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managerial

Girardi chills in the August managerial heat pt 1

In his time as a player, coach, broadcaster, and manager, Joe Girardi has witnessed it all as a member of the New York Yankees organization. There have been championships, non-playoff years, under-achievers, over-achievers, coaches coming and going, great free agent signings, and bad ones. He’s also been front and center for one of the rarest and most remarkable things in Yankeedom – managerial security. Under George Steinbrenner, the manager position was a revolving doors of personalities, most of them Billy Martin. But, ever since Joe Torre was hired prior to the 1996 season, the Yankees have had only two managers, Torre (12 years) and Girardi (9 years). It’s a situation that should not be changing any time soon with Girardi well suited to manage Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and the Yankees’ new youth movement. Other managers aren’t as lucky. Here’s how things look for everyone else:

Tier I:  These managers entered the season more secure than a baby in a papoose:

Ned Yost (KC): The manager of the defending World Series champions, and two-time defending AL Pennant-winning Kansas City Royals, hasn’t had a lot to be happy about this year. Decimated by injuries, the team fell nine games behind Cleveland in the AL Central and 6.5 games back in the Wild Card race. Despite the loss of regulars Mike Moustakas, Alex GordonLorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, and others, for anywhere from a month to the several months, the Royals have played torrid baseball in August to get back into the Wild Card race.
Verdict: Yost stays, with two more years on his current contract.

Bruce Bochy (SF): 2010, 2012, 2014…those are the last three even-numbered calendar years, and the years that the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. So perhaps that means the Giants are destined to win another World Series title this year. Whether they do or not, the Giants are in solid position for an extended playoff run with ace Madison Bumgarner. No matter what happens, the Giants still have one of the best managers in baseball.
Verdict: Bochy is under contract until 2019. Health willing (he had a recent overnight hospital stay after feeling ill, and had two heart stents put in place in February, 2015), he’ll be back next year.

John Gibbons (TOR): The Toronto Blue Jays won the AL East title last season, despite the fact they didn’t reach the top of the division between April and late August. They came within two games of reaching the World Series before they lost to the eventual World Series champion Royals. This year has almost been an exact copy of last year. The Blue Jays were in first place for the first three games of the season, and then not again until August. With no team really standing out this season, Toronto could win the pennant, especially if Jose Bautista can get and stay healthy. This could be a last shot for the current team, with Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Michael Saunders all becoming free agents after the season.
Verdict: Gibbons will be back next year with an extension.

Buck Showalter (BAL): The Baltimore Orioles were in first place for much of the season before their offense hit a brick wall. They still have an excellent shot to win the AL East and should take one of the two Wild Card spots. A key factor will be if ace Chris Tillman‘s shoulder soreness is a lot worse than we’ve been told. The emergence of starter Dylan Bundy has been huge.
Verdict: Buck will be back with two years remaining on his current contract.

Terry Francona (CLE): Not too many people thought the Cleveland Indians would be better than the Tigers and White Sox this year, but that’s exactly what has happened in Francona’s fourth year at the helm. The Tribe had gone from 92 to 85 to 81 wins the last three years. They’re currently on a pace to win 93-94 games, with a combination of veterans and kids. Their trade deadline deal for Andrew Miller really bolstered their bullpen. For the moment, the Indians look like the team to beat in the AL.
Verdict: Francona will be back, maybe with Cleveland’s first World Series ring since 1948.

Mike Scioscia (LAA): The Angels’ manager is completing his 17th season as the Halo’s top man in the dugout. The Angels took two immediate blows to their pitching staff when ace-in-the-making Garrett Richards and youngster Andrew Heaney went down with potentially season-ending elbow injuries. Both received stem cell treatment as an alternative to Tommy John surgery, with mixed results. Richards recently got the go-ahead to throw, but Heaney underwent the surgery after all at the end of June. Another young starter, Nick Tropeano, had Tommy John surgery in early August. The team will miss the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
Verdict: Scioscia has been one of the best managers of his era, and has two years left on his current contract, but his odds of returning are 50/50.

Tier II: These managers had a little less security than the Tier I group, but were still sitting pretty at the start of the season.

Joe Maddon (CHC): The Cubs’ managerial position has become much more secure thanks to young, talented ball club. The Cubs own the best record in the Major Leagues, and at this moment, have to be the favorite to finally break the “Curse of the Billy Goat”.  This team has a great opportunity to be the first Cubbies squad to win the World Series since 1908. (By the way, the Billy Goat incident wasn’t until 1945, so there’s more than just that curse or Bartman involved in their past failures.)
Verdict: Maddon could become a legend if the Cubs win their first title in 108 years. (By comparison, the Red Sox “only” had to wait 86 years.)

