There may be little turnover this winter among general managers and managers, with only a few currently on the hot seat.
Here is the endangered list and their likely fate:
Zack Scott, Mets interim GM: He likely wasn’t going to survive once owner Steve Cohen denied president Sandy Alderson’s recommendation this summer to make him their permanent GM. Now, he has just been hit with a DWI charge after police found him sleeping behind the wheel at 4:17 in the morning. It will be official in three weeks. Prediction: Fired.
Luis Rojas, Mets manager: Rojas is growing on the job, but with a housecleaning in order, he will likely be one of those swept away. The Mets likely will have to reach the postseason for him to have any chance of returning. Prediction: Fired.
Charlie Montoyo, Blue Jays manager: If the Blue Jays fall short of the playoffs, his stay may be over. Prediction: Stays.
Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks manager: The team stinks, sitting 41½ games out of first place. They repeatedly make fundamental mistakes, and they lead the league in head-scratching decisions. Yet, if Lovullo is fired, attention will immediately turn to the blunders by ownership and the front office. It doesn’t matter who manages the team, they aren’t going anywhere in the near future. Prediction: Stays.
Brandon Hyde, Orioles manager: The team is still awful. The only time it hasn’t lost 100 games during Hyde’s three-year stint was last year because the season lasted only 60 games. But how in the world can anyone blame him for having no talent to manage? Prediction: Stays.
Jayce Tingler, Padres manager: He was hired two years ago instead of Ron Washington primarily because of his close ties with GM A.J. Preller from their days in Texas. Tingler hasn’t done anything to reinforce that it was the right move, nor done anything alarming to show that a change is needed. Prediction: Stays.
James Click, Astros GM: Click was brought in after the firing of Jeff Luhnow in the wake of the cheating scandal. The Astros are one of the best teams in baseball but just 24-19 since the All-Star break. If the Astros are eliminated in the Division Series, owner Jim Crane may look for a new GM. Prediction: Stays.
Chris Woodward, Rangers manager: The Rangers were supposed to be bad, but not this bad. They picked up Woodward’s 2022 option in March, and he has the respect of the front office. Prediction: Stays.
Bill Schmidt, Rockies interim GM: The Rockies are one of the most loyal organizations in baseball, and Schmidt is lauded throughout the game for his experience and expertise. Rockies owner Dick Monfort has faith that Schmidt can turn the Rockies around and is reluctant to make a change. Prediction: Named full-time GM.
Bud Black, Rockies manager: He was going to be the fall guy until GM Jeff Bridich got whacked. The Rockies have played better, particularly at home. There’s a mutual trust between him and Schmidt. If Schmidt stays, so does Black. Prediction: Stays.
Can Padres save the season?
They were supposed to be the Dodgers’ worst nightmare.
They terrorized the Dodgers throughout the winter, grabbing three front-line starters, including a Cy Young winner and a Cy Young runner-up in Blake Snell and Yu Darvish.
They threw money around as if they were the Dodgers, shelling out $341 million for shortstop Fernando Tatis, just two years after giving third baseman Manny Machado a $300 million deal.
They were brash and full of braggadocio, almost taunting the Dodgers, letting them know there was a new sheriff in the NL West.
The Dodgers even bought into the intimidation, and made the worst blunder in franchise history by blowing $102 million on starter Trevor Bauer, who is under investigation following sexual assault allegations.
Yet, here we are, with only a few weeks remaining in the season, and nothing has changed.
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The Dodgers again have left the Padres in the dust, sitting 14 games ahead in the standings, leaving the Padres desperately trying to stay alive for the second wild-card spot in the National League.
It is so gloomy in San Diego these days that their fans have no choice but to root for the Dodgers when they don’t play them. They need the Dodgers to beat up the St. Louis Cardinals in their four-game series beginning Monday, and again against the Cincinnati Reds in their three-game series Sept. 17-19.
The Reds and Cardinals are their competition these days, not the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
It has been that kind of season.
“We’re capable of playing good baseball,’’ Padres All-Star third baseman Manny Machado said. “We have the team to do it, big time. When we compete. If we compete, I think we’re better than everyone out there.
“We have a month of baseball to get where we want to be.’’
The cold, hard fact is that this could be the most underachieving Padres’ team in franchise history, and perhaps the biggest in baseball since the 2011 Boston Red Sox’s “Chicken and Beer’’ team that crumbled down the stretch.
You’re talking about a team that was expected to contend for its first World Series title in franchise history, with Tatis, the current MVP favorite, and MVP candidates in Machado and Jake Cronenworth.
They have a major-league leading seven players with an OPS of at least .732. Their bullpen has the third-lowest ERA in baseball, with closer Mark Melancon leading the major leagues with 36 saves to go along with a 1.95 ERA.
