With the Twins free-falling their way to a third straight 90-loss season the speculation about longtime manager Ron Gardenhire’s job security is starting to simmer a little bit here in Minnesota.
I asked on Twitter how many managers in baseball history have avoided being fired after three consecutive 90-loss seasons and SABR’s own Jacob Pomrenke came through with the information.
It has happened eight times since 1945:
Larry Rothschild Rays 1998-2000
Felipe Alou Expos 1998-2000
Tom Kelly Twins 1997-2000
Joe Torre Mets 1978-1980
Darrell Johnson Mariners 1977-1979
Preston Gomez Padres 1969-1971
Casey Stengel Mets 1962-1964
Zack Taylor Browns 1948-1951
Some other interesting tidbits from Pomrenke (who you should follow on Twitter, where he goes by @BuckWeaver): Four of the eight managers who kept their jobs after three straight 90-loss seasons were from expansion teams, so obviously tons of losing was expected/accepted. And five of the eight managers who stuck around after three straight 90-loss seasons were fired by the middle of the next year.
And of course as a Twins fan Tom Kelly’s tenure is most familiar to me, as well as being most relevant to Gardenhire. Kelly managed the Twins to four consecutive 90-loss seasons from 1997-2000 and then went 85-77 in 2001, at which point he stepped down from the job and retired at age 50. Gardenhire replaced him.
All of which is a long way of saying that if the Twins lose 90 games again this season and Gardenhire keeps his job for 2014 he’ll be one of just a few managers since 1945 to avoid getting the boot in a comparable situation. Right now the Twins are 37-50, which is a 93-loss pace, and Gardenhire’s contract is up in 75 games.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mets aren’t looking for long-term investment pieces in a trade for right-hander Noah Syndergaard, per unnamed sources. Instead, any deal the club makes will likely center on players who can make a difference for them in 2019 as they attempt to rise from last year’s fourth-place finish in the NL East and make a run at the postseason.
The 26-year-old starter has been a fixture of the Mets’ rotation since he got his start in the majors in 2015. Despite missing nearly the entire 2017 season with a torn lat muscle in his throwing arm, he returned to pitch his third full season in 2018 with a winning 13-4 record in 25 starts, 3.03 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 9.0 SO/9 through 154 1/3 innings and finished the year with his first complete game shutout, to boot. After receiving a $2.975 million salary in 2018, he’s slated for another three years in arbitration before entering free agency in the 2022 season.
So far this offseason, the Padres have been the only team linked to the righty, though they didn’t come close to completing a trade when they first inquired about him back at the July deadline. If the Mets are serious about dealing Syndergaard, as Rosenthal seems to suggest, they could very well look at acquiring another couple of arms to round out their rotation. Assuming Syndergaard is moved this winter, the team will enter 2019 with right-handers Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler, lefties Jason Vargas and (the oft-injured) Steven Matz — and relatively little depth behind the four.