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Sport MLB managers fired 2019: Ranking baseball's job openings

20:15  01 october  2019
20:15  01 october  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Ranking the MLB manager openings : What' s the best job available? And when Maddon was not retained – in the dreaded “parting of ways” masked as a firing – he had served every day of that five-year deal, hitting the road only when the Cubs backslid from World Series champs to division champs

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It’s been five years since Joe Maddon last switched jobs. It’s safe to say the landscape for major league managers has changed a bit since then.

In November 2014, Maddon received a five-year, $25 million contract to shepherd the Chicago Cubs to the World Series.

Nowadays, managerial commitments longer than three years and for much more than seven figures annually are nonexistent.

When the Cubs introduced Maddon, in a memorable press conference at the Cubby Bear tavern, it launched an era where Maddon was nearly as recognizable as burgeoning Cubs legends Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.

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Nowadays, upper management is even more fetishized by fans and media, their proprietary decision sciences trickling down to the dugout, where the manager merely executes what the R&D folks say – and then absorbs the blame should it go awry.

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And when Maddon was not retained – in the dreaded “parting of ways” masked as a firing – he had served every day of that five-year deal, hitting the road only when the Cubs backslid from World Series champs to division champs to wild card losers to out of the playoffs.

Nowadays, making the playoffs guarantees nothing – just ask Joe Girardi, John Farrell and Dusty Baker in 2017. Nor does new-guy status – just ask Brad Ausmus, fired after a year with the Los Angeles Angels.

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For Maddon and other high-end managerial candidates like Girardi and appealing first-timers like Raul Ibanez, never has the “where” been more important in taking a job. And with at least six managerial jobs changing hands, some – Maddon, certainly – will have a pick of their destinations.

With that, the best and worst manager gigs available – with more openings perhaps to come:

6. Pirates

The major league roster is underwhelming, the farm system is ranked in the bottom third and ownership’s commitment to compete at a level commensurate with its rivals is lacking. The final two months were ugly, enough to warrant a significant housecleaning. GM Neal Huntington overplayed his hand with All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez at the trade deadline, and then Vazquez was arrested on charges of soliciting a child for sexual acts. Relief pitchers fought with one another and the coaching staff. The team endured a nine-game September losing streak in which it gave up at least 10 runs in five games.

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But after all that, only manager Clint Hurdle took the fall. So, who wants to step into this mess and try to compete with the perpetually contending Cardinals and Cubs, the smarter Brewers and the nascent Reds?

5. Angels

Since he spent three decades with the Angels and won a World Series title as their bench coach, the supposition is that Maddon will clamor for a return as the prodigal son. Mike Trout, sunshine and familiarity do have their charms.

Yet, this is a much different and far less stable franchise than the one Maddon departed to go manage the Tampa Bay Rays after the 2005 season. The Angels have cycled through three general managers and the current one, Billy Eppler, is only under contract through 2020 after four consecutive losing seasons. Ausmus’ dismissal one year after Mike Scioscia was nudged out was jarring, even if only to open the job for Maddon. While the pipeline is expected to produce young gems like outfielder Jo Adell, the organization’s pitching shortage will challenge any manager, even if the Angels beat the odds and lure Gerrit Cole to Anaheim in 2020.

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Owner Arte Moreno would likely open the checkbook for Maddon, especially since manager salaries don’t count against the luxury tax. But money can only buy so much happiness – and it can’t close the gap on the seemingly untouchable Astros.

4. Royals

Call this a bet on the unknown. The Royals will soon have a new owner, John Sherman, which offers a rare chance to grow with a new regime. Sherman comes from the Indians organization, where small-market patience and methodical builds were the norm. A new manager would likely receive a fairly long leash, probably long enough to make it to 2021, when a decent crop of prospects should be popping and the not-so-new-anymore owner might be ready to scratch some decent-sized checks.

Probably not the job for Maddon, 65, or Girardi. But a pretty appealing landing spot for a first-timer who could use some runway to develop.

3. Cubs

Consider the upside Maddon enjoyed that his successor will not: No chance at ending a 108-year title streak. No five-year window with a young core of Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo, some of whom could be traded before their impending free agencies bear down. And a farm system ranked No. 1 when Maddon came aboard is now near the very bottom.

Finally, the new skipper will bear whatever weight comes with being Not Joe Maddon.

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All that said, the Cubs still offer a lot. If club president Theo Epstein is correct in his assessment that the group is good and it just needs a different, perhaps firmer voice, then this club may take off in 2020. Despite Epstein’s misfires in recent years, the brain trust has remained intact and offers significant stability. Maybe the Ricketts family will get back into the big-money stakes with a TV network ready to launch and Wrigleyville turned into a live-work-play landscape that serves as its own cash cow.

Should David Ross get the job, the honeymoon process will be fascinating to watch, as a beloved 2016-er navigates the perilous waters of his first year on the top rail of the dugout.

2. Giants

Bruce Bochy said it himself when discussing his successor the end of his poignant send-off on Sunday: “He's got the best job in baseball. And I mean that. The owners and our front office and this city, the surrounding areas, the ballpark and the fans. He's getting the best job in baseball.”

No argument here. Any pressure that comes with replacing Bochy after 13 seasons and three World Series titles in San Francisco is balanced by the fact the new manager will be the hand-picked choice of Farhan Zaidi, the team’s president of baseball operations. Zaidi had a solid first year, jarring longtime fans with his constant player churn but eventually turning up talents like Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson on the fringes of rosters.

Fast forward a couple years, when an always-motivated ownership group will be dying to see Oracle Park overflowing once again. It’s easy to imagine a core of young studs like catcher Joey Bart joining forces with Francisco Lindor and any number of Max Muncys that Zaidi turns up in the meantime.

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1. Padres

For managers, timing is everything. Andy Green hung on in San Diego for four seasons, enough time for the club to adopt a more competitive stance, but not long enough for all the reinforcements to arrive.

His replacement will be far more fortunate.

Start with a major league core that includes at least five seasons of Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, flanked by Manny Machado at third. Continue with what figures to be a bumper crop of excellent young starting pitching, a wave that began this season, when Chris Paddack at times dominated while getting through 26 starts with a 0.98 WHIP.

A half-dozen top 100 prospects lurk, most notably MacKenzie Gore, who may someday take the torch from Clayton Kershaw as the baddest lefty in the NL West. Ownership, meanwhile, showed in acquiring Machado (for $300 million) and first baseman Eric Hosmer ($144 million) that it will spend when it deems necessary. Hard to imagine them going the cheap route when it’s time to get over the top.

Meanwhile, GM A.J. Preller has overseen a spending spree, a drawback and then another run at contention in his five years at the helm. Should the 70-92 Padres stagnate from here, it’s possible the GM may catch more heat than the manager.

And that’s certainly a rarity in this era.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB managers fired 2019: Ranking baseball's job openings

Related slideshow: MLB managers on the move (Provided by imagn)

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