Yet, they are trying to piecemeal their starting rotation, picking up free agent Jake Arrieta off the scrap heap, and using six bullpen games since July 31.
Their odds of reaching the playoffs were 96.7% on July 1, according to FanGraphs, but that has plummeted to 23.9%.
It almost mirrors Darvish’s season. He was 7-2 with a 2.44 ERA through June, but since he is 0-7 with a 7.57 ERA, failing to last past six innings in one of his last nine starts.
“It’s been a battle for me,’’ Darvish said. “As far as my confidence goes, obviously it’s not that high at this point in time. I haven’t been able to perform the way I want to. I understand where I’m at.’’
The Padres made veteran pitching coach Larry Rothschild the scapegoat, firing him two weeks ago.
Little has changed except for Snell finally living up to expectations. He is starting to look like the same dominant pitcher he was with the Tampa Bay Rays, yielding a 1.72 ERA in August, and pitching seven no-hit innings against the Diamondbacks in his last start. He’s dulling the memories of the first four months, when he had a 5.44 ERA.
“Just getting in my groove,” Snell said. “It just took a while. I was never worried. All the stuff was there, everything was there. But this is all new to me. Leaving a place after 10 years is difficult. People don’t want to understand that, but it’s just the way it is, and that’s how it happened to me.”
If the Padres can make the wild-card game, they’ll take their chances with Snell against Walker Buhler, Max Scherzer, Logan Webb, or whoever the Dodgers or Giants have to offer.
And if the Padres can earn a ticket to the Division Series, maybe their talent will finally rise. If not, it’s time to look in the mirror, and dissect what went wrong.
The Padres aren’t going to fire general manager A.J. Preller, not with a contract until 2026.
Manager Jayce Tingler likely will be safe for at least one more year, too.
We’ll see how much patience the Padres will have if they miss the playoffs. Their payroll budget is already stretched to its limit at $183.2 million. The farm system has thinned with most of its top players graduating to the big leagues. And the Dodgers and Giants aren’t going anywhere.
You can only beat up on the Diamondbacks and Rockies so much to make yourself feel good, but this year, they haven’t even been able to beat them, going just 19-19.
The Padres will tell you they’re still confident, firmly believing they’re easily the best team in the flawed wild-card race, and are as talented as any team in the National League.
“We definitely had a tough August, and our (11-15) record shows that,” Machado said. “When things don’t go well and things are not rolling as a team, it just spirals down and you just want to blame something. And it’s no blame on anybody. We were just playing poor baseball, things weren’t clicking and it’s just part of the long season.
“But we’re confident. We have great players all around. I could put the team on my back if I want to. I just got to go, go out there, play baseball every single night.
“We’re confident every single day we’re going to get after it.’’
Around the basepaths
► The Chicago Cubs will soon start formally interviewing candidates for their vacant GM position.
They have never had a Black or minority GM in the franchise’s history
Now is the time to change that.
► Padres starter Joe Musgrove, who pitched for the Astros during their 2017 World Series championship season, said he believes his former teammates have already paid the price for their role in the infamous cheating scandal.
“How long are (fans) going to hold this against them?” Musgrove told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I know people will always be upset and as fans you always want something to hold against the opposing teams. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but to an extent I’d like these guys to be able to finish out their careers and be recognized for what they are doing and what they’ve done the last handful of years, not just the one year they overstepped.
“At the time we were doing it, there were a lot of teams cheating. I don’t think we need to go into who it was and what they were doing, but we caught red-handed quite a few teams cheating.”
► The Los Angeles Dodgers wanted first baseman C.J. Cron, and were willing to give him a major-league contract to be a right-handed batter off the bench, similar to Albert Pujols’ role this year.
Instead, Cron, who hit just .190 with four homers and eight RBI for the Detroit Tigers before a season-ending knee injury last season, bet on himself. He signed a minor-league contract with the Colorado Rockies.
The Rockies turned it into a $1 million major-league contract just before opening day, and have watched Cron turn into a force, hitting .275 with 25 homers, 78 RBI and a .910 OPS.
He was honored as the National League’s Player of the Month in August, leading the league in virtually every offensive category, hitting .387 with 11 homers, 34 RBI and a 1.297 OPS.
“I knew I could hit, whether or not I got the opportunity to show that was a different story,” Cron said. “That’s kind of why I wanted to come to Colorado, I felt the opportunity was the best for me to kind of showcase that I can still hit.”
► Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen, who was demoted from his closer’s role during last year’s postseason, and booed off the field earlier this year, has quietly been dominant of late.
