Minnesota manager Paul Molitor had birthday number sixty on August 22, the day after his players were swept in a four game series against the Kansas City Royals. With his club burdened with the worst record in the American League, Molitor probably felt little like celebrating this year.
Still in all, Molitor should take some comfort in the probability that he will keep his job, unlike almost a half a dozen other managers of Major League clubs. The fact that the Twins were in contention until the final day of the season last year allows Molitor some wiggle room, as does his young, inexpensive roster.
Also in his favor is the history of the Minnesota organization, which has traditionally been very patient with their skippers. Molitor is only the third manager the Twins have employed in more than thirty years, following the long tenures of Tom Kelly and then Ron Gardenhire.
Nor does it hurt Molitor that he grew up in Minnesota, making it even more unlikely that the team would give him a short leash. Usually, managers in charge of their home town team have much more leeway than other skippers.
Unfortunately, not one of the previously mentioned advantages for Molitor can be applied to some of the other managers who might be on the hot seat at the end of this season. At least half of them will have to serve as scapegoats and be let go because of his team’s disappointing season.
It is difficult to fathom why Angels manager Mike Scioscia has remained at the helm as long as he has. The World Series championship he won is now more than a decade in the past, and Los Angeles has not come close to winning a pennant since then in spite of boasting one of baseball’s largest payrolls and some of its biggest stars.
Certain Hall of Famers to be like Albert Pujols and Mike Trout should make a winner out of any manager, symbols of an owner with deep pockets. However, this season has been the worst for Los Angeles under Scioscia, whose club is tied with the Twins for the fewest wins in the league.
The White Sox and General Manage Ken Williams went out and got third baseman Todd Frazier over the winter to solidify the middle of their batting order, a year after they had already signed slugger Melkey Cabrera to a lucrative free agent contract and Cuban defector Jose Abreu to a multi-year deal. Despite these supposed upgrades, the White Sox find themselves one spot from the cellar in the AL. Central.
The failure to live up to expectations will likely fall on manager Robin Ventura, whose popularity as a past White Sox All-Star will be unable to save his job. Adding to his troubles were several clubhouse issues that happened under Ventura, starting with the controversial retirement of Adam LaRoche and the recent uniform incident of All-Star pitcher Chris Sale.
In spite of reaching the postseason for each of his years as St. Louis manager, Mike Matheny could be facing the axe this season. The Cardinals are leading the Wild Card race, but this is an organization that expects to finish second to no one. So the fact that they are thirteen games behind the rival Chicago Cubs might not sit well with St. Louis fans nor the front office, which could spell doom for long time Cardinals catcher Matheney.
Arizona fully expected to contend going in to the 2016 season, which would be the first for manager Chip Hale. The Diamondbacks gave a huge contract to free agent pitcher Zach Grieneke in an effort to bolster a pitching staff to complement a potent offense anchored by All-Star slugger Paul Goldschmidt, but all they have to show for it is the second worst record in the National League.
Clint Hurdle has been a candidate for manager of the year for each of the last few seasons, as he has led the Pirates to the postseason three straight years after a span of missing the playoffs for over two decades. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh never won a division championship, settling for a Wild Card bid each time.
This season even the Wild Card appears out of reach for the Pirates, who are struggling to just stay above .500. Andrew McCutcheon, who is just a few years removed from a season as the league’s Most Valuable Player, is experiencing the worst year of his career. McCutcheon, though, will be in Pittsburgh in 2017, but Hurdle very well may not.