CHICAGO — World Series managers Terry Francona and Joe Maddon have more in common than the reputation as a stinkin’ genius and a résumé to prove it.
Each was a top candidate in Arizona when the Diamondbacks were looking for a manager to replace Buck Showalter after the 2000 season.
Francona, Maddon, Clint Hurdle and eventual choice Bob Brenly were the four finalists for the Arizona job that winter, and each made a strong impression with the front office during the interview process.
History proved the D-backs made a good choice — Brenly went from the broadcast booth to the 2001 World Series when he become the fourth rookie manager in major league history to lead his team to the championship. The D-backs beat the New York Yankees in seven games in one of the most compelling World Series in recent history.
Looking back, the D-backs could not have made a bad call.
Francona seems a sure bet to make the Hall of Fame, with two World Series titles and a third one win away. Maddon could get there if his Cubs keep moving forward. Hurdle has turned around programs at Colorado and Pittsburgh.
New D-backs general manager Mike Hazen could be happy if his short list includes such a group of potential/rising stars.
Boston bench coach Torey Lovullo and ESPN analyst Alex Cora are reported to be candidates for the job, although the D-backs have made it a policy not to comment on the process. Hazen has said he expects to interview five-to-seven candidates.
While the D-backs are expected to move sooner rather than later, one baseball official said Sunday he expects Hazen to take his time with his first managerial hire, saying, “they will take the time to be surprised” if an under-the-radar candidate makes a strong impression.
The D-backs’ due diligence before the Brenly hiring was impeccable, seeing how far the others candidates have come.
Francona, who spent four years as Philadelphia’s manager before interviewing for the Arizona job, landed in Boston in 2004 and brought the Red Sox their first World Series title in 86 years in 2004. The Sox won again in 2007. With an even-tempered approach, he leads active managers with 12 straight winning seasons. He has eight 90-win seasons, two with Cleveland, and was the 2013 manager of the year.
Maddon got his first chance in Tampa Bay in 2006 after being a long-time coach in the Angels system and has put together seven seasons of at least 90 victories, including each of the last two with the Cubs. He is a three-time BBWAA manager of the year, twice in Tampa Bay and in 2015 with the Cubs, his first season there.
Hurdle was hired in Colorado in 2002 and has managed for 14 years, the last six in Pittsburgh. He was the NL manager of year in 2013.