It's no secret that skipper Cito Gaston is in his last year as manager of your Toronto Blue Jays (thank God) and I think it's fair to say that the brain trust will be actively looking for his replacement shortly, if they have not begun already. We here at 1BlueJaysWay attempted to provide some early candidates that we wanted purely from an entertainment perspective.
Now it's time to get serious. A thought came to me last night:
We have a Canadian president in Paul Beeston. He has been in the business for over 25 years and the fact that he is Canadian had little bearing on him getting his old job back.
We also have a Canadian general manager in Alex Anthopoulos. He is a rookie at the job but he did it the right way. He started as an intern with the Expos and moved up the ladder based on merit.
So what are the chances that we are going to hire a Canadian to manage the team on the field?
Based on the current trend, I think it's fair to say they are good. Depending heavily of course on the candidates. Anthopoulos mentioned in an interview that he would prefer a field manager who has played or coached in the Major Leagues before. He also said it was his intention to contact every Major League team and discuss the hiring process with them to gain some insight.
I decided to do the same. I spoke to my friend at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and asked for some details on Canadian born men who are still involved in the game and fit the criteria. He came back with two names.
The only big league Canadian coaches now are Dave McKay 1st base with the Cards and Rob Thomson 3rd with the Yankees. They both could be managers easily.
Rob Thomson: born in 1963 in Corunna, Ontario. (near Sarnia)
Check out his bio here
Dave McKay: born in 1950 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Check out his bio here
Rob Thomson never reached the Majors Leagues as a player. The highest level he played was High A ball in the Tigers organization. He played four season in the minors, from 1985 to 1988, mostly at catcher and third base. He then went on to coach in the minors for the Tigers till he was hired by the Yankees to fill a similar role in 1990. He also has five years experience in the front office, as a Field Coordinator, Director of Player Development and Vice President of Minor League Development. He has Major League coaching experience as well and has even stepped in to manage the Yankees for three games in 2008 when Joe Girardi went down with an illness. He was the bench coach for a few seasons but now currently handles the third base coaching duties.
Dave McKay played in the Majors for parts of eight seasons with three different clubs including your Toronto Blue Jays. He was the opening day third basemen in our inaugural 1977 season. He has been coaching with Tony LaRussa since 1986. MLBTR put out this piece last season after yet another deflating playoff loss by the Cardinals. In it they questioned whether LaRussa would be back as manager beyond 2010. They specifically mentioned Toronto as a possible destination for LaRussa and subsequently McKay. It is possible LaRussa calls it a career after this season, so McKay may be available to interview for the job here. He has been involved in baseball since 1975 and is a member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Now obviously there are many other qualified candidates to manage this team from 2011 and beyond. Almost all of them will not be Canadians. And I'm not saying that either of these guys would be released from their respective organizations anyways. What I am saying, is that if there are three or so candidates on the short list after the process runs it's course and all other things are considered equal, perhaps the nod goes to one of these two gentlemen because they are Canadian born.
If I had to choose between the two, I would take Rob Thomson for a few reasons.
First: He is a Yankee. He has been for 20 years. By signing him away it automatically makes them weaker. Which in turn makes us stronger.
Second: He is from Ontario and probably still has family here. It would be a homecoming of sorts for him.
Third: He is much younger than McKay and has an opportunity to be here for a long, long time.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: