Tracy Ringolsby

Skippers learning on job brings mixed results

Most of those hired without big league coaching experience have struggled

Skippers learning on job brings mixed results

Midway through the 1996 season, John Boles was promoted from farm director to manager, replacing Rene Lachemann and becoming the second skipper in Marlins history -- despite having never played, coached or managed in the Major Leagues.

The Marlins went 41-35 with Boles in charge.

Original owner Wayne Huizenga, however, wanted to make a splash. So after that 1996 season, he not only gave the Marlins front office permission to go on a free-agent spending spree, he also provided the finances needed to hire Jim Leyland to replace Boles as manager.

It would be another 13 seasons before a man who had never coached or managed in the big leagues was given a big league managerial opportunity. D-backs farm director A.J. Hinch replaced Bob Melvin on the Arizona bench in May 2009.

There have been a flurry of similar managerial hires in the past four years: Robin Ventura, with the White Sox, and Mike Matheny, with the Cardinals in 2012, Walt Weiss with the Rockies in '13, Brad Ausmus with the Tigers in '14; and in the past year Dan Jennings with the Marlins, Craig Counsell with the Brewers, Paul Molitor with the Twins and Pat Murphy with the Padres have joined the club.

Ventura, Matheny, Weiss, Ausmus, Counsell and Molitor did have lengthy big league playing careers. Jennings, however, had never even coached or managed in the Minor Leagues. Murphy had managed in the Padres' farm system and had experience as a college coach.

Matheny is in the process of taking the Cardinals to the postseason for the fourth time in his four years, and Molitor has revived the Twins, who are fighting for an American League Wild Card spot. While Brad Ausmus took the Tigers to the postseason a year ago, reports have surfaced in the past week that he won't be back next year.

None of the five other managers hired in 2012 or later who had never managed nor coached before has a winning record. Jennings, who was the Marlins' general manager and lobbied to keep manager Mike Redmond before assuming the managerial duties, has already been told that owner Jeffrey Loria wants him back in the front office after the season.

Feeling a Draft

If the season ended today, the National League could have the first five picks in the 2016 Draft. Three of those picks would go to clubs in the NL East
Philadelphia has a .386 winning percentage followed by Atlanta (.397), Cincinnati (.417), Colorado (.418). Miami (.426) and Oakland (.426) are currently tied for the fifth-worst record.

The Phillies have had the first-overall pick once -- in 1998, when they selected outfielder Pat Burrell. The Braves picked first in '90 (Chipper Jones) and '78 (Bob Horner). The Rockies and Reds are among seven teams who have never had the first-overall selection. The Marlins used the No. 1 pick in 2000 on Adrian Gonzalez.

In addition to the Rockies and Reds, the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Indians have never selected first. At the other extreme, the Padres, Mets and Astros have had the first pick five times each, and the Pirates, Rays and Mariners have picked No. 1 overall four times.


Rockies right-hander Jon Gray is the second pitcher in history to fail to earn a decision in his first seven big league starts. Al Levine made seven big league starts in his 10-year career, never earning a decision as a starter. However, his seventh big league start came in his 172nd big league appearance, on May 10, 1981.

Left-hander Tim Cooney made his big league debut with the Cardinals this year, getting called up for a spot start in April and then five starts in July. He had a no decision in the first five starts, earned a 4-2 victory against the Braves on July 24, and then was sent back to the Minors.

New look

In the aftermath of the trades of the non-waiver Trade Deadline deals of Johnny Cueto to Kansas City and Mike Leake to San Francisco, the Reds have taken a fresh look to their rotation. Michael Lorenzen's start in Friday's suspended game marked a record-setting 42nd consecutive start by a rookie pitcher for Cincinnati.

It's been a learning process. The Reds have gone 14-27 during the stretch -- not including the suspended game that was scheduled to be completed Saturday. Only the Braves (10-32) have had a worse record in the NL during that time. The rotation has gone 10-21 -- also better only than the Braves (6-27) in the NL.

Anthony DeSclafani (3.77) and Rafael Iglesias (3.08) are the only Reds starters with an ERA below 5.00 since the Trade Deadline.

Happy anniversary

• Monday is the 25th anniversary of Ken Griffey Jr. and Ken Griffey Sr. becoming the first father-son combo to hit back-to-back home runs. They connected for the Mariners in the first inning against Kirk McCaskill of the Angels. The Angels won the game, 7-5.

The Griffeys go back-to-back

• Thursday is the 47th anniversary of Giants pitcher Gaylord Perry no-hitting the Cardinals. Then, the next day, Ray Washburn of the Cardinals no-hit the Giants.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.