Your Final 2012 Manager/GM Hotseats and Predictions

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Some managers have already been dismissed and others will be gone as soon as the season ends tomorrow night. Let’s go through the list of the obvious and otherwise.

Manager Joe Girardi/GM Brian Cashman—New York Yankees

The Yankees are in the playoffs and barring a dreadful stumble in the final two games against a Red Sox team that’s waiting to be put out of its misery, they’re going to win the division. But, as the Yankees from top-to-bottom have repeatedly said, they’re not in it to make the playoffs. Anything short of a good showing in the ALCS and the manager could be in jeopardy. It’s not Girardi’s fault and if he’s going to be tossed over the cliff, I would advise him to handcuff himself to Cashman as they’re going over because it’s Cashman who should be in trouble.

From the trade that sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos (both on the disabled list), to his questionable development of pitchers (Manny Banuelos is going to have Tommy John surgery), and his off-field mishaps, there are many reasons to say enough’s enough with Cashman.

In an ordinary situation, firing the manager/GM for a team that has won 90+ games and made the playoffs would be ludicrous, but the Yankees have a World Series or bust attitude and a $200+ million payroll. Add it up and people will be held accountable for a fall.

Manager Bobby Valentine—Boston Red Sox; Manager John Farrell—Toronto Blue Jays

I’ll discuss them together since they’re all tied together.

Valentine’s putting up the front of expecting to be back because no one’s said anything to him directly and he has a contract for 2013, but he’s gone and he knows he’s gone. This Red Sox disaster was not due to the manager. He was part of the problem, but even had they kept Terry Francona or hired one of the candidates preferred by GM Ben Cherington, 2012 wouldn’t have gone much differently.

Farrell and the Red Sox are eyeing one another like desperately lonely singles at a middle-aged mixer and the Blue Jays will take advantage of that and get a player in exchange for Farrell. I doubt it’ll be someone as significant as Daniel Bard, but they might get something of use and not have to pay Farrell off if they wanted to fire him.

The Red Sox had better get Farrell better talent because his stoic countenance, handling of the media, and remembrances of years gone by as the Red Sox pitching coach aren’t going to yield any better results than what Valentine got without massive changes to the personnel. In fact, since Farrell’s in-game managerial skills are poor, the Red Sox might be worse with Farrell than they are with Valentine.

The Blue Jays know what Farrell is, are unhappy with his open flirtation with the Red Sox, and have seen his “strategery” on a daily basis for two years now. If there wasn’t this clear lust between Farrell and the Red Sox with the Blue Jays thinking they can get something out of it and not have to pay Farrell for 2013, they might fire him.

They need a manager who will handle the youngsters and correct mistakes as they happen; someone they can trust to make the sensible game decisions. I’d go with someone older and uncompromising like Larry Bowa, but if (when) Farrell leaves, they’ll hire a Don Wakamatsu-type. Most anyone would be a better game manager than Farrell. After a short honeymoon, the Red Sox will learn, much to their dismay.

The Blue Jays should wait to see what the Yankees do with Girardi. He’d be a great fit in Toronto.

Manager Jim Leyland—Detroit Tigers

Much was made of the Tigers underachievement and that Leyland is working under a 1-year contract with no deal for 2013, but the Tigers problems weren’t the fault of the manager and they came back to win the AL Central. He’ll be back if he wants to come back, but I’m getting the inkling he might retire. The Tigers are a great spot for Francona.

Interim Manager Sandy Alomar, Jr.—Cleveland Indians

The Indians are interviewing Francona, but the team is restarting their rebuild and won’t have the money to pay Francona or to bring in the players he’s going to want to win. It’s a no-win situation for him because he’d be risking his reputation by overseeing a team that’s starting over and would revert to the “nice guy and meh manager” rep he had with the Phillies before he wound up in Boston.

Alomar is a top managerial candidate, is popular in Cleveland and will get the fulltime job.

Manager Mike Scioscia—Los Angeles Angels

The Angels missed the playoffs after spending a ton of money on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson; GM Jerry Dipoto and Scioscia are not exactly buddies; and owner Arte Moreno is understandably upset.

They’re saying that Scioscia will be back, but I’m not so sure. This is another great situation for Francona.

