1. Eric Wedge (Indians) - The Indians might have been more justified in firing Wedge a month ago, before injuries to Grady Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera, Aaron Laffey and Anthony Reyes gave the team a better excuse for its poor record. The Indians have been underperforming all along, though. They’re nine games under .500 even though they’ve scored just nine fewer runs than their opponents over the course of the year (308-317). Wedge was too slow to try to put a better defensive team on the field, and he deserves some of the blame for the bullpen woes. It’s time for a change.
2. Manny Acta (Nationals) - Acta won’t survive into 2010 if the Nationals amass baseball’s worst record for the second year in a row. He’ll be lucky to make it into August unless his team puts together a winning streak soon. Acta seems more open to new ideas than most and has shown a willingness to experiment, but he’s done a poor job of handling what’s been baseball’s worst pitching staff.
3. Cecil Cooper (Astros) - I don’t think the Astros are underachieving at 25-30 one-third of the way through the season, but GM Ed Wade and owner Drayton McLane likely disagree. Cooper’s status has been the subject of speculation since almost the beginning of the season, and he actually seems a little safer now than he did a month ago, as the Astros have been winning recently. I still think he’s likely to go if the Astros don’t move up from last place in the NL Central to at least fourth by the All-Star break.
4. Trey Hillman (Royals) - The Royals’ surprisingly strong start raised expectations and thus may have hurt Hillman’s case for sticking around. Kansas City always figured to be a 75-win team, but that might not fly after an April in which an AL Central title looked like a legitimate goal. Hillman’s faults are obvious: he does as poor of a job of running a bullpen as any manager in baseball and he pays little attention to platoon advantages on offense or defense. I don’t see him landing another major league managerial job once the Royals let him go.
5. Bud Black (Padres) - Truly a pleasant surprise, San Diego is just four games under .500 despite possessing what looked like baseball’s weakest collection of talent at the beginning of the year. Only the Nationals and Orioles have worse run differentials than the Padres, who have scored 221 runs and given up 271. That Black has coaxed the team to a 26-30 record is quite an achievement. Still, Black is managing a team that is expected to eventually have a new owner in Jeff Moorad. CEO Sandy Alderson is gone, and it seems likely that more changes will come after the year. Black will likely survive the season, but if the Padres opt to go in a different direction at GM over the winter, then they may bring in a new manager as well.
Others - Fredi Gonzalez has my vote for baseball’s worst manager, but the Marlins won’t want to have to pay two managers at once again. ... Jerry Manuel’s Mets are playing better lately, so he should be safe unless his mouth gets him in trouble. ... A’s manager Bob Geren has plenty of support from good friend Billy Beane and can’t be blamed for assembling baseball’s most injury-prone team.