MLB manager hot seat rankings

With the MLB regular season now about one-third of the way finished, we have a clearer picture of where each team stands. Some managers are already looking over their shoulders as a result of poor team performance. The following gallery is a ranking of MLB manager job security from one (least secure) to 30 (most secure).

1. Dave Martinez, Nationals

Brad Penner / USA Today Sports Images

While the Nats allowed Bryce Harper to walk in free agency, they entered the season with high expectations after signing Patrick Corbin. The roster has its share of stars with Corbin, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon, yet the team was almost out of the playoff race entering June. Washington was also the most disappointing team of 2018, at 82-80, and fired pitching coach Derek Lilliquist in early May. Frankly, it’s surprising Martinez has lasted this long in his second year.

2. Mickey Callaway, Mets

Noah K. Murray / USA Today Sports Images

The Mets sideshow continues. Callaway’s team finished with 77 wins in his first season but seemingly went all in this offseason by adding Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano and Wilson Ramos and also allowed rookie Pete Alonso to stick on the roster out of spring training, thereby losing a year of team control. Yet, New York was below .500 entering June, and the pitching staff (Callaway’s area of expertise) has been disappointing.

3. Don Mattingly, Marlins

Aaron Doster / USA Today Sports Images

It’s hard to believe him, but Marlins CEO Derek Jeter has insisted he expects the Marlins to win now. Jeter and Mattingly go way back to their days with the Yankees, but if Jeter truly practices what he preaches, Mattingly could be on the chopping block. To the surprise of no one (except maybe Jeter), the Marlins were 21-36 through June 3 and in contention for the worst record in baseball.

4. David Bell, Reds

Brad Penner / USA Today Sports Images

On one hand, the Reds ranked fourth in run differential in the NL through June 1. On the other hand, they were in last place at 27-32 with a lineup that has been a massive disappointment. The Reds’ pitching additions have worked out for the most part, particularly Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark, but the team had much higher expectations in Bell’s first season. It would be surprising if Cincinnati fired Bell in his first year but not unprecedented.

5. Ned Yost, Royals

Jim Cowsert / USA Today Sports Images

Yost gets some leeway for leading the Royals to two World Series, but the organization’s last winning season was its World Series championship 2015 season. K.C. won only 58 games last year and is well on its way to another embarrassing finish. The hiring of former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny as a front office assistant opened some eyes, and he would make sense as a replacement if the Royals move on from Yost, whose contract expires after this season.

6. Joe Maddon, Cubs

Jasen Vinlove / USA Today Sports Images

Maddon is in the last year of his contract with the Cubs, and the team has high expectations for 2019 despite making few offseason moves. While they have appeared in four straight playoffs, including their historic World Series win in 2016, their playoff success under Maddon has otherwise been fleeting. The NL Central has never been tougher during Maddon’s tenure than it is this season, but the team might decide to finally move on from him if it doesn’t go further in the playoffs this year.

7. Mike Shildt, Cardinals

Jim Cowsert / USA Today Sports Images

Shildt was the Cardinals savior last season, going 41-28 after the first-time manager was promoted following Mike Matheny’s firing. His start to this season has been more innocuous at 30-28, third place in the loaded NL Central. The Cardinals are desperate to make the playoffs after failing over the last three seasons and trading a significant package for Paul Goldschmidt in the offseason. Shildt can’t be faulted for the team’s starting pitching struggles, but ownership could make changes if the team disappoints again this year.

8. Brad Ausmus, Angels

Jesse Johnson / USA Today Sports Images

You’ve probably heard this one before, but the Angels have been plagued by multiple pitching injuries and have struggled to find hitters around Mike Trout this year. They had the same issue recently under Mike Scioscia, and Ausmus hasn’t been able to buck the trend despite being far more amenable to using openers and defensive shifts. Ausmus should get some slack, but it’s inexcusable for the team to not be competitive for so long. The Angels are at risk of finishing below .500 for the fourth straight season.

9. Clint Hurdle, Pirates

Philip G. Pavely / USA Today Sports Images

The Pirates remain within striking distance in the NL Central, though winning the division doesn’t truly look realistic with Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams injured. Pittsburgh’s pitching staff has been far worse than expected as a result, and their negative-68 run differential through 58 games currently is the third-worst in the league. Hurdle has done a nice job considering the circumstances, but the team has finished above .500 only once in the last three years and could be in for a standings plunge if it doesn’t get healthy quickly.

