Friday, September 18, 2009

Managers Who Are (Or Should Be) On The Hotseat

  • Because they're not in trouble doesn't mean they shouldn't be:
The season's winding down and the inevitable firings will begin after the season. Some circumstances are no-brainers (which is somehow appropriate given so many people in baseball nowadays don't have brains), but others are more dicey based on contracts or a reluctance to do what needs to be done for the greater good. Here's my list of managers who are in trouble, should be in trouble and may or may not survive:

Joe Maddon-Tampa Bay Rays:

No disrespect to the man who was sitting in the manager's office when the Rays made that remarkable turnaround in 2008 and went all the way to the World Series, but I don't like the way he manages and if the Rays are going to fulfill their potential moving forward, they're eventually going to have to bring in a more adept manager in every aspect of running a club.
I've always had an issue with the new-age, quirky and funky things Maddon tries or suggests he'd like to try. (The "full day off" for players not playing that has yet to be implemented in which a player wouldn't even have to put on his uniform might raise Branch Rickey from the dead in protest.) The players don't seem all that intimidated by him; the inmates are running the asylum and as the young players get older and make more money, this is going to explode one day. On the field, the team's collapsed and if there was one club who needed the available Bobby Valentine in every aspect, it's the Rays.
The likelihood of a change being made is non-existent. Maddon signed a contract extension through 2012 and the Rays aren't paying Maddon to sit out, nor are they going to pay the money that Valentine is going to demand even though in the long run, it'd be a smart investment. The Rays have shown a tendency to shy away from making the required moves until they're backed into a corner (dumping Elijah Dukes, Delmon Young and Josh Hamilton for example).
Maddon's not going anywhere.

Dave Trembley-Baltimore Orioles:

There's something admirable about a man who never played professional baseball and clawed his way up to the big leagues to make it as a manager. That said, it's hard for the players to buy into what such a man is saying when they can always come back with the snide, "Who are you to be telling me anything?" If a manager is going to have that mark on his resume, he'd better have immediate success and Trembley simply hasn't.
The Orioles are on the verge of a drastic improvement with the young talent GM Andy MacPhail's accumulated. They're going to take the next step under a different manager.
Trembley's gone after the season.

Cito Gaston-Toronto Blue Jays:

Gaston's point has been made that he's a solid manager who should've gotten another opportunity after being fired by the Blue Jays the first time. It's strange that the Kevin Kennedys of the world continued to get chances to manage and the Bob Brenlys are always being interviewed, and Gaston won back-to-back World Series yet had to wait for the Blue Jays to re-hire him in desperation before getting another shot at an advanced age.
If GM J.P. Ricciardi is relieved of his duties after the season, the club isn't going to force the new GM to keep the current manager; Gaston's looked tired as the club has collapsed and has been non-committal about a return.
Gaston will retire.

Eric Wedge-Cleveland Indians:

Wedge isn't to blame for what's happened to the Indians this year, but he's an easy sacrifice. As far as managers go, he's not the best in baseball; nor is he the worst. He's done an admirable enough job in steering a rebuilding club. It may be time for a change after seven years.
Like Willie Randolph, Wedge will have to go be a bench coach for a year or two before getting back onto the managerial radar; he's young enough (41) to get another job sooner rather than later.
Wedge is gone.

Trey Hillman-Kansas City Royals:

Like the proverbial embarrassing moment in hook-up history, I once had a man-crush on this guy. That's long since dead.
Hillman is a rotten manager. He doesn't know what he's doing, plain and simple. In addition to running a team that's going to lose close to 100 games (after starting off 18-11!) he's repeatedly used closer Joakim Soria (who had shoulder problems earlier in the year) for more than one inning. Don't be surprised to see that take its toll on Soria as early as next spring.
Dayton Moore's inexplicable contract extension saves Hillman. He's not going anywhere.

Jerry Manuel-New York Mets:

The record can be forgiven because of all the injuries and toxic wasteland this season's become, but the team plays like they're in a fog half the time. What's happened isn't Manuel's fault and he kept them competitive far longer than anyone had a right to expect; if the club isn't going to spend a lot of money on players in the off-season to improve and moves forward hoping that the return of the casualties from this lost season return healthy in 2010, they might have to think about bringing back Bobby Valentine or closely monitoring the Tony La Russa/Dave Duncan situation in St. Louis. It's easier to create a buzz with a new manager than it is changing all the players when thinking about budget.
If the team continues to play as they have over the past several weeks, Manuel's job isn't all that safe.

Cecil Cooper-Houston Astros:

Both he and GM Ed Wade are in trouble in Houston. Cooper doesn't get much respect in the media and apparently in the clubhouse; he's somehow kept a team with shaky pitching competitive. I don't think he's as bad a manager as he's portrayed. That's not going to save him from owner Drayton McLane's itchy trigger finger.
Cooper's gone.

Bud Black-San Diego Padres:

Don't be hypnotized by the Padres late-season string of good play. Black's not a good manager. His strategies are haphazard and he looks bewildered sitting in the dugout. He was responsible for the club's stumble down the stretch in 2007 and partially at fault for the subsequent downfall in 2008 (when there were some geniuses who thought the Padres were going to the World Series!). Black is another example of a pitching coach who should've stayed a pitching coach.
He's safe.

  • $42 million little reasons to ignore Chipper Jones's retirement talk:
Chipper Jones has had a bad year (for him)----stats----and has hinted at retirement in 2010 if his struggles continue.
If you believe that, I have a bridge in Alaska to sell you; it goes nowhere and there's a great view of Russia.
I don't care how proud a player is, he's not leaving that amount of cash on the table and walking away. No way. No how. The Braves made a ghastly mistake in lavishing that severance contract extension (through 2012!) on a player with Jones's lengthy injury history and they're going to have to pay it because he's not going to retire.
Here's a tweet on Twitter from Jon Heyman yesterday:

#yanks think they may have solved joba's woes. eiland spotted mechanical issue.

I'm not convinced Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland could fix a flat tire, let alone a "mechanical issue" for delicate Joba. The only "issue" with Chamberlain is how the Yankees have jerked him around and put it into his head that he's this petite flower who'd scatter to the winds at the gentlest breeze.
You want to fix the guy's mechanical issues? How about letting him pitch long enough to develop some rhythm, timing and feel for what he's doing?
  • Viewer Mail 9.18.2009:
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE a quote from my posting yesterday:

Pat Burrell wandering around looking fat and disinterested and like Frankenstein sans the brain? All I can say is LOL!

I must be doing something right if I get that kind of a reaction from a best-selling novelist. Maybe I should rescind my application to the traveling carnival/freakshow.
Then again, better safe than sorry.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

The carnival freakshow circuit ain't all that bad. My colleague, Allen, has been on it for a year now and has put away a good amount of cash -- which he's mostly used on treating that itch he picked up in the groin region.