The regular season ends Sunday, but already the Giants, Padres, and Royals are searching for new managers and could soon be joined by the Cubs, Mariners, Mets, Phillies, and Pirates.
The biggest opening is at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox are once again seeking a general manager.
The Red Sox owners discussed their situation on Friday. So let’s focus instead on the managerial spots:
Giants — Bruce Bochy did new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi a massive favor by announcing his retirement before the season. San Francisco has had seven months to evaluate candidates.
Yankees bench coach Josh Bard makes sense. He has a connection to Zaidi from their shared time with the Dodgers, is analytically inclined, and played a big role with the Yankees.
Former Athletics manager Bob Geren, now the Dodgers’ bench coach, is a possibility, too.
But given all the time he’s had, Zaidi could pull a surprise.
Padres — San Diego missed its chance to hire Dave Roberts in 2015. Bochy, who managed the team from 1995-2006, appears content with the idea of retirement. Bard, a former Padres player, fits here. Astros bench coach Joe Espada will get a look, too.
Royals — With Ned Yost retiring, Kansas City is seeking a manager for the first time since 2010. Bullpen coach Vance Wilson, who has seven years of managerial experience in the Royals’ minor league system, would be a smart choice. He knows the organization better than any outsider.
Kansas City already employs former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny as a special adviser to player development. But it hurts his cause that the Cardinals took off under Mike Shildt after Matheny was fired last season.
This could take a while. General manager Dayton Moore has said he won’t name a manager until Major League Baseball approves the sale of the team to John Sherman.
Sherman has to first sell his 30 percent share in the Indians. The process should be wrapped up in November.
Cubs — Expect a decision on Monday as to whether Joe Maddon returns for a sixth season. The odds are against it.
Maddon did what he was hired to do and won the World Series in 2016. But the Cubs have been running in place since the 2018 All-Star break, and that group needs a change. Maddon probably does, too.
David Ross, a special assistant to Theo Epstein, is an obvious choice here. Ross has an engaging personality but has the edge to kick some of the butts that need to be kicked there.
Mariners — Seattle won 89 games last season and won’t get to 70 this year. But that’s more a product of the relentless roster churn by general manager Jerry Dipoto than anything Scott Servais can control.
Servais is the organization’s fourth manager in the last 10 years, so change is always right around the corner there. But he is likely to return with what should be a better team.
Mets — Mickey Callaway was on the verge of being fired several times, team insiders said, before the Mets surged after the All-Star break.
The Mets failed to make the playoffs and now general manager Brodie Van Wagenen will decide whether he wants his own choice as manager. He almost surely does.
The Mets have a win-now roster, so an experienced manager such as Maddon would fit. It would be endlessly entertaining to have former Yankees manager Joe Girardi in Queens.
Phillies — It was an all-or-nothing move to hire Gabe Kapler, and Philadelphia has been essentially a .500 team in his two seasons. Kapler is a smart guy who tried new things, and to his credit he is up front and accountable for everything.
More than anything, this team needs an identity. They’re below league average offensively and roughly league average in pitching and haven’t been to the postseason since 2011.
The Phillies got Bryce Harper to create some buzz. But they don’t need a celebrity manager such as Maddon; they need somebody with a plan, and at least Kapler has some fresh ideas.
Pirates — There’s chaos in Pittsburgh. Clint Hurdle said Wednesday he was told he would return after a season that included several fights in the clubhouse. Then a day later GM Neal Huntington said only that a decision would come after the season.
The Pirates are a static team and ultimately are likely to leave Huntington and Hurdle in place.
But if they don’t, third base coach Joey Cora would be a good candidate to manage. Alex Cora’s older brother is a disciplinarian and the Pirates apparently need that. Plus, the Pirates play the Red Sox next season, and that would be fun.
ROTATION A DISAPPOINTMENT
In assessing Sox, start with starters
The Red Sox are fourth in the majors in runs. In the end, their bullpen also graded out among the top four or five in the American League. The reality was far better than the perception with that group.
It was the rotation that kept the Sox out of the playoffs. Eduardo Rodriguez was the only starter who stayed healthy and pitched well.
