With Bud Black out in San Diego, who is the next skipper to get the axe?
On Monday, the Padres dismissed manager Bud Black after nine seasons at the helm in San Diego. New general manager A.J. Preller isn’t afraid to make swift changes to his ball club, as evidenced by his complete offseason makeover of the Padres’ roster. The roster turnover did little to change the Padres’ place in the National League West standings, as they entered Tuesday’s action two games below .500 (32-34) and a game and a half away from last place.
The fact is, few — if any — expected Preller to keep Black as his long-term manager, but the skipper can’t be blamed for several of the Padres’ current issues, such as their disastrous defense, marginal team batting average (.244) and startling number of strikeouts (555).
Black essentially started the 2015 season on the hot seat, and became the second manager after Milwaukee’s Ron Roenicke to be relieved of his duties. But there’s a good chance, they won’t be the only ones unemployed between now and the end of this season. Here are five other managers whose seats are starting to get a little warmer.
John Farrell, Boston Red Sox
Farrell is just two seasons removed from leading the Red Sox to a World Series title that saw Boston go from worst in 2012 to first in '13. Since that October run the Red Sox have lost 129 games in a season and a quarter, finishing in dead last in 2014 and are on pace to finish in last place again in '15.
Tensions are beginning to rise in Boston as new, high-priced players are failing to live up to their massive contracts (Looking at you, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval) and the pitching staff has been horrendous (Team ERA: 4.53). There is no doubt that the pressure to win in Boston is higher than in most other big league cities, and the heat is starting to come down on Farrell from the fans and media. Farrell isn’t afraid to call his players out for making mistakes on the field and has done so several times this season, including just as recently as this past weekend when he ripped Ramirez for a lackluster base-running blunder.
General manager Ben Cherington, the master designer of the most recent Red Sox offseason makeover, could be at the end of his rope with Farrell, if not for the safety of his own job.
Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox
The South Siders were one of several teams this offseason to complete a roster overhaul in hopes of contending immediately. And much like those other teams, things haven’t worked out so well for the Sox. General manager Rick Hahn and team president Kenny Williams made what seemed like great offseason moves to acquire Jeff Samardzija to bolster the pitching staff in addition to signing Adam LaRoche and Melky Cabrera to deepen the lineup. Those moves haven’t paid off. Samardzija has an ERA just south of 5.00, while LaRoche and Cabrera are both hitting under .250 as the White Sox (28-34) sit in last place in the AL Central.
With the Cubs beginning to show signs of promise, the focus of Chicago fan fury has shifted to Ventura and White Sox team owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who just fired Tom Thibodeau as head coach of the Chicago Bulls. Could Reinsdorf pull the trigger and let the former Sox great go as manager? I wouldn’t doubt it. In fact, I would bank on it.
Lloyd McClendon, Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners (29-35) very well might be the most disappointing team in baseball this season. On paper, it seems that the M’s have all of the necessary pieces to make a run at October. On the field, the Mariners are a mess. Last season’s historic and dominant team pitching performance has turned to marginal in 2015 and the offense is absolutely disastrous, sitting second to last in the majors in runs scored, just ahead of the laughable Phillies.
The $240 million mega-contract of second baseman Robinson Cano (.240/.281/.328, 2 HR, 19 RBI .609 OPS) could wind up being the worst in baseball history for a healthy ball player. But Cano isn’t the only scapegoat. The Mariners have just one player hitting near .300 in Nelson Cruz (.317), the second closest is $100 million dollar third baseman Kyle Seager (.275).
The M’s finished 2014 12 games above .500 and seemed like they could be the team to beat in the AL West in 2015, but thus far Seattle sits six games under .500 and next to last in the division with no signs of improving. If shuffling the lineup and reloading the pitching staff in the offseason wasn’t the answer for the Mariners, perhaps a new face calling the shots in the dugout could be.
Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves
Make no mistake about it, Gonzalez is a lame-duck manager and has been since the moment the Braves' front office decided that it was time to rebuild this past winter, trading away the Upton Bros., Jason Heyward, and the game’s best reliever in Craig Kimbrel. Even before the roster liquidation, Gonzalez’s name had been brought up in many industry conversations as a manager who was due to get fired after a couple of late-season collapses
The Braves (31-33) are playing better than many pundits thought they would, sitting just 3.5 games back in the NL East, a division they dominated for a decade and a half under previous manager Bobby Cox. But the unspoken agreement seems to be that this franchise is aiming for contention in 2017 when their new state-of-the-art and controversial ball park is set to open outside of the metropolitan Atlanta area. Don’t count on Gonzalez being at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Bryan Price, Cincinnati Reds
Price is struggling. He’s struggling to adjust to an era where players are according to him, “flamboyant.” Price is struggling to not get thrown out of games before they start like he did back on May 23, and he’s struggling to understand the modern media’s job in baseball without using a certain four-letter word 77 times. Most importantly, Price and the Reds are struggling to win games.
Cincinnati (28-35) is 14 games back and currently sitting in the trade market’s no man’s land. Pitchers Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto, along with long-time Reds’ outfielder Jay Bruce, are all reportedly available, only adding uncertainty to injury as Cincy currently has as many players on the DL as the Reds have in the lineup.
Things are looking grim for Price in the Queen City. Seeing how likely it is that the Reds miss the postseason for the third straight season and with just one year remaining on Price’s contract, it appears that the Cincy skipper could be expendable by summer’s end.
— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. An avid baseball fan, Rose also takes time to do some play-by-play work for the radio broadcasts of Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider baseball games. He can be reached on Twitter @JakeRose24.