The Cincinnati organization, however, instead opted to employ a proven manager with more experience, signing veteran skipper Dusty Baker in early-October. Mackanin, disappointed by the Reds' decision, was offered a position to remain on in Cincinnati, but refused, saying that it was in his best interest to move on.
After playing for five different teams in a nine-year major league career, Mackanin has spent the last two decades coaching in the minor leagues. Following a two-year stint managing the Nashville Sounds, he was hired as the bench coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to spring training in 2003. Two years later, when Pittsburgh fired Lloyd McClendon, he earned his first shot to manage at baseball's highest level, guiding the Pirates to a 12-14 record.
His next move brought him to Cincinnati, originally serving as an advanced scout, similar to the position he will fulfill in New York. But in the aftermath of the Cincinnati's dismal first-half—51 losses, the highest total in all of Major League Baseball—he helped right the ship, keeping the Reds' nucleus motivated as the franchise finished two games over .500 (41-39) under Mackanin's leadership.
Due to the Reds' second-half success, Mackanin was a serious candidate to remain on as manager, according to Cincinnati general manager Wayne Krivsky, who remains Mackanin's close friend. But by adding Baker—a move met with mixed reactions in baseball circles due to Baker's poor track record of handling young pitchers, perhaps evident by his experience with Mark Prior and Kerry Wood during his time in Chicago—though, the Reds gain a marketable leader in the dugout popular with players. While many have questioned the signing, citing the need for a conservative manger who will treat the arms of top pitching prospects Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto and Edison Volquez delicately, he also handles veterans well. In addition to instantly commanding respect in the clubhouse, the hire was strongly endorsed by fan favorite outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.
In Mackanin, 56, New York, who has been courting him since the winter meetings in Nashville, adds another excellent talent evaluator to its baseball operations department.
"We had a nice discussion," Mackanin said Monday of the Yankees' interest. "Fortunately they were looking for somebody, and I fit the bill."
Before he retires, he wants to return to the dugout some day. Whether or not his wish is ever fulfilled, of course, is still up in the air.
Erik Bedard (AP)
Bedard Rumors: Baltimore Orioles left-hander Erik Bedard, the topic of numerous trade rumors this winter, is reportedly close to being dealt to the Seattle Mariners. Seattle has reignited talks, agreeing to include Adam Jones, one of the top outfield prospects in the game, in a potential deal, according to numerous media reports this afternoon. The Mariners already (allegedly) upgraded their starting rotation earlier this offseason, signing right-hander Carlos Silva, but by adding Bedard, 23, Seattle could realistically compete for the American League West division title next year.
The Reds, however, are still in the hunt for Bedard, too. The Orioles' ace enjoyed a strong season in '07, posting a 13-5 record and 3.15 earned run average, and would fit nicely in a alongside Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang at the top of the Cincinnati rotation.
You can reach Tyler Hissey by sending an email to TylerHissey@gmail.com.