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Which MLB Manager Will be Fired First?

By Taylor Smith in Sports
| April 10, 2017 12:00 am PDT
MLB Managerial Firing Odds Feature Image

The 2017 MLB season is now in full swing, but some teams have gotten off to better starts than others. Teams like the Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers look like world beaters out of the gates. On the flip side, clubs like the San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals have seen better days.

One rather unpleasant aspect of the season is that it’s a near certainty that at least one team will make a managerial change as the season is still ongoing. Some teams wait until a season is over before making the switch, but others will try and change the course of their season by getting a new voice in the locker room.

Considering the season is still less than a week old, it’s far too early to be making projections based on teams’ early-season struggles. That said, it’s still something fun worth discussing. So, who will be the first manager fired this season?

(Odds via Bovada)

Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates (+350)

On the heels of three consecutive appearances in the postseason, the Pirates missed the playoffs altogether last year and finished a disappointing 78-83. They were never going to win the NL Central with the Cubs winning a whopping 103 games, but this is a team rife with young talent up-and-down the roster. 78 wins is far from horrendous, but there are expectations in Pittsburgh now.

It’s been quite a while since the Pirates made a serious playoff run. Their recent three-season streak marked the first time since the early 1990s. The last time this franchise played in and won the World Series was back in 1979. The Pirates are one of baseball’s oldest franchises, yet they’ve been rather futile for quite some time now.

Pittsburgh is off to an 0-2 start this season, but it’s hardly time to worry. Only 160 games left to go! Let’s not forget that those two losses came in Boston against a Red Sox team considered by many to be the best in the American League. By all accounts, the Pirates should be in the hunt for a playoff spot this season.

In order to do so, they’ll need Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen to round back into form. Both endured subpar 2016 campaigns, and the Pirates chances’ really begin and end with their performance. Cole’s season got off to a bit of a ragged start in Boston, but the Red Sox offense makes plenty of capable arms look bad.

Hurdle likely won’t get canned unless the Pirates go through a long skid at some point and are on the verge of falling out of the race altogether.

He’s popular with the players, but if he isn’t getting results the team will not hesitate to shuffle the deck.

Bryan Price, Cincinnati Reds (+400)

We shift our focus now to a divisional rival of the Pirates. Bryan Price has been on the job in Cincinnati since 2013, but he’s won just about 41 percent of his regular season games in that span. He’s not one of the more noteworthy managers in the league, but he did have one locker room meltdown during which he dropped a whopping 77 F-bombs on reporters. Good times.

The Reds have been awful for the last several years, and there’s a good chance they’ll be awful again this season. It’s obviously not all Price’s fault, especially considering the franchise is clearly in the midst of a rebuild. Johnny Cueto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce have all been shipped out over the last several years as the Reds try and reload the farm system.

There is some interesting young talent still around, but the notion that they can legitimately compete with the top teams in the NL Central is a pipedream. Even the Brewers appear to have a stronger MLB product at the moment. As a result, the Reds are likely destined for another last-place finish, and the hammer could ultimately come down on Price.

However, considering the Reds don’t have any real aspirations of winning anything of consequence this season, why make a change midseason? Barring some sort of player mutiny, it’s not like replacing Price as the season is ongoing will suddenly turn the Reds into a contender.

There’s certainly a chance Cincinnati makes a change towards the end of the season, but they may as well just wait until the offseason.

Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (+500)

Scioscia is currently the longest-tenured manager in baseball and it isn’t even close. He’s been on the job with the Halos since 1999 and he’s certainly seen his fair share of ups and downs along the way. He led the Angels to their first and only World Series title back in 2002, and it kinda feels like he’s been living off of that ever since.

The Angels have had some strong teams over the years, but they haven’t gotten back to the World Series since ‘02. The team is in a bit of a transition phase at the moment. They just hired Billy Eppler to be their general manager in October of 2015. He’s been tasked with undoing the damage done by his predecessors, and that includes restocking what had become a barren minor league system.

Scioscia is easily the most prolific manager in the history of the Angels, so dismissing him at some point won’t be an easy task. This team has some decent talent on board (including the best player on the planet), but it’s going to be tough for them to compete all season long with the likes of the Astros, Mariners and Rangers in the AL West.

Scioscia didn’t build this flawed roster, but managers often are the ones that pay the price in the end, anyway. As is the case with the others on this list, though, it’s hard to imagine the Angels dismissing Scioscia in the middle of the season. He’s been a longtime servant of the club, and if they fire him you’d imagine they at least give him the dignity of doing so after the season ends.

John Farrell, Boston Red Sox (+1600)

This might be my favorite one on the list. Farrell has the longest odds of any manager listed by Bovada, but in a way he feels like the most likely one that’ll get canned if things start going south in Boston.

As mentioned previously, the Red Sox come into this season with massive expectations. They were disappointingly swept in the ALDS by the Indians last fall, and made the biggest splash of any club during the offseason by landing Chris Sale from the White Sox. Armed with a pitching staff featuring a pair of Cy Young winners (Rick Porcello and David Price) and Sale, Boston should be a nightmare matchup for just about everyone else.

We haven’t even mentioned Boston’s offense, which was the most potent in the league last season. Yes, they lost David Ortiz to retirement, but there are enough capable sluggers in this group to believe that the Red Sox will continue to score tons and tons of runs.

So, with all of that info, it’s easy to see Farrell being shown the exit at the first real sign of serious adversity. The AL East figures to be ultra competitive, as usual, and Boston’s front office isn’t going to wait around if the team starts to stumble and lose ground on the competition.

We also have to factor in that Farrell wasn’t hired by this current front office.

Farrell is a holdover from the Ben Cherington administration. Dave Dombrowski is one of the most aggressive general managers in the league, and he won’t hesitate to pull the rug out from under Farrell if he feels the season is on the verge of slipping away at any point.

Brad Ausmus, Detroit Tigers (+650)

It’s hard to believe Brad Ausmus is already in the midst of his fourth season managing the Tigers, but here we are. The team won 90 games and won the AL Central in his first campaign, but they’ve missed the playoffs in both seasons since then.

Detroit is a team clearly built to win right now, and their window won’t be open much longer. Cornerstones Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Justin Verlander and Victor Martinez aren’t getting any younger. They quietly won 86 games last season, but it wasn’t good enough to secure an AL Wild Card spot.

On the surface, it looks like Ausmus has plenty of weaponry to get this team where it needs to go. The offense is loaded with power bats and the rotation is a good mix of veterans and young talent. The bullpen may be a tad shaky, but most bullpens tend to be a tad shaky.

Like Farrell, a midseason Ausmus firing wouldn’t be particularly surprising.

This team needs to capitalize on its current window for contention before those aforementioned players are washed up in a few years.

The AL Central is tough with an apparent Juggernaut in the Indians at the top, but the Tigers should at least be able to stick close to Cleveland.

If they don’t, Ausmus will get the axe in short order.

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