Mackanin has nothing to loseposted: Thursday, July 19, 2007 | Feedback | Print Entry
Pete Mackanin's title is interim manager, and there is no side agreement, no guarantee that he is going to manage the Reds next year, or even tomorrow. Cincinnati could hire someone like Joe Girardi this summer or Tony La Russa in the offseason, and Mackanin would be out of a job. He is realistic about the possibilities.
"I'm in a precarious situation," he said the other day, in the visiting manager's office at Shea Stadium. "I'm aware of it."
But the circumstances are liberating for him, in a sense. He can do what he wants, when he wants to, and do everything he can to take advantage of this opportunity and help build his case to be a major league manager -- if not with the Reds, then with some other team.
So far, so good. The Reds were 31-51 on the day that Jerry Narron was fired, and there was a sense in the clubhouse that the players were drifting, not playing intensely. Cincinnati is now 9-4 since Mackanin took over, and in their most recent victory, their interim manager took the kind of chance that might go against the book, the kind of chance he feels free to take. This is from The Associated Press account of the game:
Cincinnati employed an unusual defense in the 10th to extinguish a Braves rally.
With Chipper Jones standing on third with one out and Jeff Francoeur about to hit, Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin moved center fielder Ryan Freel in front of the bag at second, and the strategy paid off.
Brandon Phillips made a leaping catch of Francoeur's liner before throwing to third baseman Jeff Keppinger to force out Jones, who had moved down the line to score the winning run. Jones' RBI double earlier in the inning off David Weathers tied it at 3.
"When I hit it, I thought the game was over," Francoeur said. "He got it, and that stunned me. And then of course he threw out Chipper. It was like a nightmare, and then the game went on for another two hours. As the game went on, it didn't seem like we were supposed to win."
Mackanin said the other day, "It's my job to come up with a scheme to have a little bit more success. ... I want to win, I want to manage in the big leagues. ... It's too easy to cover your rear end by bringing in righty-righty, lefty-lefty. You take some chances."
Mackanin recalled a conversation he had with Felipe Alou when he was a coach for Alou with the Expos. Alou had a reputation for trying different things, double steals and hit-and-runs in crazy situations, and he explained it to Mackanin: When you are the Expos and you are playing a team like the Atlanta Braves, you need to try different things. If you are Pete Mackanin and you are an interim manager and you want to be manager, permanently, you take chances.