He has been successful in his last nine save opportunities since his last blown save, yielding a .136 batting average with a 1.59 ERA. He saved his 30th game this past week, and is the only pitcher in baseball who has at least 30 saves in each of the past seven full seasons.
The secret to his success this year, he says, is his work behind the scenes with a mental skills counselor.
“I finally accepted after the World Series that I need help,” Jansen told the Orange County Register. “I need help, let’s start with mentally. This game is too hard. It can be too hard on you mentally.”
Jansen started weekly Zoom sessions in November and has continued them throughout the season, which includes daily exercises.
“You learn that you need people to help you out,’’ he said. “You need a team to help you out. For me, that was key.
“People think that’s weak. I was thinking that was weak. If you see great athletes, they all need it. I’m not shy to say that. I think it’s a great thing. I would encourage athletes to do that more often because that was career-changing for me.’’
► Former Angels GM Billy Eppler has decided to become an agent, joining the William Morris Endeavor agency.
Eppler was lured by the attraction of designing a baseball operation within the confines of an agency.
► Scouts and coaches have been saying for years what seven-time All-Star pitcher David Stieb recently told Betway.com: Pitchers are not necessarily throwing harder than ever before. The radar equipment is simply more sophisticated.
“The radar guns when I pitched weren’t as accurate as they are now,’’ Stieb said. “That’s why everyone is throwing 99, 100. In my day I was throwing 92 to 95, 96, so I have to believe that if I used one of these guns back then I would have been clocked at 100.
“It just makes it more sensationalized now with these guys throwing 101, 102. It makes them seem like Superman.”
► If the Oakland Athletics miss the playoffs, their owners will have only themselves to blame.
They’re the ones who decided not to bring back All-Star shortstop Marcus Semien, who was begging to stay, and wound up on a one-year, $18 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Semien has gone to become one of the best players in baseball this year with 34 homers and 81 RBI, and showed the A’s what they were missing when he hit a three-run walk-off homer against them on Friday.
► There are not enough superlatives to describe Royals catcher Salvador Perez’s season, hitting .275 with a career-high 38 homers and 94 RBI, but GM Dayton Moore will try anyway.
“He’s without a doubt one of the most special players and talents that I’ve been blessed to watch play,’’ Moore said. “He just keeps getting better and better. Why? Because he has this innocence to play that is unmatched. He plays with the same enthusiasm today as he did the very first time I saw him. He has a hunger to get better, and because of that he will continue to get better.”
► If you haven’t been paying attention, Logan Webb has not only become the ace of the Giants, but one of the premier pitchers in baseball.
He has now gone 14 consecutive starts allowing two or fewer runs, the longest stretch by a Giants pitcher since 1901. He is 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA since the All-Star break, the second-best in Giants’ history behind Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell’s 1.48 ERA in 1933.
► All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier, acquired by the Padres on July 26, is finding life quite different going from Pittsburgh, where there are no expectations, to a pennant race.
Frazier was hitting .324 with a .388 on-base percentage and .448 slugging percentage in Pittsburgh.
He has been woeful in San Diego, hitting just .221 with a .283 on-base percentage and .260 slugging percentage.
► Ever so quietly, Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is putting up some big-time numbers again.
He was hitting just .239 with a .686 OPS at the end of May, but since is hitting .321 with a .960 OPS, including 18 homers, 16 doubles and seven stolen bases. He needs six more homers to reach 30 homers for the fourth consecutive season.
► It’s hard to believe that Nats outfielder Juan Soto is the only hitter with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title to have more walks (106) than strikeouts (79) this season.
► St. Louis Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, 40, and catcher Yadier Molina, 39, made their 300th career start together Friday.
The active tandem with the next-most starts is Molina and Carlos Martinez at 121.
The most starts together in history by batterymates is the Tigers’ duo of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan with 324.
► Can anyone explain how the Rockies’ starting rotation has a 3.68 ERA in the mile-high air at Coors Field, and a 5.22 ERA on the road?
“There is a comfort (level) pitching at home and a comfort pitching on that mound and in our ballpark,’’ Rockies manager Bud Black said. “A lot of our guys don’t get scared off pitching in Denver.”
Meanwhile, the Rockies could become only the fourth team in history to win 50 games at home and lose 50 on the road, joining the 1978 Astros, the ’87 Twins and the ’96 Rockies.
The Rockies are 18-50 on the road this year and 44-23 at home.
► The Giants have spent most of the season with the best record in baseball while playing in a gorgeous ballpark with a passionate fanbase, but they are averaging just 18,592 fans a game, the lowest in the ballpark’s 22-year history, and 12th in baseball.
Follow Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What happens to GMs, managers in offseason; can Padres save season?