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.
Gabe Kapler went over 230 games in his managerial career without ever being ejected from a game. And now he’s been ejected twice in the span of four days.
Kapler was tossed from Tuesday’s Philadelphia Phillies-New York Mets game by umpire Joe West after protesting a decision.
Wilmer Font had just given up back-to-back home runs to the Phillies, blowing a 5-2 lead in the sixth as Philly took a 7-5 lead. After surrendering the two homers, Font hit Scott Kingery with a pitch high on the shoulder.
Rather than immediately eject Font, West issued warnings to both sides. That left the Phillies in a bad spot; not only was Font spared an ejection, but if Philly tried to exact revenge by hitting a Mets player, their player would have been tossed. Kapler came out to argue and was quickly ejected.
Gabe Kapler had never been ejected as a manager until this week.
He has now been ejected twice. pic.twitter.com/zDS7AEZxOy
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) June 26, 2019
Kapler seemed to have a good case for being upset.
Kapler was also ejected on Saturday against the Marlins, ironically on a play also involving Kingery being hit.
The Philadelphia Phillies won’t be making a managerial change this season, according to their general manager.
GM Matt Klentak said Monday that no staff changes will be made for the struggling Phillies, and Gabe Kapler will remain the team’s manager for the remainder of the season.
#Phillies GM Matt Klentak said Gabe Kapler will be his manager the rest of the season. Also threw his support behind the entire coaching staff. No internal changes. Believes this is just a bad stretch and they will turn around their season.
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) June 24, 2019
Expectations were high for the Phillies this season after the additions of Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen. Harper has been a disappointment, McCutchen is out for the season, and they’re just one game above .500. That has brought the coaching staff under heavy criticism, but for now, no changes are planned. If things get worse, though, the situation can always change quickly.
The Philadelphia Phillies lost their seventh consecutive game on Sunday, falling 6.5 games behind the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves. It has raised questions about manager Gabe Kapler and his coaching staff, but Kapler was not entertaining those questions after the defeat.
Kapler defended his coaching staff, saying that the team had the “right personnel” but win and lose as a team.
When asked if there needs to be changes to the Phillies' coaching staff, Kapler became fired up: "We have the right personnel in the room. … I understand the speculation. … We win as a team and we lose as a team. We don't single anybody out. It's not how baseball is played."
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 23, 2019
It’s pretty obvious that Kapler is frustrated, and it’s easy to understand why. Expected to be a major NL contender before the season, they are just one game above .500, and their stars are scuffling. It may not all be on Kapler and his staff, but coaches usually take the fall for underperformance, fairly or not, as they’re easier to get rid of.
Gabe Kapler on Saturday was ejected for the first time in his managerial career, and he sure got his money’s worth.
The Philadelphia Phillies manager was upset after Scott Kingery was called out on an 0-2 pitch that hit him in the hand during the Phillies’ 5-3 loss to the Miami Marlins. Kingery turned on an 0-2 pitch but held up, and the ball ended up hitting him in the hand.
Kapler was furious that Kingery had been called out by Chris Guccione as if he had swung at the pitch and missed. He wanted the play to be reviewed and went nuts when nothing happened. He even began kicking dirt on the umpires’ shoes, a totally old-school move.
Gabe Kapler is FIRED UP and is ejected from the game for the first time in his managerial career.
He receives a standing ovation from the crowd as he walks off the field. pic.twitter.com/mtCzO5VgSY
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) June 22, 2019
Kapler had every reason to be upset. That was simply a blown call by the umpires.
Kapler’s Phillies entered Sunday 39-37 on the season. This is Kapler’s second season as the team’s manager.
Gabe Kapler had a crow to pluck with the Atlanta Braves after Sunday’s game.
The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Braves 5-1 in a contest that featured a solo home run off the bat of Bryce Harper in the seventh inning. The next batter was Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins, and Braves righty Shane Carle took out his frustration on him with a beanball, promptly earning an ejection.
— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) April 1, 2019
After the game, Kapler, the Phillies manager, called out Atlanta for throwing at Hoskins. Martin Frank of the Delaware News Journal offered the quote.
Gabe Kapler on Rhys Hoskins getting beaned: “It really pisses me off when balls go under Rhys Hoskins’ chin.” #Phillies
— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) April 1, 2019
Kapler’s interesting wording aside, Hoskins was drilled nine times last season, which was among the higher marks in the NL. At the rate 2019 has started, hopefully Hoskins still has his special helmet that Twitter loved so much.
Sports Illustrated’s Philadelphia Phillies season preview article has turned out to be controversial enough to get the attention of the manager.
As part of the preview, the article featured an anonymous scout’s take on the member of the team the scout would never want in his own clubhouse. For the Phillies, one scout listed outfielder Odubel Herrera, but the originally printed comments were akin to character assassination.
Tom Ley of Deadspin preserved the original writing, in which the scout said Herrera was “like a clown” and a “f—— dog.” SI has since edited the article to tone down the scout’s criticisms, but the damage was already done, and manager Gabe Kapler blasted the scout on Saturday.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler lashes out at anonymous scout who ridiculed Odubel Herrera, calling it B.S. and ‘’factually inaccurate.’#Phillies
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 30, 2019
It’s not often that something like this becomes a story, but this one is. The practice of quoting anonymous scouts is not new, but most of the criticisms made in those instances don’t feel quite so personal, which prompted the response from Kapler.
Even Phillies icons have tripped up a bit when discussing the sometimes mercurial Herrera. On the scout’s part, however, it felt unnecessarily malicious and should never have been printed in the first place.