Baseball is a tough business. And it is not tougher on anyone more than managers. They do not play the game. The players do. But in most cases, if the team struggles, the manager is going to be the one to pay with his job. That's the way it has always been and it will always be the case. Sometimes the ax is deserved. Sometimes it is not. Girardi never should have been fired by the Marlins. The same with Francona from the Red Sox. But Valentine? Yeah. Looking out over the season and taking into account the previous seasons, which managers should not survive to lead their teams into 2015?
1. Kirk Gibson. Kirk Gibson is one of those real men of baseball. He earned his reputation as a player and will always have that home run off of Eckersley on his resume. His time with the Diamondbacks has not gone as well. His marine-like approach has chased away some of his best players, led to the trade of good young players and gets him in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Despite the way he thinks and acts, Kirk Gibson is not the beacon of baseball as how it should be played and conducted. But Gibson hasn't acted alone. The leadership issue has been a problem there and hence Tony La Russa was brought in to straighten it all out. You haven't seen too much of La Russa's stamp on things yet. But you will. The first will be getting a manager he believes in.
So long, Mr. Gibson.
2. Ned Yost. I have been on this bandwagon for far too long. Yes, the Royals are in the thick of the wild card race. Yes, they had a great second half of last season. The Royals correctly focused on defense.
But Yost has failed on many fronts. His game-decisions are detrimental more often than not. His young players have not developed once they became Major League players and as the leader of his staff, that is on him.
The Royals had a window with James Shields and others to finally overcome decades of obscurity. That window is closing and Yost needs to go. But he won't. Mark my words, he will be in the dugout in 2015.
3. Ron Washington. It is hard to blame Washington on the injuries that decimated his team this year. But it is not just this year that is to think about. Washington's in-game decisions are probably discussed more than any other manager in baseball. So there is that. But you also--fairly or not--look at two World Series he could not win, diminishing returns since the team's last World Series appearance and then this dreadful season.
Teams have really bad years. It happens. But what kind of fight do the teams put up while they are losing. The Astros fight tooth and nail every game. The Rangers have not. I put that on the manager and the culture he fosters.
There is a lot to look at with the Rangers' situation. There was the power struggle that saw Nolan Ryan head out the door. There are some questionable trades (Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler is one).
You can look at all those situations and assign blame as well as put some of the onus on the injury thing. But it's time for a change in Texas and a new face needs to be in the dugout.
4. Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire is beloved in Minnesota. I get that. He is a fixture and a link to a glorious past. But he is also an anchor that keeps the team from going forward. Gardenhire sets the tone for the organization on what it wants from its pitchers, for example. The team has long traded for and tried to develop pitchers to pitch to contact and throw strikes. The result is that the Twins are flowing against the tide of history. The strikeout has taken over baseball. The Twins have missed the boat.
It also seems that baseball has passed the Twins by. The Twins don't do defensive shifts. They don't seem interested in modern statistics. The Twins need sweeping changes to find a new path in today's game. And it all starts with Ron Gardenhire.
- Ryne Sandberg. His handling of his personnel has been questionable. The team is out-performing its run differential, so I'd give him a couple more years to figure it out.
- Walt Weiss. It is hard to blame Weiss for the dysfunction of his organization and a ballpark that will always defeat the Rockies. I don't know the Rockies can ever be successful.
- John Farrell. His managing career consists of three underwhelming teams and a World Series title. How do you make sense of any of that?
- Robin Ventura. The White Sox are out-performing their run differential. But they should be better. I don't like Ventura's laid back stance and his body language in the dugout. It does not project a winning and vibrant atmosphere.