When the Blue Jays fell behind 6-1 on Wednesday, the hashtag #FireGibbons began appearing on social media. Which is just plain rude.
Gibbons was only eight games into his latest tenure as Blue Jays manager, which is hardly enough time to evaluate the returning skipper. As it turned out, the Jays came back to win that game but lost the following one, 11-1 to Detroit, to secure their third straight series loss.
The pressure on Gibbons is surely greater than most first-year managers, as the Jays added several new stars and raised the bar considerably. But on the list of managers who could find themselves on the hot seat at some point this season, Gibbons finishes low on our list.
Thanks to a fair number of soon-to-be-expiring contracts, tough finishes to the 2012 season in some cases and raised expectations in many places, the litany of managers with something to worry about isn't short. Here are 10 skippers whose seats may get a tad toasty at some point this season, or shortly after it.
1. Charlie Manuel, Phillies
Manuel, as popular and feisty as ever, recently told CBSSports.com, “I ain't goin' anywhere,'' repeating an early-spring refrain. But of course, it's also the last year of his deal, and it may not be up to him. As Manuel readily admitted, he has no idea what his bosses are thinking. They had no choice but to bring him back last time, as Manuel wasn't far removed from two straight World Series appearances.
But a rough year is a possibility (particularly if Roy Halladay continues to struggle) and could provide the impetus to make a switch. His bosses would already appear to have a replacement in mind, as the respected Ryne Sandberg is now up to work as a coach on Manuel's staff.
2. Ron Gardenhire, Twins
The well-respected Gardenhire clearly has some heat on him following 195 defeats in the last two seasons and a surprising overhaul in the Twins' coaching ranks after last season suggested Gardenhire could be next.
The Twins have long been known as one of baseball's most stable franchises, and if Gardenhire's fate rests entirely with GM Terry Ryan, he is surely safe. The pair is “joined at the hip,'' in the words of one friend. However, the big bosses haven't weighed in yet. Gardenhire's contract wasn't extended and is still due to expire after the year, and there's enough buzz about a possible change that the folks above Ryan must be wondering if Gardy's time could be close to up.
3. Clint Hurdle, Pirates
Hurdle's deal was extended a year to cover 2014, and he seems to have just the right amount of positivity for a franchise that's suffered 20 straight losing seasons. Hurdle's only been there for two of them, and he should get more time. But one day after he received the extra year, Pirates owner Bob Nutting said it shouldn't be interpreted as a "free pass." That could possibly be mostly tough talk, though, and if anything his boss, GM Neal Huntington, probably has the warmer seat of the two.
4. Terry Collins, Mets
Collins has made adjustments in his third go-round as major-league manager to the point where he is now beloved by his players. Of course, it isn't the players who will decide his fate. Collins has done an admirable job without supreme talent his two seasons in New York. But his bosses are said to be concerned about a couple weak finishes, nevermind that the team has finished poorly the last several years, starting well before Collins became the surprise pick to manage the team.
5. Don Mattingly, Dodgers
Mattingly is yet another manager in his last guaranteed year (the Dodgers have an option for the 2014 season). New ownership declined to extend Mattingly after seeing his first season, though considering that the Guggenheim group has preferred very short deals for just about all of its top decision-makers, perhaps we shouldn't read too much into it. Mattingly is extremely well respected by his players, and you have to know the new group likes star power. A lot of money has been invested in this team, so there's definitely pressure. But the guess here is that ownership may be inclined to keep Mattingly, except in the off chance someone better becomes available (like maybe No. 7 on this list).
6. Eric Wedge, Mariners
The Mariners have a lot of terrific prospects (including pitchers Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton and catcher Mike Zunino) and it seems like Wedge will get a chance to manage them. But he, too, is heading into the last year of his deal (as is GM Jack Zduriencik). The Mariners' perennially anemic offense has improved by 100 runs over the last two seasons, and moved-in and lowered fences (plus five hitting pickups) should help. But they are in a tough division. So no guarantees.
7. Mike Scioscia, Angels
He's one of the best managers over the last half century, but at some point someone might start to wonder whether it might be better for all involved if he had a fresh start elsewhere. Even great managers have expiration dates, and Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in the big leagues, is in his 14th season in Anaheim/Los Angeles.
There was definitely some uneasiness last year between Scioscia and GM Jerry Dipoto, especially after Dipoto removed longtime hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, a Scioscia ally since their days together as Dodgers players. But that issue seems to have dissipated some. The team, long an overachiever under Scioscia, is showing early signs of underachieving a second straight season. It's still almost unfathomable Scioscia could bee fired, and not just because he has five more years after this one at $5 million a year, the unshakeable respect of demanding owner Arte Moreno and a reputation so great that they know he'd be snapped up immediately. The best chance for a change still would seem to be an arranged deal.
8. Ned Yost, Royals
Royals people seem to be big Yost fans, going back to their Braves days together. But his contract is up, and the pitching staff has been upgraded to the point where the hope for a playoff spot doesn't seem like a pipe dream. Some others don't see the magic Yost's bosses see, but they are the ones making the call.
9. Joe Girardi, Yankees
He's kept on winning a lot of games, guiding his big-salaried teams into the playoffs every year, and what's more, Hal Steinbrenner seems to have a fair amount of patience. Girardi's contract is up, and while there seem to be real flaws with this very veteran team for the first time in his tenure, the failure to make the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years likely will mean someone would have to pay. It wouldn't necessarily be Girardi, however.
It's almost unfair to include him on the list since he just got back there. But plenty is expected after the acquisitions of R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle , Josh Johnson and others. Still, it would be a shock for Gibbons not to see 2014 as a Jay, no matter what anyone says on social media.