Exception to the Off-Season Speculation Rule
So, here's the list of the five managers I think are most likely to be let go, including a percent chance of their being fired:
#1 - Joe Girardi - Florida Marlins - 99%
When you are nearly fired in the middle of the season, and when reports such as this one on ESPN circulate saying that there's no chance you'll be returning, DESPITE the fact that your team has vastly overperformed expectations, you know things are bad. All I know is that the results indicate that this shouldn't be happening, but I can't see how Girardi doesn't get the hook when the season is up.
#2 - Dusty Baker - Chicago Cubs - 90%
He can't survive another year, can he? Girardi has been mentioned as a likely replacement for Baker if both are canned, and that move probably makes sense. How much blame Baker should get for the recurring injuries to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior is debatable; the fact that the Cubs haven't performed for the past few years under Baker isn't. This move needs to be made, if for no reason other than to give the team some fresh ideas and energy.
#3 - Buck Showalter - Texas Rangers - 60%
The Rangers just aren't that good, and haven't been since Showalter came on board. Most of the blame should go on the GM, who hasn't put together enough pitching to win. Nevertheless, this team should be better than it is, and Showalter deserves much of the blame. The interesting question is whether the third time will be the last for Showalter, who has managed in New York, Arizona, and Texas. Could someone else fall for the Showalter "charm" and give him another managerial job if he loses this one?
#4 - Mike Hargrove - Seattle Mariners - 25%
This number would have been higher, but I heard recently that Hargrove was involved in the decisions on which coaches to retain for next year. Why the Mariners would do that if he wasn't coming back, I don't know. Nevertheless, the Mariners are going nowhere under Hargrove, and he hasn't put together a solid managerial season since he was in Cleveland. Like the Cubs, it's probably time to make a move if for no reason other than to rejuvenate the club.
#5 - Joe Torre - New York Yankees - 10%
Here's my curveball. Torre is under contract through the 2007 season (he'll make $7 million next year, by the way). Nevertheless, I think that if the Yankees win the World Series, Torre could very well make the decision to retire a year early. It's not often you get to go out on top, and the Yankees "struggles" the last few years should prove to Torre that there are no guarantees he would win again in 2007. The Yankees are probably the team best positioned to win the Series this year, and that's why I rate Torre's chance of departure so high.
Felipe Alou - San Francisco Giants (they just aren't that good)
Eric Wedge - Cleveland Indians (highly unlikely, but this team seriously underperformed)
Ozzie Guillen - Chicago White Sox (inflammatory is fine when you're winning . . . )