10. Scott Servais, Mariners

Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today Sports Images

The M’s had a fire sale this offseason despite winning 89 games in 2018 but were able to get off to a hot start anyway. The Jay Bruce trade on June 2 likely was the first domino to fall in a continuing rebuild with the team standing 17 games out of first place. Servais hasn’t done anything wrong, but it remains to be seen whether the front office sees him as the right manager for what will soon become a younger roster.

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By: Seth Trachtman

How MLB players performed in first season after signing massive deals

Giancarlo Stanton: $325 million (2015)

The deal Stanton signed in November 2014 with the Marlins blew away the previous MLB high-water mark by more than $50 million; the 13-year contract also set a standard for length. The first year of the deal was a disappointment for Stanton, who was limited to only 74 games due to a broken bone in his right hand. At the time of the injury in June, he had 27 home runs, four that traveled more than 460 feet.

Alex Rodriguez, $252 and $272 million (2001, 2008)

A-Rod redefined the game’s financial high-water mark not once, but twice, the first time coming when he inked a $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers in 2001. In his first year in Arlington, Rodriguez led the American League with 52 home runs and 393 total bases. He also became the third player in history with 50 homers and 200 hits in a season. He made $20 million more on his second epic deal, this time with the Yankees in 2008. That season he hit 35 home runs, scored 104 runs and led the AL with a .573 slugging percentage.

Miguel Cabrera, $247 million (2014)

On the heels of his third consecutive batting title and second straight AL MVP, Cabrera was signed by the Tigers to a $247 million extension. Although 2014 would be the only year between 2011 and 2015 that Miggy would not top the AL in batting, he still managed to hit .313, drive in more than 100 runs for the seventh consecutive year for the Tigers and lead the league with 52 doubles.

Robinson Cano, $240 million (2014)

The Mariners shocked the baseball world with the deal for Cano’s services, reaching a level the Yankees refused to go for their All-Star second baseman. In Year 1 in the Pacific Northwest, Cano made his fifth consecutive All-Star team and finished fifth in AL MVP voting. However, he posted his lowest power numbers in seven years (14 HRs, 82 RBI) because of a gastrointestinal issue that plagued him late in the year.

Albert Pujols, $240 million (2012)

Angels owner Arte Moreno stunningly lured Pujols from St. Louis with the second-largest contract in MLB history at the time. Although Pujols hit 30 home runs and 50 doubles and drove in 105 runs for the Angels in 2012, his overall performance was well short of the lofty standards he set in St. Louis. He hit at least 40 HRs six times with the Cardinals.

Joey Votto, $225 million (2012)

With an NL MVP, Gold Glove and two on-base crowns already under his belt, the Reds made Votto the highest-paid player in franchise history in April 2012. He led the NL in walks (135) and on-base percentage (.474) and had a career-best .337 batting average. Votto’s torrid 2012 season was interrupted in mid-July because of a meniscus tear in his left knee. He missed 1 1/2 months.

David Price, $217 million (2016)

At the time of his signing, Price’s deal was the richest in history by a pitcher, earning him just under $1 million per start. Although he finished with 17 wins and led the AL in innings pitched with 230, his first year in Boston was an up-and-down affair. His first-half ERA was over 4.00, and he allowed the most hits in the AL that season. His postseason struggles continued as well — he allowed five runs over 3.1 innings in an ALCS defeat.

Clayton Kershaw, $214 million (2014)

Kershaw had arguably the greatest new-money season in MLB history in 2014. The Dodgers’ lefty went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA in a season that also included a 41-inning scoreless streak. He was a unanimous NL Cy Young Award winner and the first hurler named NL MVP since Bob Gibson in 1968.

Prince Fielder, $212 million (2012)

The Detroit Tigers surprisingly signed the slugging first baseman to a nine-year, $214 million deal. (In 2011, he carried Milwaukee to the NLCS.) In his first of two seasons in Detroit, Fielder hit a career-best .313. slugged  30 home runs, drove in 108 runs and scored 83. He also won his second All-Star Home Run Derby crown, joining Ken Griffey Jr. as the only player with multiple Derby crowns at the time.

