The 2019 MLB regular season is upon us. All 30 teams have officially wrapped up spring training, which means the games will start to count for real. The Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners actually tangled for a couple of regular season games in Japan last week, both of which were won by the Mariners, but everyone else will be ramping things up for the first time on March 28.
Hope springs eternal at this time of year. While there may only realistically be a handful of teams with legitimate World Series aspirations, there are 30 big league managers that believe their team is the team that will win it all this year. Even a team like the Orioles, who may struggle to crack 60 wins, is feeling pretty good right about now.
Of course, those good feelings will only last for so long before reality sets in. Some teams will get off to hot starts, while others will stumble out of the gates. Let’s not forget that the Los Angeles Dodgers started just 16-26 last season before getting things in order and making a run to the World Series for the second consecutive year.
Unfortunately, some managers may not even make it through the entire campaign unscathed. Last year, Bryan Price of the Cincinnati Reds became the first manager to get fired after his team started just 3-15. Mike Matheny (Cardinals) was the only other manager to be let go during the regular season, while Jeff Banister (Rangers), Buck Showalter (Orioles), Paul Molitor (Twins), John Gibbons (Blue Jays) and Mike Scioscia (Angels) left their respective posts at the end of the season.
The new baseball season brings plenty of fresh betting opportunities, so be sure to check out some of our top-rated MLB betting sites if you want to get in on the action. MyBookie has odds posted regarding which manager will be the first to get axed during the 2019 season.
- Alex Cora (Red Sox) +1000
- Ron Gardenhire (Tigers) +1000
- Brandon Hyde (Orioles) +1800
Of the managers listed with odds to be fired during the 2019 season, Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox is tied for the fifth-highest odds at +1000. This doesn’t make sense for a number of reasons. Cora is entering just his second season as the team’s manager, and he led Boston to a World Series title during his first year. The Red Sox inked Cora to a 3-year deal that will run through the 2020 campaign.
Cora, 43, is thought to be arguably the brightest young manager in the game. He was instrumental in leading the Houston Astros to a championship in 2017 as A.J. Hinch’s bench coach, and one would imagine having won it all in his first season in Boston likely means a fresh new contract is on the way shortly. Considering his deal wasn’t a long one to begin with, I’d imagine Boston’s brass is eager to lock him up on a long-term basis.
Could the Red Sox struggle early in the season? It’s possible, but winning a World Series generally buys a manager a longer grace period. We know the Red Sox have high expectations, but even if they stumble early in the season I cannot fathom Cora being fired. So, taking that bet at +1000 is just a terrible idea.
Ron Gardenhire and Brandon Hyde are in different boats. The Tigers and Orioles are both primed for lengthy rebuilds, and neither of them has real postseason hopes this year. The Tigers went 64-98 in Gardenhire’s first year on the job last season, and it would frankly be surprising if they are much better or much worse this year. I’m not sure what it would take for Detroit to pull the plug on the manager in year 2 considering it’s not like they’re expected to win the World Series. So, Gardenhire to be fired first at +1000 is a bad bet, too.
Hyde is entering his first season on the job in Baltimore. The O’s went a miserable 47-115 last year under Buck Showalter, with a number of longtime players having since moved on. Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Zach Britton, Kevin Gausman, and Tim Beckham were traded during the season. Adam Jones left as a free agent this past winter.
The Orioles will be bad again, and it’s by design. The team brought over some members of the Astros’ front office to try and orchestrate a rebuild that will eventually help the team get back into contention. That means they’ll be taking their lumps in the meantime, and that’s the job Hyde signed on to do. This team could feasibly start 0-20 and Hyde’s job wouldn’t be in serious jeopardy.
If an 0-20 record doesn’t get a manager fired, nothing will. So, pass on betting Hyde to be the first manager fired at +1800.
Viable Long Shots
- Gabe Kapler (Phillies) +1200
- Dave Roberts (Dodgers) +1200
- Joe Maddon (Cubs) +1400
- Aaron Boone (Yankees) +2500
All 5 of the teams listed above think they have what it takes to win the World Series in 2019. Bettors would tell you that some of them are a bit overly optimistic (ahem, Mets), but if they fail to live up to expectations then these bosses could find themselves on the hot seat at some point.
One guy that will likely be a fairly popular bet here is Dave Roberts. Roberts has led the Dodgers to back-to-back World Series appearances, but the franchise is still seeking its first championship since 1988. Roberts has taken plenty of heat from fans regarding some of his decisions, with his quick hook for starting pitchers being one tendency that rubs some the wrong way.
While they have come up short in their quest for a title, the team’s brass still seems pretty excited about the job Roberts is doing. In fact, Roberts inked a fresh 4-year contract extension back in December that will keep him on the job through the 2022 season. That certainly doesn’t mean the Dodgers can’t fire him before then, but that kind of vote of confidence means his job is likely safe, at least through 2019.
I understand that Roberts may gain some traction from a betting perspective if Los Angeles gets off to another lackluster start, but he’s not going anywhere any time soon.
