New Managers Face Pressure To Win Immediately
Carlos Beltran Hopes His Managerial Career Will Be As Fruitful As His Playing Days
Almost a dozen teams, or one third of Major League Baseball, have hired new managers for the upcoming season. Some of the new skippers will face intense scrutiny, since their teams are expecting to contend.
The others have the good fortune to take charge of teams that are in rebuilding phases, so they will likely be given longer leashes by the front office. The drawback, of course, is that their clubs have a lack of talent and experience, a circumstance which could make for a very trying first season at the helm.
Jordan Bastian at MLB.com on December 30 addressed some of the issues facing David Ross, who was hired to be the manager of the Chicago Cubs. Among the concerns that Ross will have to deal with is team closer Craig Kimbrel, the veteran the club signed in May only to receive inconsistent outings.
Under perhaps even greater pressure to win is Joe Girardi, the new manager in Philadelphia. After adding free agent Bryce Harper and trading for catcher J.T. Realmuto last winter, the Phillies were a major disappointment when they did not make the postseason. Manager Gabe Kapler was fired, so Girardi will be expected to get better results out of a team that finished a distant third place in the National League East.
As for Kapler, he has been hired to take over in San Francisco. While the expectations will not be as high with the Giants, Kapler does find himself in the unenviable position of having to replace a future Hall of Fame manager. Bruce Bochy retired after the season, leaving behind a legacy of three World Series Championships.
One of San Francisco's rivals also has brought in a new manager, as Jayce Tingler assumes that duty in San Diego. The rookie skipper will find himself in a more pressing role than Kapler, for the Padres will be expecting to contend for the first time in over a decade.
Not only do they have prized prospect Bo Bichette, poised for an everyday role, but they also have in the past two seasons given lucrative free agent contracts to third baseman Manny Machado and first baseman Eric Hosmer. Certainly the front office will be expecting to be right up there with the Dodgers, instead of the all-too familiar basement, when August arrives.
Even though they were not quite in the cellar of the N.L. East, the Mets are expecting in 2020 to be ahead of more teams than just the Miami Marlins. New York fired Mickey Callaway and replaced him with popular retired All-Star Carlos Beltran, who has no prior managerial experience.
The other new skipper in the Senior Circuit, first year manager Derek Shelton, will be facing less pressure to win right away. The Pirates are in a rebuilding mode, which is the main reason the club parted ways with veteran manager Clint Hurdle, who led Pittsburgh to three consecutive postseason appearances during his tenure.
Former St. Louis manager Mike Matheney finds himself in a situation similar to that of Shelton, taking over a team currently in a rebuilding phase. Even though Kansas City has captured two pennants recently, the Royals have dismantled the key components of that successful group in favor of younger players under team control for an extended time.
Matheney's experience in leading the Cardinals to several division championships as well as a pennant should help him while guiding the development of young stars like Whit Merrifield and Adelberto Mondesi, who could increase their victory total in what should be a much weaker A.L. Central.
Under more pressure, however, will be Joe Madden, who is taking over the reins of the Los Angeles Angels. Madden and his new bosses are hoping he can recapture the magic that led the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series Championship in a century, especially since he will have in his lineup the best player in baseball in Mike Trout.
Los Angeles has given Madden added protection for Trout by signing Most Valuable Player runner up Anthony Rendon, who will join the likes of Shoehei Ohtani and ffuture Hall of Famer Albert Pujols. The Angels are hungry for their first championship in two decades, and they are expecting Madden to get them there.