Max Scherzer, $210 million (2015)

In his first NL season, Scherzer threw two no-hitters, becoming the sixth player to accomplish the feat twice in a season. At one point, the Nationals’ pitcher retired 52 consecutive batters. He led the league in complete games (4) and shutouts (3).

Full List

By: Matt Whitener

 

 

11 MLB players in contract years who will crush it in 2019

Athletes in any sport wants to perform at their best the year before they’re eligible to hit free agency, and baseball players are certainly no different. This winter alone has shown how much money can be gained or lost in a contract year, with high-profile names standing out on both sides of the spectrum. Manny Machado used the best season of his career to secure a $300 million long-term guarantee from the Padres, while longtime Astros’ lefty Dallas Keuchel struggled in his walk year and finds himself still unsigned with two weeks to go until Opening Day.

Impending free agents on losing teams always deal with a degree of uneasiness around the trade deadline, when clubs hope to bring back something before letting a player leave for nothing, and it takes a certain level of professionalism to block out the noise and perform. In 2019 several players jump off the page as candidates to enjoy a big walk year. Let’s examine the list.

1. Justin Smoak 1B Toronto Blue Jays

Two years ago the switch-hitting Smoak hit .270 with 38 home runs and 90 RBI while adding 29 doubles and making the All-Star Team. Unfortunately he was unable to come close to replicating that success a year ago. In 505 at-bats, the veteran watched his stat line dip to .242 with 25 homers and 77 RBI, still a solid season but not nearly as eye-opening as his prior campaign. Entering 2019 both the Blue Jays and Smoak would benefit from a renaissance, as Toronto is exceedingly unlikely to be in the mix in a difficult AL East and would love to move him to a bat-needy team at the deadline. Smoak understands the monetary difference between his ’17 and ’18 seasons is massive.

2.  Jose Abreu 1B Chicago White Sox

Abreu has spent his entire career in the Windy City after defecting from Cuba prior to the 2014 campaign, and during his first four years in the big leagues he was one of the best run producers in the entire sport. From 2014-17 the right-handed slugger hit over .290 with 25-plus homers and 100-plus RBI in each season, but last year didn’t go nearly as swimmingly. A lower abdominal injury limited the 32-year-old to a career-low 128 games, and his .265 average, 22 homers and 78 RBI were evidence of just how bothered he was by the discomfort. Now back and healthy, Abreu is a prime candidate for a huge year, as he is a proud man who fancies himself as one of the most productive hitters in the American League. A big winter payday is quite the carrot at the end of the proverbial stick.

3. Zack Wheeler SP New York Mets

After spending the majority of his career taking two steps forward and one step back, the right-hander finally arrived in a big way in 2018. In 29 starts, Wheeler dominated for much of the year, turning in a 3.31 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP in 182.1 innings while striking out 179 men and holding the opposition to just a .225 batting average. There had been some minor chatter of New York trying to extend the 28-year-old during camp, but Wheeler spoke candidly about understanding he and Gerrit Cole are the top two free agents to be starting pitchers, and it’s clear he has his eyes on the prize heading into the new season.

4. Gerrit Cole SP Houston Astros

Speaking of Cole, the former Pirates first-round pick landed in Houston as part of an offseason trade prior to last year, and while he often found himself overshadowed by teammate Justin Verlander, he was one of the best pitchers in the American League in his own right. In 32 outings the veteran turned in a 2.88 ERA with a career best 1.03 WHIP while holding the opposition to a sub .200 batting average for the first time and eclipsing the 200 innings pitched plateau for the third time in four years. His 276 strikeouts finished second to only Verlander in the AL, and the UCLA product earned a selection to his second All-Star Team. Entering 2019 Wheeler was 100 percent right that he and Cole will be the two most sought-after pitchers next winter, and provided Cole avoids serious injuries moving forward, his bank account can expect to expand by several zeroes.

