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Congrats, you’re fired: Winning the Manager of the Year award isn’t always such a good thing

Nov 13, 2012, 1:20 PM EDT

baldwin glengarry

I was looking over the history of the Manager of the Year award in preparation for this year’s winners being announced tonight and it struck me just how many of them were fired within a couple years.

Jim Tracy won in 2009 and was canned by the Rockies last month.

Lou Piniella won in 2008 and stepped down from the Cubs in mid-2010.

Bob Melvin won in 2007 and was fired by the Diamondbacks in early 2009.

Eric Wedge won in 2007 and was fired by the Indians after 2009.

Joe Girardi won in 2006 and was let go by the Marlins that same year.

Buck Showalter won in 2004 and was canned by the Rangers after 2006.

Tony Pena won in 2003 and was fired by the Royals after 2005.

There are more examples, but you get the idea. Ron Gardenhire and Bud Black were the 2010 winners and both remain on the job, but they’ve combined to go 276-372 since then for a .426 winning percentage.

As for why so many Manager of the Year winners are goners within 2-3 years … I’m not sure. It might be due to the winners often coming from teams that surprised people and out-performed preseason expectations significantly, and in many cases those teams come back down to earth in the following seasons. Or maybe it’s just the nature of being a big-league manager and the lack of job security is just more noticeable when they have a recent award.

  1. stex52 - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Most likely the fact that the manager really only has two important jobs: manage the bullpen arms and keep out of the way. So if a team overperforms he gets too much credit; if they underperform they get too much blame. You have obvious walking disaster areas like Valentine or Cecil Cooper, but generally the team decides how well they do.

    • rollinghighwayblues - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      Thank you. At least someone gets it. Managers get way too much credit/blame. Show up, fill out a lineup card, hit fungo, and try your best at managing the bullpen.

      • forsch31 - Nov 12, 2012 at 1:47 PM

        Well, there’s a little more than that. The primary job of the manager is to manage the personalities in the locker room and in the field to try to get the best performance out of his players. That’s a hard thing to quantify, sorta like evaluating how a catcher handles a pitching staff.

      • stex52 - Nov 12, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        They are professionals getting tons of money. If they need too much babying, get someone else. It won’t work anyway in the long run.(See: Red Sox, Josh Hamilton, Carlos Zambrano, etc., etc., Etc.)

    • indaburg - Nov 12, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      While I agree that managers get too much blame when things go wrong and vice versa, I think forsch31 has a point. It’s a little more complicated than just simply filling out a line-up card and managing the bullpen. If it were that simple, heck, any one of us could be baseball managers.

      Last year, I was forced to take a “Manager University” course by corporate. Of course, it wasn’t about baseball managers–that would have been actually interesting. I spent most of the classes wondering how these management tactics could apply in the baseball world. Most of it was bullshit, but the one thing that stuck is that good managers, whether in baseball or in real life, know how to place people in the best possible position to succeed then get out of the way. Maddon’s a wiz at this. A great example is Bochy’s usage of Lincecum in the post-season. Of course, Lincecum had to execute, but by using him as a “super-closer” instead of a starter, he placed Lincecum in a position to succeed. Any managers who use a platoon for a position are also applying that philosophy.

    • pjmarn6 - Nov 13, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      You can’t fire the players with guaranteed contracts so take it out on the managers who have relatively cheap contracts.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    I think manager evaluation in MLB is all about performance relative to expectations. If a team was supposed to be crappy, and they aren’t, the manager did a great job. If the following season the team fails to improve further, the manager failed.

    It will be interesting to see how the Orioles react if the team plays pretty well but misses the playoffs in 2013. That would have been a welcome result in spring 2012, but now will probably be seen as a disappointment.

  3. The Common Man - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    That would be my assumption too, Aaron. Teams outperform and then regress and the manager gets the blame because his mojo stopped working. We tend not to reward sustained success as much as we do out of nowhere seasons, especially because the assumption is that a new(ish) manger is the reason things turned around.

  4. missthemexpos - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Former “Manager Of The Year” winners should receive “The What Have You Done For Me Lately” award when they get fired a few years later.

  5. deepstblu - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    I think you got it in one. The Revenge of Pythagoras.

  6. paperlions - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    I have a theory that would explain this.

    Manager of the year winners are typically in charge of teams that perform above expectations. Often (but not always), such teams just got a little lucky, a couple guys had career years, etc. Then, when those teams go back to being exactly what they were the entire time, the manager is blamed because the expectation level is now set at an unreasonable level, as if the outlier year somehow represented a new talent level on the team, resulting in the manager being shown the door.

    • paperlions - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      Freaking boss interrupting my important blog comments…making me look like some Johnny-come-lately.

      • stex52 - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        No problem. The more the merrier. If we sell this point long enough, maybe more people will come to our position on managers.

      • Francisco (FC) - Nov 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM

        As opposed to the rear-end position many of these managers found themselves in?

      • indaburg - Nov 12, 2012 at 2:23 PM

        Some bosses just have no respect for priorities.

  7. mianfr - Nov 12, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    It’s usually becomes writers need an explanation for why some team vastly overperformed its run differential and give too much credit to the manager, and then when the luck returns to normal they blame him for doing a bad job of managing the same team as before.

    • mianfr - Nov 12, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      Which is ok at times, but on the whole it’s probably best to consider environment as well. Doesn’t it look like Terry Francona had a much harder team to manage than, say, the Ron Gardenhire did?

  8. Old Gator - Nov 12, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Of course the example of Girardi with the Feesh was an extraordinary one. Girardi figured out a few weeks into his tenure that he was working for a putz, and proceeded to treat him like one. Scrooge McLoria has, you may have noticed, fired managers for less.

  9. The Dangerous Mabry - Nov 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    I think there’s real potential for managerial advice in that Glengarry scene…

    A. B. C.

    A- Always.
    B- Baby.
    C- Closers.

    Always Baby Closers.

    A. I. D. A.
    Attitude – Does this guy have a closer’s attitude?
    Inning – Is it the ninth inning?
    Deficit – Are you winning by three or fewer runs?
    Action – Get that closer in there!

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 12, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      What’s your name?

    • indaburg - Nov 12, 2012 at 2:25 PM

      Don’t forget–coffee’s for closers only.

    • roverkarlthecannedham - Nov 12, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      This I like. To it, if it is not too presumptuous of me, I would like to add

      D. B. B. V.

      Don’t – Do Not Under Any Circumstances
      Be – Engage In, Act Like, Or Channel By Demonic Possession
      Bobby – Bobby
      Valentine – Horses Ass

  10. joeflaccosunibrow - Nov 12, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    In 1997, Davey Johnson won it and what is fired the same day he won the award.

    I love Peter Angelos

  11. MotorCitySteel - Nov 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    I hope Jim Leyland wins. I am grateful for what he has done in the past. But over the last couple of years, the team talent has overcome his poor decisions. Time to move on. Thanks for some great years Jim! Just being honest, even Sparky had a shelf life.

  12. illcomm - Nov 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    why was this article reran??????

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