MLB Coaches on the Hot Seat as the Season Gets Underway
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Entering the 2013, some MLB managers may feel that their seats are a little bit toastier than others.
Whether it is because of a strong offseason, a string of disappointing campaigns or the expectations of a large media market, some teams are expecting big things out of their skippers this season.
For that reason, these managers are all on the hot seat entering Opening Day 2013.
Note: All statistics via ESPN.
Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers
Mattingly is expected to deliver results after the Dodgers spent big this offseason.
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According to the Los Angeles Times, Don Mattingly asked the Dodgers to pick up the 2014 option in his contract. Instead, Los Angeles declined and Mattingly enters the season as a lame duck.
As if that wasn’t enough pressure, Mattingly is helming a team that had one of the biggest offseasons in baseball history. Los Angeles signed righty ace Zach Greinke away from the rival Angels to a six-year, $147 million contract. They also spent more than $60 million between a posting fee and contract for South Korean hurler Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Throw in the mega-deal Los Angeles completed with the Boston Red Sox last summer that saw the Dodgers acquire first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett and more than a quarter-billion dollars worth of contracts, and Mattingly is looking at sky-high expectations in Chavez Ravine.
Expect Mattingly to be on a tight leash to start the season. Los Angeles needs to get off to a hot start if he wants to keep his job for the year.
Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Scioscia is the longest-tenured manager in the MLB.
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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia may be entering his 14th year with the team—he is the longest-tenured manager in the major leagues—and he may have six years left on his contract, but the pressure is on in Southern California.
The Angels haven’t made the playoffs since 2009. Owner Arte Moreno spent $331 million on first baseman Albert Pujols and pitcher C.J. Wilson, but the team missed the playoffs.
Moreno opened his checkbook again this offseason, signing former Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract.
With sluggers Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo also on the deep Angels’ roster, Scioscia has no excuses—and a very hot seat—entering the 2013 season.
Joe Girardi, New York Yankees
Girardi will have to deal with a Yankees lineup decimated by injuries.
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It wouldn’t be a proper Yankees season without the manager facing astronomical expectations, but this year may be more challenging than usual for New York skipper Joe Girardi.
Forget the fact the Bronx Bombers haven’t won a World Series since 2009—only in the Big Apple could that be considered a dry spell—and check out how brittle the Yankees’ roster is.
Outfielder Curtis Granderson, first baseman Mark Teixeira and third baseman Alex Rodriguez are all out for the start of the season due to injury. Meanwhile, captain and shortstop Derek Jeter may be spending Opening Day on the disabled list due to an ankle injury, according to the New York Daily News.
In New York, no matter the season, the expectations are World Series or bust. With a decimated Yankees lineup, 2013 is shaping up to be perhaps the most challenging season in Girardi’s tenure in pinstripes.
Ned Yost, Kansas City Royals
Yost is looking to lead the Royals to the playoffs for the first time since 1985.
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The Kansas City Royals enter 2013 with higher hopes than usual thanks to a strong offseason. With those expectations comes sky-high pressure on manager Ned Yost.
While the Royals have improved their win total for four straight seasons, the team has not made the playoffs since 1985. However, the team’s third-place finish in the AL Central was Kansas City’s highest since 2003.
The team made some key moves this offseason to end that cold streak. Kansas City bolstered its rotation, adding hurlers James Shields and Wade Davis in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Royals also added starter Ervin Santana, acquiring him in a trade with the Angels.
The Royals already had a strong offense, so the pressure is on Yost to turn the offseason acquisitions into wins and perhaps Kansas City’s first postseason trip in nearly three decades.
Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates
Hurdle is looking to end the Pirates' 20-year losing streak.
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Hurdle is on this list for reasons similar to Yost. The Pirates have improved for three straight seasons (though Hurdle has only been in charge of the Bucs for the past two campaigns), nearly finishing .500 last year with a 79-83 record.
But the Pirates have not made the playoffs since 1992 and have endured 20 straight losing seasons during that time.
The Pirates nearly ended that streak last year—the team was 62-46 on Aug. 6—but they ended the year on a cold 17-37 run.
With offseason signee catcher Russell Martin joining star outfielder Andrew McCutchen and hurler A.J. Burnett on a suddenly dangerous Pirates squad, Pittsburgh is a playoff threat in 2013—if Hurdle pushes all of the right buttons.
The Pirates may have extended Hurdle’s contract through 2014 this past offseason, but don’t let that fool you.
The pressure is on in Pittsburgh, and Hurdle is expected to deliver.