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Are managers trending younger?

 You surely saw that Lou Piniella announced his retirement, effective at the end of this season. A true character of the game, he'll be missed. A good manager? At times, very much so; he helped build Safeco Field in Seattle, as he piloted the 1995 Mariners to their miracle run. On the other hand, dealing with pitchers and catchers was never his strength, and he wound up embarrassing himself during his time with Tampa Bay.

Anyway, Sweet Lou's proclamation seemed as much a pre-emptive strike as anything else, as the 66-year-old was in the last year of his deal and, given the 2010 Cubs' disappointment, didn't seem likely to be invited back.

(But you can be sure he'll be invited to Yankees Old-Timers Days, and I'd expect him to be a fixture there, starting next year.)

The Braves and Blue Jays already have announced that this will be the last dance for Bobby Cox, 69, and Cito Gaston, 66, respectively. Joe Torre, 70, seems cooked with the Dodgers, who are currently in free fall. Did you see the way last night's game ended? Yeesh. Not a good showing for Don Mattingly, who had been in line to succeed Torre before the Dodgers' ownership situation blew up - which is pretty much what happened to Mattingly with the Yankees, too.

The only managers 60 and older with contracts for next season are Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel, 66, and Detroit's Jim Leyland, 65. St. Louis' Tony La Russa, 65, can call his own shots with the Cardinals, while Cincinnati's Dusty Baker, 61, has put himself in a strong position to get an extension.

So when we kick off the 2011 season, we might have halved, in one year - from eight to four - the number of over-60 skippers. It could get cut even more if La Russa decides to call it a career, although I wouldn't bet on that, or if Baker's Reds collapse. I would bet, heavily, that Atlanta and Toronto will go younger; dismissed Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez, 46, seems like a slam dunk to get the Braves job.

The Dodgers will go younger and, more specifically, cheaper; as mentioned, Mattingly is a candidate. The Cubs? They're a wild card. They could opt for Torre, or 60-year-old Bobby Valentine. If the Mets fire Jerry Manuel, I could see them at least speaking with Torre, although I'm skeptical that such a remarriage would actually occur. Same with Valentine.

What's going on? Is it a trend?

I think so, yeah. It's pretty simple: The role of the manager is largely changing. It has been since "Moneyball" came out. No longer do organizations want their managers to emulate Lou Brown from "Major League" (I've been meaning to say for days now, rest in peace, James Gammon). No, they want someone who's in line with the greater organizational thinking. And more often than not, that means that the front office wants greater input in roster management, and expects the manager to utilize statistical analysis.

And...prejudicial or not, that often means you're looking for a younger manager. In conjunction with this evolution of belief systems, teams are generally not willing to pay as much for their managers, which means that guys like Torre and Valentine (who made $4 million a year managing the Chiba Lotte Marines) might have to decide whether they want to do the same job for considerably less.

La Russa, Manuel, Leyland and Baker might each last a few more years at their current gigs. Yet if they leave their respective jobs, would they be able to find another? What are the chances that St. Louis, Philadelphia, Detroit and Cincinnati all go younger with their next manager? Excellent for each, I'd say.

Maybe the trend will turn back the other way, down the road. For now, though, I think it's going to be harder for venerable managers to stick around.

--The Mets lost again, and wow, this is really starting to get ugly, with Alex Cora calling out some of his teammates for being all jokey following the game. Good for Cora, I suppose; I don't think the Mets' poor play has resulted from any attitude issues, but there is something to be said for taking the results more to heart.

We keep harping on the issue of fans' faith in management. If management isn't going to pull the trigger on a trade quiet yet, it could create some good feelings by finding trade partners for Oliver Perez (with the Mets paying the entire freight and receiving a second- or third-tier prospect in return) and Rod Barajas. There's no reason why Josh Thole shouldn't getting the majority of the starts behind the plate, and the Mets now seem to realize that.

I watched Jerry Manuel's post-game interview on SNY, and I thought he made one interesting comment. He said that the offense has "too much good history" for it not to score runs. I agree. If he keeps playing the same lineup he did last night, if those guys don't do the job...that's on them, not Manuel.

--Mike Pelfrey is going to shave his head. And also work on his fastball.

--The Yankees lost, and here we go: The Phil Hughes Rules stink! Eh. He was gonna hit a wall at some point. Let's see how long this slump lasts - it's now three lousy starts out of four, and four out of six - before drawing any grand conclusions.

--Alex Rodriguez is more relaxed with his teammates, Jim Baumbach writes, and that reminds me: What is all of this chatter about the lack of hype over A-Rod being so close to 600  homers? Did I miss the national galas held in honor of Ken Griffey, Jr. and Sammy Sosa when they got to 600?

I attribute the lack of buzz to A-Rod's confession of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and the fact that 600 home runs is no longer the rare air it once was. But I don't think that serves as an indicator for higher homer totals, should A-Rod get there.

--Andy Pettitte is doing nothing for now. 

--The Phillies are reportedly involved in major trade discussions involving Roy Oswalt and Jayson Werth, and if I were a Phillies fan, I'd be very concerned about how this is going to turn out.

--Ken Rosenthal reports the Angels might not make a big deal by July 31. I'm reporting that I found Rosenthal's story on Twitter.

--I'm at the Stadium as I type, and I'll post an update after Angels-Yankees. And tomorrow afternoon, we'll do a DVD giveaway contest. It's a good one. At least, I think it's a good one.

--UPDATE, 5:44 p.m.: The Yankees beat the Angels, 10-6, in a game that lasted 3:07 but felt more like 7:03. Javiver Vazquez started with a superb first four innings, but as he agreed later, it was telling that he didn't strike out anyone. He didn't have his best stuff, and he seemed to wilt in the heat after getting a 6-0 lead. And so it became an interesting game.

The most entertaining portion occurred when Brett Gardner, of all people, got 5ossed by home-plate umpire Paul Emmel in the seventh - goodness, do the Yankees not like this umpiring crew of Emmel, Bill Hohn, Gary Darling and Bruce Dreckman - and rookie Colin Curtis pinch-hit, with an 0-and-2 count, and wound up hitting a three-run homer. 

For my column (please don't tell the competition), I'm going to address the day through the prism of the upcoming deadline.

Speaking of which, Jayson Stark reports that Roy Oswalt won't come to the Phillies without getting his $16 million option for 2012 picked up by the Phillies. And with that, Oswalt loses the moral high ground on his supposed quest to join a winner.

In a non-shocking but still interesting development, Pedro Martinez's agent said that Pedro won't pitch in 2010, but isn't quite ready to announce his retirement. Back in April and May, a reunion of Pedro and the Phillies seemed likely. But Pedro never really got going in his preparation, and the Phillies' need for starting pitcher grew even greater.

See you tomorrow.

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