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Sunday, April 22, 2012
Updated: April 23, 11:53 AM ET
On the firing line

ESPN.com

After the recent poor form of the Boston Red Sox, many people are calling for Bobby Valentine's head. But he's not the only manager who should be looking over his shoulder. Our experts discuss skippers on the chopping block, Cliff Lee's injury and Jamie Moyer's chances of sustaining success in today's Triple Play.

You, too, can let us know what you want our experts to discuss: Tweet us @ESPN_MLB with suggestions. You also can use the #espntripleplay hashtag.


1. Which manager will lose his job first?


Christina Kahrl (@ChristinaKahrl), SweetSpot
Bobby Valentine. If he'd come back in almost any other market -- like taking the Miami Marlins' job a couple of years ago -- he would have been much better served by circumstance, but in the snakepit of Boston, he really couldn't afford to be wrong-footed this badly this early. If and when it comes, the real question is how Larry Lucchino tries spinning it so that he somehow comes off as blameless for this mess.

Mark Simon (@msimonespn), ESPN Stats & Information
Boy, it feels like you're trying to get people to say Bobby Valentine here, but I won't bite. There were expectations that the Kansas City Royals could be a .500 team this season, but those seem to have evaporated rather quickly. I know there's a strong commitment from Royals management to Ned Yost, but a team heading toward 65-97, and a horrendous record at home, is not what they had in mind. I don't think there will be a lot of in-season changes this year. It's not likely that someone like Ron Gardenhire or Bud Black would get let go midseason, no matter how bad their teams are. Those teams have long-term development plans in place.

Logan Burdine (@cLogan_Burdine), Blake Street Bulletin
Ozzie Guillen and Bobby Valentine have not done much to endear themselves to their new teams, but they're both on relatively long leashes since they just started. If I were Ned Yost, I'd be getting a little worried. The Royals were supposed to improve this year, but have been awful so far. If this abysmal stretch continues, Yost will be the first to go.


Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee's oblique injury has him on the DL.

2. With Cliff Lee now on the DL, are the Phillies still the favorites in the NL East?


Kahrl: Nope, it's the Nationals. Start with the rotation depth, add in a lineup with more power than it was given credit for and an identifiable and fixable problem -- adding an outfielder -- and then give it to Davey Johnson, one of the best managers of this or any generation? This bandwagon better be like a London bus, because it'll need a second deck before we're through.

Simon: Yes, but its tenuous. The other Phillies starters this year have allowed 24 earned runs in 85⅓ innings. Vance Worley is coming along nicely, and the Phillies can survive a short-term Lee injury. If it's a long-term injury, that's a different story. But if I know that it's Roy Halladay-Cole Hamels-Lee regularly every time out in July, August and September, I'll pick the Phillies and take my chances.

Burdine: The Phillies may not have been the NL East favorites before Cliff Lee went on the DL, and even though this could be short-term, they have to be worried about the rest of the season. Their offense has become anemic, and the rest of the NL East is much improved over recent years.


3. Jamie Moyer goes again tonight. His success can't last, right?


Kahrl: He's going up against the Pirates, the team that's struggling to score two runs per game. In this clash of movable object meeting stoppable force, somebody has to win, so why not Moyer? It isn't like he's facing the Braves or Cardinals, and with the benefit of a Rockies offense plating almost five guys per game, stick with the old man.

Simon: Why not? It's not like we're expecting him to win a Cy Young Award. Could he get to 10 wins with an ERA in the low-fours? Sure, why not? He has a chance to keep the momentum going here. He's facing the Pirates, who haven't scored more than five runs against anyone all season. And his next start after that should be against the Mets, where he can pitch around David Wright and take his chances elsewhere. There is no team at the moment whose lineup would strike fear in an opponent regularly. Keep this in mind, too: Moyer closes seasons strong. He was 8-1 with a 3.39 ERA after the All-Star break at age 45 in 2008.

Burdine: The chances of Moyer maintaining a 2.55 ERA are basically nil. Every peripheral pitching stat available indicates otherwise. However, if healthy, he has a decent shot at keeping a spot in the rotation even after Jorge De La Rosa returns. Currently, Colorado ranks as one of the worse staffs in the National League. Moyer has been mediocre so far this year, but with the Rockies, barely average might be good enough.