Only one manager has been fired this season – the Braves’ Fredi Gonzalez, back on May 17. You know what that means: The hot seat is warming at a major-league ballpark near you.
In baseball as in life, patience often is a virtue; the Red Sox’s John Farrell, Mets’ Terry Collins and Tigers’ Brad Ausmus all appeared in danger of losing their jobs at different points this season, but survived to guide their teams into playoff contention.
Still, change is inevitable, even though many in the industry bemoan the lack of quality potential replacements. Former Padres manager Bud Black figures to be the one hot name, but executives routinely complain about the pool of available candidates.
If teams want to find the next Joe Maddon, Buck Showalter or Bruce Bochy, they will need to employ creative solutions. Even the best and most original managers had to start somewhere, and dissatisfied clubs are better off taking a risk than maintaining the status quo.
A look at six managers who could be in jeopardy, in no particular order:
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Chip Hale, Diamondbacks
The chaos in the D-backs’ front office easily could claim Hale as a victim. If chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and/or general manager Dave Stewart are fired, it stands to reason that Hale might be dismissed, too.
Then again, ownership again could intervene on Hale’s behalf, just as it reportedly did in July. Others bear greater responsibility for the D-backs’ collapse. Hale, however, does not always endear himself to players with his bullpen management and dugout demeanor.
Getty ImagesNorm Hall
Robin Ventura, White Sox
A mutual parting might be best for all involved; some around the team say that Ventura seems frustrated and tired. The White Sox, after finishing 85-77 in Ventura’s first season, are headed for their fourth straight losing campaign.
Owner Jerry Reinsdorf is intensely loyal to cherished employees such as Ventura, but the team’s business is suffering; the White Sox the past three seasons have ranked 28th, 26th and 26th in home attendance.
Ace left-hander Chris Sale pointed to differences with Ventura after destroying the team’s throwback uniforms in late July, telling MLB.com, “Robin is the one who has to fight for us” on such issues.
More recently, first baseman Jose Abreu said that the White Sox do not have the same desire to win as the Royals, an indirect indictment of his teammates as well as Ventura.
Bench coach Rick Renteria, who managed the Cubs in 2014, only to lose his job when Maddon became available, is a possible internal replacement. Third base coach Joe McEwing is another.
Getty ImagesJon Durr
Bryan Price, Reds
The Reds on Tuesday set the major-league record for most home runs allowed in a season. But truth be told, they’ve made progress in the second half.
The pitching actually improved after the team replaced pitching coach Mark Riggins with Mack Jenkins – the Reds went 32-28 with a 3.87 ERA in their next 60 games before collapsing again over the past eight days, in part due to a lack of depth. They were 30-53 with a 5.51 ERA before the change.
Dick Williams, taking over for Walt Jocketty as GM, will need to decide if Price is the right choice as the team enters the next phase of its rebuilding process. Marketing considerations might enter the equation: The team’s average attendance of 23,117 is its lowest since 2009.
Getty ImagesNorm Hall
Walt Weiss, Rockies
The Rockies, showing significant progress, need only two more victories for 75, which would be their highest total since their last winning season in 2010.
The position players are outstanding. The prospects keep coming. The Rox still can’t pitch – they rank 27th in the majors in ERA, ahead of only the Reds, Twins and D-backs. But the core of a presentable rotation is in place; the bigger issue is the bullpen.
Meanwhile, Weiss remains in limbo.
As he nears the end of his contract, the Rockies have given no public indication that they wish to sign him to an extension. General manager Jeff Bridich, completing his second full season, might prefer his own man.
Getty ImagesDustin Bradford
Brian Snitker, Braves
Beware the hot interim!
Remember when Mike Quade guided the Cubs to a 24-13 record after replacing Lou Piniella in 2010? The Cubs gave him a two-year deal, then fired him after one season, illustrating the dangers of hiring an interim who builds a deceptively strong record.
Snitker, though, has had a longer run than Quade did – the Braves are 52-63 (.452) since he replaced Gonzalez, who was 9-28 (.243). Granted, 52-63 does not qualify as “hot,” but it’s certainly respectable for a club in a major rebuild.
The question: Do the Braves want Snitker, who has served the organization for nearly 40 years, to be their manager as they open a new ballpark next season?
General manager John Coppolella, while praising Snitker, has said that he will conduct a search to determine the best candidate.
Getty ImagesScott Cunningham
John Gibbons, Blue Jays
No way the Blue Jays will fire Gibbons if they make the playoffs – Gibbons would be the first manager since Cito Gaston in 1992 and ’93 to guide them to the postseason in consecutive years.
If the Blue Jays fail to get in, however, things might change.
Team president Mark Shapiro has spoken highly of Gibbons, who is signed through next season. But Gibbons was Alex Anthopoulos’ hire, not Shapiro’s. And given the Jays’ large number of potential free agents, starting with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins could embark upon a larger, more sweeping transition.
Shapiro, during his time in Cleveland, offered the Indians’ managing job to Black before hiring Eric Wedge in Oct. 2002. Wedge, who later managed the Mariners, joined the Blue Jays last February as a player development advisor.