5. Josh Donaldson 3B Atlanta Braves

Perhaps no offensive player is more motivated at the outset of 2019 than the 2015 AL MVP, who struggled through a miserable injury-plagued 2018 season and ultimately settled for a high value one-year, prove-it deal in Atlanta. The Braves could be getting themselves a steal as they attempt to win their second consecutive division crown, as from 2015-17 Donaldson launched 111 homers and drove in 300 runs while consistently hitting around .280 and getting on base at close to a .385 clip. Taking the pillow contract was a strategic play for the veteran, as he understood he would be overshadowed by Machado and Bryce Harper on the free-agent market this season. And if he can re-establish himself as a premier run producer in 2019, he just may break the bank next winter.

6. Scooter Gennett 2B Cincinnati Reds

In just two seasons in western Ohio, Gennett has transformed himself from a solid role player in Milwaukee to one of the best offensive second basemen in the league. Last year the 28-year-old hit .310 with 23 homers and 92 RBI while setting a new career high with a .357 OBP and eclipsing 30 doubles for the third time in his career. By all accounts the veteran is someone the Reds should want to keep around for the long haul, but in mid-February he expressed frustration over not receiving a contract extension, a potential rift to pay attention to as the summer unfolds.

7. Marcell Ozuna OF St. Louis Cardinals

When the Marlins were selling off everyone and everything that wasn’t nailed down prior to last season, the Cardinals were happy to swoop in and take the right-handed-hitting Ozuna off their hands. The Dominican Republic native had just completed a season that had watched him hit .313 with 37 homers and 124 RBI while earning a trip to his second straight All-Star Game, taking home his first Silver Slugger award and even winning his first Gold Glove. St. Louis fantasized about adding that type of production to the middle of its lineup, but unfortunately it took the veteran some time to get used to his new surroundings. When all was said and done, Ozuna’s numbers slid to .280 with 23 homers and 88 RBI, still solid but not what the Cardinals were expecting. Entering Year 2 in Missouri, this lineup is now home to slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who will take pressure off Ozuna to be the premier right-handed bat and, in theory, add a substantial amount of RBI opportunities. It should come as no surprise if the 28-year-old delivers a monster season.

MLB Teams To Add Protective Netting

Written by Charlotte Carrol at SI.com

After a young girl was struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium during a Yankees–Twins game on Wednesday, the Reds became the first team to respond by announcing a plan to increase netting at its stadium, Great American Ballpark. The Mariners, Padres and Rockies have since followed suit.

“The Reds’ ongoing commitment to providing the best ballpark experience includes maintaining the safety and security of our fans,” the statement said.

The Mariners also announced a plan to increase netting at Safeco Field, but said the specifics of the plan are still being discussed.

“This is an issue that we’ve been concerned about for some time,” Mariners president Kevin Mather said. “We still have some details to work out, but the bottom line is expanded netting at Safeco Field is going to happen.”

The Padres’ statement specified that they will extend netting to the end of each dugout by Opening Day 2018.

Colorado didn’t unveil specific plans so much as acknowledge that the team is looking into expanding the netting. The Rockies highlighted “engineering issues” and vendor selection as parts of the process that make the endeavor so complex.

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John Lackey Stole His First Ever Base. Immediately Gets Picked Off

Written by Jesse Kramer at The Comeback.com

John Lackey did the unthinkable tonight. The Cubs pitcher singled during the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Reds, his first hit in more than two months. Then he made history, taking off for second before pitcher Homer Bailey even delivered to the plate for his first career stolen base at 38 years young.

He looked like he was on a slip-and-slide rather than a baseball diamond as he slid into second, but congratulations are in order nonetheless.

Apparently, even he was a bit shocked he stole second. When Ben Zobrist walked, Lackey wandered off second base as if he assumed there was also a runner on first. He tried to recover, but Tucker Barnhart’s throw beat him to the bag by a hair.

 

Lackey may have robbed the Cubs of a scoring opportunity, but a few minutes later he robbed Joey Votto of an historic hit. Votto has reached base multiple in 20 straight games, one shy of Ted Williams’ MLB record. He already singled in the first, and this liner would have gotten through for another base hit if not for Lackey’s quick reflexes.

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Brandon Phillips Traded To The Atlanta Braves

Written by Mike Axia and Matt Snider at CBSSports.com

In an effort to be respectable during SunTrust Park’s inaugural season in 2017, the Atlanta Braves added veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips from Cincinnati, the Reds announced Sunday.

You might remember that last month Phillips invoked his 10-and-5 no-trade protectionto block a trade to the Braves. He has done that several times through the years, most notably blocking deals to the Nationals last offseason and the Yankees the offseason before that.

