Berkowitz: MLB Managers on the Hot Seat

MLB Managers on the Hot Seat - Aaron Boone (Yankees)

AUTHOR’S UPDATE: With the latest news surfacing regarding Dusty Baker‘s retirement, I thought it’d make sense to double back and analyze the two oldest managers remaining in baseball’s current situation. While Bruce Bochy came out of retirement just one year ago and, like Baker, is undoubtedly an elite manager, he may also decide to step away after the season, especially if he is able to win the first World Series title in Rangers history.

The news coming out regarding Bochy’s top assistant’s unwillingness to interview for managerial openings is definitely a sign that some semblance of a succession plan is already in place in the Metroplex.

Will Venable is the current associate manager and a presumptive top managerial candidate this offseason. His desire to stay in Texas has a lot to do with his tight-knit relationship with the club’s PoBO, Chris Young. Not only do they share the same alma mater and are both part of a small fraternity of Ivy League big leaguers, but they also played together for three seasons with the Padres. So whether this happens this offseason or next, Venable is the heir apparent to Bochy in Arlington. Bochy was never the long-term solution for their managerial position anyways.


Similal to the situation with Bochy and Venable, the Astros, too, have a top-tier managerial candidate already in line to replace Baker in Houston. Joe Espada is a highly respected assistant, has been Baker’s top lieutenant the past few seasons, and has an exceptional résumé. Therefore, while we may see two titans of the industry step aside this offseason, their franchises’ searches for replacements may be trivial. I fully expect them both to conduct interviews with a handful of candidates, yet I would be surprised if Espada and Venable aren’t Baker’s and Bochy’s replacements, respectively, whether that comes to fruition this offseason or next.

As the 2023 Major League Baseball season winds to a close, it is the right time to take stock of teams’, players’, and managers’ seasons as a whole. In a rare year in which no managers were fired during the season, a few are more than likely to depart from their current roles.


Tier 1: Burnt

Aaron Boone

Boone’s days with the Yankees are numbered.  You simply can’t underperform this badly over a whole season in the Bronx and expect to come back.  I thought this was a bad hire from the get-go, and after winning only two postseason series in six seasons at the helm, he failed the Yankees’ lofty expectations.  I would not be surprised to see Boone get another shot at managing fairly quickly and it will be interesting to see how he fares out from under the Yankees’ massive thumb.  Despite his almost .600 win percentage in six seasons in the Bronx, Aaron Boone will no longer be managing the Yankees next season.  

The bigger question is if the Yankees shake up the front office as well.  While Brian Cashman is considered an industry titan, he has made some serious errors in judgment (no pun intended) and it looks like the game has shifted too fast for the Yankees to catch up.  An aging lineup consisting of slow, injury-prone corner bats is quickly becoming passé and the Yankees have committed hundreds of millions to that demographic.  

While the managerial position will be mostly determined by the Yankees’ decisions regarding their front office, it will be a fascinating search regardless.  Two names I would look out for are Raul Ibanez and Joe Espada.  The Yankees love hiring guys who have been a part of their organization in the past and both Ibanez and Espada fit the bill.  Espada served as the Yankees’ third base coach for three seasons under Joe Girardi. Meanwhile, Ibanez played for them in 2012 and has maintained a close relationship with many inside the Yankees organization. 

Oliver Marmol

What a season.  As bad as the Mets’ season looks, the Cardinals’ season has been nothing short of a complete and utter disaster.  Marmol happens to be at the forefront of this dysfunction. Known for arguing with players, fighting, and yelling, his spat with Tyler O’Neill early on this season may have caused a chasm so deep within the locker room that the Cardinals simply could not overcome.  


Marmol lacks the leadership, demeanor, and strategy required to excel as a field general and was miscast as manager after a very shady firing of Mike Schildt only two seasons ago.  The Cardinals’ issues run much deeper than just the manager, yet firing Marmol is bound to occur regardless.  

