This Is Fine: MLB's Hot Seats Ready to Catch Fire
First off, if you didn't get the reference in the headline, here you go.
Now, on to the meat of the matter. Or, rather, the heat of the matter.
We're talking MLB hot seats, meaning players, managers and executives whose 2017 performances have put their jobs in jeopardy.
Not everyone listed here will be fired, benched or demoted. They've all done—or not done—enough to feel a burning sensation in their backsides, however. And if they don't reverse course posthaste, those seats will go from hot to en fuego.
J.J. Hardy, SS, Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles are a half-game out in the American League East entering play Monday. That's no thanks to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who has been dreadful in the early going.
The 34-year-old owns an anemic .203/.240/.276 slash line and hasn't provided his characteristic solid defense, posting minus-1 defensive runs saved.
Is it the ravages of age?
"I wake up with things, and it's like what the hell? I didn't do anything there, and I'm just sore," Hardy said, per Jon Gold of the Arizona Daily Star. "You just grind through it."
Hardy sat Sunday in favor of Ryan Flaherty, who went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI in a 9-8 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
That's not a long-term solution, but if Hardy's struggles continue, expect Baltimore to go shopping for a replacement.
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart might be on the market, or the O's could slide Manny Machado to short and pursue a third baseman such as the Chicago White Sox's Todd Frazier (though he's hitting a scant .181).
Either way, for a team in contention, Hardy's lack of production will not stand.
Brandon Moss, DH, Kansas City Royals
It's been a dismal season for the Royals, who are suddenly far from the pennant they won in 2014 and the Commissioner's Trophy they hoisted in 2015.
K.C. sits in last place in the American League Central at 16-21. There's ample blame to go around, but dump a share at the feet of Brandon Moss.
In 26 games, mostly at designated hitter, Moss has hit .174 with a .643 OPS. He's tallied four hits, including two home runs, in his past three games, but those overall numbers are unacceptable from a guy who's paid almost exclusively to hit the ball.
"It's coming, but right now it's a back-and-forth battle with my mind," Moss told reporters.
The 33-year-old signed for $7.25 million this season with a $10 million option and $1 million buyout for 2018, so the Royals have a financial incentive to see whether he can turn it around.
Before long, though, Moss will either need to contribute consistently or drop by the wayside on a lurching Kansas City club.
Bobby Evans, GM, San Francisco Giants
Despite winning three straight games, the San Francisco Giants are buried nine games out in the National League West at 15-24.
For a club that's won a trio of championships in the past seven seasons, that's a bitter pill to swallow.
The Giants have issues in left field and the bullpen, where closer Mark Melancon is out with an elbow injury. They haven't performed well in any facet.
Manager Bruce Bochy, who was at the helm for all of San Francisco's titles and is the active MLB wins leader, is safe.
General manager Bobby Evans, however, enjoys less job security.
Evans assumed GM duties from Brian Sabean prior to the 2015 season, with Sabean taking the title of executive vice president of baseball operations.
The Giants finished 84-78 in 2015 and missed the postseason, and the Chicago Cubs eliminated them in the National League Division Series in 2016.
With the club limping out of the gate, it's possible Evans' job is on the line.
"Fans have a right to be upset," Evans said, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. "They're not alone. The front office is upset. The players are upset."
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Boston Red Sox
Pablo Sandoval's Boston Red Sox tenure has been a bust. That much is undeniable.
At what point do the Sox give up on the Kung Fu Panda? We may find out.
Sandoval entered the season trailing back-in-shape hype but slashed .213/.269/.377 before landing on the disabled list with a right-knee sprain.
He's set to begin a rehab assignment, per Jen McCaffrey of MassLive.com, and will undoubtedly get another crack at the hot corner.
Boston owes him $18.6 million in 2018 and 2019 with a $17 million option and $5 million buyout in 2020.
If he fails to produce, however, the Red Sox will look to some combination of rehabbing Brock Holt, Josh Rutledge and prospect Rafael Devers, who is hitting .324 at Double-A Portland, as well as the trade market.
Terry Collins, MGR, New York Mets
The New York Mets made it to the World Series in 2015 and snagged a wild-card berth in 2016.
Skipper Terry Collins is about to become the longest-tenured manager in franchise history, per James Wagner of the New York Times.
Add those facts together, and it seems unlikely Collins will get the axe anytime soon.
Then again, the Mets are 16-20, 7.5 games back of the Washington Nationals in the NL East.
Injuries have hit in the starting rotation and lineup, which can't be pinned on Collins. Losing ace Noah Syndergaard and slugger Yoenis Cespedes, among others, would put any field general on his heels.
Ultimately, however, when a team goes south, the man on the dugout's top step absorbs the blame.
As Kevin Kernan of the New York Post noted: "Collins has his detractors, and a manager who once was considered to be too hard on his players now is considered a bit too soft by some, allowing the Mets to get away with lack of focus on some plays without the hammer coming down."
Speaking of which...
Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets
By now, you've heard the sordid tale of Matt Harvey, who was hit with a three-game suspension after failing to show up at the ballpark for a game against the Miami Marlins.
It later came out Harvey was distraught over an ex-girlfriend, but the larger point is his performance is divorced from past success.
In seven starts, including one since his suspension, Harvey owns a 5.63 ERA and 6.45 FIP. If the Dark Knight's 2017 output were a color, it would be beige. Or possibly faded chartreuse.
With Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo all on the DL, the Mets can't afford to bench Harvey. Mix his behavioral issues with his ineffectiveness, though, and he's on notice.
Suddenly, a dude who seemed like an unassailable ace despite his own injury woes is pitching for his MLB life. So it goes in Queens.