It has happened before, but that doesn’t mean it was a wise decision. After the 2002 season, the Seattle Mariners essentially traded manager Lou Piniella to the Devil Rays for Randy Winn and Antonio Perez. Previously, the A’s traded their manager, Chuck Tanner, for Manny Sanguillen*. I’m not sure exactly why a team would trade a player for a manager, but I’m sure they have their reasons. What I find ridiculous is that a team would trade a 20-year-old top prospect for a manager. Yet the possibility of such a swap has dominated headlines this morning.
*Thanks to Big League Stew for the instant info.
Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Marlins and White Sox discussed a trade that would have sent Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen to the Marlins. It’s no secret that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has long coveted Guillen, who was the third base coach on the Marlins 2003 World Champion team. Who would the Marlins send to Chicago in this scenario? De Luca ends up burying the lede in the seventh paragraph (emphasis mine):
According to major-league sources, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was intent on making Guillen his next manager. Talks, sources say, progressed to the point that there was discussion of executing a trade that would send Guillen, who has a year left on his contract, to the Marlins for 20-year-old outfielder Mike Stanton, who hit 22 home runs and knocked in 59 runs in just 100 games as a rookie this season.
Yes, that’s the Mike Stanton who is one of five players in MLB history to have an ISO of .245 or greater with 375 or more PA at age 20 or younger. (Others: Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson.) It’s the same Mike Stanton who was Baseball America’s No. 3 overall prospect entering the 2010 season. It’s certainly not the Mike Stanton who had two stints with the Yankees. If Loria actually put this on the table — I don’t even want to think about what it would mean if Loria offered it and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf rejected it.
Chances are the story isn’t totally accurate. As Patriot said on Twitter, “If credible, that should be the lead of the article, not Ozzie/Kenny soap opera.” I agree. If there was a real, known offer of Stanton for Guillen, that should have moved right to the top — we can see evidence of this in every subsequent blog post, since they’ve all led with the compensation rather than the drama. Still, it does raise interesting questions. Sky Kalkman asks perhaps the most interesting one: “Who would you trade Joe Girardi for?” But since that covers a large range of players, I’d rephrase it to, “Who is the worst player you’d accept for Girardi?”
A young player or prospect is optimal, since you’d get the most out of him. But most owners and GMs aren’t as crazy as Loria, so I doubt any of them would trade a good prospect or young player for a manager. I would, however, trade Girardi for a Randy Winn, circa 2002, type player. He was 28 that year and has just produced the best wOBA of his career, .360. He could play all three outfield positions as well. He didn’t quite live up to the .360 standard in Seattle, but he still provided them with decent production (114 and 110 wRC+). That would mean someone like Andres Torres. If you’re looking for an infielder it would look more like Casey McGehee, Omar Infante, or Mike Napoli.
Is a player like that — one who produced good numbers in 2010 at a relatively older age — a good trade-off for a manager? I’d say yes. I like Girardi as a manager, but the Yankees fan find someone with comparable on-field skills who can manage the men on the team. It’s essentially a trade of intangibles for tangibles — or at least the hope of tangibles. It’s a tough call, but give me the production and let the front office find a different guy to lead the team.
The theme for the comments is obvious. 1) Would you trade Girardi for the players mentioned above? 2) Who is the type of player for whom you’d trade Girardi.