The Cubs and Tigers have managerial openings that would be on any short list of the best jobs in baseball. The North Siders likely are a few years from winning again but play in front of a devoted fan base and have ownership who will spend money. There’s also the excellent front office led by Theo Epstein and a loaded farm system. Any manager who wins a World Series there would be a god.
Detroit has turned into one of the marquee jobs in recent years thanks to the checkbook of owner Mike Ilitch. The 84-year-old pizza magnate badly wants to bring Detroit a World Series title in his final years. The Tigers have made three straight ALCS appearances and are ready to win now with stars Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder on hand — although there’s talk Scherzer could be dealt this offseason as he can become a free agent after 2014.
Thus, Red Sox coach Torey Lovullo could be in the catbird seat. He reportedly is on the short lists of both the Tigers and Cubs, but neither team can speak with him until after the World Series. Chicago has already interviewed at least four candidates but seems to be waiting to talk to Lovullo.
Lovullo, who became John Farrell‘s bench coach last October, has ties to the Tigers and Cubs organizations. He was hired by Epstein four years ago to manage Triple-A Pawtucket. Lovullo left after the 2010 season to join Farrell as his first base coach in Toronto. Lovullo was also a fifth-round pick in 1987 by the Tigers. He hit .381 in 12 games in 1988 for Detroit, leading manager Sparky Anderson to say in spring 1989 that Lovullo was one of the best prospects he had ever seen. Lovullo would never become a regular in the majors, hitting a career .224 in 303 games over eight years.
Bovada oddsmakers have listed Lovullo at 11-2 to be hired as the Tigers manager to replace Jim Leyland. The favorite is Brad Ausmus at 4-1. Ausmus was considered an extremely bright player over his 18 big league seasons, including three with Detroit. He retired after 2010 and is currently a special assistant to baseball operations with the Padres.
Ausmus’ only managerial experience was for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic, but he has been linked to a few big league jobs in the past. The success of the Cardinals’ Mike Matheny, another former catcher with no managerial experience, could bode well for Ausmus.
Also ahead of Lovullo on the odds are three current Tigers: hitting coach Lloyd McClendon (9-2), third base coach Tom Brookens (5/1) and bench coach Gene Lamont (5-1). The contracts of all three run out on Halloween. Each would bring the easiest transition from Leyland. McClendon and Lamont have big league managerial experience, and Brookens was a longtime Tiger in his playing days. General manager Dave Dombrowski has said prior managerial experience would be a big plus, but not a necessity.
The long shots on the list are recently fired Reds manager Dusty Baker (7-1), Larry Parrish (10-1), who managed Detroit in 1998-99, former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta (10-1) and former Royals manager Tony Pena (12-1).
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