Mike Hargrove, Seattle Mariners: 44 (7)
Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia Phillies: 37 (6)
John Gibbons, Toronto Blue Jays: 25 (3)
Sam Perlozzo, Baltimore Orioles: 19 (1)
Ned Yost, Milwaukee Brewers: 12 (1)
Joe Torre, New York Yankees: 8 (1)
Buddy Bell, Kansas City Royals: 8
Eric Wedge, Cleveland Indians: 5
Clint Hurdle, Colorado Rockies: 4
Ozzie Guillen, Chicago White Sox: 3
Lou Piniella, Chicago Cubs: 3
Bob Melvin, Arizona Diamondbacks: 2
Terry Francona, Boston Red Sox: 1
(First place votes in parenthesis)
While 13 managers are mentioned, the vote was clearly top heavy, singling out three managers, Hargrove, Manuel and Gibbons. While Perlozzo made a strong bid and may vault into third by virtue of Gibbons’ extension, garnering a number of second place finishes, he is saved – for the purposes of this poll at least.
Why the “love” for Hargrove?
The answer seems clear – thanks to the words “hot seat” being uttered from Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln on the pending fate of Hargrove and general manager Bill Bavasi at the end of last season.
Hargrove hasn’t had a winning record since 1999 when he left a talented Cleveland Indians club. In fact, Hargrove’s teams, Baltimore and now Seattle, have finished fourth every single year since 2000. His cumulative record since leaving the Indians is just 422-549, a .435 winning percentage. Despite going 78-84 last season, the Mariners believe they can compete in a tough AL West division.
In fact, it is hard to remember Hargrove once won five straight AL Central titles.
At the end of last season, the Mariners were debuting pitchers from the minors to take over as many as three open spots in the rotation. By the time the off-season hit and word leaked of Lincoln’s disappointment, things began to take a different path.
The additions of Jose Vidro and Horacio Ramirez via trade, the free agent additions of Miguel Batista, Jose Guillen, Jeff Weaver, Arthur Rhodes, and Chris Reitsma and re-signing J.J. Putz, signal that Seattle believes they can get it done this year – or else.
But the team lacks firepower and the arms they signed just aren’t that good. Hargrove has yet to prove he can get the most out of the talent he is supplied. The influx of veterans has given Seattle a false sense of security and Hargrove will take the hit when his team fails to meet management’s expectations.
Manuel’s team has the talent but plays in what should be a very tough division. The Mets still have a stacked lineup and a terrific pen, the Atlanta Braves are a much-improved club, and the Marlins have some of the best young arms in the game. The Phillies may not be able to match that firepower.
His team dropped from 88 wins in 2005 to 85 last year, despite having a more talented team on paper – and his club’s late season play likely saved his job. There will be little wiggle room if he comes out of the gate slowly and Jimy Williams sits on the coaching staff as a perfect mid-season replacement.
Gibbons is a fighter, literally. But this could be the year the Blue Jays punch back and knock him right out of town. While he received a one-year extension and his team has improved each season, Toronto believes it is ready to take the next step and earn a wildcard berth or a division crown.
How many victories can he steal from perennial powerhouse teams in his own division? That will ultimately determine if he stays or goes.
All Scout.com MLB publishers contributed as the panel of voters. First place was awarded five points, second place awarded three and third place received one.