Predicting best-case and worst-case scenarios for Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon and other new MLB managers
A number of teams have new managers -- how will that work out for them?
With the exception of the Pittsburgh Pirates, whose offseason seems certain to remain one of the most peculiar in the sport, every team now has a manager in place for next season. That's because the San Francisco Giants were the last non-Pirates holdout, and they made their minds up on Tuesday .
As such, we wanted to recap the winter's managerial carousel by examining each hire and providing the best- and worst-case scenarios for their appointments. It should be noted that this is for entertainment purposes as much as anything.
Let's get to it then -- note that the managers are ordered alphabetically by team name.
Joe Maddon, Angels
Maddon returns to the Angels, the franchise he spent close to three decades with earlier in his career, having originally departed in late 2005 to take over the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Maddon has enjoyed great success in the time since, recording more pennant wins (two) than losing seasons (one) in his past 12 efforts -- one of those pennant wins later saw the Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series.
Maddon technically hasn't been fired, either -- a rarity for a skipper. Rather, he left the Rays on his own and had an amicable split with the Cubs that coincided with the end of his contract.
Maddon has lived a charmed managerial life, in other words. Will that continue?
The best-case scenario: It's less about Maddon and more about what Maddon inspires -- in other words, his presence coerces owner Arte Moreno into spending into the luxury tax, permitting the Angels to land Gerrit Cole and other top-shelf talent. The Angels then make the playoffs in all three of Maddon's seasons before he retires having won the 2022 World Series.
The worst-case scenario: Maddon breaks out all his tricks -- zoo animals, magicians, and so on -- but the Angels come up short on Cole and other quality free agents due to self-imposed budget restraints. They average 84 wins -- never quite living up to their potential -- and he's allowed to "retire" months before they begin shopping Mike Trout in advance of a full-scale rebuild.
David Ross, Cubs
Ross was a beloved member of that Cubs championship squad. Now, the former backup backstop is tasked with replacing Maddon, who won at least 92 games in four of his five tries. Good luck.
Ross is coming directly from the ESPN booth, having never managed before. In other words, his learning curve could be steep -- or, maybe it won't be, given his pre-existing relationship with the Cubs' front office and their top players.
Other teams expect the Cubs to shake up their roster this winter, so Ross might be spared the direct comparisons to Maddon.
The best-case scenario: Ross is a breath of fresh air. He offers his own twists on some of Maddon's quirky tricks -- though not all of them -- but is open-minded about progressive tactics in a way that more accomplished skippers have a hard time maintaining. His past relationships prove to be an asset, not a liability, and he prevents the new-look Cubs from having their dynasty lapse.
The worst-case scenario: Ross is a downmarket Maddon whose inexperience shows time and again. His pre-existing relationships only confound the problem, as he's unwilling to bench his friends. Everyone gets fired by the end of his contract and it takes him a decade to get another managerial chance.
Gabe Kapler, Giants
The Giants were, as mentioned in the introduction, the last team outside of the Pirates to name their new skipper. They went with Kapler, who has the unenviable task of replacing longtime manager Bruce Bochy.
After Kapler got the job, Farhan Zaidi offered a disappointing explanation concerning how poorly Kapler (and Zaidi) handled Dodgers.made against one of his charges during his time with the
Kapler did have two factors going for him that weren't in play for either Matt Quartaro or Joe Espada: 1) he's familiar with Zaidi from their shared days with the Los Angeles Dodgers; and 2) he has two seasons of managerial experience from his time with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The best-case scenario: Kapler and Zaidi come to acknowledge and own their past mistakes.
The worst-case scenario: Kapler and Zaidi don't acknowledge and own their past mistakes.
Carlos Beltran, Mets
With the exception of Joe Maddon with the Angels, no new manager has more of a connection to their new franchise than Beltran does with the Mets.
That could be a good thing, since Beltran is a credible managerial prospect who isn't just around for nostalgia purposes. It could be a bad thing, too, since the Wilpons might not grant him a honeymoon period before leaning into their usual wildness.
