Archives for: 2008, week 21


Baseball Managers on the Hot Seat

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by Digger

The Major League Baseball season is still young. Less than two months have been completed. Within these two months a few teams are terribly underperforming prompting broadcasters, fans and bloggers to wonder which manager will be canned first? The following lists two teams expected to win, and two teams which stink.

New York is a media hot bed. No player, manager or owner is ever safe when a team doesn't live up to expectations. New York Mets skipper Willie Randolph has been under fire since late September of 2007 after his squads stretch drive historic collapse . Much was expected this season with the acquisition of premier starting pitcher Johan Santana joining an experienced and rising club. Local radio and tv affiliates have been questioning Randolph's moves and apparant lack of motivational skills as the Mets (24-26, 4th place) continue sloppy play both offensively and defensively. Randolph recently responded by questioning whether criticism was racially biased. Quite an unbecoming statement made by a veteran of the game. This made for state wide headlines and further critiques. Mets ownership held a closed door meeting with their current skipper to clear the air. Emerging with his job intact, the Mets promptly went out and lost another game. If the Mets continue their losing ways (7 of last 10), he'll be gone. The team seems to be sleep walking and Randolph's reserved on field attitude is not inspiring better play from star performers. Beltran, Wright, Reyes, Delgado, Maine and Castillo are all not living up to capabilities. Maybe Willie should try shaking up his coaching staff or placing a team curfew. Something needs to be done to wake up his club. Perhaps, he's just not the right man for this job.

On the other side of town, meet Joe Girardi's last place New York Yankees (25-27). General Manager Cashman is the mostly likely fall guy here. This is the team he built by relying heavily on young unproven starting pitchers thrust into prime time before they were ready. Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes have both been huge disappointments. Both also have the same address... the disabled list. Cashman rolled the dice and bet his future on these two kids by not pulling the trigger on what the Yankees needed most: Johan Santana. This is an aging over priced club. Such heavy contracts make many hard to trade as no club in their right mind would strain their budgets.

On the field, Girardi's team has been playing horrific defense in key situations. Mis-judging fly balls, errant throws, bobbles and off line throws seem as though this team isn't up for the challenge of a 162 game haul. It's early in the Bronx and all it should take is a spark for Girardi's team to click. There haven't been many sparks. At the dish, many aren't living up to potential. This team doesn't play small ball. Quality outs are non-existant. Base stealing is lacking. Running first to third isn't on the radar. The basic fundamentals of baseball are sorely missing. This is where a manager must shake up multi-million dollar primadona's who swing for the fences at bat after at bat. Willie Randolph has taken all the heat lately, Girardi deserves the same. Year after year the Yankees have been tabbed a team to beat. Guess what? They've been getting beaten regularly and this trend will continue without pitching, timely hitting and defense.

Another team flailing as if drowning has been the Seattle Mariners (19-34). They've been one of the few teams to make the Yankees look good lately. John McLaren is under fire. This has been a collective team failure. Hitters not reaching base (.309 OBA AL worst). Defense tied for third most errors in AL (36). Pitching staff team ERA of 4.96 is another AL worst stat. Seattle has lost 7 of 8 and has lost four or more in a row four times this season. They're already a whopping 12 1/2 games behind division leading Los Angeles Angels and Wild Card leading Boston Red Sox. How does a team in such dissary turn things around? It won't be easy. Losing games has become a team effort. Many had predicted the Mariners to be in the hunt for AL West honors throughout this season.

Last team deserving mention for their failures is Bud Black's San Diego Padres (20-33). This team hasn't recovered after being overtaken last year by Colorado's incredible run to close out the year. San Diego isn't firing on all cylanders. Seems to be a lack of cohesion on the diamond. Nonetheless, the Padres were expected to contend and they're far from it. 186 runs scored is dead last in the NL. This is clearly what has been keeping the Pads down. Defense has been very solid (NL leaders). Starting pitching has been somewhat solid. However, their bullpen has been flat out ugly. These guys can't protect leads or squash rallies when sent out to keep games close or protect leads (11 of 20 blown saves). This is very troubling especially for a former pitcher turned manager. Black's head may not be on the chopping block. However, he must shake up this squad quickly before things spiral out of control. Star pitcher Jake Peavy is on the disabled list which only adds to pitching woes.

These four teams have been baseball's most disappointing. Stay tuned for MLB's most suprising teams.