So the baseball season is just ending its second week (for reals, sorry Australian games). You know it’s early because most every fan base has irrational exuberance about their record, and no one, except Reds fans, are wishing football season would start already.
Case in point – Mariners fans are tweeting screen captures of the standings showing them in first place. Hoo, boy.
But it’s not too early for my favorite game, “Which manager is going to get canned first.”
No one panics like MLB front offices and owners when teams don’t perform to expectations. Well, maybe the NHL, but they don’t dither about axing coaches; they just whack ‘em. In baseball, you have to string everything out until the breaking point and beyond, where the beleaguered manager just wishes the end was near.
Sometimes the prime candidate pulls out of it (see Don Mattingly) and saves his job and his season. But more often than not, managers twist in the wind, twist twist twist, and then whack.
So who’s already on the hot seat whether they know it or not?
Well let’s first look at who isn’t for all practical purposes. These teams aren’t thinking about the panic room and won’t for a while for various reasons: Tampa, Boston, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Seattle, Oakland, Texas, Houston, Washington, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago Cubs, LA Dodgers, San Francisco.
For now, I think these teams are safe from the murmuring, but the first bad spell could mean trouble: Toronto, NY Yankees, Minnesota, LA Angels, Philadelphia, San Diego, Colorado.
This leaves these six teams where changes could be made:
Chicago White Sox – I almost put them on the second list, but frankly, Robin Ventura doesn’t have much rope here. They were god awful last year and their fan base has gone back to its pre-Ozzie Guillen torpor. They’re leading baseball in runs scored and are 6-6, and their staff is just going to get worse and worse. Unless Ventura can use some alchemy and turn lead into gold on the mound, he’s not going to last much longer.
Kansas City - Ned Yost could be the victim of irrational exuberance and a fan base who has had enough of ‘improvement’ for improvement’s sake. The AL Central is ripe for picking but the Royals have scuffled at first. The bullpen has been shaky at times, and they have a team slugging percentage that would embarrass 1970’s middle infielders. Unless they start getting on base and knocking the ball out of the park, Yost could be the victim of a punchless offense.
Miami – Mike Redmond’s youngsters have¬† looked better than they did last year, but last year’s team was full of Charlie Browns and Joe Shlabotniks. Redmond’s probably doing the best he can, but he’s on this list because they could easily lose 100 games again and Moe Green Loria, the owner, is a known nimnul who fires managers for forgetting their shine boxes.
New York Mets – They’re the Mets. Their fans are cynical. Terry Collins hasn’t inspired anyone to do anything, really, but he’s been dealt constant 16’s by the front office. Yes, that’s a blackjack reference. I had to look it up. Have to keep my cliches fresh – unlike Collins as a manager. If he lasts to 2015 that would be as big of a surprise as Ike Davis becoming an all star.
Cincinnati – Yes, I realize that Bryan Price is a rookie manager, but when esteemed colleagues are wanting to trade teams already, the signs aren’t good. The Reds are pitching well, but they’re scoring less than a student at BYU. Votto’s going to hit, but will the others? As I wrote with the Marlins a few years ago, if you’re expecting everyone to perform at their absolute peak level as if they were 26 and healthy, and not regress to their means, then you’re not going to win many games. Price may take the early fall, fairly or unfairly. Had he inherited the Phillies or Cubs, then he’d probably be safe, but the Reds were supposed to contend. Supposed to.
Arizona – Hoo boy. They are lousy. Their pitching staff is a tire fire, and their offense is punchless without form or purpose even with Goldschmidt and Trumbo. I have no idea what they’re trying to do – it seems that they’re just shuffling players around for no good reason. Kirk Gibson’s probably not the right guy to light a fire under them. They’ve been outscored by two runs a game so far. Ulp.
If I was a betting man, I’d think that Gibby’s got to be the first to go. I know he was extended in February, but that was probably more for appearances than anything else.¬† However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the first manager canned is one of these six (providing, of course, a team doesn’t lose 25 games in a row or a manager gets involved in a scandal involving show ponies, hookers, HGH and Lindsay Lohan…)
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