Unfortunately, last offseason, Skip Schumaker departed to become the Marlins’ manager. He would have been the ideal candidate to replace Marmol.  The Cardinals have not hired a manager from outside the organization since Tony La Russa was hired in 1996 and that, too, had a lot to do with Walt Jocketty, the then-general manager, having worked with La Russa in Oakland.   This all leads up to Joe McEwing topping the list of potential managers for the Cardinals.  He’s currently their bench coach, has played for the Cardinals, and has worked with Tony La Russa.

A couple of other names to consider would be Shelley Duncan, currently the Yankees’ Triple-A manager, and Miguel Cairo, who works in the Mets’ minor-league operations department. Duncan played for the Cardinals and his father was their longtime pitching coach.  Cairo also played for the Cardinals and was a top lieutenant for La Russa in Chicago.  

Phil Nevin

Arte Moreno is trying very hard to cement the Angels’ status as the most dysfunctional franchise in sports.  Made easier now that Daniel Snyder sold the Commanders and the Wilpons no longer own the Mets, a few other long downtrodden organizations are also turning the page.  Sadly for their fans, Shohei Ohtani both leaving or staying would be detrimental to the franchise.  This sorry narrative will not change as long as Arte Moreno and his growing list of mediocre general managers stooges remain in power.  

The Angels have an aging and oft-injured superstar making $35 million a year for the next seven years and an albatross of a three-year commitment to Anthony Rendon still on the books.  With a consensus bottom-three farm system and little young talent to speak of, the Angels can either remain stubbornly mediocre or endeavor to trade Mike Trout with Rendon attached and succumb to a long, painful, and challenging rebuild.  

Either way, this is a situation that any managerial prospect worth a damn will try their best to avoid.  This still makes it doubtful Nevin will keep his job as he’s seemed to lack the underlying traits needed to be a successful manager.

The most likely candidates for the Angels job are veterans who have little to lose by failing in Anaheim.  Keep an eye on guys like Mike Shildt, Mike Matheny, Joe Girardi, John Gibbons, or Walt Weiss. Weiss only ever played for three managers, those being Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, and Jim Leyland.  Combined with his previous managerial experience and his current stature as a top bench coach, he’s prime for a new opportunity.  Yet, for whatever reason, he hasn’t been garnering much interest around the league. Lastly, the Angels’ general manager, Perry Minasian, overlapped with Weiss while he was an assistant in Atlanta.  

Tier 2: Overcooked

Buck Showalter

While many may consider Showalter’s days to be numbered, that decision will most likely fall to the Mets’ new President of Baseball Operations.  All things considered, the Mets have drastically underperformed, yet it is hard to lay blame on Showalter.  The severe underperformance should fall on the players, many of whom followed a terrific 2022 season with an underwhelming 2023.  Second, Billy Eppler and co. did not do a good enough job of sanding the rough edges of this team.  The rough edges turned jagged and started to splinter, and a manager should not be held accountable for roster construction or player decrepitation.  

If Showalter was not a part of the future, he would have been fired already.  And once you fire someone like Buck, it’s not like you’re going to be hiring someone with even close to the same kind of experience and résumé.  I would not be surprised to see Showalter return for at least 2024.  Additionally, if Showalter is fired, he’d probably become the top managerial candidate this offseason and many think he’s secretly being coveted by the Yankees, the optics of which Steve Cohen would definitely prefer to avoid. 

Rocco Baldelli

The Twins have been teetering on the brink of contention throughout Baldelli’s tenure.  He hasn’t made the playoffs the last couple of years and has yet to win a playoff game, let alone an entire series.  With their best players underperforming or injured for large chunks of the season, it is again hard to fault Baldelli, yet the front office expected more out of the team they assembled.  If the Twins hold onto their AL Central lead and make it to the playoffs, Baldelli will almost certainly return next season.  If they manage to blow their lead and find themselves outside of the playoffs yet again, he will be fired.

