Posted at 10:22 AM on May 29, 2008
by Chris Dall
With a little more than a quarter of the season done, now's usually the time when the front offices and fans of struggling, underperforming, and just plain bad teams start looking for a fall guy. And though they can't hit for the hitters and can't pitch for the pitchers, and sometimes are hamstrung by personnel decisions made from above, that fall guy is usually the manager. Here are a few guys who are starting to feel the heat.
Willie Randolph, New York Mets: Randolph's job appears to be safe for the moment, but it's been a rough few weeks. After overseeing the historic collapse of 2007, Randolph has led his team to a 25-26 start, and questions have grown about his in-game management skills and his overall demeanor. While it hasn't all been his fault, Randolph seems unable or unwilling to motivate his players, and he made things worse when he told a reporter last week that he didn't like the way the Mets network cameras portrayed him in the dugout, and suggested that criticism of him was racially motivated. Not smart. He'll most likely make it through the season, but if the $140 million Mets don't make the playoffs, he's gone.
Ned Yost, Milwaukee Brewers: Like New York, Milwaukee went into the season with high expectations and have not met them. It hasn't helped that much of the team isn't hitting (Prince Fielder has only 6 home runs) and that closer Eric Gagne has been awful, but don't tell that to Brewers' fans. And like Mets fans, some fans of the Crew are placing the blame for the lack of fire among the players squarely on the manager.
Bud Black, San Diego Padres: Black is only in his second season as manager, so he'll probably make it through the season, but a 20-34 start after just missing the playoffs last year isn't sitting well with Padres GM Kevin Towers. The big problem with this team? A .238 team batting average, second-to-last in the National League.
Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers: I don't really see the Tigers firing old man Leyland, mostly out of respect for him. But Detroit has to be the most disappointing team in baseball so far. The hitters have started to hit after a slow start, but the pitching has been awful. Leyland must be up to two packs a day by now.