MLB Rumors: Will The Toronto Blue Jays Hire Manager From Within With Don Wakamatsu?

By Thom Tsang

We’re about to head into day 24 of the Toronto Blue Jays‘ managerial search, and the only team in the bigs without a bench boss seem, at least on the surface level, rather content at continuing the off-season without one so far.

Alex Anthopoulos told the press prior to last week’s GM meetings that the search was going on a “good pace”, but the lack of any real traction as far as names are concerned suggests either a) he’s very good at interviewing candidates in secret, or b) he has a rather unique idea of what a “good pace” is.

Yeah, I guess you could say that information regarding potential candidates for the job are scarce, but we did find out one thing on the weekend – that Toronto will be looking to hire someone with prior MLB managerial experience. That criteria means that there are at least a couple of names that can be crossed off the Blue Jays’ list:

That should at least focus the search a little bit, leaving a few outside names like Manny Acta (might work) and Jim Tracy (please no) as possibilities.

The press, on the other hand, seem to think that the team may be better off looking internally; after all, the Blue Jays already have a former manager on their coaching staff. That’d be Don Wakamatsu, the team’s current bench boss, and ex-skipper of the Seattle Mariners over the ’09/’10 seasons.

The Globe and Mail’s Robert Macleod had suggested back in October that Wakamatsu would be gunning for the managerial position in Toronto, and Scott Ferguson of recently suggested that the team would benefit from an inside hire.

Now, I’m not about to sit here and tell you about Wakamatsu’s particular merits, because that’d be better off done by folks who have an inside knowledge of the game. That said, both Macleod and Shi Davidi of Sportsnet points out that Wakamatsu have been through the proverbial trial-by-fire with the Mariners, having had to navigate a potentially combustible clubhouse which included Milton Bradley and a past-his-prime Ken Griffey Jr.

Davidi goes on to say that Wakamatsu “impressed” Anthopoulos during interviews for the team’s previous managerial opening (after the ’10 season), and that the “highly regarded” bench coach worked extensively with JP Arencibia, helping him make the defensive improvements that he made in ’12.

All of that sounds peachy, but as the ’10 Mariners team can attest to, a manager is often only as good as his team. The Blue Jays have already vowed to make improvements to the on-field product during this off-season, and are looking for an experienced leader to manage a young team that’s just about ready to grow into a winner.

I’d imagine that previous experience with developing the team’s players would give Wakamatsu a leg up for the role, yes?

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