It’s the time of year when pennant races are just heating up. Unfortunately though, for some teams that are out of it, it means their manager’s seats are also heating up.
With some fans rooting interest still residing on the optimistic side of postseason hopes, many others turn the ire of their team’s ineptitude toward the manager. The team employee responsible for managing egos and setting the batting lineup can only survive so long surrounded by team mediocrity. New managers frequently get the benefit of the doubt.
This year’s list of managers that could be fired then have likely overstayed their welcomes. They all fall into slightly different categories, but they all share one thing in common: their team’s continued inability could only mean bad news for their job security.
At the beginning of the season, it all seemed perfect for the White Sox. At 17-8 through April, it was the first time the team had significant hope since Ventura’s first season with the team way back in 2012.
But hope is a funny thing. While fans having hope is a good thing, there seems to be no fanbase more volatile than one who has had their hope taken from them. That is to say, it’s almost better to be consistently mediocre than to appear good and then fade into obscurity.
Since the hot start of April, the White Sox have gone 37-51 and sit 10 games back of the first-place Indians. If that doesn’t adequately strip a fanbase of hope, the White Sox also sit 7.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. With just 49 games remaining, that total seems nearly insurmountable.
As a manager who joined the team prior to the 2012 season, Ventura has a career win-loss record of 348-405. While win-loss record isn’t a great way to measure a manager’s ability—after all, the team on the field also needs to produce—Ventura’s stay appears to be nearing its end.
Collins and Ventura fit a similar narrative in that the Mets’ fanbase was dealt significant hope just last season when they appeared in the World Series. Fast forward to now, and the contender Mets are squarely at .500 and three games back of a Wild Card spot.
While that certainly doesn’t abolish all hope for Mets fans, Collins’ strange lineup choices combined with injury troubles on the roster certainly haven’t helped. In Wednesday evening’s game, not only did Collins scratch Michael Conforto in lieu of Ty Kelly, but he had Kelly bat second—the spot in the lineup typically reserved for the team’s best hitter. Instead of playing Conforto, Collins opted to focus on the platoon advantage of a switch hitter.
Combine that with Thursday’s news that a team meeting was called after the three-game sweep just dealt to them by the Diamondbacks while on home turf, and you probably have the makings of a managerial vacancy. Many media outlets addressed it as a necessary managerial rant—that the team isn’t living up to expectations and needed to be told—however, the news will only reflect well on Collins if results happen on-field.
In the land of public opinion, Collins has likely worn out most of his welcome in Flushing. The 67-year old is one the longest tenured active managers in the National League behind Bruce Bochy and—ever so narrowly—Clint Hurdle. With the Mets over his six seasons, Collins has a 447-468 record. If the team doesn’t impress down the stretch, Collins could certainly find his name in headlines for the wrong reason.
Moving into the second tier of managers, Weiss isn’t necessarily on his way out. In just his fourth season of managing the Rockies, Weiss has mustered a feeble .422 winning percentage. In total so far, his win-loss record is 260-330.
That being said, he’s never been dealt a particularly good roster, and the Rockies currently sit at .500. Perhaps then Weiss’ name appearing this high on the list speaks to how secure the jobs are of MLB managers this season. With many teams going through very self-aware rebuilds, most have chosen the majors with which to do so. Pete Mackanin with the Phillies and Craig Counsell with the Brewers come quickly to mind.
However, the Rockies aren’t really going through a rebuild, and their direction seems largely clouded. In a division that seems to be ruled by the juggernaut Dodgers and Giants, it would make sense for the team to sell away some assets in exchange for prospect wealth. However, this past trade deadline, the Rockies didn’t even deal away Jake McGee or Boone Logan, let alone bigger chips like Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez. In fact, they did absolutely nothing.
The ire from the lack of moves at the deadline likely goes toward team general manager Jeff Bridich, and not Weiss though. However, in the event that the Rockies clean out some upstairs offices too, Weiss could become a secondary casualty.
Weiss and the Reds’ manager Price likely sit in a similar tier, though by somewhat different means. Not much was expected of either team, but their tenures are long enough to warrant some shuffling of chairs.
Price has only had the top reins of the Reds for two and a half seasons at this point, though he has been a member of the coaching staff for nearly seven seasons. With a 186-251 record, Price didn’t inherit a team that looked to be trending upward but they have only gotten much, much worse.
Furthermore, working under Dusty Baker—not particularly known as the game’s best tactician, especially when it comes to bullpen usage—as the team’s pitching coach isn’t necessarily a thing to boast about on the resume.
While the Reds don’t seem prepared to turn a corner toward contention, they could ride Price through the remainder of their mediocrity. However, if the words ‘culture change’ start hovering over the Reds like a cloud, then Price’s job could be on the line.
Enter: the dark horse candidate. While Scioscia and Angels’ owner Arte Moreno seem close, a team can only be so attached to their manager.
During last season, Moreno gave the team’s manager a significant vote of confidence when a disagreement between then general manager Jerry Dipoto and Scioscia arrived at an ultimatum. That ultimatum saw Dipoto step down as team GM, and the team proclaimed Scioscia’s team.
Since Dipoto’s resignation, the Angels have gone 79-94 and currently sit in the basement of the AL West, 18 games back of the division-leading Rangers.
The Angels just appointed Billy Eppler as the new general manager less than a year ago, so his job seems safe. But after just forcing a capable general manager out of the organization, dismissing the manager that you bet on could be a big embarrassment for Moreno and the organization. That’s a weird predicament for someone’s job to be riding on, but another manager likely wouldn’t survive as bad a record as Scioscia has. Especially for a roster that boasts Mike Trout.