind of manager that got into his own way too often.  He relied on, for lack of a better term, traditional lines of thinking, but took them to such extremes that it seemed silly. He often pinch ran in a tie game for the team’s best hitter, bunted with runners already in scoring position, asked players like Matt Wieters to bunt when the next two hitters in the lineup couldn’t reach base if a gun was held to their head . Things like that. It’s probably a common complaint by fans regarding the manager as we all have the benefit of hindsight, but there were many times when, in the moment, it seemed that nobody really understood why Samuel was doing what he was doing.

Without knowing much specifically about the Brewers, it is possible that Samuel’s style will be more suited to the National League where the manager is required to be more involved in the on-field events, what with pitchers hitting and double switches and small ball and whatever other crazy things happen in the NL. He is certainly very respected around baseball for his knowledge of the game, and given a clean slate where he knows the job is his, he might thrive. 

Don Wakamatsu:

The basics: Wakamatsu played just one major league season (18 games with the '91 White Sox) and 12 minor league seasons, retiring in 1996. After his playing career was over, he spent four seasons as a minor league manager in the Diamondbacks and Angels organizations, five years on the Rangers' staff (four of them as bench coach) and one year as the A's bench coach.

He opened the 2009 season as the manager of the Mariners, and went 127-147 before being fired halfway through 2010.

Brewer connection: Wakamatsu's final professional appearance came with the New Orleans Zephyrs (then a Brewer affiliate) in 1996. He appeared in just one game with the Zephyrs, and did not bat. 

Scouting Report: Here's Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing.

First things first: the most visible thing about any manager is his in-game strategy, and Don Wakamatsu has his foibles like anybody else. This is a guy who made a habit of batting Jose Lopez cleanup. In Seattle, he exhibited a tendency to fall in love with sinkerballers, no matter how wild or ineffective. He will very seldom pinch-hit and he didn't seem to like using his bench. I don't think he's worse than your average manager in this regard, but if you're looking for the perfect tactician, you'll want to keep with the search. Wak's pretty standard.

As for the other stuff - the most important, more hidden stuff - it's amazing how 2009 was so very different from 2010. In 2009, the players loved Wak. Everyone supported him. In 2010, they practically ran him out of town. They perceived his handling of Ken Griffey Jr.'s decline as disrespectful, and they found him to be a poor communicator. By the end, his relationship with nearly everyone on the team had gone sour. How much of this was Wak, and how much of it was a baseball legend reaching the end of his days and throwing a fit in a terrible season? I don't think Wak is entirely at fault for the way things spiraled out of control this past summer, but his inexperience most certainly showed, as he at no point took charge as a leader.

When Wak was let go, I think the consensus opinion was that he'd make a good fit somewhere else, but he was finished in Seattle. I'd agree with that. He lost a lot of players here and those bridges may well be burned, but given a fresh start, there's no reason why he couldn't have another 2009, and I'd imagine he learned a few things from the nightmare of 2010. He's no longer as inexperienced as he was, and that should help him going forward. 

The Brewers strike me as having a pretty tame clubhouse, which he should be able to handle. 

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