With Joe Maddon and Joe Girardi fired by their respective teams this week, several other MLB managers could start to feel their rear ends get sweaty as their seats get hot.
As both Maddon with the Los Angeles Angels and Girardi with the Philadelphia Phillies proved, you don’t necessarily need to be in last place for the front office to justify a change. So while the bottom of the standings is the most natural place to look for the next candidate to be fired, tepid underachievement might be just as damning.
These are the next managers who could be fired sooner rather than later.
Don Mattingly, Miami Marlins
Chalk the Marlins up there with other 2020 playoff teams such as the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Football Team that appear to be aberrations in hindsight. It felt like the only power keeping Mattingly employed through regular sub-.500 seasons was Derek Jeter, and now he’s gone. Then again, Miami ownership has a tendency toward inaction, which might help Mattingly hang on.
Tony LaRussa, Chicago White Sox
The South Siders are far from bad, but they were among the most heavily favored teams to win any division prior to the season and they’re looking up at the Minnesota Twins in the standings. They’ve managed to avoid an Angels-level losing streak, but they did suffer an eight-game skid in April and recently limped through a 1-6 stretch. The time is now for a team that won 93 games a year ago and can’t afford to waste its championship window.
Mike Matheny, Kansas City Royals
Hopes were high — or at least mildly optimistic — the Royals would continue their upward trajectory after consecutive seasons of improved winning percentages under Matheny. The Royals weren’t a perfectly constructed team by modern standards, but they’d had success in the recent past by bucking a lot of the fashionable trends. Yet even as the favored White Sox have stumbled, Kansas City hasn’t remotely capitalized. As much heat as the Cincinnati Reds have taken for their struggles, the Royals actually have the worst record in the majors and are in full-on “sell” mode.
Dave Martinez, Washington Nationals
To be fair, Martinez is in a no-win situation. The roster has been disassembled since the 2019 World Series run, and the ownership and financial situation of the franchise is in flux. While the Nats most certainly are bad, landing in the cellar of an NL East with multiple other flailing teams, Martinez seems likely to be a victim of an organization-wide restructuring at some point.
Bud Black, Colorado Rockies
The Rockies are another ownership group that prefers to sit on its hands rather than take action, which might be the only explanation for them retaining Black through a sixth season. Colorado was never expected to be a true contender, since it shares a division with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Losing is one thing, however. Having no apparent direction is another thing.
Some eyes also are on the Reds’ David Bell and the Cleveland Guardians’ Terry Francona, but their jobs feel more safe. Cincinnati was set up to be horrible, yet has actually turned things around since Memorial Day weekend. The Guardians are pretty much exactly where we thought they’d be, flirting with .500 after posting an almost-even 80-82 record a year ago. It feels more likely Francona would step down if his health suffers than for him to be fired.