MLB Managerial Musings

Don Mattingly

Fellow MSF writer Kurt Allen compiled a list of baseball managers on the hot seat earlier this summer. Let’s take another look here in October, as we roll through an epic postseason and toward the League Championship Series.

While some MLB managers (John Gibbons, Ned Yost and maybe Don Mattingly) performed well enough in recent weeks or months to get off the ledger, others (Ron Gardenhire, Kirk GibsonBo Porter/Ron Washington) were rightfully terminated. Meanwhile many (Terry Collins, Joe Girardi, Ryne Sandberg, Robin Ventura, Walt Weiss) are still questionable. Mike Scioscia should also be placed in the latter category after his ALDS debacle and five seasons without a single playoff victory, despite immense talent. You’d think 2014 was the last straw after 2010-13 nightmares, but not as of now.

I’m surprised Bud Black and Fredi Gonzalez are now safe for 2015 — in San Diego and Atlanta, respectively. Black hasn’t made the postseason in nearly a decade at the helm of the Padres, yet was retained by a franchise treating him like a tenured schoolteacher. Down in Georgia, it was quickly announced last week, by an interim GM no less, that Gonzalez will be back in charge despite a monstrous collapse — lost 18 of 25 in September — with a highly-talented team some thought was a World Series contender.

In the front office, Oakland will likely never fire media darling Billy Beane after 17 years with one playoff failure after another. Perhaps the “Moneyball” wizard could take responsibility for his shortcomings and resign. Surely another team would pick him up in hours.

But if Hollywood ever wanted to think outside the cliches, they’d make a film about the incredible success of Baltimore Orioles Executive Vice President Dan Duquette. During his “second chance,” Duquette’s done an incredible job since taking over the franchise in 2012 and especially this year, overcoming the loss of three top offensive players. The Birds are making their second playoff appearance in three seasons with Duquette and Buck Showalter in charge after 14 consecutive Octobers at home.

But he’s not liked by some of the New England-based media, so Duquette doesn’t curry national attention. Trying to bring baseball to Israel alone should be worth something.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Angels, aiming to become the Philadelphia Phillies of the American League with awful long-term contracts, underachieving performance and thus a grim future, decided in September to bring back arguably the worst general manager in baseball. I wonder if another campaign ending quickly in early October matters to Arte Moreno. Failure was supposedly “not an option” before the season began in L.A.

Jerry Dipoto, under the watchful eye of Moreno, gave bloated, mindless deals to Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and others. The Angels were the biggest disappointment in baseball during 2012 and 2013, failing to make the expanded playoffs despite a massive payroll and high expectations. Therefore, after five good months in the 2014 regular season, Moreno capriciously picked up Dipoto’s 2015 option last month. That “successful” campaign ended quickly and very disappointingly with an emphatic ALDS defeat against the underdog Kansas City Royals.

About the Author

AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.