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How can Oquendo get experience without having experience?

How MLB managerial openings were filled and how St. Louis Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo stacked up.

St. Louis Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo was recently granted a first-round interview for the managerial opening with the New York Mets. It was his first reported shot at a MLB top job since interviewing with Seattle and San Diego several years ago.

Oquendo has long been considered a prime candidate for the eventual opening in St. Louis to replace Tony La Russa. La Russa is heading into his second consecutive one-year contract, just 126 wins away from owning second place on the all-time managerial list. That quest may keep the now-66-year-old skipper in place through the 2012 season.

Despite his many years of service as a player and coach in the organization, Oquendo may remain a dark horse candidate. The reason why? The club is signaling they prefer an experienced manager to one day replace La Russa.

But how can Oquendo, or any other new manager for that matter, gain that initial experience?

13 of the 30 managerial jobs across Major League Baseball became open since September. Now that all have been filled, let’s see how they were sourced.

Slightly over half of the openings were filled by experienced managers, including three returnees, Tony La Russa, Ozzie Guillen and Joe Girardi. The other four are former managers receiving a second chance. In other words, Oquendo and those like him lost out.

Cardinals Tony La Russa
White Sox Ozzie Guillen
Yankees Joe Girardi
Ex-MLB managers Hire Past Replaced
Mariners Eric Wedge Ex-Cle manager Daren Brown (interim)
Pirates Clint Hurdle Ex-Col manager John Russell (fired)
Braves Fredi Gonzalez Ex-Fla manager Bobby Cox (retired)
Mets Terry Collins Ex-LAA manager Jerry Manuel (fired)

That leaves six jobs, all of which went to first-timers. Four of them exploited a leg up by remaining with their current organizations.

Three of the four were in what seems to be the ideal situation for a first-timer. They took advantage of their previous managers having left during the season, opening the door for them to prove their mettle via the “interim” tag. Of the four interim managers that ended last season, only Seattle’s Daren Brown did not get to keep the job for 2011. He was replaced by a veteran manager, Eric Wedge.

For the interim approach to work for Oquendo however, would mean that La Russa would have to walk away during the season. That seems an unlikely happening in any year.

The fourth first-time manager, Don Mattingly in Los Angeles, did not actually begin to manage in 2010, but his promotional announcement was made prior to the end of the season. This was possible since Joe Torre clearly signaled his departure in advance. It allowed the Dodgers to keep Mattingly, a desirable candidate, from potentially being lost to one of the other openings.

Interims kept Hire Past
D’backs Kirk Gibson AZ bench coach
Marlins Edwin Rodriguez Fla minors manager
Cubs Mike Quade ChC 3B coach
In house 1st-timers Hire Connection Replaced
Dodgers Don Mattingly LAD hitting coach Joe Torre (resigned)

That leaves just two of the 12 jobs which went to first-time managers hired into a different organization from which they worked in 2010. Red Sox pitching coach Rick Farrell has been given the reins in Toronto and Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke got the top job in Milwaukee.

External 1st-timers Hire Connection Replaced
Blue Jays John Farrell Bos pitching coach Cito Gaston (retired)
Brewers Ron Roenicke LAA bench coach Ken Macha (fired)

That was the type of competition in which Oquendo found himself and will remain until further notice. Mighty tall odds, indeed.

Poll: Will Jose Oquendo eventually become a manager in the majors?

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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