About three weeks ago, we had a post here about the lame duck managers of the MLB, including a couple that were on the hot seat. Well, there are numerous other managers in the league on the hot seat going into the 2012 season for a variety of reasons, be it high expectations, consistent underperformance, or any other factor. Here are five managers who could be on the hot seat if 2012 doesn’t exactly go the way that it’s supposed to.
1. Dusty Baker, Reds
After a four season stint with the Cubs, 2012 will be Dusty Baker’s fifth at the helm of the Cincinnati Reds. His finishes as Reds manager have been fifth, fourth, first, and third. That division title in 2010 is his one season with the club where he’s won more games than he’s lost, and his Reds got swept out of the playoffs by the Phillies that season. This season, there really aren’t that many excuses for Baker’s Reds. Albert Pujols is gone from the Cardinals. Prince Fielder (and possibly Ryan Braun for a third of the season) is gone from the Brewers. The Pirates are still very young and not ready for primetime, while the Cubs and Astros are in full-fledged rebuilding mode. Meanwhile, the Reds have a payroll currently set at $81 million, it’s highest ever. General manager Walt Jocketty has added ace pitcher Mat Latos and stud closer Ryan Madson, along with dominant reliever Sean Marshall. If the Reds can’t win the division in 2012, Baker should be looking for work this winter (or sooner).
2. Jim Leyland, Tigers
The Detroit Tigers are the defending champions of the weakest division in baseball. They also added a marquee free agent in Prince Fielder, who will add even more offense to a team that had a .774 OPS last year. Sure, they’ll be missing Victor Martinez in 2012, but Fielder is much better offensively. The interesting (to say the least) plan to move the largely immobile Miguel Cabrera to third base and let Fielder play first could end up being Leyland’s downfall if the Tigers struggle. The Tigers should easily coast to a division title this year, and with Fielder joning Cabrera and reigning MVP/Cy Young winner Justin Verlander in the rotation, the team should go deep into the playoffs. Leyland’s division championship last year was his first in six years leading the Tigers (though he did win the wild card and the AL pennant in 2006), and if he doesn’t go back-to-back this season, it could be his last.
3. Jim Tracy, Rockies
Since becoming manager of the Rockies in the midst of the 2009 season, Tracy has seen a declining trend in both his team’s winning percentage, and his team’s finish in the division. The Rockies had a .638 winning percentage when Tracy took over in 2009, and ended up winning the NL wild card. In 2010, they finished four games above .500 and fell to third in the division. And then this past season, the Rockies finished 73-89, and finished in fourth in a relatively weak NL West. Keep in mind, this Rockies team has Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez pumping blood in the heart of their order, and this is much better than a 73-win team. Add in new additions Michael Cuddyer, Marco Scutaro, and Jeremy Guthrie, and there is really no reason that the Rockies shouldn’t be contending in 2012. If Tracy manages to screw this one up, he should be discharged by his third team in the last eight seasons.
4. Brad Mills, Astros
I’m not saying that it’s fair or right for Mills to be on this list. But look at it this way: Mills’s managerial career is two seasons old, and he is 60 games under .500. He has a .407 winning percentage in two seasons. That….is not really good. It can’t get any worse for the Astros in 2012, can it? Well, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence won’t play a game for the team this season after getting dealt last May, and the team’s payroll is $52.9 million right now, down from $76.9 million last year and $92.7 million in 2010. But things are looking up for new GM Jeff Luhnow and his regime after some offseason deals (trading closer Mark Melancon for a couple of nice pieces in Jed Lowrie and Kyle Wieland being the highlight), and if Mills doesn’t look a guy who meshes well with their future plans, it might make more sense to dump him if the youthful Astros struggle this season.
5. Ozzie Guillen, Marlins
Another “bear with me” selection, but hear me out here. The Marlins are moving into a new ballpark in 2012, with a new team identity, and a new crop of players. Guillen is infamously a firestarter among MLB managers, a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve and has no filter. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is a control freak who has absolutely no qualms about making his staff bow to his pressure. Remember him firing Joe Girardi after the season Girardi won the NL Manager of the Year award, just because the two didn’t get along? Or when he fired Fredi Gonzalez because he had the gall to stand up to star player Hanley Ramirez? Or even when he told young outfielder Logan Morrison to cool his Twitter jets after him and the upper office personnel of the team didn’t agree with some of the things Morrison was saying? Yeah, Loria isn’t a guy who takes much flak from his guys, and Guillen is a guy who loves to give it. If the Marlins struggle right out of the gate and Guillen starts sniping in the media and on Twitter, things could get ugly, quick.