Bud Black

The Rockies are one of the few organizations that seemingly never fires its manager based on on-field production or lack thereof.  Yet, Black is already one of the elder statesmen managers at 66 and has not produced a winning season since 2018.  Even though the Rockies will almost certainly continue to not be competitive, a change here makes a lot of sense.  Bringing in a younger manager better equipped at handling younger players and a potential rebuild would be the right move. 

Matt Holliday would seemingly fit very well in Denver.  However, it remains to be seen if he is interested in working for a major league team.  Last year, he resigned just two months after being hired as the Cardinals’ bench coach.  

Gabe Kapler

The Giants are a bit confounding, and while I don’t see them moving on from Kapler, it wouldn’t shock anyone to see him go.  After a terrific first year, Kapler has led the Giants to two mediocre seasons and they may very well miss the playoffs yet again.  That being said, the Giants are not playing any better or worse than what was projected heading into the season, so it’s hard to fault Kapler for that.  The fact that Farhan Zaidi hand-picked Kapler and worked closely with him in the Dodgers’ front office makes a firing unlikely, albeit understandable.  Expectations are always high for the Giants and their lackluster performances may turn out to be Kapler’s undoing, especially if veteran, win-now managers like Showalter and Bob Melvin become available.  

Tier 3: Well Done

AJ Hinch

Hinch is extremely well-regarded around the game, yet his suspension and overall involvement in the Astros’ World Series scandal put a damper on his career.  It is hard to imagine Hinch ever doing enough in his career to overshadow his past involvements of infidelity.  Combined with the fact that the Tigers have new leadership in place and a continuous streak of sub-.500 baseball, I do not know what his future has in store.  

Bob Melvin

The despondent reality of the Padres is that their manager is not the problem.  Yet, at this point in his career, I doubt Melvin wants to be a part of whatever is going on in San Diego.  There is also the possibility that the Padres’ ownership group, led by Peter Seidler, has had enough of Preller and will move on from him.  In that case, it is almost certain Melvin will decide to go elsewhere.  Whether he quits, is fired, or they mutually part ways, it is becoming increasingly likely Melvin will depart. Yet, if Seidler gives Preller and co. one more chance, he may decide to keep the band together for one last tour.  The Padres will again be the team to watch this offseason; whatever they decide to do will come under significant scrutiny.

If Melvin does become available, he looks to be a perfect fit for the Yankees, Giants, and any other big-market team that wants to win now.  Melvin has a proven track record and has taken some very mediocre Oakland teams to the playoffs.  He has experience developing young talent and finding good matchups for his relievers.  All things considered, he’d immediately become a top managerial candidate this offseason. 

Terry Francona

Francona may not be in danger of being fired, yet he seems close to resigning or retiring.  He’s already had a long and illustrious career and is a surefire Hall of Fame manager.  He is 13th all-time in manager wins and has won five pennants and three World Series titles.  With a considerable list of serious health issues that have caused him to miss time the past couple of seasons, Francona may decide to move on from managing.  Yet, if he wants to return, the Guardians will almost certainly have him back.  

Pedro Grifol

Grifol deserves better than to be fired after just one season. That being said, the White Sox have already fired their top two executives, and with stories about the White Sox’s dysfunctional clubhouse coming out as well as their dreadful play, it would not be a shock to see him relieved of his duties.  Grifol was considered a top managerial candidate in the past few offseasons and should get a better opportunity at some point soon.  His saving grace may be that Chris Getz, the White Sox’s new top baseball lieutenant, was part of the front office that hired Grifol.  

Honorable Mention

Craig Counsell

I don’t see Counsell going anywhere.  Yet, he is on an expiring contract and there have been rumors he may want to take a year off.  Either way, Counsell is both young and established, which is a very rare combination.  He should be considered one of the better managers in today’s game and will be compensated as such.  Whether he decides to return to Milwaukee or take a year off, he will most probably manage for at least another decade.

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