There is probably no truer barometer of how the role of the major league manager is valued by front office today than what they are paying major league managers.
According to an article by legendary writer Bob Nightengale in USA Today, twenty-one of the thirty major league managers are making $1.5 million or less in salary this season.
That’s how little their roles are valued.
Only three managers, according to Nightengale, are making more than the average salary of a baseball player, which is $4 million. They are Bruce Bochy, Mike Scioscia, and Joe Maddon, each making $6 million. Terry Francona and Buck Showalter are making $4 million.
Five major league managers are making $800,000 or less. That’s not a whole lot more than the $545,000 major league minimum for a player. Rangers manager Jeff Banister earns $950,000.
Contrast that to when Joe Torre managed the Yankees. He made $7.5 million a season. Of course, he won a handful of World Series rings.
The all-powerful Tommy Lasordas and Tony LaRussas and Sparky Andersons and Bobby Coxes are a thing of the past. The major league org chart used to resemble a powerhouse college football program. Just as at most universities, the Athletic Director tops the org chart but he answers to the head football coach, in baseball the GM was the boss but the manager called the shots.
Not anymore. The day of kingpin major league managers is gone. It has been replaced by the manager as front office errand boy.
As Nightengale points out, most managers have no control over the lineup and don’t have much say in personnel decisions. It all comes from the top, from the GM and his numbers guys. Geeks are finally in charge. Joe Maddon equated the role of today’s manager to that of a White House press secretary, just there to field questions and dispense answers about decisions made by those in charge. Only, keep up the illusion that you are in charge.
“It’s like owners having a Jaguar, and then taking it to Jiffy Lube for a tune up,’’ one high-ranking club executive said. “It’s amazing how some of these teams devalue their manager.’’
And perhaps the most damning statement in Nightengale’s article is that managers are “terrified to disagree with their front offices for fear it will cost them their jobs.”
Which leads to the question, how long until the manager as a former player concept goes away? When do they become PR guys? When is the GPA on a potential manager’s resumé worth more than the ERA on his baseball card? It’s not a role where extensive baseball knowledge is needed anymore. That is being handed down from above.
So, when Rangers fans vent their anger at Jeff Banister, it’s misplaced. He’s just the messenger. Pretty soon he will be working for tips.
Yovani Gallardo (8-3, 5.97) vs. Chris Bassitt (2-3, 3.19)
Game time: 9:05
How the Rangers hit against Bassitt (unavailable).
How the Athletics hit against Gallardo.