Phillips, now 35, grew up outside Atlanta, so it could be he had a change of heart and decided to approve a trade. He is owed $14 million in 2017, the final year on his contract. The Reds will pay $13 million of that with the Braves only responsible for $1 million, per Jon Heyman.

The return to the Reds is left-handed pitcher Andrew McKirahan and right-handed pitcher Carlos Portuondo. McKirahan, 27, missed last season after having Tommy John surgery. In 2015, he appeared in 27 games for the Braves, posting a 5.93 ERA and 1.83 WHIP. He has a 2.20 career ERA in the minors, but most of that is in the lower levels. Portuondo, 29, signed with the Braves from out of Cuba prior to the 2016 season. Between Class-A Advanced and Triple-A, he appeared in 17 games, pitching to a 3.63 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.

Neither pitcher is considered a prospect and with the Reds assuming most of Phillips’ salary, it’s pretty clear this was just the Reds clearing a roster spot.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports indicated one of Atlanta’s motives behind the trade is an injury to recently signed utility infielder Sean Rodriguez. Rodriguez and his family were involved in a car accident last month and he will miss several months following shoulder surgery.

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Cardinals Steal Win From Reds


Written by Demetrius Bell at SBNation

Listen, we know it’s tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn’t easy. It’s OK, though, we’re going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning, and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network, as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.

On Thursday night, the National League Wild Card race took a turn for the controversialafter a dramatic ending in St. Louis resulted in what could be a season-saving victory for the Cardinals. In the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied at three against the Reds, Cardinals hero Yadier Molina hit a looping liner into left field. As Matt Carpenter raced around the basepaths, the ball bounced over the fence for what should’ve been a ground-rule double. Instead, nothing was called, and Carpenter beat a delayed throw home to walk it off for the Cardinals.

The ball very clearly hit the outfield signage in left field, which is out of play at Busch Stadium. The Reds stayed on the field immediately afterwards as Reds manager Bryan Price was forced to try to chase the umpires down, who had left the field once Carpenter scored the run. As a result, the Reds were unable to call for a replay and the game ended 4-3 in favor of St. Louis. So, why weren’t the Reds allowed to challenge the obviously wrong call? Apparently, Price wasn’t fast enough in calling for the challenge, so he and the Reds were out of luck.

Of course, if you’re supporting the Mets or Giants then you’re probably livid right now. The Cardinals are still on the outside looking in, but they’re now only one game out of the second NL Wild Card spot. There’s no telling what would have happened had the game in St. Louis gone to extras, but it’s much better to decide it on the field instead of having a wonky replay decisionhelp a team win and have a major impact on a postseason race. New York and San Francisco may hold on to their spots and play in the Wild Card game, but if St. Louis makes it in then this will end up being one of the most important plays of the 2016 season.

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Phillies Bullpen Exposed from the Get Go


Written by David Murphy at Philly.com

They began trickling into the business district more than three hours before the parade. They were walking across intersections, standing in lines, sitting in cubicles inside offices: jerseys, T-shirts, caps, everybody dressed in all-Reds everything. Turns out Opening Day is a bit of a thing here in the Queen City, and as Joey Votto stepped into the box in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded, the home crowd finally had somewhere to channel all of that energy.

The Phillies? Well, you probably know how this one ended. If not, you can probably guess. But let’s start with the positive, because we have the rest of the season to wallow in the wreckage of squandered leads. For seven innings, the Phillies looked a lot like the kind of team that could end up surprising people who are picking them as the worst team in the majors. They got six solid innings out of their starter – Jeremy Hellickson struck out six, walked none, and allowed one unearned run in six innings – and a two-run home run from Freddy Galvis to take a 2-1 lead that lasted until David Hernandez took the mound in the eighth.

That’s when things took a turn in a direction that many feared was inevitable. The best you can say is that nobody got hurt; no batters, that is, because none of the pitchers the Phillies trotted out there seemed to have much of an idea where the ball might end up once they released it. The most concerning performance came from Hernandez, a hard-throwing 30-year-old entering his second season off Tommy John surgery on whom the Phillies are counting to fill the late-inning void left by the departure of Ken Giles.

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