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Friday, November 22, 2019

Eight MLB managers on the hot seat entering 2019

Joe Maddon

Even with the regular season weeks away, we know which MLB teams are facing heightened expectations in 2019. While much was made of a very slow offseason, the truth is there were certain teams that invested and will now have the expectation of success and a playoff run this year. The managers of those teams subsequently have to deliver — especially if these managers have yet to show they can produce the goods.

Here are eight managers facing some serious pressure who could find themselves on the hot seat if the 2019 season goes poorly.

Joe Maddon, Cubs

In four years at the helm, Maddon has never won fewer than 92 games, made the playoffs every season, and done the seemingly impossible by guiding the Chicago Cubs to a World Series win. So why is he entering the last season of his contract with whispers of discontent behind him? There’s a perception that the team has underachieved since that title, and last season they failed to win the division and lost the wild card game. Maddon seems to have no guarantees about his future, and Theo Epstein has promised big changes if the team doesn’t produce this year. One of those changes would probably be Maddon.

Mickey Callaway, Mets

There were moments last season in his inaugural year as Mets’ manager that Callaway seemed a bit in over his head with the scrutiny that comes with working in New York. He faces a very important second season in what has become a loaded NL East, and the Mets expect to be healthier and in contention this year. If they aren’t, that could be very bad news for Callaway, who didn’t always inspire much confidence as the team struggled last year. He may be on even shakier ground if it happens again in 2019.

Andy Green, Padres

In Green’s defense, he hasn’t had a lot of talent to work with in his first three years leading the Padres. Last year, however, despite adding Eric Hosmer to the mix, San Diego lost 96 games in the worst year of Green’s tenure. With Manny Machado on board, it’s almost certain that Green and the Padres have to show at least some modest improvement for his position to be considered secure. If they lose 95 games again, it’s hard to see the manager sticking around in light of the aggressive moves San Diego has made.

Clint Hurdle, Pirates

Once heralded for his management of the upstart Pirates, Hurdle’s team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2015. The Pirates have never been outright bad — in fact, they posted a winning record in 2018 — but they’re also not contenders anymore and don’t really look like they will be seriously this season. The question becomes at which point the 61-year-old Hurdle can no longer trade on his past glories, or chooses to seek greener pastures. If the Pirates look to be regressing in 2019, a change at manager could certainly follow.

Gabe Kapler, Phillies

Kapler has not always been popular in Philadelphia with his somewhat unorthodox strategic preferences, and the team’s 8-20 September didn’t reflect well on him either. Still, it was year one, and his roster in 2019 is now much more talented than it was in 2018. That brings opportunity but also new challenges, as the investment in Bryce Harper is expected to be followed by success. If he gets off to a shaky start, his seat could get hot quickly.

Dave Martinez, Nationals

The chronically underachieving Nationals seem to have a habit of making managers look bad, and many would have expected more than an 82-80 record and no playoffs in Martinez’s first season leading Washington. Bryce Harper’s departure won’t alleviate the pressure, either, because Washington aggressively added the likes of Patrick Corbin, Brian Dozier, Yan Gomes, and Trevor Rosenthal this offseason, among others. In other words, contention is an expectation. Perhaps with Harper’s free agency no longer hanging over them, the Nationals will focus and improve. If they don’t, Martinez could be the latest manager chewed up and spit out by this team.

Scott Servais, Mariners

Servais didn’t really sign up for a rebuilding process when he took the Mariners’ job, but that is what he has now. Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, and James Paxton have all been traded, leaving the cupboard quite bare in Seattle. Servais has a winning record as Seattle manager, but that’s likely to change this year. The team will be bad, and they may opt to move forward with a rebuild with someone new at the helm. That’s hardly Servais’ fault, and he might be better off for it anyway.

Ned Yost, Royals

A 2015 World Series winner, the fact that Yost is still with the Royals is something of a surprise. There was some doubt that the 64-year-old would want to manage through a rebuild, but they’ve brought him back on a one-year deal. The Royals are probably going to struggle again in 2019, and with Yost seemingly content to go year-by-year on his contracts, his future will always be uncertain. There is some reason to believe that 2019 could be his finale in the Kansas City dugout, though.



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