5 Managers on the Hot Seat at MLB's Midseason Mark
By early next week, every team will have gone through at least 81 of the 162-game gauntlet that is the 2013 baseball season.
As with any group, leadership is essential. To navigate the ebbs and flows of a baseball campaign, it becomes vital.
Over the years, the relative importance of managers has diminished in the public eye, and for good reason. Skippers are not miracle workers, but simply tasked with molding the group handed to them into the best outfit possible.
The trail and tribulation of changing managers during the season can yield mixed results, but ultimately, if a general manager or owner feels a change is necessary in the present, it will happen.
With competitive balance across the sport and/or long-term rebuilding projects very unlikely to yield drastic measures, the number of managers on the hot seat this month isn't what it was, say, just a decade ago, but that doesn't mean the temperature isn't rising for these five managers.
Without further ado, the five managers on the hot seat at MLB's midseason mark.
1. Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia Phillies
The 2013 Phillies are a sinking ship, a year behind their original window of championship contention and unrealistic about looking towards the future by marketing attractive veterans pieces in trade talks.
Despite the roster looking like a poor facsimile of what it was intended to be when general manager Ruben Amaro constructed it, the heat will fall on Charlie Manuel's head this summer. In fact, questions already have been asked about his job security moving forward.
To be fair, the 2013 Phillies, sporting the third-worst run differential in the sport, aren't the sole fault of Manuel. His bullpen maneuvers and tactical game decisions leave much to be desired, but a flawed roster will be his undoing.
With a contract up after this season, his likely successor, Ryne Sandberg, already on the staff and an August and September that could feature ugly baseball, Philadelphia and Charlie Manuel could part ways soon.
If Manuel doesn't have a big July to climb back into contention in the NL East, the seat will only grow warmer in a restless city.
2. Ned Yost, Kansas City Royals
This was supposed to be the year in Kansas City.
Finally, the wait would be over. Rebuilding complete, winning to commence.
If it wasn't, the front office would not have shipped six years of team control over a potential superstar in Wil Myers to Tampa for an ace, James Shields, that can be a free agent after next season.
If it was only about development, Miguel Tejada wouldn't have 70 plate appearances this season.
Yost was charged with taking a group of young, talented players with upside and making it work right now. So far, it's yielded disappointing results.
While a 35-39 record certainly hasn't ended Kansas City's season before the second half begins, they aren't quite sitting pretty.
Six games behind Detroit in the AL Central is a tall task, but imagining Yost's group leapfrogging the entire AL East and Cleveland for a Wild Card spot is almost equally daunting.
Ultimately, the Royals organization has shown their fanbase a willingness to go for it in 2013. If they don't believe Yost is the right man to lead them there after the All-Star break, things could get interesting.
3. Eric Wedge, Seattle Mariners
Eric Wedge isn't a bad manager, but he's not the magician necessary for what has been asked of him in Seattle.
Simply put, the Mariners are a franchise at a crossroads. With a mix of underachieving young players (Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero), prospects with unlimited potential (Mike Zunino, Taijuan Walker) and veterans on the wrong club (Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, Raul Ibanez, Mike Morse, Kendrys Morales), the group doesn't fit together well.
Stuck in the middle of the front office's indecision: Wedge.
If the objective was clearer, or, in other words, if the franchise went all in with rebuilding or contending, Wedge might be in an easier place to evaluate.
Instead, he looks lost, just like the roster he's been given.
His stance about Dustin Ackley and sabermetrics will be sarcastically tweeted and bantered about when his Seattle days do come to an end, but this manager-franchise failure is about more than semantics on when or when not to take the first pitch.
4. Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers
The rise of Yasiel Puig, return of Matt Kemp and potential of the Kershaw-Greinke-Ryu trio atop the Dodgers' rotation gives hope in Los Angeles for a group that hasn't been able to find traction amidst a mediocre NL West race.
Full disclosure: If I had to pick a team to post the best record in the division from this point forward, I'd lean towards the Dodgers.
That's right, Mattingly's Dodgers.
From the perspective of talent, no team in the division has more. Of course, that means little if Mattingly can't find a way to coerce wins out of a top heavy group that is loaded with All-Stars but also littered with replacement level parts.
If there's a turnaround in the second half, Mattingly's star will shine bright and Los Angeles will rejoice the manager that New York rejected. His time in the Big Apple, as both a player and coach, will be looked at as a reason for his success through the turmoil in Los Angeles.
Yet, if he can't win enough games to climb back near the top of the NL West, the seat will grow hotter, placing every decision, from bullpen management to the eventual juggling act of Crawford-Kemp-Etheir-Puig for three starting spots, under a very, very big microscope.
5. Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels
In a wide-ranging sit down with Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Angels owner Arte Moreno continued to expresses confidence in manager Mike Scioscia and patience with the team and roster he's constructed over the years.
Yet the facts don't lie: Despite a roster filled with some of the most decorated players in the sport, the Angels can't win.
Heading into play on Wednesday, Los Angeles sits behind Minnesota, Kansas City and Cleveland in the American League Wild Card race.
As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports pointed out on Tuesday, this group, whether through design, effort or a combination of both, does not play, let alone perform, like a vintage, high octane Mike Scioscia group.
Despite the accolades and praise for Scioscia around the game, if he can't win with this roster, ownership may have to explore if someone else can.
After all, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton aren't going anywhere for a long, long time.
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