With Walt Weiss out the door, the Rockies are now tasked with finding the seventh manager in franchise history.
Several candidates have already been mentioned, including Eric Young and Glenallen Hill internally and now Eddie Perez externally, according to a report out of Venezuela (via David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution).
Perez, who currently serves as the first base coach for the Braves and manages in the Venezuelan Winter League, has served as a major league coach for 10 years after a long playing career that saw him regularly catch some of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. Having someone with Perez's experience with pitching and, really, all things baseball would be of great benefit to the Rockies. His Latin American heritage and background could also serve the club well; the Rockies already have a strong core of talented players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and more are on the way.
However, one man who has not been mentioned, but should get a look, is Padres bench coach Mark McGwire.
McGwire, now 53 years old, just finished his first season as bench coach under Andy Green in San Diego after having spent the previous three as hitting coach with the Dodgers under Don Mattingly. Those four years in the NL West represent the lion’s share of McGwire’s coaching career. He was the Cardinals' hitting coach from 2010-2012.
What should be appealing about McGwire to Rockies fans, and frankly to general manager Jeff Bridich, is that he spent the last four seasons not only in the NL West, but in two very analytically inclined organizations in San Diego and Los Angeles. In fact, one of the first moves made by the Dodgers under their new ownership group was to pluck McGwire from the St. Louis coaching staff. He was then named bench coach by Green when he took over as Padres manager prior to the 2016 season.
Under McGwire, the Dodgers had their three best offensive seasons of the last decade from 2013-2015, with team wRC+ numbers of 103, 112 and 107. The Rockies have not had a team wRC+ over 97 since installing the humidor at Coors Field in 2002.
Though he has been a coach at the big league level for seven years, McGwire is still best known as the former single-season home run king, having hit 70 home runs in 1998 and 583 for his career. Given that background, he would perhaps be much more averse to bunting, especially with position players, than Weiss was.
McGwire blends some traits of two names that have been popular candidates among Rockies fans, Gabe Kapler, the Dodgers’ director of player development, and former Rockies first baseman Jason Giambi. Like Kapler, McGwire brings a pedigree from the highly regarded Dodgers organizition and on-field coaching experience, which he actually has more of than Kapler. He also has a similar playing background to Giambi, who was a finalist for the Rockies job when they hired Weiss in 2012, though with much more coaching experience than Giambi did four years ago.
Another positive for McGwire is that his background is in hitting, and he would likely be amenable to Steve Foster and Darren Holmes remaining as pitching coach and bullpen coach, something the Rockies are likely to ask of a new manager.
A caveat with McGwire is that, like Weiss, he spent a lot of time under Tony La Russa as both a player and coach. However, unlike Weiss, he has four years spent in more progressive organizations that have likely given him a more modern outlook on the game.
Given his career path to date, it seems McGwire will get a shot to manage a big league team somewhere in the near future, the Rockies would do well to consider making it in Colorado next season.