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?
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.