Five managers on the hot seat

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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.

Report: The White Sox and Diamondbacks are in on Manny Machado

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Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.

The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.

The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.

The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.