MLB: Four Managers on the Hot Seat Early in the Season
Nothing can put a manager on the hot seat quicker than a rough start to begin the season. Here are six MLB managers that need some wins to avoid the ax.
Just 20 games into the MLB season and managers are already sitting on the hot seat. Plenty of teams are off to a bad start in 2017, but that doesn’t mean all of those skippers are on the hot seat.
To get on the hot seat, a coach must have a collection of struggles in previous seasons or just not be producing wins with a good set of players.
For example, the Arizona Diamondbacks entered the 2016 season with high expectations after acquiring Shelby Miller from the Atlanta Braves and signing Zack Greinke in free agency. The talent possessed by Arizona didn’t result in wins and the Diamondbacks finished fourth in the NL West with a 69-93 record. Thus, the Diamondbacks fired their manager Chip Hale in the offseason.
The only other manager fired since the start of the 2016 season was the Braves’ former manager Fredi Gonzalez. A rough start in the 2016 season resulted in Gonzalez losing his job.
It’s worth noting that two other managers that coached in 2016 are no longer managers in 2017. Both the Chicago White Sox’s former manager Robin Ventura and the Colorado Rockies’ former manager Walt Weiss resigned after the 2016 seasons.
Managers rarely get fired in the middle of a season, but it can happen (like Gonzalez last year). If these six managers don’t turn their teams around soon, they could find themselves looking for a job next season.
After finishing the 2016 season with a record of 74-88, the Los Angeles Angels looked ready to turn the page from their previous injury-plagued season and get back to winning. Winning is something manager Mike Scioscia did such a great job of in his first 10 seasons with the Angels.
So far 2017 is no different than 2016 when it comes to injuries and winning. Pitchers fill the Angels’ DL with the likes of Garrett Richards, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Mike Morin, Victor Campos and Huston Street. Both Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney are still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Newly acquired infielder Luis Valbuena is also on the DL.
After 20 games, the Angels’ record stands at 8-12. Both the Angels and the Seattle Mariners are in last place in the AL West. The team got off to a hot start in 2017, winning six out of their first eight games. Since then they’ve managed to win two games and are trending downward.
Neither the Angels offense nor pitching is clicking right now. On offense, the Angels rank 21st in runs scored, 24th in home runs and 17th in batting average.
On the pitching side of things, the Angels rank 27th in team ERA and are leading the league in home runs allowed. Clearly, Scioscia is on the hot seat.
Far removed from his 2002 World Series win, Scioscia’s Angels haven’t reached the World Series since despite multiple talented rosters. Since making the playoffs five out of six seasons from 2004-2009, the Angels have reached the postseason just once (2014).
Yes, the injuries are a big reason for the Angels’ struggles, but a manager needs to push his players past adversity. It doesn’t seem like the longest-tenured MLB manager can do that for this Angels club.
Not too many people saw the Toronto Blue Jays struggling this early in the 2017 season. Manager John Gibbons and his Blue Jays are 5-13 to start off the season.
In 2016, the Blue Jays made the playoffs as the second Wild Card team in the AL. They defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the AL Wild Card Game and then defeated the Texas Rangers in the ALDS before losing to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.
In the offseason, the Blue Jays lost two big bats in Michael Saunders and Edwin Encarnacion, but they added Kendrys Morales to the club. Much like the Angels, the Blue Jays DL is also crowded. Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez and J.P. Howell are all key players that are injured.
Despite the injuries, the Blue Jays are off to a brutal start. In a tough division like the AL East, a slow start can equal early elimination. A start like this easily puts Gibbons on the hot seat.
So far this season, the Blue Jays rank 26th in runs scored, 25th in batting average and 24th in home runs.
Gibbons took over the team in the 2012-13 offseason. Gibbons brought the Blue Jays to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons (2015 and 2016). In a game that comes down to what have you done for me lately, a really bad record could send Gibbons out of Toronto despite his prior success.
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012, the Pittsburgh Pirates needed a good start in 2017. So far in their first 18 games, they sport an 8-10 record and sit in last place in the NL Central.
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The Pirates’ pitching isn’t the issue. Their offense, on the other hand, is the problem. The team currently ranks 28th in runs scored. If a team can’t score runs, they can’t win games.
Not only are the Pirates off to a rough start, MLB suspended outfielder Starling Marte for testing positive for PEDs. The Pirates now have to battle out the next 80 games without one of their best players. And if they do make the playoffs, Marte won’t get to play.
Manager Clint Hurdle needs to rally the troops and turn the Pirates’ season around if he wants to get off the hot seat. As mentioned above, the Pirates missed the playoffs in 2016 and finished with a record of 78-83.
Even though the Pirates made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons (2013-2015), they failed to make it past the Wild Card Game in each of those three seasons.
So even when the Pirates succeeded in the regular season, they couldn’t win in the playoffs. A rough stretch of baseball since 2016 in Pittsburgh might lead to Hurdle’s dismissal.
The Kansas City Royals and manager Ned Yost made it to the World Series in back-to-back seasons (2014 and 2015) and won it all in 2015. Yet Yost makes the hot seat list just two seasons later.
After winning the World Series, the Royals struggled in 2016. They finished 81-81 and failed to make the playoffs. 2017 is looking similar to 2016. They Royals currently sit at 7-11.
With a lot of key players for the Royals nearing the end of their contracts, this looks like the last chance for this group of players to win. It won’t be easy for them to win the AL Central with the Cleveland Indians in their way. The Royals’ best shot is probably at the Wild Card.
If the club continues to lose, they might become sellers at the trade deadline and trade some of their key players. It all depends on if they can start to win games or not.
Yost took over the team in the 2010 season. An integral part of the Royals franchise, Yost brought them a championship after a 30-year title drought. The recent struggles might overshadow that championship success in 2015.
If the Royals don’t start winning games, Yost might not last much longer in Kansas City.