View From the Center: A.L. East Managers
Welcome to "View From the Center", where our resident pseudo-expert slash Cincinnati Reds fan Jeff Gentil takes a regular rundown of the topics of interest within baseball's divisional landscape. Last week, contenders and pretenders. This week, managers.
Tampa Bay Rays: Last year, the Rays didn't quite live up to their expectations. After their stunning 2008 run to the World Series, everyone assumed a repeat performance that didn't happen. This year, they are back and hungry again for a return to the playoffs. It will be a tooth and nail battle for Joe Maddon and his team, but they certainly have the talent to carry through. The only question will be if the organization can afford to add a key player around the trade deadline.
Baltimore Orioles: With baseball's worst record, the Orioles have already made one managerial move this season. Juan Samuel is now the lucky man in charge of a sinking ship. But he will have the balance of the season to show the team what he can do as the manager. If they continue to s(t)ink, it won't necessarily be on him. If they somehow improve, he could put himself in line for the full-time gig.
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox seem to be finding their legs after a somewhat slow start by Boston standards. Currently in third place in baseball's toughest division, Terry Francona has his team within striking distance with plenty of time left to make some player moves as Theo Epstein is no doubt going to have the approval by ownership to pull off.
New York Yankees: As the manager of the Yankees, even after winning their 27th championship, Joe Girardi should never feel safe. However, the Yankees are tied with the Rays for the best record in the East and in the league. So as long as the Yanks can continue to win despite Mark Texeira's struggles and Alex Rodriguez's nagging hip injuries, Girardi will be the manager. But you just never know with the Steinbrenners.
Toronto Blue Jays: Left for dead after the Roy Halladay trade, the Blue Jays were written off with zero chance to compete in the East. Cito Gaston has instead done another amazing job in Toronto, and even though his team is seven games out they are still four over .500 and are playing better baseball than most thought at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the team is going to be able to get up into the top two and make a run at the postseason. That's no knock against Gaston as manager.