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Friday, February 28, 2020

Eight MLB managers who could be on the hot seat

Though we’re nearly halfway through the season, we have yet to see an in-season managerial change in Major League Baseball this year. Will that stay the case? It’s hard to say, though there are certainly some who could lose their job tomorrow and few would be surprised.

Even if no changes are imminent, there are a number of managers whose statuses are up in the air beyond the 2019 season, and can’t be feeling all that comfortable in their seats right now. Here are eight managers who are under increasing pressure in 2019 if they want to keep their job going forward.

8. Mike Shildt, Cardinals

Shildt took over as the Cardinals’ interim manager last year and had that tag removed in August. Just shy of a year on, it’s tough to argue that he’s moved the organization forward, as they hover a few games above .500 despite a busy offseason that was meant to put them back in the mix for a World Series. Shildt is probably not in any imminent danger, and will see out the season unless the Cardinals really fall into a tailspin, but the Cardinals, as an organization, typically demand more than he has delivered so far.

7. Scott Servais, Mariners

Servais hasn’t done anything wrong aside from end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Mariners are engaged in a full teardown of their roster, and Servais, now in his fourth season, hasn’t won a lot and will probably win even less going forward. As the Mariners rebuild, it’s not clear whether they’ll go to a different manager to guide the team into its new era, but it’s certainly on the table, and Servais may be unlucky in that regard.

6. Joe Maddon, Cubs

Maddon’s status has not changed since Theo Epstein essentially said it would be do-or-die for him in 2019. The Cubs are doing fine, though they aren’t really running away with anything yet in Maddon’s lame duck season. Ultimately, though, Maddon’s status for 2020 will likely be determined by what the Cubs can do in the postseason. Their only playoff series win since their World Series was a 2017 NLDS victory over Washington, and they need to get much further than that to secure Maddon’s job for 2020.

5. Ned Yost, Royals

Yost is in the final year of his contract and it feels like he’s simply managing out the season before the two sides go their separate ways. The 63-year-old has flirted with retirement in the past, and with the Royals deep in rebuilding mode, it simply makes sense for both sides to take the opportunity to go their separate ways. Again, it’s not really a case of Yost doing anything wrong — he delivered a championship, after all — but he’s simply taken them as far as they can go.

4. Gabe Kapler, Phillies

Kapler has received public assurances that his job is safe through the season, but it’s hard to imagine him feeling comfortable once the season ends. After the investment into the likes of Bryce Harper, the Phillies were supposed to make a real run at the division this year, and they’re floundering around .500 instead. Some of it isn’t his fault — Harper hasn’t produced, and Andrew McCutchen’s season-ending injury was a terrible break. Whether he gets bonus points in his favor for those factors remains to be seen, but the fervor is definitely growing among Philadelphia fans to see Kapler and his sometimes unpopular analytically-oriented approach kicked to the curb. The frustration seems to be showing with Kapler too.

3. Don Mattingly, Marlins

Mattingly is in the final season of his contract. It seems likely he’ll hang around to the end of it, because there’s no real point in replacing him, but it’s also very hard to see him back next year. The Marlins have had an ownership change since Mattingly was originally hired, and Derek Jeter will want his own man in the dugout despite his shared Yankee ties with Mattingly. In other words, the Marlin manager isn’t really in danger of being fired, but he’ll almost certainly be seeking new employment come the end of the season.

2. Dave Martinez, Nationals

Firing Dusty Baker after the 2017 season after he delivered two division titles was a risky move for the Washington Nationals. Despite how well-respected Martinez was, it simply has not worked out. Martinez lingered above .500 last season but missed the playoffs, and it’s entirely possible this season goes the exact same way. The Nationals have gotten hot recently and made the whispers quiet down a bit, but one would have to think Martinez needs a playoff appearance — at the very least — to keep his job next year given the investment and expectations the Nationals have built.

1. Mickey Callaway, Mets

It’s really quite miraculous that Callaway is still employed. Many organizations would have fired him after a sweep at the hands of the lowly Marlins in May dropped the team to 20-25. Many more would have pushed him out the door after he publicly embarrassed the organization by berating a reporter after a loss. The Mets are not most organizations, though, and for now, they’re keeping Callaway. This still looks like a team well on its way to a second straight losing season under the skipper, and it will be truly miraculous if Callaway gets a third year to turn things around.


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