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Looking up to an Angel

Editor's note: Hot Stove U. is a six-week course devoted to higher learning, a series consisting of 30 need-to-know topics for 2010.

The Setup

It isn't easy to pick "the best manager in baseball."

You have to decide what to make of four of the winningest managers in history: Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Lou Piniella.

You have to decide what to make of longevity in a job that isn't really conducive to that sort of thing -- in the distinguished cases of Jim Leyland, Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy and Cito Gaston.

You have World Series trophies on the shelves of men such as Ozzie Guillen, Charlie Manuel, Joe Girardi, Terry Francona and Mike Scioscia.

You have a fascinating array of outside-the-box thinkers, a group headed by the ever-creative Ron Gardenhire and Joe Maddon.

And you have a manager-of-the-year incumbent in Jim Tracy, a highly regarded up-and-comer in Don Wakamatsu and a fellow who has done nothing but crank out winning seasons in Ken Macha.

So who's the best manager in baseball right now? You could probably make a case for eight different men without looking like a major buffoon. So I ran this topic past 15 longtime baseball executives this week and …

Even they disagreed. But the pick here is a name I heard over and over from those men: Mike Scioscia, of those L.A. Angels of Anaheim, Orange County and Disneyland.