Regardless of whether or not a team is going to contend during any given season, each has their own set of goals. For an organization like the White Sox, it's making it to the playoffs; whereas for the Reds, it's seeing their young players take a step forward.
Naturally, not all teams can accomplish what they set out to do at the beginning of the season, and when that happens, the manager usually winds up taking the fall. While we can't know how each team will perform over the next couple months, it's not hard to see which mangers, and even executives, are on the hot seat.
After adding Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, and Adam LaRoche, the White Sox were expected to compete for the AL Central in 2015. That of course didn't happen, as they finished with a record of 76-86. Considering that they fell extraordinarily short of their expectations, it wouldn't have been surprising to see Ventura take the blame. However Chicago's upper management didn't take that route, and are giving him at least one more chance.
The White Sox reloaded their team once again this offseason with Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, Austin Jackson, Alex Avila, and Jimmy Rollins. With a new look lineup, Chicago certainly has eyes on reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2008; and if they get off to another slow start, it might cost Ventura his job. It's worth noting that Rick Renteria, the Cubs' former manager, is the White Sox bench coach, and could step in should Ventura get fired.
Like the White Sox, the Tigers had a disappointing 2015 season, as they won just 74 games, and finished last in the AL Central. With an impatient owner, and a new GM, it was almost a certainty that Ausmus would lose his job; and for a few hours in September, we thought he had.
Instead, Al Avila kept him aboard as manager, but he's undoubtedly on a short leash. With a healthy Justin Verlander, and new additions of Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton, the Tigers have their sights set on the playoffs, and if they slump early on in the season, Ausmus will likely have to take the blame.
While the Reds aren't going to be competing for the NL Central in 2016, that doesn't mean Price's job is easy. His roster is full of young players, namely the starting rotation, and it's imperative that they show improvement this season. However, if that doesn't happen, and players are stagnant, Price could find himself watching the Reds from his couch instead of the dugout.
Last season, there was speculation that Barry Larkin was on the verge of replacing Price, and it's fair to wonder if Cincinnati could turn to him this year.
"Talk at the All-Star break that Larkin could replace Price before the end of the season proved unfounded. But Larkin in recent months has surveyed former Reds teammates about whether they would join his coaching staff if he became manager, sources said."
Walt Jocketty is still in charge in Cincinnati, but he's set to step down after the 2016 season, and hand the reins over to current GM, Dick Williams. If he's not satisfied with the job that Price is doing, and doesn't see him as a long term manager, making a change mid-season would make sense.
While Scioscia getting fired seems highly unlikely, at a certain point it has to become a possibility. After winning 98 games in 2014, the Angels sank to 85 wins in 2015, and might very well continue this trend in 2016. FanGraphs has them projected for a record of 81-81, which might be optimistic given the question marks about their starting rotation. Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney combine for a solid 1-2 punch, but beyond them, there's not much depth.
Jered Weaver is having trouble throwing harder than 82 MPH; Hector Santiago has been worth just 1.3 fWAR over the last two seasons; and Matt Shoemaker regressed significantly in 2015. C.J. Wilson is on the 15-day DL, and his return date is currently listed as "TBD".
Even if the Angels underperform, it's hard to see Scioscia getting fired during the season; and given his stature in Anaheim's organization, they probably wouldn't frame it as a firing. Instead, it seems likely that Scioscia would "walk away" or step down from managing to take an advisory role.
Everyone in Arizona
After adding Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to the rotation, the Diamondbacks declared themselves a contender, and ready to compete for a spot in the playoffs. While they're undoubtedly still trying to accomplish that goal, losing A.J. Pollock to a fractured elbow could make that nearly impossible.
"One of the major tenants of sabermetric thinking is that a singly injury generally can't make or break a season for a ballclub. That you can plug a replacement-level guy in for a few weeks and only lose a win or two of value. Or that, sometimes, that replacement-level player could easily get hot for a week or two and even help his club.
But here we're talking about a player who was playing at an elite level and who will be out for an overwhelming majority of the season."
Going into the season, the Diamondbacks' outfield depth was questionable, and now it could prove to be the downfall of their playoff hopes. After trading Ender Inciarte away, Arizona really only had two outfielders; Pollock, and David Peralta. Yasmany Tomas is the everyday right-fielder, but he's not exactly an elite defender; and to replace Pollock, they've slotted Chris Owings into center, who's owns a career slash line of .244/.283/.279.
Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa decided to go all-in for 2016, and destroyed their farm system in the process. Last year was their first full-season together, and they've very quickly jeopardized their future. Of course, those trades would be forgiven if it helped bring home a World Series title, but given the construction of their team, it's hard to see that happening soon.