Rick Porcello had a 5.52 earned run average, second highest among the 64 qualified starters in the majors. Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, and Chris Sale combined to miss 41 starts.
For all that, the Sox were a half-game out of a playoff spot on July 27. They were 59-47, ahead of Tampa Bay and just behind Oakland in the wild-card race.
You’re left wondering whether one trade or better organizational starter depth could have made a difference.
The only significant in-season trade Dave Dombrowski made before he was fired was obtaining Andrew Cashner from Baltimore to plug a hole in the rotation.
Cashner was 1-4 with an 8.01 ERA in six starts before being sent to the bullpen.
The Sox used Cashner and nine other replacement starters 37 times to fill in for Eovaldi, Price, and Sale. They were 3-15 and 6.75 ERA. The Sox were 13-24 in those games.
That’s the season. The Sox wasted a powerful offensive team with poor starting pitching. There were a dozen or so days this season when Alex Cora didn’t announce his starter until the night before. How can that happen with a $236 million payroll?
A few other thoughts on the Sox:
■ Michael Chavis had a .766 OPS, 18 home runs, and 58 RBIs over 95 games and 382 plate appearances, a relatively impressive rookie season at the plate.
He also started games at first base (43 times), second base (40 times), and third base (twice) and was better than expected in the field, although that still needs work.
But Chavis missed the final 41 games with a shoulder injury and oblique strain, time the Red Sox wanted to further evaluate him and determine where he best fits next season.
Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions pointed out that Chavis was one of the luckiest hitters in the majors this season. He had a .347 batting average on balls in play and a .248 expected batting average on balls in play.
Expected batting average measures on balls in play the likelihood of a hit based on exit velocity and launch angle.
A wide gap between those averages suggests the hitter was lucky. In Chavis’s case, a 99-point spread was the widest for any hitter with at least 250 plate appearances.
The Sox plan to send Chavis to the Puerto Rico Winter League for a month to pick up some at-bats and get introduced to left field. He’ll play for Caguas, Cora’s former team.
■ Mitch Moreland was annoyed when he became a free agent following the 2016 season and the Rangers didn’t make him an offer to stay. He has been taking it out on them since.
Moreland hit .442 with a 1.118 OPS in 13 games against the Rangers in three seasons with the Sox with 11 runs and 11 RBIs. That includes going 12 of 25 with four extra-base hits and five RBIs in seven games at Texas.
“Total coincidence,” Moreland said with a big smile.
■ Three members of the 2018 Red Sox are returning to the playoffs, or at least could go back.
Drew Pomeranz, who was traded from San Francisco to Milwaukee at the deadline, became a lockdown setup man. Joe Kelly hasn’t pitched for the Dodgers since Sept. 18 because of a mysterious lower-body injury but could return for the postseason. That is if they want him to. Kelly has a 4.62 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Lefthander Jalen Beeks is one of the many pitchers the Rays will consider for their bullpen.
■ The minor leagues exist to produce talent for the major league roster. Winning is a happy byproduct on occasion, but not the goal. That said, the Sox farm teams had a .464 winning percentage this season. Only the Angels, Cardinals, and Tigers were lower.
■ Congratulations to Jon Miller, WBZ’s longtime Red Sox reporter. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame on Friday.
■ Here’s to Porcello, who came through five seasons with the Red Sox with a World Series ring, a Cy Young Award, 73 wins, and everyone’s respect.
Porcello was accessible, honest, and accountable in his dealings with the media and was happy to talk informally about different topics. His views often helped me get a better feel for a story or column I was working on.
Porcello is a good candidate to bounce back from a poor season, and the Red Sox should give him that chance. But it’s understandable if they don’t and equally understandable if he wants to play in a climate less frenzied than Boston.
On Wednesday, after what was likely his final game for the Sox, Porcello was asked what he reflected on sitting in the dugout. He smiled and said, “Yeah, I sat there and I said, ‘[Shoot], this has been a tough one this year.’ ”
He was candid right to the end.