Terry Collins (NYM): The New York Mets were supposed to battle Washington for the NL East title right up until game 162. Pitcher Matt Harvey wasn’t supposed to have season-ending surgery in July. First baseman Lucas Duda wasn’t supposed to miss the entire season with a bad back. The Mets weren’t supposed to struggle offensively. But that has been the way things have gone for the Mets this season. A game under .500 after 121 games…that definitely wasn’t supposed to happen. The Mets are counting on the return of Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera from the DL to ignite a spark, and Jay Bruce to start hitting.
Verdict: Collins has had his detractors from day one. Even though the Mets won the NL pennant last season, it could be curtains for Collins if the Mets miss the playoffs.

Clint Hurdle (PIT): The Pirates were expected to contend in the NL Central as well as the Wild Card this season. But, as of the weekend, they sat 14 games behind the first place Cubs and one game back of the Cardinals for the second Wild Card. The Pirates thought so little of their chances in the long run, they traded away their All-Star closer/free-agent-to-be Mark Melancon.
Verdict: With one year and an option for 2018 left on his contract, Hurdle will start off next season as the Pirates’ manager. But, the team had better get off to a good start or Hurdle could be gone by the All-Star break.

Mike Matheny (STL): Like Hurdle, Matheny is the skipper of a team that was expected to compete in the NL Central. While the Cards currently hold one of the Wild Card spots, they are a mile behind the Cubs in the division. The Cardinals won 100 games last year, but are on a pace to win 86 this season. They have hung in there despite an average starting rotation, and a mostly awful performance from their ace, Adam Wainwright. Closer Trevor Rosenthal, currently sidelined with a shoulder issue, was awful as well.
Verdict: Matheny will be back, but his contract ends next season. If the Cardinals truly believe in him, they need to give Matheny at least a one-year extension. Otherwise, Matheny’s days appear to be numbered.

Don Mattingly (MIA): Donnie Baseball’s job security actually fell somewhere between Tier I and Tier II when the season began. That’s what happens when you work for someone with an erratic ownership style like the Marlins’ Jeffrey Loria. Despite an inconsistent, then injury-ending season from star Giancarlo Stanton, and an 80-game PED ban to speedster Dee Gordon, Mattingly has done well with what talent he has playing for him. As of this writing, the Marlins were ahead of the Mets in the NL East and within spitting distance of the Wild Card race.
Verdict: Barring Loria’s impetuousness, Mattingly will be back next year.

John Farrell (BOS): After a World Series title in 2013, the Boston Red Sox struggled the next two seasons. After just 78 wins last year, Farrell needed to get his team moving in order to complete the season as manager. He’s done just that, with lots of help from a powerful lineup. Mookie Betts is a legit MVP candidate, David Ortiz is putting on a show in his final year, and Dustin Pedroia is hitting like he did in his heyday. The Sox are on a pace to win 93 games, and they are battling for both the AL East title and a Wild Card spot.  The front office also did a good job of filling holes at the trade deadline.
Verdict: Barring a September collapse, Farrell should be back next year.

Jeff Banister (TEX): The Texas Rangers’ starting rotation this season has included: Nick Martinez, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, A.J. Griffin, Martin Perez, Kyle Lohse, Yu Darvish, Cesar Ramos, Lucas Harrell and ace Cole Hamels. That’s 11 starters. The need for so many arms has been due to long-term injuries to Holland, Griffin and Lewis, Darvish’s recovery from Tommy John surgery, and experimenting with guys like Lohse. Despite the rotation’s issues, and a sometimes shaky bullpen, the Rangers are on pace to win 93-94 games. They’ve gotten enough pitching to win, and a lineup that can mash with the best of them, especially after their deadline acquisitions of Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy.
Verdict: Banister will be back, maybe with a Manager of the Year Award – or more – in tow.

A.J. Hinch (HOU): The Houston Astros have been having fun the last two seasons, and why not. The last season they had anything to be really excited about was back in 2005. The Astros stumbled out of the gate, losing nine of their first 27 games and had a 17-28 record after 45 games. But, this team is stocked full of talent and a starting staff of veterans and youngsters, fought back. The Astros are 47-32 since May 23. If not for a shaky bullpen, including a rotating band of closers – Luke Gregerson, Ken Giles, and Will Harris  – they might be even better.
Verdict: Hinch will be back with a more experienced squad.

Bob Melvin (OAK): Billy Beane is unpredictable, but the three managers prior to Melvin averaged about five years before they were dismissed. Melvin is in his fifth full season, in addition to the nearly 100 games he managed when he replaced Bob Geren in 2011. The A’s averaged 93 wins from 2012-2014, but barring an incredible September, will finish under .500 for the second straight campaign. Normally that would mean the end of the road for Melvin. But, Beane gave him a two-year extension last September that will run through 2018.
Verdict: Melvin is one of Beane’s favorites, so he’ll be back…unless he’s not.

There you have it, a look at the managers that had the best security entering this season, and what their fate will likely be for next year. To read about the remaining 14 managers, just click here.

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