Just like that, we are one-third of the way into the Major League Baseball season. While some teams have met or exceeded expectations, some clubs have fallen short of their goals and when things start to go wrong, whether justified or not, the finger will be pointed at someone who will shoulder the blame. Many times that someone is the team’s field manager.
Here are the managers that we think could be on the hot seat this season:
Terry Collins (New York Mets)
At 68 years old, Collins is the oldest current manager in the league. Just two years removed from a National League pennant and a World Series appearance and one year removed from a disappointing loss in the NL Wild Card, the Mets find themselves treading water in the wake of the surging division leading Washington Nationals. Injuries to Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Steven Matz, Jeurys Familia, and David Wright have put a damper on what was an open championship window for the Mets. Collins’ time may be drawing to a close with his contract set to expire at the end of the year. If the Mets are out of playoff contention by Labor Day you might expect the front office to want to move in a new direction.
Dick Scott, the team’s bench coach, has previous experience in the Oakland A’s system as a minor league manager and would be a likely candidate for the job on an interim basis. Las Vegas 51s (Mets AAA affiliate) Manager Pedro Lopez could get a chance to audition for the job after their minor league season wraps up, though they currently sit at the bottom of the Pacific Coast League Southern Division standings.
Clint Hurdle (Pittsburgh Pirates)
To say that 2017 has been a dreadful season for the Pirates would be an understatement. Starling Marte failed a drug test in April, resulting in a suspension for half of the season (and God-willing, the playoffs too). Right handed pitcher Jameson Taillon was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery. (On a positive note, Taillon had a rehab start on Sunday just three weeks after surgery and pitched three scoreless innings). Andrew McCutchen, who was National League MVP just four years ago, has continued to struggle.
While the Pirates aren’t too far from the top of the National League Central division they still find themselves at the very bottom and have to get past last season’s World Champion Chicago Cubs as well as St. Louis, and early surprise Milwaukee. The Pirates have a team option to bring back Hurdle next year but it is unlikely that they will when taking into account that Hurdle has yet to win a division title and hasn’t seen the divisional round of the playoffs more than once in his six plus seasons at the helm.
If Pittsburgh continues to trend downward, third base coach Joey Cora, who has been a top candidate for a managerial position in past years, may get an opportunity to turn around this sinking pirate ship. If Cora retains the position beyond the season perhaps we will see Ozzie Guillen return to the game as Cora’s bench coach. Cora was bench coach under Guillen with the White Sox.
Joe Girardi (New York Yankees)
The Mets aren’t the only team in the Big Apple who may be changing up their coaching staff. Joe Girardi is in the midst of the final year of his contract and if the apple of Yankees ownership doesn’t fall far from the tree, owner Hal Steinbrenner may have the trigger finger that his father George had when it came to displacing managers. One wouldn’t go so far as to say that Girardi is a modern day Billy Martin, in the midst of his first of multiple stints managing the team. But you could say that not having a contract at the end of the year and no championship trophies since 2009 will end up putting him out of a job. The Yankees compete in what is commonly one of the toughest divisions in the league, but the Yankees brass won’t take pity on Girardi when considering this fact.
The way the Yankees are playing right now I expect Girardi to keep his job through the end of the season, but if there isn’t a celebratory parade down Broadway this fall, I would predict a new skipper in the dugout come 2018. On the chance that New York falls down the standings before the end of the year first base coach Tony Pena will finally get his long awaited chance to fill out the lineup card on a daily basis for the Bronx Bombers.
Bryan Price (Cincinnati Reds)
After three playoff appearances and no series wins, the Reds parted ways with Dusty Baker, giving way to pitching coach Bryan Price who took over the team with no previous managerial experience. After three seasons, the Price experiment hasn’t worked. Price is working on a one year deal and though the Reds initially got off to a great start they have plummeted, losing ten of their last fifteen games. The Reds weren’t expected to be contenders but Price has been expected to develop the pitching staff. There are five pitchers on the disabled list and Reds pitching is second in the league in walks allowed. That doesn’t bode well for Price and it wouldn’t cost the Reds too much to make a change before the end of the year.
