2014 Fantasy Baseball - Managerial Changes
Shawn Childs, High Stakes Fantasy Baseball Winner and Contributor from scoutPRO.com is helping FFToolbox readers dominate their fantasy baseball leagues this season.
New Manager: Brad Ausmus
Replacing: Jim Leyland (retired)
When talking about MLB teams with new managers, a team that was very close to making the World Series the previous year is usually not one that falls into that category. However, the Tigers are an exception as Jim Leyland decided it was time to retire after 8 seasons in the Motor City (record was 700-597). Replacing him will be first time manager Brad Ausmus, who played for 18 years in the big leagues with the Padres, Tigers, Astros and Dodgers. Known for his defense behind the plate, Ausmus won 3 Gold Glove Awards and led the majors in fielding percentage five times.
As I mentioned before, the Tigers were close to making the World Series last year and their previous manager retired, so it's not like their franchise is in a bad state at the moment. Furthermore, inheriting a team that has won 3 straight NL Central division titles isn't a bad way to start off your managerial career. With a majority of their roster back for the 2014 season, it wouldn't be surprising to see them make it 4 in a row.
New Manager: Matt Williams
Replacing: Davey Johnson (retired)
Like Ausmus, Matt Williams is a former MLB player getting his first crack at managing in the big leagues. During his 17-year career, Williams was a 4-time Gold Glover, five-time All Star and won the World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001. While he has never managed an MLB team, he spent time as 1B coach and 3B coach with the D'Backs from 2010-2013.
The Nationals didn't have as good of a year as the Tigers did in 2013, but they weren't too shabby, finishing with an 86-76 record. However, they did struggle with the top teams in the NL (went 7-24 against Atlanta, St. Louis and Los Angeles). Looking at their offense, it definitely has some power and upside if Bryce Harper can take a step forward (and stop running into outfield walls at full speed). If Williams can get him to tone it down a bit so he can stay healthy, this team has enough front end starting pitching to be World Series contenders in 2014.
New Manager: Bryan Price
Replacing: Dusty Baker
The Reds are another team you wouldn't expect to see on this list as they have won 90 or more games in each of the last two years. Winning in the regular season is one thing, but if you can't get it done in the playoffs, time will eventually expire on your coaching clock. That's exactly what happened to Dusty Baker as the Reds fired him and promoted pitching coach Bryan Price to take over as manager.
The 51-year old Price has never managed, but he has been quite successful as the Reds pitching coach over the past few seasons. Despite playing their home games in the launching pad that is the Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati has had one of the best pitching staffs in the game in recent years, finishing in the top 10 in MLB in ERA and WHIP in each of the last two seasons. If Johnny Cueto and Tony Cingrani can stay healthy all year, they could be even better. This team has the talent to compete for a World Series title, but they do have plenty of competition to deal with in the NL Central as this division sent 3 teams to the playoffs in 2013 (Reds, Cardinals, Pirates).
New Manager: Rick Renteria
Replacing: Dale Sveum
Like Ausmus, Williams and Price, Rick Renteria does not having any MLB managerial experience. However, he does have 8 years of experience as a minor league manager in both the Marlins' and Padres' farm systems. He will need to put all of that experience to good work as the Cubs don't have anything close to the talent that the Tigers, Nationals and Reds have on their big league rosters.
It's safe to say that the Cubs are in rebuilding mode, so 2014 will probably be another long season in the Windy City. They do have one of the top farm systems in baseball, so help is on the way. Previous manager Dale Sveum only got 2 years before he was fired, so it will be interesting to see what kind of leash Theo Epstein and company give Renteria. If they can manage to win 72 games, I would say that is a step in the right direction.
New Manager: Lloyd McClendon
Replacing: Eric Wedge
McClendon is the only new 2014 hire that has previous experience as an MLB manager, serving as the Pittsburgh Pirates skipper from 2001-2005. Winning was hard to come by during his tenure, but the Pirates franchise wasn't exactly what I would call worthwhile back then. Since he got fired in Pittsburgh, he has been coaching up in Detroit, first as the bullpen coach and then as hitting coach since 2007. The Tigers offense has finished in the top 5 in runs scored in 2 of the last 3 seasons, and a Detroit player won the AL batting title 4 times during his 7 seasons as hitting coach.
Success has been hard to come by in Seattle since the days of Lou Pinella. 5 different managers (and two interim managers) have been unable to win consistently, evidenced by only 2 winning seasons since 2003. They shelled out some serious $$$ for Robinson Cano in the offseason, but their lineup still has plenty of question marks. While they do have a true ace in Felix Hernandez, the success of their pitching staff will hinge on the development of two young pitchers, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. McClendon's tenure in Seattle will probably last longer than a Kardashian marriage, but the odds say it won't be too much longer.