It is musical chairs time for big-league managers. The music has already stopped for three of them. Kirk Gibson is out in Arizona. Bo Porter is out in Houston. And Ron Gardenhire is out in Minnesota.
You lose, you’re gone. That is the Major League way. There is only so much goodwill you can build up to protect yourself. With the kind of season the Boston Red Sox had in 2014 (last place for the second time in three years), John Farrell needed a deep reservoir of goodwill to survive. Lucky for him he bulked up his bank account in 2013 by leading the Sox to a surprising World Series title.
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Otherwise they come and they go. Managers have no job security, serving at the whims of owners. Sometimes they are let go for the wrong reasons, rushed out the door too quickly. Sometimes they are kept on too long. Sometimes they are exiled because a new general manager is hired and he wants his own lad as boss in the dugout.
One might have thought that with the Astros showing some fairly significant improvement as a team that was expected to do absolutely nothing this season that Porter might have lived to fight on another day. But he was the first of the trio axed on Sept. 1. Coach Tom Lawless was manager-for-the-month as interim leader, but that was all for him, too.
Just the other day Houston plucked A.J. Hinch from the ranks of ex-managers and made him the new man on the spot. Hinch had briefly managed once, but also had front office experience. He is a lucky dude coming to the Astros now. There will be pressure on him to perform, but he is catching the ‘Stros on the way up with many young players poised to break out.
Gibson wasn’t going to win manager-of-the-year with the Diamondbacks, although he had done so once. Too many injuries doomed Arizona to the worst record in the majors. Arizona may not be a pennant contender next year, but the D-Backs should be better.
Manager gone after 13 years
Gardenhire is an interesting case with the Twins. For a while it seemed he may be manager-for-life in Minneapolis-St. Paul. He was in the job for 13 years, an eternity by Major League standards. The Twins were lousy this year at 70-92 and they had been lousy for a few years, so it was the cumulative weight of recent losing that caused his demise.
Injuries didn’t help Gardenhire much this year, either. Joe Maurer, the Twins’ best player, was out for 42 games with injuries and was never his true self at the plate. Besides, Justin Morneau, who was player 1A for the franchise, was shipped to the Pirates last year with a month left in the season.
This year he won the National League batting title for the Colorado Rockies. It wasn’t Gardenhire’s fault the Twins were silly enough to part with Morneau.
After all, Gardenhire won six American League Central Division titles. Four straight 90-plus-loss seasons did him in. The goodwill eventually runs out for everyone.
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