Bench coach Jim Riggleman was also considered as Baker’s replacement before Price got the job. Given Riggleman’s vast experience as a big league manager with the Cubs, Mariners, Padres, and Nationals it may be wise for the Reds to change the tone of their current rebuild.
Andy Green (San Diego Padres)
This isn’t so much about Andy Green as it is about Padres General Manager A.J. Preller. While Green has done nothing wrong per se, he still has underachieved in his short tenure as Padres manager. Preller, meanwhile, has a couple more seasons in his position and has completely overhauled the roster to go all in… only to see it fail miserably and serve a thirty game suspension last year for not disclosing information on some of the players he traded away. With his job on the line and poor attendance figures, Preller may want to shoot from the hip and shake things up. Don’t be surprised if Green is sent packing in favor of a new manager without prior managerial experience – a manager who is well known, faced controversy, and would be a bold hire… Current bench coach Mark McGwire (hear me out!) is just the right candidate to either make or break Preller’s career and Green unfortunately would be a victim of circumstance. I’ll admit I’m reaching on this one, but stranger moves have been made by less desperate men.
Kevin Cash (Tampa Bay Rays)
Losing Joe Maddon hurt the Rays but it eventually was going to happen. Hiring Kevin Cash was a surprise move but a move that came with a low risk. Cash was signed to a five year deal, but for a small amount of money. While the odds play in his favor to finish the season and remain at the helm closer to the 2019 deadline on his contract, that small salary makes him expendable should the Rays want to shake things up. There are only a few members of the Tampa Bay Rays organization who could be considered the face of the franchise: Joe Maddon, Evan Longoria, and Rocco Baldelli, to name a few. Baldelli (the team’s first base coach) would be a popular hire and may inject some life into a Rays team that is stuck in a tough division playing .500 ball. While this one might also be a stretch, Baldelli may get the nod either this year or next, should the Rays continue to be mediocre.
Paul Molitor (Minnesota Twins)
Sometimes teams hire managers without any previous experience because of their very presence and how it can influence a clubhouse. Paul Molitor was exactly one of those hires. Shockingly, Molitor has the plucky youngsters on the Twins roster playing first place baseball, for the moment, in a division that has carried the last three American League Champions. Molitor doesn’t have a contract beyond this season, and given his lame duck status, a slip in the division may force the Twins front office to give way to an experienced manager to guide the club through their new era of success. Rochester Red Wings (AAA affiliate) manager Mike Quade has been a manager with the Cubs and has worked on an interim basis. He may see a promotion if the Twins slip out of contention in September.
Mike Scioscia (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
It’s hard to believe that Mike Scioscia is only 58 years old considering that this is his eighteenth season as the Angels’ skipper. It’s also hard to believe that the Angels gave a ten year contract in 2009, and it’s VERY hard to believe that Scioscia has only had one playoff appearance since he signed that contract. Scioscia’s stronghold on the position largely stems from winning the franchise’s only World Series title in his third season back in 2002, but that was fifteen years ago. The Angels finished last season with 74 wins and last place in the American League West. Last year’s poor showing could be attributed to injuries and a lack of depth on the 25 man roster as well a less than fertile farm system. However, he has more firepower this season and has the club playing .500 ball in a division where the Houston Astros quickly ran away with a giant lead.
Scioscia still has another full season remaining on his deal and though it may be unlikely that the Angels will let him go this early the team needs to do something quick in order to keep a positive winning atmosphere. They trail the Astros by ten games, and have arguably the greatest current player in Mike Trout (who, of course, came down with a sprained left thumb on Sunday and will head to the disabled list for the first time in his career).
If that change end up happening third base coach Ron Roenicke would be an ideal fit given his previous experience as Milwaukee’s skipper. Dino Ebel (Anaheim’s bench coach) may also be clamoring for a chance to prove himself at the big league level. Only time will tell what happens to the Scioscia/Angels relationship but as for his managerial career in Anaheim, the days may be numbered.