Seat gets warmer for several managers
Ken Rosenthal / FOXSports.com
Posted: 9 hours ago
Rarely do teams fire managers in August, but the Mariners easily could justify the dismissal of Mike Hargrove.
The mounting case against Hargrove includes 20 consecutive losses to AL West opponents, highlighted by a just-completed 0-11 trip to Texas, Oakland and Anaheim that dropped the M's from 5 1/2 games back in the division to 14 behind.
A day off in the schedule Monday provided the team with the perfect opportunity to make a change entering a nine-game homestand against — ahem — the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels.
Heck, the Mariners even had a logical internal replacement for Hargrove on their coaching staff: Dan Rohn, the team's administrative coach and former Triple-A manager.
It's still possible the Mariners could fire Hargrove, who is signed through 2007, then evaluate Rohn in the final six weeks of the season and determine whether he deserves the job full-time.
But for now the M's remain on hold, perhaps because the man who hired Hargrove, Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi, could be in at least as much peril as his manager.
Yet, even if Hargrove lasts until the end of the season, he has moved to the top of the list of managers in trouble, ahead of the Cubs' Dusty Baker and Phillies' Charlie Manuel.
As September nears, a number of managers face additional scrutiny. Several already were in uncertain positions. Others could be in jeopardy if their clubs fail to reach the postseason.
Joe Girardi, Marlins: The question no longer is how close owner Jeffrey Loria came to firing Girardi; the question is whether their relationship can be salvaged.
Girardi is a candidate for National League Manager of the Year, but the Marlins need to understand that as a first-time manager, he isn't a finished product.
Girardi, in turn, needs to demonstrate a willingness to grow on the job.
At times, Girardi has overstepped his bounds, major-league sources say, and not simply by yelling at his owner in front of his players. He has failed to develop a strong partnership with GM Larry Beinfest, who had little say in his hiring.
Girardi was Loria's handpicked choice, remember?
Phil Garner, Astros: It's difficult to imagine that the Astros would dismiss Garner just one year after the led the franchise to its first World Series.
Astros owner Drayton McLane loathes eating contracts, and Garner is signed through next season for a salary believed to be more than his reported $1.3 million for 2006.
The Astros, however, fired hitting coach Gary Gaetti at the All-Star break, and McLane surely will be restless if the team fails to reach the postseason with a $100-million plus payroll.
One problem with dismissing Garner: The Astros lack an obvious replacement.
Bruce Bochy, Padres: A management shakeup has appeared inevitable ever since Sandy Alderson became club president in April 2005.
General manager Kevin Towers appears the most vulnerable, but Bochy — in his 24th season with the Padres and 12th as manager — could be in jeopardy, too.
Alderson has dismissed such talk and even granted Bochy an extension, but if the Padres fail to reach the postseason, it would give Alderson a license to make sweeping changes.
Both Bochy and Towers are signed through '07, but Alderson could allow Bochy to depart for another club. He also has assembled enough executive talent to replace Towers.
The bottom line: Alderson is an advocate of advanced statistical analysis, and such executives generally do not value managers.
Frank Robinson, Nationals: Robinson, nearing his 71st birthday, managed the Expos/Nationals franchise through five seasons of uncertainty. Now that Major League Baseball finally has sold the club, he wants a three-year deal.
It seems unlikely that his wish will be granted: Nationals president Stan Kasten has announced that Jim Bowden will remain general manager, but the team has yet to address Robinson's future.
The Nats might prefer to rebuild with a younger manager. Such a decision would be understandable, but the team owes Robinson the dignity of a graceful departure.
Felipe Alou, Giants: Owner Peter Magowan recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that general manager Brian Sabean would return in 2007, but offered no such assurances about Alou, 71.
The Giants' 11 potential free agents include right-hander Jason Schmidt, left fielder Barry Bonds and Alou's son, right fielder Moises Alou.
The team could keep Felipe Alou to provide stability during its transition.
More likely, it will seek a new manager for a new era.
Eric Wedge, Indians: The Indians are on pace to finish 74-88 after going 93-69 last season, and their surprising decline can not solely be attributed to the declines of several free-agent pitchers.
GM Mark Shapiro repeatedly has said that he views Wedge as part of the solution, but ownership plans a significant payroll bump, increasing the likelihood that Wedge will be on notice next season.
Dusty Baker, Cubs: A one-year extension would not be unreasonable; Baker deserves a chance to manage a healthier, better constructed team, but the Cubs' disappointing season makes it unrealistic for him to expect a long-term deal.
The problem with a one-year deal is that the uncertainty surrounding Baker would carry into next season. Baker also might bristle at such an offer and pursue another opening.
Come to think of it, that might be the best outcome for everyone involved.
Charlie Manuel, Phillies: Don't look now, but Manuel could be a Manager of the Year candidate if the Phillies win the wild card.
OK, let's not plan the parade just yet.
Phillies GM Pat Gillick, who inherited Manuel, would figure to make a change if the team failed to reach the postseason.
Manuel didn't help himself by initiating a recent on-field confrontation with Phillies executive Dallas Green over Green's public criticisms of him as manager.
Lou Piniella, who managed under Gillick with the Mariners, would be an obvious candidate to replace Manuel — but only if the Phillies wanted to spend big on a manager, and only if Piniella could be persuaded that the team might win soon.
Ken Rosenthal is FOXSports.com's senior baseball writer.