Thursday, September 5, 2013
10 managers in limbo
By Jim Bowden
Joe Girardi is in the last year of his contract, but his return is very likely.
Baseball is a results-oriented business. It can be brutal and sobering, especially those charged with managing a team. Injuries aren't their fault, and most of the time, neither are players who don't perform up to expectations or can't execute properly. So when a manager makes it to the last year of his contract without some sort of preemptive extension, it's a quasi referendum on his team's performance, but it's usually his head that's on the line.
The following are 10 managers who sit in varying degrees of that limbo, all of whom are in the final year of their contract. It's fair to say that some are more secure than others, while some are with near 100-percent certainty, done.
Girardi must be considered for American League Manager of the Year for dealing with a plethora of issues ranging from major injuries, suspensions, limited help from the farm system and at times a no-name lineup made up of free agents and waiver claims.
I would argue he has done an even a better job this season than in 2009, when he led the Yankees to a World Series title. His preference is to stay with the Yankees, but if for some reason the Steinbrenner family decides not to pay him what he deserves, Girardi should have an option with the Washington Nationals, who to this day regret not offering Girardi what he was seeking when they had the chance to hire him shortly before he landed the Yankees’ job.
A return to the Chicago Cubs would be a longshot but a perfect fit.
Leyland has no intention of retiring after this season. And he shouldn’t. He boasts a managerial career that makes him a serious Hall of Fame candidate but probably needs another championship to clinch it. Even if he wins the World Series this year, I doubt he would walk away from the opportunity to possibly win multiple World Series rings over the next couple of years, considering the team he has now. He’s in good health, hasn’t lost the “itch” for the game or being at the yard and is really enjoying what he’s doing.
Yost has been on the hot seat all season. About six weeks ago, you could have considered him all but gone because the Royals didn’t look as if they would finish with a winning season let alone become a contender by September.
However, a hot streak in August saved his job. If the Royals don’t make the playoffs this season, he will be given every opportunity in 2014 to get the Royals to the postseason. If they don’t get there next year, then I seriously doubt he makes it to 2015. If Yost is replaced, I could see Royals legend George Brett -- who served as interim hitting coach -- replacing him, as he'd have far more influence in a managerial role.
Whenever the Twins don’t have a competitive team, fans and the media clamor for Gardenhire to be fired. I have no idea why.
He’s one of the best fundamental managers in baseball. He runs a game as well as any manager in the business. But when your starting pitching stinks, so does the manager. It goes with the territory. One cannot evaluate Gardenhire until the Twins’ front office can provide him with a competitive starting rotation. General manager Terry Ryan knows this, and also knows Gardenhire has proven when the Twins are good enough he’ll win with them.
The only question is whether Gardenire is tired of the losing and prefers to retire. The answer is no.
General manager Jack Zduriencik is signed through the 2014 season. He told me this week if he is retained this offseason, Wedge will be back next season to skipper the team.
The Mariners extended Zduriencik just before this season, so I doubt they would do that then dump him six months later, especially with the number of young players who made their major-league debuts this season.
However, if the Mariners don’t have a winning record by next July, I would expect both the GM and manager to be replaced whether it’s their fault or not. For me, this is the most difficult call, and if the Mariners have a change of heart and do change managers this winter, I could see Brad Ausmus, Jim Tracy and Jason Giambi as candidates.
Collins deserves great credit under excruciating circumstances throughout his tenure with the Mets. He has done an incredible job the last couple of years with a lineup that at times resembled a Triple-A lineup (outside of David Wright) and a bullpen that was loaded with holes.
His work developing a young starting rotation has been one of the best in baseball. The challenge of working with a demanding front office and a hounding New York media has been handled with class, dignity and a respect for the chain of command. His ability to communicate and motivate his players in a loyal manner has been commendable.
He deserves an extension and the right to stay on as manager when the Mets will contend in the next two or three years.
Sandberg was the personal choice of GM Ruben Amaro not only to be the interim manager, but the Phillies’ long-term solution.
He will not be judged on wins or losses in September, but rather his leadership, strategy and ability to work with the front office. And from all indications the front office is pleased with his performance, and I would expect the interim tag to be removed by this time in October.
Davey Johnson | Tenure: third season | Washington Nationals
Let me make this clear: Johnson is going to retire -- period, end of story. Before the season started, Johnson agreed with GM Mike Rizzo and ownership they would not revisit this decision.
Johnson won 90 games in seven different seasons, and it would have been nine had it not been for the strike-shortened 1994 and 1995 seasons. He finished in first place six different times and won a pennant and World Series in 1986 managing the New York Mets. He has won more than 1,300 games with a lifetime winning percentage of .560. He’s a personal favorite of mine and one of the best baseball men I was privileged to have worked with.
Tony La Russa says he’s staying retired, so I would guess that Matt Williams, Jason Giambi or Brad Ausmus could succeed Johnson next season.
Weiss did a solid job in his rookie season as manager of the Rockies considering the challenges he had with the Rockies’ pitching staff, which will once again finish either 14th or 15th in both ERA and WHIP.
Weiss won’t be held accountable for that, and although there might be some front office shuffling this offseason, it’s doubtful there will be a managerial change. The players and front office both respect Weiss and the job he did this season.
Mattingly should be smack in the middle of a heated race for the NL Manager of the Year along with Clint Hurdle and Fredi Gonzalez.
Mattingly was told in late May by Dodgers President Stan Kasten that the team needed to start winning or there would be a change. Since that conversation, the Dodgers have the best record in baseball and are now the odds-on favorite to represent the NL in the World Series. Mattingly will be rewarded this offseason with a new long-term -- and well-deserved -- contract.