Decision day is almost here for Major League Baseball organizations and employees. With the conclusion of the 2022 MLB season in sight, several teams will have to decide who will lead their club next season.
According to my projections, nine MLB clubs could have a new MLB manager in 2023. The Diamondbacks, Nationals, Red Sox, and Pirates have all announced they will not be making a bench change. I will examine whether each of the remaining managers in peril should return.
Will Likely Return for 2023
Rob Thomson, Phillies
Thomson has done a phenomenal job as an interim manager and should be rewarded with a new contract. Thomson replaced Joe Girardi 51 games in the season and seven games under .500. Since then, the Phils have gone 51-32 and are holding down the final wild card spot despite losing 11 of their last 21 games. They hold a two and one-half advantage over the Brewers with less than 30 games left.
While Thomson is well-liked by the players, the Phillies are expected to follow baseball’s hiring process and do a comprehensive search. However, the MLB organization could just promote him, and, that may be the case anyways, he would likely make it an easier decision by getting the team into the MLB playoffs for the first time since 2011. Philadelphia is given nearly a 90% chance of making the postseason.
John Schneider, Blue Jays
Like Thomson, Schneider is getting his first chance as a manager via the interim tag though he is 16 years younger than his compadre. But hoping to have the temporary title taken away is not the only thing that the 42-year-old has in common with Thomson, as he also has been successful since taking over the team from Charlie Montoyo.
Toronto started Schneider’s tenure by winning 10 of the first 13, although they have gone just 17-14 since. The Blue Jays hold the sixth spot in MLB American League heading into MLB Labor Day action. However, four teams are within eight games, and the Jays have slightly less than a 59% chance of making the playoffs.
While I don’t think Schneider is as sure of a thing remaining on the job as Thomson is with the Phillies, I think there is a slightly better than likely chance that he does. He, of course, would enhance his chances of returning by getting the Blue Jays back in the postseason.
Bud Black, Rockies
Black had the 2023 option of his contract picked up in February, and he is likely safe. However, the Rockies are 14-28 in the second half of the season, getting outscored by an incredible 82 runs. This after Colorado was hammered 10-0 by Cincinnati on Saturday.
Saturday’s loss to the Reds marked the 11th time the Rockies have been shut out this season. It also marked the 24th time they have lost by at least five runs. Colorado’s pitching staff ranks 29th in ERA, 29th in WHIP, and 30th in opponent’s batting average.
While the Rockies weren’t expected to compete for a postseason berth this year, this marks the fourth straight year they won’t extend their season past the regular season. However, I expect that the team’s brass will do a complete evaluation of the current staff, and they will likely recommend Black make some coaching changes to keep his job. Black is 406-437 during his six years in Denver.
May Be Back
Mike Matheny – Royals 1 more year
Similarly to Black, Matheny had his option for the 2023 campaign before the season. Despite having to “go through the growing pains” of a rebuild, the Royals were just 22 games under .500 in his first two seasons as the bench maestro, including Covid shortened 2020. In other words, it made sense for KC to give Matheny a vote of confidence heading into this season.
However, the Royals are on pace for 66 victories – 12 fewer than a season ago – and have been outscored by 147 runs. Their biggest issue is pitching, where they rank 27th in ERA, 30th in WHIP, and 27th in the opponent’s batting average.
While Matheny may not have total control over the pitching issues, he has mismanaged players’ injuries (for example, Edward Olivares, Adalberto Mondesi, Hunter Dozier, and Salvador Perez). He also has over-exerted the bullpen on occasion.
So, does Matheny deserve to be back for one more year? It will be interesting to see what the organization ultimately decides. But why bring him back if they will not sign Matheny to a long-term contract?
Tony La Russa, White Sox
LaRussa is 77 years old and has just one year remaining on his three-year deal. The White Sox won 93 games last year and claimed the AL Central crown for the first time since 2008, while it was their most victories since 2005.
However, the MLB ChiSox have vastly underachieved in 2022 as they sit at .500 (67-67) heading into Labor Day. The White Sox are ninth in the AL, seven games out of the final wildcard spot.
While injuries have played a part in their poor season, LaRussa has made some boneheaded managerial decisions. For example, LaRussa walking the Dodgers’ shortstop Trea Turner (on June 9) on 1-2 count to get to Max Muncy, who subsequently hit a 3-run home run to put Los Angeles up 10-5.
LaRussa is currently out indefinitely due to a heart condition, and it is unknown whether he will return to the dugout this year. Whether it is due to health problems or not, I don’t expect him to be back next year.
Will Likely Not Return
Phil Nevin, Angels
The MLB Angels had high expectations this year, with Shohei Ohtani coming off an MVP season and Mike Trout expected to be healthy after appearing in 34 games last season. However, the Angels got off to a slow start and fired Joe Maddon after 56 games– despite being in first place for 22 days – when they were two games under .500.
Los Angeles has gone 31-47 since Nevin took over the club on an interim basis. They enter Labor Day 28 games behind the Astros in the West. The Angels have played better in the second half of the season but rank in the bottom sixth of the league in most major offensive categories.
Unless the Angels win about 60% of their remaining games, it doesn’t appear Nevin will be back next year. Another issue possibly working against Nevin is that Angels owner Artie Moreno recently revealed that he is exploring the possibility of selling the team. Bruce Bochy is considered to be a possible candidate if the team does indeed go through the hiring process as expected.
Tony Beasley, Rangers
Beasley is not expected to be retained after this season. The Rangers are 7-12 since Beasley took over the reins, for Chris Woodward, on an interim basis.
Don Mattingly, Marlins
Mattingly’s contract runs out after this year, and it is unlikely the 61-year-old will return to South Florida. Mattingly has done an admirable job with the Marlins, but he has not been fully appreciated by the organization. Miami enters Labor Day with 55 victories, putting them on pace to match last year’s total of 67.
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