Posted: Friday September 8, 2006 11:58AM; Updated: Sunday September 10, 2006 11:47PM
New game: Hot seat or warm seat
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After a season in which it appears that none of the 30 managers will be fired, it could be a brutal winter. We'll take a closer look at a later date at 10 managers, or more, whose seats appear either hot, warm or lukewarm.
Today we'll consider two. One is Seattle's Mike Hargrove, who's come under fire for his strategy recently. His boss, Mariners GM Bill Bavasi, is on their current road trip and plans to be on the final one, too. But Bavasi pointed out that he has jetted to up to two thirds of the trips, suggesting that nothing should be read into his good attendance record.
I asked Bavasi where Hargrove stood, and he said, "I wouldn't discuss that [publicly], and I never do."
I won't read anything into Bavasi's travel plans or his no comment. But from here, things still don't look too great for Hargrove's chances to stay. My judgment: hot seat.
The other manager I'll consider today is Brewers manager Ned Yost, the unfortunate leader of the first Milwaukee team in some years that actually had expectations but failed to come through amid considerable injuries. Brewers GM Doug Melvin said, "I don't put the blame on Ned. Some of the players haven't performed to capabilities and I didn't anticipate trading Carlos [Lee]. I gave Ned a vote of confidence, and I don't anticipate anything."
The one problem is that since Melvin's showing public support for Yost several days ago, the Brewers' slide has deepened. "We had losing streaks of nine and 10 games; those are the only things in question," Melvin said just after they snapped their 10-game drought. "Ten days ago we were only three games out of the wild card.... It depends if we lose every game [from here on]. Things can change. But it's tough to put it on 10 games. That's such a small percentage of the total number of games."
Melvin blamed the club's lack of offense for falling out of contention and pointed out that if you go by their offense, defense and pitching figures you could make the case they're fortunate to have the record they do. I believe that Melvin plans to keep Yost. And yet, considering the Brewers have a relatively new owner who wants to win now, Yost probably shouldn't consider himself entirely safe. My judgment: lukewarm seat.
Around the majors
David Wells threw only 47 innings with the Red Sox before being traded to the Padres.
Kevin Towers' logic was sound for acquiring David Wells, who gives them a formidable three-man playoff rotation, with Jake Peavy and Chris Young, if they get there. "He's got a fresh arm," said Towers, mentioning how little Wells has thrown this year (53 innings).
But it wasn't just Wells' arm, which may be rubber anyway. It's his presence. "He's brought us some energy," Towers said. "We had some disappointed guys that we weren't as active [at the trade deadline] as the Dodgers."
Aramis Ramirez has to be able to beat the $22.5 million over two years he's got left on his Cubs contract, so there's no reason to think he won't exercise his opt-out option and shoot to match or come close to what Seattle paid Adrian Beltre, who isn't the consistent offensive force Ramirez is: $64 million over five years.
John Smoltz thought long and hard about a possible Mets weakness, and the only thing he could come up with is that they may have trouble when they face left-handed pitching. That explains why Mets officials followed the Giants so closely in hopes they could make a deal for Moises Alou. They watched right to the Aug. 31 deadline to see if the Giants faltered. But alas, the Giants hung in there.
Unfortunately, there were even more noteworthy omissions on my NL breakout list than even the AL list. E-mailers pointed out that Chris Duncan, Adrian Gonzalez, Russell Martin and Edwin Encarnacion belonged, to name a few. And I agree.
I went to the most worthwhile book-launching party on Thursday night, and not just because Ray Negron's The Boy of Steel children's tale is inspirational and heart-warming but because Negron, the Yankees adviser who knows just about everyone in baseball, has teamed with the nonprofit charity 1 in 9: The Long Island Breast Cancer Action Coalition/HewlettHouse and will donate a high percentage of book proceeds to fight breast cancer. To buy a book, call Hewlett House: 516-374-3190.