Today I continue to make my 2007 Preseason predictions. We’ve gone over many awards already like the Rolaids Relief Award, the Silver Slugger Award and the Comeback Player of the Year. The players aren’t the only ones that make a winning team though. Let’s take a break from the players and take a look at the Managers.
Every year a Manager of the Year Award is given out to the best Manager in each league. There are three factors that I think are important in winning the Manager of the Year.
1. Winning Team – There are some exceptions of course but usually the Manager of the Year is a Manager that led a winning team, after all if a team is 62 – 100, that isn’t a very impressive coaching job.
2. Improved Team – Often the Manager of the Year goes to a Manager that lead a team that came out of nowhere. The more games your team improves by the more credit your manager is going to get.
3. Young Team – Voters are usually impressed when a Manager can get very younger players to play to well sooner than expected, like Joe Girardi with the Florida Marlins last year.
Here are my top 5 candidates for National League Manager of the Year.
5. Phil Garner, Houston Astros
Phil Garner should probably already have a few Manager of the Year Awards for the miracle job he’s done with keeping a team with one good offensive player in the playoff race every year. Honestly the biggest reason for their improvement will be a GM move but if the Astros are going to take the next step they need Chris Burke, Morgan Ensberg, Luke Scott, and Brad Lidge. It’s up to Garner to get those guys playing like they can.
4. Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves
When a team doesn’t win their division for the first time in 15 seasons you know they had a bad season but Bobby Cox could have the Braves back after just one bad season. Cox has already got some young players like Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur playing well. If Cox can get the pitching going and figure out the top of the order where they don’t really have a legit lead off hitter, then the Braves could be in the playoffs again already.
3. Clint Hurdle, Colorado Rockies
The Rockies have a very talented offense with Holliday, Hawpe, Helton and Atkins. They’ve got a few more younger players coming up this year in Troy Tulowitzki and Chris Iannetta. If Clint Hurdle can get Iannetta and Tulowitzki to produce as quickly as the others then the Rockies should be contenders in the West and Hurdle a contender for Manager of the Year.
2. Bob Melvin, Arizona Diamondbacks
I really like the Arizona Diamondbacks as the surprise of the season. The Diamondbacks have good pitching, they have good young offensive players and they’ve got some speed. They could have future All Stars at every position. It’s just up to Bob Melvin to get them to play like it. I think the Diamondbacks will win the National League West and Bob Melvin will do the best coaching job this year.
1. Lou Pinella, Chicago Cubs
Unfortunately the coach that did the best job doesn’t always win. The Cubs will be a greatly improved team although it will mostly be general manager moves and the health of Derek Lee. The Cubs definitely could win the National League Central this year making them a team that goes last to first. I don’t think having to coach such good experience players is as hard as the young guys on the Diamondbacks though, but if the Cubs are the most improved team then Lou Pinella will win because he’s Lou Pinella.