Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Five managers on the hot seat
By David Schoenfield
With the Rangers giving Ron Washington a two-year extension and the Rays reportedly close to extending Joe Maddon for three years, it's time to take a look at those managers who don't have the same kind of job security.
Jim Tracy, Rockies: Tracy took over for Clint Hurdle in 2009 after the team started 18-28 and the Rockies went 74-42 to win the wild card. But since then they've fallen from 92 wins to 83 wins to 73 wins. The additions of veterans Michael Cuddyer, Marco Scutaro, Ramon Hernandez and Casey Blake indicates the Rockies are in "win-now" mode despite a shaky rotation. Throw in the fact that Tracy isn't exactly regarded as a tactical genius and that GM Dan O'Dowd fired Hurdle less than two years after guiding the team to a World Series appearance, and Tracy might be on a short leash.
Dusty Baker, Reds: Baker has managed the Reds four seasons now and has one division title ... and three losing seasons. The departure of Albert Pujols from St. Louis and the additions of Mat Latos, Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall to the Cincinnati pitching staff means another division title will be expected. Young guys like Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs haven't developed as predicted. With Terry Francona sitting out there, the pressure is on Baker and the Reds to get off to a good start.
Ron Gardenhire, Twins: The Twins are arguably the most conservative organization in baseball. Gardenhire has been there since 2002 and won six division titles, and Tom Kelly managed for 15 seasons before him. But a disastrous 2011 and little hope for much improvement in 2012 puts Gardenhire in the crossfire for the first time. Plus, considering the Twins are 2-15 in their past five playoff appearances, it's not like he's had success in the postseason. It might do the organization good to make some philosophical changes; it survived for years on a rotation of mostly finesse-type guys who throw strikes, but the AL Central is getting stronger, and that approach might not be enough moving forward.
Don Mattingly, Dodgers: Once the new ownership group takes over during the season, Mattingly immediately becomes a candidate to get canned, especially if the Dodgers have a losing record. I can see the new owner wanting to bring in somebody with Dodgers ties or making a splash with a bigger personality.
Bobby Valentine, Red Sox: Hey, it's a long shot, but isn't there a small chance this turns into a disaster, with the Red Sox struggling out of the gate, the media getting on Valentine, Bobby V saying something ridiculous, Josh Beckett getting caught eating fried chicken in the fifth inning of a blowout defeat ...?