The best-case scenario: Beltran is indeed a natural at managing -- to the extent that he convinces the Wilpons to act like the big-market giant the Mets could be. He smooths over relations with Noah Syndergaard, and helps Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil become the homegrown stars that Mets fan so desire. The Mets go on their own Nationals-like run in 2020, leaning heavily on Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Marcus Stroman. Beltran has a statue made in his honor someday.
The worst-case scenario: Beltran has a statue made in his honor someday -- as a mea culpa by the Mets' new owners for how poorly he was treated by the Wilpons, first as a player, and later as a skipper. Through little fault of Beltran's own, he gets fired after a late-night game on a west-coast road trip midway through 2021. The Mets, at the time, lead the division.
Jayce Tingler, Padres
Tingler is familiar with A.J. Preller from their shared days with the Texas Rangers, and Preller likes him so that he was willing to hire yet another first-time manager.
Whether Tingler fares better than his predecessor, Andy Green, is to be determined. At minimum, the Padres did go as far in the other direction name-wise as possible.
The best-case scenario: Tingler proves to be a skilled developer who helps the Padres' myriad prospects make the leap to the majors. The veterans love him, too, including trade acquisition Noah Syndergaard, who ends up starting Game 1 of the 2021 World Series for the champion Padres. Nine months later, a lot of San Diego-area newborns are named "Jayce."
The worst-case scenario: Tingler is Green but by another name, which is really a fancy of saying: the Padres continue to have a quality farm system because they consistently draft high and never consolidate those prospects into an impact-level big-league player. Tingler is fired midway through the 2022 season and the Padres trade Manny Machado weeks later.
Joe Girardi, Phillies
Depending on how one evaluates these things, Girardi is arguably the most accomplished manager in a new place. He won at least 84 games in all 10 seasons with the New York Yankees, and even took home the 2009 World Series trophy.
Girardi was dismissed by the Yankees following the 2017 season due in part to a perceived inability to relate to younger players. Whether that's a fair criticism or not, well, who knows.
Girardi, for his part, is inheriting another high-stakes situation. The Phillies want badly to win and have already shown an eagerness to spend money and trade prospects to make it happen.
The best-case scenario: Girardi's stoic nature and deft managerial touch are on display nightly, and he guides the Phillies to their first playoff berth since 2011 without so much as a blip of an incident with Bryce Harper, the Phillie Phanatic, or any local radio hosts. He spends a decade with the organization before retiring, and ends up as beloved as Charlie Manuel.
The worst-case scenario: Girardi's shortcomings with younger players arise when he congratulates Harper on the Washington Capitals winning another Stanley Cup … only to remember, then, that Harper is a Vegas Golden Knight fan. (Truthfully, there doesn't appear to be a ton of downside here beyond the team not living up to expectations. Girardi is a solid, well-respected manager who will probably do about as well as anyone can.)
Mike Matheny, Royals
With due respect to Matheny, he's probably the least-inspired hire. At least with Maddon, you can point to his track record and reputation as reasons to bring him in.
With Matheny? He didn't work in the Royals organization for long, and yet his appointment seemed preordained. It doesn't help that his time with the St. Louis Cardinals was marred by questionable tactics and a surprising amount of examples of lacking interpersonal skills.
The Royals aren't going to be good anytime soon, so maybe the whole thing is moot.
The best-case scenario: Matheny has learned from his past mistakes and joins the slew of accomplished skippers to hit their stride in their second gig. He proves to be a long-term fit for the position, and ends up guiding the Royals to another World Series title someday.
The worst-case scenario: Matheny hasn't learned the wrong lessons from his time with the Cardinals, and is so ossified in his ways that he ends up disrupting the Royals' rebuild in some unremarkable way -- e.g., playing veterans over the organization's best young players -- before getting fired on the heels of a third consecutive 72-win season.
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