Boone and Kapler are entering their second seasons with their respective clubs. I think Kapler is the better bet of the 2 to get fired first considering his first year in charge included more missteps than Boone’s. The Phillies loaded up on talent this winter, with Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Jean Segura, and Andrew McCutchen, among others, joining the team.
If the Phillies don’t make some noise, the Philly faithful will turn on Kapler in a hurry. At +1200, I like him as a betting option that offers some upside. Boone is an easy bet to pass on at +2500.
Maddon is entering the last year of his deal, and there’s a real chance he’s gone after this season, no matter what. The relationship between Maddon and the Cubs’ front office reportedly isn’t the best, and if they don’t lock him up to a new deal during the season he may well move on.
I don’t think Maddon gets fired during the season unless the Cubs endure a cataclysmic collapse, but it’s at least a situation worth monitoring. Of the managers in this tier, I like Kapler to be the first fired at +1200, followed by Maddon (+1400), Roberts (+1200) and Boone (+2500) in that order. Kapler is the only option on which I’d seriously consider placing a bet.
Managers On the Ropes
- Dave Martinez (Nationals) +700
- Mickey Callaway (Mets) +900
Callaway led the Mets to an 11-1 start in his first year on the job last season, but the team quickly floundered and finished just 77-85. New York was one of the more active teams in the league during the winter, however, which has some thinking they can take the next step in ‘19.
New York is different from other baseball cities in that there is seemingly constant pressure to win at all costs. New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen shuffled Callaway’s entire coaching staff after replacing Sandy Alderson this past offseason, with pitching coach Dave Eiland being the lone remaining member.
Considering Van Wagenen didn’t hire Callaway, the pressure is now on the manager to start winning games. Van Wagenen isn’t tied to Callaway, so if the Mets are terrible again, Callaway will be the one with the bullseye on his back. Jim Riggleman, who replaced Price in Cincinnati last season, has been hired as the Mets’ bench coach. If things go south early for the Mets, Riggleman is there as a readymade interim replacement.
So, of those in this tier, Callaway looks like the best bet to get fired first at +900. The Mets aren’t a rebuilding team, they’re built to win as soon as possible. If that doesn’t happen, Callaway is the likely scapegoat. So, Callaway at +900 is a pretty favorable price from a betting perspective.
Martinez endured similar struggles in his first season. The Nationals were arguably baseball’s biggest disappointment last year, as they went just 82-80 during the season and missed out on the playoffs despite boasting a roster laden with talent. They lost Harper this winter, but this team is still easily good enough on paper to challenge for a division title at the very least.
Like Callaway, Martinez inked a 3-year deal when he was hired prior to the ‘18 season. The Nats decided to keep Martinez’ entire staff intact. Given the overall quality of the roster, Washington scuffling would be more of a surprise than the Mets doing so. While I slightly prefer the odds on Callaway at +900 to Martinez at +900, I do think the Nationals’ manager is a perfectly fine betting option.
The NL East is going to be wild this season, and I think it’s safe to say that at least 2 of the managers (3, if you include Kapler) could find themselves on the ropes.
To Be Determined
- Andy Green (Padres) +900
- Don Mattingly (Marlins) +900
- Clint Hurdle (Pirates) +1000
- Scott Servais (Mariners) +1200
Nobody would be shocked if the Padres, Marlins, Pirates, and Mariners all missed out on postseason play in 2019. Frankly, it would be shocking if the Marlins came to within 20 games of the lead in the NL East.
Derek Jeter has been fairly aggressive since taking control of the Miami franchise a couple of years ago. Manager Don Mattingly precedes Jeter’s arrival, so Jeter isn’t necessarily tied to Mattingly’s future with the club. This would just seem like a weird time to fire Mattingly. We know the Marlins are bad, so does everyone else. Miami could have fired him after last season, but they didn’t. Why fire him now?
The Padres are starting to have realistic expectations for the first time in a number of years, which means the spotlight will focus on Andy Green more than it has in years past. The signing of Manny Machado was a sign that San Diego is starting to think about contending, and some of the team’s highly-touted prospects are starting to break into the big leagues.
2020 is the year most have in mind for when the Padres should finally arrive, so I doubt a disappointing 2019 would do Green in. That could obviously change if the Pads plummet to the bottom of the standings, but I think this team has upside for a third-place finish in the NL West. That doesn’t sound all that impressive, but I don’t love Green at +900 to be fired first.
Scott Servais and Clint Hurdle have done fine jobs in Seattle and Pittsburgh, respectively. The Mariners gutted their roster during the winter, so I doubt a bad season gets Servais canned. The Pirates are one of a gaggle of teams vying to contend in the NL Central, so a down season in Pittsburgh could mean an end to his tenure.
Of the managers in this price tier, I prefer Hurdle at +1000 as the most likely manager to get fired before any of the other 3.
The ugly reality is that we are likely to see at least one manager get shown the door this season. A number of others could leave at the end of the season, so picking which one could get fired first is a tough situation to peg from a betting perspective.
That said, betting on baseball requires risk tolerance, so I’m fine with taking some long-shot bets here.
Callaway looks like my favorite overall bet to be the first manager fired in 2019.