As Bob Nightengale notes in the USA Today, there’s a chance for an unprecedented number of managerial changes this year.
Nightengale does his own rundown, but for fun, I’m going to say there will be eight changes: Blue Jays, White Sox, Mariners, Braves, Marlins, Mets, Brewers, and Diamondbacks (I don’t include the Dodgers, who will be moving Don Mattingly into the job, but if you want to count them, make it nine).
- The Jays and Braves are forgone conclusions, what with Bobby Cox and Cito Gaston retiring. I don’t think the Mariners, Marlins, Mets and Brewers declining to retain their current skippers are much more controversial choices. I suppose Kirk Gibson could stay on, but I just kind of doubt it. I think Kevin Towers will get the GM job in Arizona that he’ll want to go with his own man.
- Ozzie Guillen leaving Chicago is perhaps a bit of a longshot — he’s under contract — but I get the feeling that the Kenny Williams/Ozzie show has run its course, and Guillen will be allowed to leave for Florida, technically because he’ll be fired, but that it will really be a mutual agreement kind of thing.
- I think Tony La Russa will stay on with the Cardinals one more year. I’ve gone back and forth on this, but Pujols is guaranteed to be there in 2011 because of the team option, and I could see La Russa wanting to ride that horse for one more season, leaving just before the team gets over-leveraged on salary or (perish the thought) Pujols leaves in a P.R. nightmare.
- Finally, I didn’t include the Cubs on that list as I’m hearing more and more that ownership and — more importantly — the players really like Mike Quade, and I think the Cubs will make the controversial but ultimately wise move to keep him on.
So those are my predictions. How about yours?