On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced some personnel changes designed to right their course following a winless road trip. Manager Mike Matheny was not among those impacted, though many wondered if he was about to be fired leading into the Cardinals' press conference.
Matheny has become the bête noire of Cardinals fans. He's never overseen a losing season, and has guided the Cards to the playoffs in four of his first five years at the helm. Yet his success is almost entirely credited to his talented roster and front office. Matheny's tactical chops are constantly questioned, and it seemed possible that general manager John Mozeliak would use the Cardinals' 27-32 start to install someone with a more progressive mindset.
Alas, ownership still seems fond of Matheny -- at least as a human being, if not as a big-league skipper:
Matheny is secure with DeWitt. Only way that changes is if Matheny becomes a liability to the business side.— Bernie Miklasz (@miklasz) June 9, 2017
The short-lived belief that Matheny could be on his way out got us to thinking: Just which manager is most likely to be fired before the season ends? Here are a few candidates.
7. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants
The Giants are on pace to have their worst season under Bochy. It doesn't matter -- he's not getting fired. He's earned sufficient good will by winning three World Series titles, and he's in the first season of a three-year extension. Bochy might not have the most job security in baseball, but he has a lot of it. That isn't changing because of two bad months or a disappointing season.
6. Ned Yost, Kansas City Royals
Another instance where a change seems unlikely. Yost is under contract through the 2018 season, and deserves leniency for winning back-to-back pennants. Besides, the Royals front office knew entering 2017 this could be a lean season. It doesn't make a difference either way, but Yost maintains one of the best quip games among big-league skippers:
How close is Karns?— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) June 6, 2017
Ned Yost: "He's in the outfield right now -- maybe 150 feet?"
5. John Gibbons, Toronto Blue Jays
Gibbons has been fired as Blue Jays manager once before, and maybe that's why it feels like he's perpetually on the hot seat. If Mark Shapiro and company wanted to replace Gibbons with Eric Wedge (or whomever), they probably would have done so already, rather than handing out an extension that runs through the 2019 season with a club option for 2020. Still, the Blue Jays are in last place, and that means we have to talk about Gibbons' job security.
4. Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
Another instance where it seems unlikely that a change would be made. Melvin is signed through the 2018 season, and is well regarded around the game. Oakland's recent woes have more to do with the lack of talent on the roster than in the dugout. All the same, Melvin has to be listed here. He has one season left on his contract, so the offseason will tell us a little more about how close Billy Beane and crew are to hitting the restart button.
3. Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates
Now we're getting to the part of the list where a change is conceivable. Hurdle entered the season as the odds-on favorite to get fired, and the Pirates' 26-35 start hasn't helped matters. There are valid reasons for Pittsburgh to retain Hurdle -- he's fully bought into their system, and moreover, has gotten players to buy in -- but you can understand why the oddsmakers are low on his chances to stick around, too. Whenever a competitive team goes in the cellar, the manager is at risk.
2. Brad Ausmus, Detroit Tigers
Remember how defensive Ausmus was at the end of last year, when talking about whether his club option would be exercised? The Tigers opted to keep him around, but the fact they haven't extended his contract suggests they aren't too thrilled with the situation. Why would they be? Ausmus' strategical choices are oft-questioned, and the Tigers have seemingly gotten less from their roster than they should have the past few years. Is that entirely on Ausmus? No. But that doesn't mean he won't lose his job because of it. There's every reason to think a new face will be managing the Tigers come 2018.
1. Terry Collins, New York Mets
Obviously. There are a few points working against Collins, and they're more varied than the Mets' disappointing effort thus far. The first is that his contract expires at season's end. The second is he has already floated the idea he'll retire come the winter, meaning the Mets have no long-term ramifications to think about -- they're likely to be in the market for a new manager anyway. There's also this: Sandy Alderson is known as not being Collins' biggest supporter. Add it all up, and if any manager is getting fired, it seems like it'll be Collins.