Six MLB teams will be going into the 2018 season with new managers. Some of the dismissals this offseason were warranted, while a couple raised eyebrows. How did those five teams do in picking their new managers? Here’s what we think.
Boston Red Sox
Old Manager: John Farrell
New Manager: Alex Cora
John Farrell had an up and down tenure as Red Sox manager, winning the World Series in 2013, missing the playoffs in both 2014 and 2015, and winning the AL East in both 2016 and 2017, but getting bounced in the ALDS in both seasons. Dave Dombrowski made a change, and he went with Alex Cora, the Houston Astros bench coach who has experience managing in the Caribbean Winter League.
Cora’s well-liked across the league and it seems like he’ll be a great fit for the Red Sox, but going from one season into your first coaching job in the majors to the Boston Red Sox is one hell of a jump, and it remains to be seen if Cora will be able to cope with the media grind and the massive expectations that will be hanging over his head in Boston.
Old Manager: Brad Ausmus
New Manager: Ron Gardenhire
After a number of disappointing seasons, including a disastrous 98 loss 2017, the Tigers and Ausmus both needed to go in another direction.
But instead of a young, inspired hire to guide the team in 2018 and beyond, Detroit went with former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire is now 60 and hasn’t managed since 2014. He’s well-tested in the AL Central following 13 seasons managing the Twins, but his last season above .500 (which doesn’t appear to be the immediate goal for this Tigers team) came in 2010. I’m not all that sure what hiring Gardenhire accomplishes, aside from maybe preventing the team from falling further in the tank, though given the state of the organization right now, might be the best bet for Detroit going forward.
New York Mets
Old Manager: Terry Collins
New Manager: Mickey Callaway
Teflon Terry’s time with the Mets finally ran out after a 2015 NL pennant, a 2016 NL Wild Card spot, and uh…several other seasons that featured the Mets playing baseball.
New York made a strong hire in well-regarded Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, who could probably help the organization’s swath of young pitching that can’t stay healthy. The Mets appear to be moving on to a new era following the back to back playoff berths, and Callaway seems like the perfect guy to take them to the next level. However, Callaway does lack managerial experience at any level (though serving under Terry Francona in the majors should have helped a bit), and as is usually the case in New York, ownership could meddle with Callaway’s attempts to rejuvenate the team.
New York Yankees
Old Manager: Joe Girardi
New Manager: Aaron Boone
Well this one came as a surprise. No one really expected the Yankees to move on from Girardi, despite his contract expiring after the 2017 season. Yet, they did, despite the Baby Bombers getting to within just one win of the World Series, a year or two before many expected them to contend in the AL East.
Their choice to replace Girardi was a strange one – former Yankees third baseman (and prior to his hiring, ESPN analyst) Aaron Boone, who has exactly zero coaching (or managing!) experience. How Boone will do as Yankees manager is a complete mystery. Will he be the next great MLB manager, like Girardi was when he was appointed Marlins manager for the 2006 season? Will he experience highs and lows over his first couple of years as manager, like Paul Molitor has in Minnesota? Or will he completely flame out and be regarded as a disappointment, like Robin Ventura with the White Sox?
Hiring Boone is a huge risk for the Yankees. This is a team that was one win from the World Series in October, and they’re bringing in a novice to take them to the next level. If the Yankees end up regressing under Boone, wasting some of the cheap, prime years of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez (among many others), hiring him could be a decision that the franchise rues for years.
Old Manager: Pete Mackanin
New Manager: Gabe Kapler
Another surprise, not because of Mackanin’s performance with the Phillies, but because the team picked up his option for 2018 earlier this year and stated their commitment to him. A few months later, Mackanin was out, and the Phillies went in a new direction.
The Phillies haven’t had a manager quite like Kapler since probably Terry Francona in the 90s – a younger, less experienced former player that is highly thought of within the industry. Kapler’s potentially extreme methods in a variety of areas could result in him burning the Phillies organization out quickly, but I think he’s just the spark that they need. I really don’t see his time with the organization ending in mediocre fashion – he’s either going to be incredible (see: AJ Hinch in Houston) or a disaster (see: Bobby Valentine in Boston).
Old Manager: Dusty Baker
New Manager: Dave Martinez
After another hard luck playoff exit for the Nationals, Baker was shown the door, despite back to back NL East titles. If Washington had completed an NLDS comeback against the Cubs in Game 5, would Baker have been removed? It’s tough to say, but with the team’s window coming to a close, they’ll go with a fourth full-time manager since 2012.
Martinez’s hiring has received plenty of positive reaction across the league, but this is one hell of a job for him to walk into – if the Nationals win the NL East and 94 games but get bounced in the NLDS again, he’ll be considered a failure, and that’s probably not all that fair to him. Washington needs to be patient with their new manager, and can’t just let him go if the club doesn’t advance far in the playoffs during his first or second year in charge. Sure, it’s been the team’s MO over the years, but what would it say if you hire this rising managerial star, and cut bait with him just like you did his two predecessors?