Life in professional sports is always lived on the edge, a precarious existence in which the smallest twist or turn can affect a player’s or manager’s continued presence in a given sport. Talent, intelligence, and work ethic are just as important as timing, and a career in a sport such as baseball may be defined by simply being in the right place at the right time. The pressures in the game of baseball are many, and it is often the case that failing to live up to unfair expectations results in a player being let go or a manager being fired.
Perhaps the best example of the fickle nature of baseball can be found via inspection into Joe Torre’s managerial career. Before achieving fame and recognition with the New York Yankees, Torre was fired from managing jobs with the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. His overall record with those clubs was 894-1,003, and his win percentage was a paltry .471. He had never won 90 games in a season before joining the Yankees, but he had lost over 90 games on three separate occasions. When given an opportunity with a ballclub that had some serious talent and financial firepower, Torre was able to excel, winning four World Series titles on his way to election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The fact that a manager may find himself on the hot seat is therefore not necessarily an indictment of his ability to manage or his knowledge of the game; it is simply recognition of the fact that managerial jobs are quite often short-lived, and a losing team will often fire their manager as the first step in vast organizational changes. It may not be fair, but managers often take the fall and serve as an easy organizational scapegoat.
The following 10 managers find themselves in circumstances that may ultimately result in their being let go, and the circumstances are many. It may be the result of high expectations after an offseason of roster changes, or it may simply be the fact that too many losses have piled up over the past few seasons. Whatever the case may be, these 10 managers will find that their place on the bench is quite a bit warmer than they remember from a season ago.
10 Walt Weiss - Colorado Rockies
Of all of the managers on this list, Walt Weiss probably faces the most difficult of circumstances. The Rockies have not had a winning season since 2010, and Weiss has seen his loss totals increase in each of his first two seasons on the bench in Colorado (88 in 2013, 96 in 2014). Despite the atrocious 2014 season, the Rockies made very little changes during the offseason, instead believing that the return of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez from injury will be enough to restore the team to contention.
9 Ryne Sandberg - Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies made the mistake of stubbornly holding onto their core players too long, subsequently delaying the rebuilding process. Those aging stars now have much less value on the trade market, and teams around the league have said the Phillies still have unrealistic demands for some of those players, even for the one player -- Cole Hamels -- that has actual trade-market value.
8 Lloyd McClendon - Seattle Mariners
For all of the criticism that Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik has endured, he has actually put together a solid roster that should compete in the AL West, and he certainly has reason to believe that his team should make a deep playoff run. With Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez, the Mariners certainly have the talent to do so, especially with the criminally underrated talents of Hisashi Iwakuma and Kyle Seager in the mix as well. The club has also added slugger Nelson Cruz, which should further raise expectations in Seattle for 2015.
7 Robin Ventura - Chicago White Sox
6 Brad Ausmus - Detroit Tigers
5 Ned Yost - Kansas City Royals
4 Don Mattingly - Los Angeles Dodgers
3 Terry Collins - New York Mets
Managing in a major market such as New York there is always bound to be intense pressure and media scrutiny. Terry Collins is well aware of this, having already acknowledged the fact that he is likely on the hot seat for 2015, saying, "I've done nothing for the last four years but preach to our fan base to be patient, and I've been trying to be patient. Well, I think we've got the pieces. It's time to step up."
2 Ron Roenicke - Milwaukee Brewers
1 Bud Black - San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres have been the story of the offseason, with general manager A.J. Preller acquiring outfield sluggers Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers while also maintaining the only strength of last season’s ballclub: the starting rotation. With all of the moves that Preller has made, expectations are exceptionally high for the team managed by Bud Black, who will have to integrate all of the new players while also competing in one of the toughest divisions in all of baseball. Preller has demonstrated time and again this offseason that he will not hesitate to make a bold move, and if the Padres fail to meet their lofty expectations, Black may very well be shown the door.
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