MLB Betting: Which Manager Will be Canned First?
by Matt Severance - 03/31/2009
In this economy, it feels a little distasteful to bet on a guy losing his job, but when Bodog posted odds on the first Major League Baseball manager to go this season, I couldn't resist. And, hey, it's not like they don't get paid the remainder of their multi-million dollar contract.
The Bodog "favorite" to be the first to go is the Tigers' Jim Leyland at 2/1. And this makes sense after the flop job the Tigers pulled last year after getting Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. However, I think GM Dave Dombrowski has too much respect for Leyland to fire him this season when his contract is up after the year anyways.
Obviously, it wouldn't cost Detroit much to dump Leyland if the Tigers start slow, but Dombrowski knows this will be Leyland's last job and will do everything he can to help his manager - which showed on Tuesday when the Tigers cut whiny and bad fit Gary Sheffield, despite still owing him $14 million this season.
Next up behind Leyland is the Rangers' Ron Washington at 3/1 on Bodog. Like Leyland, Washington does not have a contract past this season. Last week, Rangers owner Tom Hicks said he wants to see some improvement this season before extending Washington. Most experts say the Rangers are stockpiling some nice young talent that might make them contenders as early as 2010.
"I'm very comfortable," Washington said of his future. "I think I finally got my message to my team, the type of baseball I'd like to play."
I think this team shows improvement this season, but another 10-18 start in April (like last year) means Washington is a goner. The Rangers did play above .500 the rest of last season after that bad start, however.
The third-favorites on Bodog at 5/1 are the Padres' Bud Black and Yankees' Joe Girardi. What a dichotomy there: The Padres were just sold and really have never pretended that they won't have one of the worst records in baseball this year, while I don't need to tell you the pressures of the Yankees job.
I think Black is a goner - but not until after this season. His contract also is up after this year, and new owners almost always want their own manager and revamped front office.
As for Girardi, he probably gets a pass until A-Rod is back and healthy, so that means he should last through May even if the Yanks struggle a bit to start.
"I think you get used to the distractions here," said Girardi to reporters on dealing with all that is the Yankees. "It might be for a day, or two days, but you move on."
The only two other managers currently below 10/1 on Bodog are the Rockies' Clint Hurdle at 13/2 and Astros' Cecil Cooper at 15/2. A week or so ago when the Astros were on pace for the worst spring record ever, I might have said Cooper was worth a bet, but not now.
However, I do like Hurdle to be the first manager gone. Both he and general manager Dan O'Dowd are entering the final season of their contracts. Hurdle is entering his seventh season as manager of the Rockies, and that's just too long in this era with one team unless you are Tony LaRussa. Plus potential replacements Don Baylor and Jim Tracy already are on the Colorado staff.
The rebuilding Rockies have a very tough schedule in April with series against the Diamondbacks, Phillies, Cubs, Dodgers, Diamondbacks again and Dodgers again. Eleven of those games are on the road. So I say Hurdle doesn't make it through April and he's your "winner" with the Rangers' Washington a close second.