Shapiro narrowing manager search

Updated: October 7, 2009, 4:47 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- General manager Mark Shapiro is already narrowing his search for the next Cleveland Indians manager.

Shapiro said Wednesday he is getting closer to a list of "eight to 10" candidates to replace Eric Wedge, who was fired last week. He hopes to have a new manager by the end of the World Series, but that timetable could be delayed if a leading candidate is on a team currently in the playoffs.

"We have made no calls to any teams for permission to talk [to their employees]," Shapiro said. "We have made calls to specific guys but are not limited just to them. Previous experience is helpful but not a necessity, though it would take a very special guy to be considered without major league experience."

Shapiro said the selection process will be challenging.

"The perfect guy probably is already doing it somewhere else right now," Shapiro said. "But certain things make good leaders and we have a list of criteria."

He stressed that good communication skills -- with the team and the public -- along with the ability to build a diverse staff and use it are at the top of his list.

"There's always the usual leadership points -- being smart, tough, professional and passionate," Shapiro said. "The new man will also have to understand our situation, be able to develop young players and make good utilization of the bullpen."

Cleveland won the AL Central in 2007, but poor relief pitching was a big reason for a .500 record in 2008. After being touted as a contender this year, the Indians faltered because of injuries and more bullpen woes. The club ultimately traded several of its stars for prospects and finished 67-95 -- the Indians' worst record in 18 years.

Shapiro and assistant general manager Chris Antonetti have had numerous phone talks with current and past players, coaches and managers, front office personnel from other clubs as well as media members to get background on candidates. Shapiro said his initial list was closer to 30 names and others may be added as discussions widen.

"There are three or four guys who were not on our radar screen that we will now talk to," Shapiro said.

Though financial constraints have hampered Cleveland from signing certain free-agent players, Shapiro said money likely would not be an issue. Former managers such as Bobby Valentine, Buck Showalter or Bob Brenly would likely demand more lucrative contracts than inexperienced candidates.

Shapiro said at least one manager from the Indians' minor league system is on his cutdown list. It could be Torey Lovullo of their Triple-A team at Columbus; Mike Sarbaugh, who guided Double-A Akron to an Eastern League title; or former Cleveland third baseman Travis Fryman, who led Mahoning Valley the past two years.

Fans calling Cleveland radio shows say former Indians catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., now a New York Mets coach, would be a good choice. Others say bring back shortstop Omar Vizquel as player-coach -- pointing out that the only time the Indians have won the World Series, they were led by a Hall of Famer in such a role. Tris Speaker did it in 1920 and Lou Boudreau in 1948.

Still others are talking up Mike Hargrove, who managed Cleveland to five straight AL Central titles in 1995-99 and two trips to the World Series.

Being a popular former Indians player or manager doesn't carry additional weight with Shapiro.

"We're not looking for short-term popularity but for a guy who can come in here and win," Shapiro said. "We're looking to have the right guy in place."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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