Blue Jays face critical test with manager options

While there's no shortage of candidates for the job of Blue Jays manager, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos needs to find a candidate who will be fully committed to the organization.

GM Alex Anthopoulos needs to find committed manager

Sandy Alomar Jr., right, carved out an impressive 20-year catching career, so handling a pitching staff is right up his alley. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has a big decision on his hands.

After failing to hit on John Farrell, Anthopoulos won’t get another free pass should his next managerial hire result in another miserable ending.

The Farrell hire came with a lot of positive reviews, yet two years later he skipped town, headed to Boston along with a mediocre 154-170 record in two seasons as Toronto's skipper.

During the news conference where he was introduced as the Red Sox' new manager, Farrell revealed that he expressed a desire for the Boston job to Jays president Paul Beeston after Terry Francona was fired in 2011.

Translation: Farrell was managing the Blue Jays with an eye on his "dream job" from the first day he took over in Toronto.

Anthopoulos must now find a manager who can lead the Blue Jays out of the doldrums and into the post-season, and someone who wants to remain in Toronto for the long haul.

There is no shortage of candidates for Anthopolous to choose from. The challenge is picking the right man.

Lead candidates

Sandy Alomar Jr.

The brother of Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar interviewed for the Jays’ post in 2010 but the job ultimately went to Farrell. Alomar Jr. carved out an impressive 20-year catching career, so handling a pitching staff is right up his alley. He began his coaching career as a catching instructor in 2008 with the Mets before moving to Cleveland in 2010 to take over the first-base coaching duties. This past season Alomar was the Indians’ bench coach and briefly managed the team in late September after Manny Acta was fired. According to Roberto, Sandy is the kind of person that will "put his heart and soul into his team, someone who wants to be here." After two years of Farrell-to-Boston talk, someone who is fully committed to Toronto would be a welcome change.

Tim Wallach

The former Montreal Expos third baseman has been ascending up the coaching ranks since joining the L.A. Dodgers in 2004. Wallach managed the Dodgers’ triple-A club in Albuquerque in 2009 and was promoted to third-base coach with L.A. the following year. Anthopoulos thought enough of Wallach’s credentials to ask the Dodgers for permission to interview the 55-year-old for the Jays’ managerial vacancy in 2010, a request which was denied.

DeMarlo Hale

The former major leaguer has apprenticed for some impressive organizations in the last 20 years, but experienced his biggest success under then-Boston manager Terry Francona. As the third base coach, Hale was part of a Boston staff that won the World Series in 2007. He spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons as Francona’s bench coach before returning to coaching third base this past season in Baltimore, which made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Hale, who interviewed for the Red Sox position prior to Farrell’s hiring last week, has a reputation for connecting with players.

Don Wakamatsu

The 49-year-old was hired to manage the Seattle Mariners in 2009, although he was fired the following year while the team was in the midst of one of the franchise’s worst seasons. Wakamatsu has been the Blue Jays’ bench coach since 2011 and has made no secret of his desire to be the team’s new manager. One aspect to his time in Seattle that may hurt Wakamatsu was the public way he lost the clubhouse during the Mariners’ miserable 2010 season that saw them lose 101 games.

Other possibilities

Jim Tracy

The 56-year-old skipper surprised the Colorado Rockies when he resigned on Oct. 7 with a year remaining on his contract. After stops with the Dodgers and Pirates, Tracy found early success with the Rockies in 2009 — his first year as manager — leading Colorado to the post-season and earning the NL’s manager of the year award. 

Manny Acta

Acta, who was the Montreal Expos’ third-base coach before the franchise relocated to Washington, joined the Nationals as their manager in 2006 and oversaw the development of some of their current stars. After being fired in 2009, Acta quickly joined the Cleveland Indians for the same post. The Indians got off to fast starts in the last two seasons but a second straight fade cost Acta his job with six games remaining on Sept. 27. Both Acta and Tracy have managed Jays outfielder Jose Bautista earlier in the slugger’s career.

Brad Ausmus

A three-time Gold Glove-winning catcher, the San Diego Padres special assistant is in high demand. Ausmus has reportedly turned down an interview request with Florida and withdrew his name from consideration for the Houston job. A Cheshire, Conn., native, Ausmus lost in his attempt to land his most coveted position with the Boston Red Sox. Veteran Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte has been singing Ausmus’s praises as a managerial candidate, saying his former Houston Astros teammate would "do a great job."

Matt Williams

Williams, a four-time Gold Glove winner at third base during a 17-year major league career, has already interviewed for the Colorado Rockies managerial opening. He has been the Arizona Diamondbacks’ third base coach the past two seasons after serving as the first base coach in 2010. In describing his managerial style, Williams said he is aggressive in all aspects of the game.

With files from Doug Harrison