The 2017 Major League Baseball regular season ended just a month ago, yet there has already been a crazy number of firings and hirings in the Manager Department. This is usually the time when owners let their fan bases know whether or not their skippers will be returning to battle next season. 2017 has been more hectic than usual. Five managers will not be coming back and four of them have already been replaced. Here is the rundown for each of those teams:
Mets fans were the first to hear about the departure of their head coach. Terry Collins was hired in 2011 to replace Jerry Manuel. He was a fan favorite, but never succeeded in the way the organization had hoped. He did lead the team to the World Series in 2015, but that was the Mets only serious playoff run during his tenure. The next season, he led them to a wild card berth, but they lost to the Giants in the one game playoff. Those two seasons were his only respectable ones, as he finished sub-.500 all other years, finishing his Mets career with a .486 winning percentage. In 2017, his team returned to the Mets we all know and love, finishing 70-92. This bad year was bound to repeat itself, so all parties decided it was time for a change. He was not fired, but instead stepped down. He will be joining the Mets front office, but has probably managed his last game, as he is now 68.
The Mets have chosen Mickey Callaway as Collins’ replacement. Callaway has no managerial experience whatsoever, but he was taken from the Cleveland Indians, where he served as pitching coach. His lack in management is made up by Cleveland finishing first in earned run average in 2017. The Mets hope he can bring his success that he had with the Indians (102-60) over to a struggling ballclub.
Like the Mets, the Phillies moved their manager Pete Mackanin to a front office position. He was moved to a special assistant role, as his contract goes through 2018. He was promoted to manager of the Phils halfway through 2015, when the organization fired Ryne Sandberg. It was pretty clear that the Phillies had no long term plans for him to stay. This season verified that when Mackanin was unable to turn around a team filled with exciting, new talent. In the past few years, the Phillies have rebuilt completely, ridding themselves of the aging veterans that helped them win the 2008 World Series. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Cole Hamels are all gone. Mackanin got the cream of the crop in young players like Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, and Tommy Joseph. However, he was able to do nothing with them. He finished in last place twice and second to last once, scraping together a winning percentage of .422 with the Phillies. His teams have a ton of skill, but lack the baseball IQ needed to win games. They made stupid errors and proved that they were missing fundamentals. A proper manager would have utilized the abilities of these young players more effectively than Mackanin.
The team just announced that Gabe Kapler will be their new manager. Like Callaway, Kapler has no previous experience in this role, but he has always been known as a leader and smart baseball mind by his teammates. He played 12 years in the MLB and has only been out of the league seven years. The Phils are hoping this 42 year old can relate better to these young players than a 66 year old.
The Red Sox fired manager John Farrell after their early exit to the Houston Astros in the 2017 playoffs. This one was a bit more surprising than the others, as Farrell was smart and successful skipper. He had two rough years with the Sox, but he was as good as ever this year and last, winning 93 games and making the playoffs in both. Also, no one can ignore the 2013 World Series he brought to Boston in his first year. He came to a team, plagued by Bobby Valentine, that finished in last place. It is no small thing to turn a 69 win team into the World Series Champs in one year. Yes, he did not ever go back to the Fall Classic, but he was getting closer and closer each year. There has been talk that the outcome did not matter and that he was let go for internal reasons. Regardless, he was the best thing the Sox were going to get after Terry Francona and they let him go too soon.
Former Red Sox player Alex Cora has been called upon to relieve Farrell. He is currently in the World Series as the Houston Astros’ bench coach. He never amounted to much as a player, but working under Astros manager A.J. Hinch has opened a lot of doors for him.
“He’s going to be a manager. He deserves all of the recognition that he’s getting, and he’s a viable candidate if any of them call,” said Hinch on Cora leaving him for a managerial position.
Hinch is one of the best there is, turning a sub .500 team into a World Series contender in the matter of years. Cora has been there every step of the way and Hinch has definitely rubbed off on him a bit. This move should give the Red Sox hope for more than a playoff berth next season.
The Nationals are another team that made the playoffs but decided to let their manager go after losing in the division series. Dusty Baker only began managing the team in 2016, but has won the NL East both years. He is arguably one of the best managers still around and has nine playoff appearances to show for it. The problem with Dusty is what he does once he gets there. He is a god from April to September, but come October, it’s as if he’s a different person. He has lost in the divisional series six times, two of which were with the Nats. In addition, he has never won the World Series and has only been once, despite being a frequent flyer to the postseason. His departure could be argued both ways, but the plan is for their new manager to take them to at least the NLCS.
Dusty’s replacement will be Dave Martinez. He is very similar to Alex Cora. They both bounced around in the majors with limited success and then went to the World Series last year as bench coaches under great managers, Cora with the Astros and Hinch, Martinez with the Cubs and Joe Maddon. The exciting thing about Martinez is that he is Maddon’s prodigy. He has been his bench coach for 10 years, starting on the Rays in 2008. Maddon is known for being a genius as a skipper. He turned two losing ball clubs into World Series teams and has been around the game as long as anybody. Spending a decade with this man as your mentor can only mean good things. Nats fans have something to look forward to this offseason.
The Tigers let their manager Brad Ausmus go after their sad season came to an end. They finished in last place, two losses shy of 100. That was good enough for the worst record in all of baseball, tied with the Giants. When a team does that poorly, a new manager is almost inevitable. He came in as the head coach in 2014 and took them to the playoffs. Since then, he has never brought them back and has finished last twice. This season was the just the final straw.
The Tigers just announced that long-time Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will take over the managerial duties. He hasn’t managed since 2014, but has 13 years of experience under his belt. This is an improvement over Ausmus, but they could have done a lot better. As aforementioned, he is a bit rusty. On top of that, his last four years with the Twins were nothing to brag about, as they finished in either fourth or fifth in each. Gardenhire will be fine, but the Tigers really should have gone after John Farrell or Joe Girardi.
Everyone could see this was coming. It was just a matter of whether or not Joe Girardi could win another World Series. Despite a valiant effort, his team lost in a devastating Game 7 of the ALCS to the Astros. Unfortunately for Girardi, no World Series meant no new contract. Throughout the Yankees’ whole playoff run, fans would constantly get on Girardi, for little things like not pulling a pitcher, or not challenging a play. In reality, though, none of these miniscule actions are the true Joe Girardi. No one was looking at him for the whole manager he was. He overcame all those little mistakes and led a team in their “rebuilding year” to the ALCS. He took a group of guys that were born around the time Derek Jeter was drafted and made it appear as if they have been playing together for years. That team went on to win three games in a row against an Indians team that had only lost four of its last 37 games. Girardi must have been doing something right. Nevertheless, he is gone and the Yankees need a new leader to guide these Baby Bombers
The Yankees are the only team on this list that has not found a replacement for their manager. A few options have been thrown about, but it is unclear who they are leaning towards. In the past decade, there has been a gradual shift from the traditional old managers to the young, recently retired players. Guys like Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Lou Piniella are rarely seen in the dugouts of major league teams anymore. Nowadays, it’s hard to even distinguish the managers from the veteran players. The Yankees will likely keep up this trend. They want someone young enough to relate to the Baby Bombers. This could be Jerry Hairston Jr. or even Raúl Ibañez, but the Yankees are still unsure.
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