It’s a slow period in baseball right now, but the Indians organization actually has some news that isn’t Grady Sizemore/stolen photos related. Akron Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh, who has risen in the ranks of the Tribe minor league system, will be promoted to skipper of the AAA Columbus Clippers for the 2010 season.
On the other side of the coin, former Tribe third base coach and resident good soldier, Joel Skinner, has been named the manager of the Aeros, taking the spot left open by Sarbaugh’s promotion.
Sarbaugh is coming off an Eastern League Championship season and at age 42, was voted by Baseball America as the ESL’s “best managerial prospect.” He takes over for Torey Lovullo, who essentially was Sarbaugh before Sarbaugh. Lovullo had been slowly working his way up the ladder and became one of the four finalists for the vacant big league job, eventually losing out to Manny Acta.
There was some thought that with his vast experience with many of the Tribe’s young players, Lovullo would be a shoo-in for Acta’s staff. Instead, he was passed over and moved on. Don’t cry for Torey though, he landed on his feet as the new manager of the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox.He took the high road on his way out the door.
“It was a great relationship,” said Lovullo, speaking of his time with the Indians, “and it will continue to be. There’s no bitterness, no resentment. There is a little disappointment. We’re all competitive, we all wanted the position.
“I’ll miss the staff members I got to know daily in spring training. I’ll miss my relationship with the players that’s I’ve watched grow up over the last three to seven years. It’s time to open my eyes to a new direction.”
“It’s unfortunate I didn’t get a couple of opportunities that presented themselves with the Indians,” said Lovullo. “Now I’ve got a different opportunity with a great organization in the Boston Red Sox.”
The 42 year old Sarbaugh is looking to keep his success going at his third level in four years. In six seasons as a manager in the organization, Sarbaugh’s clubs never finished lower than second in their division and won three league championships. He carries a .586 winning percentage with him.
The key for the new Captain of the S.S. Clippers will be how he develops young starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Hector Rondon, who most likely will start the season in Columbus under his tutelage.
As for my man Skins, this is clearly a demotion for him, but he is home with the Indians organization. He doesn’t have to move, can work with young players, and still have a voice with a team he has been with since the late 80′s. He managed the Aeros for two seasons (’98 and ’99) before joining the Indians staff in 2000.
No matter what Skinner does the rest of his career, he will always be remember for one fateful stop sign he gave Kenny Lofton during game seven of the 2007 ALCS in Boston that changed the face of the game. No need to rehash that old bit again, but needless to say it will stick with Skins as long as Indians fans can breath.