Five managers feeling the heat
April, 19, 2012
By Jim Bowden | ESPN.com
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireBaker isn't panicking yet, but he certainly is looking over his shoulder these days.
Big league managers have a hard enough time contending with things they can control, let alone things they can’t. A 162-game season is never a cakewalk, but when there are distractions and concerns early in the season, it doesn’t portend for smooth sailing for any skipper.
Some skippers are already contending with some unpleasant variables just two weeks into the season. Some came into spring training shouldering issues, while others might have made them with certain personnel decisions. But the kicker to it all is managers don’t play the game, so they’re somewhat at the mercy of player performance, which means they’re really not in control of as much as they think.
Below are five managers and what is distracting each of them. Are they panicking? Perhaps not yet, but they certainly should be feeling the heat.
Baker is in the last year of his contract, and despite winning the division in 2010, his contract hasn’t been extended yet, though the club has signed general manager Walt Jocketty, first baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips to long-term deals. So Baker remains somewhat of a lame duck manager. With the shadows of both Terry Francona and Tony La Russa looming, as well as Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, there is a growing sense that Baker must win to keep his job, or else one of those three will replace him. It is not a healthy position for Baker, and he will manage with more immediacy rather than over the long haul of 162 games.