With two managers down, who will be the next to go?
Faithful readers will note that I have written frequently in the past about “The Curse of Samuel Joseph.” Sam, the oldest of my three children, was born on May 21, 1991. Each of the first three days of his life, a manager was fired.
It’s that time of year; we are at roughly the quarter-pole of the season. And rather than doing what I should be doing — picking out a birthday gift for Sam — I’m trying to find out which manager will be the next to go following the Marlins’ dismissal of Mike Redmond on Sunday.
See those quotes from the Jays players over the weekend?
Left-hander Mark Buehrle told reporters on Sunday, “We stink,” adding that the Jays need to turn it around “before they have a fire sale, start moving guys out, moving guys up and down.”
Third baseman Josh Donaldson said the previous night, “This isn’t the try league, this is the get-it-done league. Eventually, they’re going to find people who are going to get it done.”
Well, as the Brewers and Marlins already have demonstrated, teams usually blame the manager first, the players later.
The Jays, mind you, are only five games out in the up-and-down AL East even after losing five straight. They began the season with six rookies. They’re playing without injured shortstop Jose Reyes, left fielder Michael Saunders and right-hander Marcus Stroman. And their bullpen has been in flux virtually all season, helping result in the highest team ERA in the American League.
None of that really is Gibbons’ fault — general manager Alex Anthopoulos needed to find him better relievers. But the Jays easily could turn to bench coach DeMarlo Hale if they wanted to change direction.
The next step likely depends on ownership, and Rogers Communications is generally more absentee than assertive. If Gibbons goes, Anthopoulos likely will not be far behind, even though he has done a terrific job assembling young talent.
Then there is the larger question: Would the Jays trade Jose Bautista and/or Edwin Encarnacion, both of whom are under club control only through 2016? Bautista, who has 10 years of service, five with the same club, can veto any trade.
— Bud Black, Padres
A change in San Diego would surprise no one. Ownership, after investing a club-record $109 million in the Opening Day payroll, is itchy. A.J. Preller, the new GM, is in his first full season. It’s a classic fire-the-manager formula, and the Padres are complying by stumbling to a 19-20 start.
The entire industry knew the Padres’ roster was flawed — the lineup was too right-handed, the outfield defense was questionable, etc. But the expectation was that the team would at least pitch well, and that hasn’t happened — the Padres are 12th in the National League in ERA after ranking second last season.
Should Black be held responsible? No — he is highly respected, and some other team likely would snap him up quickly. Will he be held responsible? Well, this is an ownership that likes sizzle and wants results. Never mind that the team’s prized acquisition, right fielder Matt Kemp, is batting .216 with a .520 OPS since April 20, though he is 5-for-14 in his last four games.
There was no shame for the Padres in losing three of four games to the red-hot Nationals, but San Diego’s schedule does not get any easier — the team next plays three at home against the Cubs, six on the road against the Dodgers and Angels, then seven at home against the Pirates and Mets.
The reconstructed Braves, at 18-19, actually have exceeded expectations, and their weekend sweep of the Marlins in Miami helped trigger Redmond’s dismissal.
So, what’s the rub, especially when Gonzalez is thought to be a favorite of both team president John Schuerholz and special assistant Bobby Cox?
He isn’t necessarily a favorite of the new president of baseball operations, John Hart. The Braves had lost five of six games before sweeping the Marlins, prompting internal finger-pointing, according to major-league sources.
It will be difficult for the Braves to justify a change if the team hovers around .500; hardly anyone expected them to contend this season. But it also stands to reason that Hart eventually might want his own man. The team’s previous GM, Frank Wren, reportedly wanted to fire Gonzalez at the end of last season but ultimately took the fall himself.
— Terry Collins, Mets
Steve Kettmann’s new biography of Mets GM Sandy Alderson, “Baseball Maverick,” revealed that Collins nearly lost his job at the end of last season. Five straight losses last week only increased the scrutiny on Collins, who is in the final year of his contract. But the Mets rallied with two impressive wins over the Brewers, outscoring them by a combined 19-2.
Oh, and by the way, the Mets are still in first place!
Collins is thought to enjoy the support of ownership. He shouldn’t be in jeopardy, not when the infield defense remains a serious problem, not when third baseman David Wright and catcher Travis d’Arnaud, among others, are still on the disabled list. What’s more, the Mets’ starting pitching should be good enough to keep the team in contention.
Still, the situation is volatile. If the Mets enter a prolonged losing stretch, it only will renew the discussion of Collins’ job status.