So...it's come...to THIS.
After almost a month of brainstorming candidates for a new manager AND a new general manager, we've come to the penultimate battle of this entire process, the finals of the bracket in which the winner will lock horns with the Big Catorce himself in one last match to determine if a new regime enters or if things stay the same.
To set this epic battle up, in what was perceived to be a likely close match, Joe Maddon absolutely shredded Darin Erstad 89-23 (79% to 21%) to earn a spot in the finals, TODAY.
And we're back around to the beginning of this battle now. Each candidate has had to, however, easily or not, defeat three other potential candidates to get here. One's never managed a single game, while the other has several hundred alone that he can count as wins. Here we go with this business, now.
OMAR VIZQUEL (LAA) vs. JOE MADDON (TBR)
Omar Vizquel is the rare example of a player with the opportunity to prove himself as being one of the best baseball figures to ever be on BOTH sides of the dugout railing. Already listed indisputably as one of the best defensive shortstops to ever play the game, and a very likely Hall of Famer because of that alone, Vizquel is very likely to eventually manage a big league team, given the raving that several have given about his baseball instinct and ability to teach and lead. No doubt about it, VIzquel would be a risk. He's never managed, although the past two offseasons have proven that to be very little of a barrier (Robin Ventura, Mike Matheny, Walt Weiss and Mike Redmond all say hello). Could Vizquel be the fifth man in the last three years to be named manager of a big league team without any prior professional experience?
Joe Maddon is likened by many as the current Mike Trout equivalent of managing--in that he's the greatest currently in the game. He's sensible but stern, flexible yet firm, and devoted to his team and all that play on it, one way or another. Never once has he thrown an MVP candidate or Cy Young favorite under the bus for someone else. His decades of service with the Angels are not to be forgotten...but ever since he left after the 2005 season, this is hardly the same organization he was involved with. Three men are still in place in immediate major-league roles from Maddon's final game as a bench coach: Mike Scioscia, Alfredo Griffin, and Arte Moreno. The similarities end there. The test will be in how he adapts if he were to manage here. Evan Longoria, David Price and Ben Zobrist can't come with him (but if he can bring any of them, plus Sean Rodriguez, I'd be happy). He wouldn't be jumping into a rebuilding organization. He wouldn't be the first one to jump into the water here. This is a team mixed with big-shot veterans, up-and-coming youth, and one Michael Nelson Trout that is exponentially better than all of them. Can Maddon handle a mix like that--a team far different from the one he was bench coach for, and certainly the near opposite of the one he manages now?
One thing to be considered: Anyone who would manage post-Scioscia (if that happens to be after this season) would, if we're to believe that only one of Scioscia/Dipoto get fired, likely be Jerry Dipoto's guy, would be likely to get a one-year contract with an option, since Dipoto's guaranteed contract ends after next season, when he'll have two option years. He would not likely be a long-term guy.
Vote and discuss carefully. The winner takes on the Soth.