Process underway with the Rangers
When first-year Rangers manager Chris Woodward sits at his desk in the manager’s office at Globe Life Park, it’s directly below a mural featuring the 15 men who preceded him in the job.
It’s hard not to notice that more than half of them lasted three or fewer seasons with the team.
The Rangers have yet to win a World Series, joining the Brewers, Mariners, Nationals, Padres, Rays, and Rockies. They were a pitch away in 2011 and haven’t won a playoff series since. This season is their third straight with a losing record.
Woodward, 43, is tasked with figuring out how to break that drought.
“Where we are right now? I think we need to obviously make some additions,” Woodward said. “But I think the mentality is there. We’re not far off.”
Alex Cora feels the same way. The Rangers will have payroll space for general manager Jon Daniels to make some moves and already have a strong bullpen in place.
“You see the arms,” Cora said. “Pretty impressive. They’re interesting. Tough division, of course, but it’s an interesting team.”
The biggest issue for the Rangers will be getting more from second baseman Rougned Odor and shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Odor has a .701 OPS over the last three seasons. He rarely gets on base. Andrus has a .693 OPS in the last two seasons. They are both signed through 2022 at a combined $80.5 million.
“They’re hungry. They want to win. That’s all these guys talk about,” Woodward said, speaking generally about his team.
“When I talk about process with our players, they need to understand that their process is their production every day. That’s why I stress to them so often, every day, that we can’t take one day off. Championship players, championship teams, do not take days off. The process is a recipe for winning.”
Texas needs upgrades in its rotation behind Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, and a center fielder. But playing at a new ballpark should provide a lift, as attendance is sure to increase.
Cleveland’s Terry Francona has had 15 consecutive seasons with a winning record, the longest stretch for a manager since Bobby Cox had 15 years with the Braves from 1991-2005. Joe McCarthy has the record of 24 straight from 1926-50 with the Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox . . . Another longevity mark: 34-year-old Adam Jones, who was with Arizona this season, has 12 consecutive seasons with enough plate appearances to quality for the batting title. Ichiro Suzuki was the last player to do that . . . Felix Hernandez is 1-15 with a 6.42 ERA in 25 games since the 2018 All-Star break. He will be a free agent after the season and at age 33 may merit only a minor league contract, if he’s willing to accept it . . . It has to annoy the Rays and Athletics, who keep striking out in their bids for new stadiums, that the Braves and Rangers abandoned perfectly good ballparks for new ones in recent years. But it’s easy to understand why the Rangers will finish up at Globe Life Park this weekend. Texas has played 759 games with first-pitch temperatures of at least 90 degrees since the park opened in 1994, according to the Dallas Morning News, more than twice as many as the next team. Globe Life Field will have a retractable roof and air conditioning. The Red Sox are there May 14-17 . . . The Astros nabbed Zack Greinke in a creative deal with the Diamondbacks and Nicholas Castellanos raked for the ill-fated Cubs. But the best under-the radar move at the deadline was Milwaukee GM David Stearns obtaining Jordan Lyles from Pittsburgh for a Double A reliever. Lyles was 5-7 with a 5.36 ERA in 17 starts for the Pirates but is 7-1 with a 2.24 ERA in 11 starts for the Brewers. Milwaukee is 10-1 in the games Lyles has started and made a successful run to the postseason . . . Major league teams went into the weekend with a record 6,647 home runs, 542 more than the previous record with three games to play. No wonder commissioner Rob Manfred told Forbes magazine, “I do think that we need to see if we can make some changes that gives us a more predictable, consistent performance from the baseball.” . . . The fourth-annual Pedro Martinez Foundation Gala will be Nov. 1 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston. David Ortiz is expected to attend along with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Corey Kluber, among other players. Go to pedromartinezfoundation.com/gala for information . . . Happy 43rd birthday to Calvin Pickering, who at 6 feet 5 inches, 285 pounds was one of the biggest Red Sox players ever. Pickering, a native of the US Virgin Islands, was selected off waivers in 2001 and played 17 games in September. He hit .280 with three home runs but didn’t play the following season because of a torn quadriceps suffered in spring training.