GM Jack Zduriencik—Seattle Mariners

Zduriencik should be safe to at least fulfill the final year of his contract and see if the team improves in 2013.

The entire Marlins baseball ops

From President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest on down to manager Ozzie Guillen, it’s been speculated that the baseball people in the front office were in trouble, then that was quashed after which it was said that Guillen is on the firing line.

I don’t see anyone as safe and I think owner Jeffrey Loria is simply going to fire everyone in a “Kill ‘em all and let God sort them out,” manner.

Team President Frank Coonelly and GM Neal Huntington—Pittsburgh Pirates

After the Pirates came apart in the second half and the scandal of putting young prospects through Navy SEAL training, Huntington’s and assistant GM Kyle Stark were rumored to be in trouble; Coonelly put the kibosh on that, but Coonelly himself isn’t all that secure.

I think they all get fired.

Manager Jim Tracy, Colorado Rockies

There’s an odd dynamic in Colorado in which everything is done in a friendly, agreeable manner. Former GM Dan O’Dowd willingly took a demotion in favor of new Bill Geivett wielding the power in the baseball ops. Manager Tracy has an indefinite, handshake agreement to stay as manager, but it sounds as if they’re going to make a change with Tracy staying in some capacity.

Presumably they’ll go with someone younger in the Chip Hale variety as the new manager.


And Wally Backman As Billy Martin

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With Sandy Alderson running the Mets, Wally Backman is never, ever going to be the manager of the team.

In fact, the only way Backman would ever be named manager of the club is if they’re so terrible that they’re going to win between 60-70 games regardless of whom the manager is, so they might as well have someone who’s got the potential to draw attention to himself one way or the other, positively or negatively.

By that reasoning, they could have Lenny Dykstra manage the team from jail.

It’s not that Backman doesn’t have the baseball smarts or dedication to be a successful manager—he loves baseball and was as fiery and determined as a player as he’s been and would be as manager; but he’s too much of a risk; a loose cannon with a history of off-field issues that still aren’t clear as to whether they’ve been completely resolved. He’s a Billy Martin clone and the only way Martin was able to last as long as he did in baseball was because George Steinbrenner kept bringing him back when he had no one else to turn to.

Martin was a great manager with zero self-control and a self-destructive streak second-to-none. If he were managing today, he wouldn’t be managing today because the age of information at the click of a button would make it all but impossible to cover up the latest bar fight; foray to a strip club; or arrival at the ballpark 15 minutes before first pitch hung over.

Backman didn’t get the job as Mets bench coach and is now rumored to be a candidate to take over as the third base coach for the Washington Nationals if, as expected, former Mets manager Davey Johnson stays on as Nats manager.

The Mets bench coach job went to veteran baseball man and former Athletics manager Bob Geren.

If I were Mets manager Terry Collins, I wouldn’t have wanted Backman either. Backman would undermine; he’d be someone to watch for a backstabbing action; and he’d be less a sounding board/assistant than a self-interested threat. That’s not what you want in a bench coach.

After the way his time as the A’s manager ended, I wouldn’t be surprised if Geren didn’t want to manage again at all and in spite of the way the players ripped him, he was a respected and successful minor league manager whose A’s teams weren’t particularly good for most of his tenure.

If Backman wants to stay with the Mets, he’s going to have a job managing somewhere in the minors, presumably at Buffalo to replace Tim Teufel who’s taking over for Chip Hale as third base coach.

Given the Mets history of hiring managers, they haven’t promoted the Triple A manager since Bobby Valentine in 1996 and Valentine was an experienced big league manager whose list of transgressions were all within the game; Backman’s aren’t.

His act would not work with veteran players. In fact, one of the fears teams had in hiring Collins was his in-your-face attitude and searing intensity; he’s toned that down. Backman is the same guy as Collins was and that’s the last thing the Mets need.

Contrary to a belief stemming from faulty logic, fans don’t go to games to watch a manager manage. If there’s a spike in attendance when a name manager is hired, it’s because said name manager won’t take the job unless he has guarantees that his new team is going to bring in players so he can win.

Winning spurs attendance and that could have something to do with the manager, but isn’t because of the manager in and of himself.

It wouldn’t work. And if Backman wants to leave, the Mets should let him. If they’re somehow worried about him haunting them at some point, they should take solace in the fact that he might haunt them even more if he stays.