According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the current unemployment rate is at 6.2 percent. And while it won’t make a significant dent in the MLB realm, the conclusion of MLB’s regular season always sees a handful of disappointed teams handing walking papers to their managers.
The unlucky seven on this list all field ball clubs in the red (as far as wins and losses are concerned), and should be well-prepared to received the dreaded pink slip.
7. Terry Collins, Mets
Contrary to recent news reports, Collins can’t still feel safe about his job security.
The Mets are on pace for a sixth straight losing season—four of which have come under his helm. In all honesty, his selection as manager in 2011 was done more as a stopgap while the franchise tries to rebuild itself financially and personnel-wise.
Although the year-long absence of Matt Harvey did drive down any expectations fans had for 2014, many involved with the team had plans on at least being better than .500. Those loyal supporters are anxious for a contender—which could come soon. And if they do, should Collins—despite having earned great respect from his players—be the one at the reins?
In his 10 seasons as a big league manager (which includes stints with the Astros and Angels), the 65-year-old has never fielded a team that reached the postseason.
6. Ron Gardenhire, Twins
The longest serving manager in the majors has finally run his course.
Gardenhire’s tenure with the Twins began in 1991 as third base coach for a team that went on to win the World Series. After 11 years in an assistant’s role, he received his promotion prior to the 2002 campaign—taking over for Tom Kelly, who had been in charge for 15 full seasons.
He was an immediate success—winning the division title in four of his first five years on the job. However, Gardenhire’s clubs only advanced past the first round once.
The recent times haven’t been so successful. Since 2011, the Twins have yet to finish better than fourth place in the AL Central and will need a strong September to avoid a fourth consecutive season of at least 90 losses.
The story of Gardenhire is similar to that of Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles: a long-time leader who had many contending teams and the signs now are pointing to a graceful exit. However, just as is the case with Collins, Gardenhire’s GM appears to have his back.
In my opinion, Terry Ryan telling Sid Hartman in August that Ron Gardenhire will be back as 2015 manager does not ensure it will happen.
— Derek Wetmore (@DerekWetmore) August 22, 2014
5. Bud Black, Padres
As a former pitcher and pitching coach, it’s only natural that his team is strong on the mound. That’s certainly the case this year, as San Diego has the third-best staff ERA.
Conversely, describing the offense as terrible would be a kind assertion. The Padres rank dead last in all major hitting categories. That’s primarily what’s kept them from being at least a .500 team. Instead, they were 60-69 after this past weekend.
Black has only been a part of two clubs with winning records in his seven years in San Diego—most recently in 2010. Just above him, the revolving door at the GM position now sees A.J. Preller (taking over from Josh Byrnes this summer) with the task of reconstructing a franchise in obscurity.
One way to retool would be to replace the manager and for Preller to get someone that best matches his philosophy.
4. Walt Weiss, Rockies
Two years usually isn’t enough to evaluate a manager and the team he leads—especially if it’s his first gig. That’s especially true considering the myriad of injuries that Weiss and the Rockies have endured. It’s doubtful that anyone could get a club into contention without the full services of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.
That said, an atrocious pitching staff as well as the dwindling morale among players (namely their star shortstop) and management could lead to major changes in the off-season.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Weiss has become frustrated due to philosophical differences between him and Senior Vice President Bill Geivett. In addition, Tulowitzki has pleaded for change, saying that he’s “sick and tired of losing.”
On May 7, the Rockies were 23-16. On Monday, their record was 52-77—the worst in the National League. Struggling throughout an entire season is one thing. But when your team appears good early and then plummets drastically, it makes those struggles look much worse.
3. Ryne Sandberg, Phillies
If you thought getting two years to prove your managerial acumen was not enough time, Sandberg is on the hot seat with just over full season under his belt. The Hall of Fame second baseman was tabbed to replace Charlie Manuel after the man who led the club to the 2008 World Series was unceremoniously fired this past August 16.
So, it should be no surprise that Sandberg’s hold on the job is tenuous even though Ruben Amaro Jr.’s failings as a general manager are probably to blame for the Phillies’ lack of progress. However, the two are tethered together. Which means if Amaro gets his dismissal from team president David Montgomery, the manager (with a record of 77-88) could get the axe soon after.
Montgomery has been dissatisfied with Sandberg’s inability to communicate with his veterans (namely Jimmy Rollins) as well as poor in-game management—even though he’s barely had time to learn while trying to direct an aging squad.
2. Ron Washington, Rangers
Combining injuries and underachieving play, the Texas Rangers have been in complete freefall since the summer began. It started with Prince Fielder’s season-ending surgery and has continued with horrid pitching and a struggling offense. Once a .500 team in mid-June, the Rangers went into the All-Star break having lost eight straight and 22 of 25 games.
As of Monday, the Rangers possess the worst record in baseball at 50-79.
It might seem like overreaction, especially since Washington did lead Texas to consecutive World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. But the downfall is so severe and a there doesn’t appear to be a turnaround coming soon. The only way to fix that (as just or unjust as it may seem) is to fire the manager.
1. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks
Gibson didn’t have the same type of talent in front of him as Washington did at the start of this season. That doesn’t make the D-backs efforts in 2014 any less disappointing. Arizona sits 13.5 games back in the NL West mainly due to a run differential that is second-worst in baseball. The only team worse? Yes, the Rangers.
Kirk Gibson took over the helm as Arizona skipper in mid-2010. He found immediate success in leading the club to a division crown in 2011. But since then, his highest peak has been mediocrity. To be more exact, a pair of 81-81 campaigns. Now here’s the debacle of 2014.
They began the year 8-22 and have failed to climb out of that hole. Between sloppy play and unnecessary beanball wars, the attention that’s been shown on Gibson and his team hasn’t been particularly glowing.
Recently appointed as the head of the Diamondbacks’ baseball operations, Tony LaRussa wasn’t brought in to keep everything at status quo. Despite the fact that he and GM Kevin Towers received contract extensions prior to spring training this year, Gibson is likely to be shown the door by the time we reach October in an effort to clean house in Arizona.