Dan Schlossberg's Weekend Report: Half-Dozen Managers Could Be On The Firing Line • Latino Sports

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Dan Schlossberg’s Weekend Report: Half-Dozen Managers Could Be On The Firing Line

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MINNEAPOLIS — Ron Gardenhire, manager of the Minnesota Twins,  just got a vote of confidence from Terry Ryan, the club’s GM. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be back next season.

 

The Twins have lost more than 90 games three years in a row and could do so again if the pitching-poor team continues to struggle. So what if the manager’s resume includes eight winning seasons and six AL Central titles in his first nine years at the helm?

For the former Mets infielder to return for a 14th season, two things have to happen: (1) Ryan’s recovery from cancer needs to continue unimpeded and (2) the team has to play well enough over the final five weeks to avoid finishing last.

“If there’s one thing that drives me,” Ryan says, “it’s to give this fanbase a reward for their patience. We’ve drawn remarkably well and that gives me incentive to get it right. I’ve taken my share of shots — they come by e.mail — and that really hurts. But (the fans) have a right to a better product.”

Ryan won’t commit with 35 games left to play and the team a game-and-a-half from escaping the cellar. But Gardenhire’s chances would be better if the GM returned.

He’s not the only manager who shouldn’t be signing long-term leases.

Kirk Gibson, best known for a dramatic pinch-homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, has a short leash in Arizona, where new baseball operations chief Tony La Russa admits he’s evaluating both the manager and the general manager (Kevin Towers).

Walt Weiss, whose Colorado Rockies lost superstars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to injury, is probably safe in Denver, where he was once a fan favorite.

But popularity as a player does not guarantee continuity as a manager, as Robin Ventura of the Chicago White Sox surely knows. Should the Sox drop to the bottom, the axe could drop on Ventura’s tenure.

Could Ryne Sandberg follow Charlie Manuel out the door in Philly?

Could Ryne Sandberg follow Charlie Manuel out the door in Philly?

Popularity won’t save Ryne Sandberg in Philadelphia any more than it saved predecessor Charlie Manuel. Belonging to the Baseball Hall of Fame does not translate to perpetuity in the dugout.

Terry Collins could be the benefactor of a big upswing when a wave of talented young pitching comes to CitiField next season. But first he’ll have to survive a summer marred by injuries (Matt Harvey, David Wright) and poor performances (Curtis Granderson, Ruben Tejada).

The Atlanta Braves haven’t fired a manager since 1990, when Bobby Cox  replaced Russ Nixon, but Fredi Gonzalez presided over a team that underformed after a 17-7 start, then did its best to blow the NL title with an 0-8 West Coast road trip. To his credit, however, poor Fredi had to deal with the double albatross of the overpaid, over-the-hill U-boys, Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton.

Fredi Gonzalez blew several NL East leads but is his job safe?

Fredi Gonzalez blew several NL East leads but is his job safe?

Managerial roulette is always a fun game for observers, especially since both La Russa and Cox can’t scratch their itch to wear uniforms again. It would seem like old times if the former manages the 2015 D’backs and the latter comes back to the Braves.

Stranger things happened.

Elsewhere around the majors:

Talk about an injury-riddled club: the Texas Rangers had used more players, pitchers, and rookies by the All-Star break than any other club . . .

While fans of the Boston Red Sox watched their club bounce from last to first and back again, they had one constant pleasure:  broadcaster Joe Castiglione, now in his 32nd season. Eleven men, from Ralph Houk to John Farrell, have managed the Sox during his tenure in the booth . . .

Rusney Castillo is the latest Cuban defector to join the Red Sox outfield

Rusney Castillo is the latest Cuban defector to join the Red Sox outfield

Boston’s successful $75 million bid for free agent Rusney Castillo was aided by the late-July acquisition of fellow Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes from Oakland . . .

Detroit’s divisional juggernaut was not only sidetracked by Kansas City’s surge but also by injuries to shortstop Jose Iglesias (bilateral tibial strees fractures) and pitchers Justin Verlander (shoulder), Anibal Sanchez (pectoral muscle strain), and Joakim Soria (oblique) . . .

Nobody has ever won three Triple Crowns, let alone three straight, and Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) has all but eliminated himself with a sharp drop in home runs . . .

When rival pitchers face Detroit, they know they have to swallow the two-Martinez lunch: Victor Martinez was AL Player of the Month in April and J.D. Martinez won the same award in June . . .

How are the Orioles increasing their AL East lead without catcher Matt Wieters (Tommy John surgery) and third baseman Manny Machado (knee ligament sprain)? . . .

Cincinnati’s Opening Day disabled list included eight key players but the biggest loss of the season had to be Joey Votto’s slow-healing quadriceps injury . . .

St. Louis should have All-Star catcher Yadier Molina (thumb surgery) back for the NL Central stretch drive . . .

Sure-handed Yadier Molina makes a big difference for the Cards when healthy

Sure-handed Yadier Molina makes a big difference for the Cards when healthy

After six straight 200-inning seasons, it wasn’t surprising to see San Francisco ace Matt Cain submit to elbow surgery (bone chips) . . .

The main reason Washington won 10 games in a row — virtually nailing down the NL East title — was a pitching staff that posted a 1.82 earned run average during the streak, which included seven one-run victories, five come-from-behind wins, and five walkoffs . . .

Switch-hitting rookie DH Kennys Vargas has given the Twins a powerful presence in the cleanup spot behind veteran Joe Mauer . . .

How likely is a heavenly home stretch for the Angels after surprise staff ace Garrett Richards torn up his knee covering first base, needed surgery, and was told recovery could take nine months? . . .

Another AL West contender, the Seattle Mariners, is the beneficiary of a club-record sixth straight 200-strikeout season . . .

Drew Smyly’s two-hit shutout of Toronto for Tampa Bay at Rogers Centre Friday was the first complete game of the ex-Tiger’s career . . .

After a red-hot start, Cubs rookie infielder Javier Baez fanned 18 times in a stretch of 33 at-bats . . .

Even though injury denied defending NL batting king Michael Cuddyer a chance to keep his crown, it could remain in the same city if Justin Morneau hangs on to his late-August lead . . .

Win some and lose some: Minnesota did well to acquire Phil Hughes, whom the Yankees should have kept, but not Ricky Nolasco, whose four-year, $49 free agent contract is a windfall for the pitcher but a bust for the ballclub . . .

Fleet Jordan Schafer, unloved in Atlanta, went 6-for-6 in his first half-dozen steal attempts for the Twins . . .

Frank Thomas is the only Hall of Famer who played more than half his games as a DH

Frank Thomas is the only Hall of Famer who played more than half his games as a DH

Frank Thomas, one of this year’s Cooperstown sextet, is the first Hall of Fame member who played the majority of his game (56.4 per cent) as a designated hitter . . .

Next in line for bronze plaques are John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez (2015); Ken Griffey, Jr. and Trevor Hoffman (2016); Ivan Rodriguez (2017); Chipper Jones and Jim Thome (2018); Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Todd Helton (2019); and Derek Jeter (2020) . . .

Who woudda thunk it? High Noon star Gary Cooper worried about losing his Pride of the Yankees role because he was a poor ballplayer — even after Lefty O’Doul and Bill Dickey coached him to bat and throw lefthanded . . .

The Mets are mystified by the sudden ineptitude of righthanded starter Dillon Gee, one of their stalwarts in recent season . . .

Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax is so humble that he wrote in his 1966 autobiography, “When I told (my mother) I was writing this book, she asked if I’d give her one of the first copies so she could find out something about me.”

 

 

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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