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Fair or Foul: How surprising were these early managerial shakeups

The later rounds of the 2021 MLB postseason are still ongoing, with the Atlanta Braves leading the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros leading the Boston Red Sox in their respective League Championship Series, and there have already been several moves made by organizations regarding managers. Let’s break down how surprising and how necessary these four big moves were.

New York Mets manager Luis Rojas: Not returning for 2022

Alexia Nizhny/DFP STAFF

Rojas was hired amidst the sudden departure of Carlos Beltrán, who stepped down before ever managing a game because of his connection to the Astros cheating scandal, and he did little to make the mediocre Mets play any better than mediocre. 

Despite having the best pitcher in baseball in Jacob deGrom, and all of the moves to bring in new talent like Francisco Lindor, James McCann and Javier Báez during the 2021 season, the Mets as a whole finished under .500 and failed to meet expectations of being contenders.

While Rojas is not 100% responsible for the struggles of key players, the injuries and the overall underwhelming performance of the team, he is the leader of the squad, and that’s why the lack of success from the season ultimately falls on him. This move was not surprising at all. Rojas inherited a bad situation and could not do enough to make it any better.

San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler: Fired in October

Given Tingler’s young age and fluency in Spanish, he seemed an ideal candidate to lead a young, diverse and very talented Padres team. However, that youth and inexperience might have been the Achilles’ heel of the 2021 Padres. 

Other than the elite performance of Fernando Tatís Jr., the rest of the team was white-hot when the season started and all became ice-cold by the time this season was over. Trent Grisham and Eric Hosmer were off to great starts and ended up being the two biggest season-long let-downs. 

On top of those two, Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish and Jake Cronenworth all played like All-Stars in the first half and either stagnated or regressed in performance the rest of the way. All-Star Adam Frazier was acquired from Pittsburgh only to bat 60 points lower with an OPS over 150 points lower with San Diego.

All this is to say that the lack of leadership from Tingler is an easy excuse for why the Padres finished with a losing record, and that is why it is no surprise that he was fired.

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt: Fired after Wild Card Game

While the teams of the two managers above finished their seasons the same way — struggling greatly and ending up with losing records — the opposite is the case with Shildt and the Cardinals. Their season didn’t start great, but they ended up winning 17 straight games at the end of the season and running away with the second NL Wild Card spot.

Shildt deserves a lot of credit for leading this team — a well-balanced combination of young and veteran players — through its second-half surge, and yet the Cardinals organization wants to go in a different direction. That’s why Shildt is not returning. The only confusing part about this is, what direction could be better than winning 90 games and surging into October? 

Much of the Cardinals’ core is returning for 2022, but without the manager that led them to the surprise playoff run. Unlike the two moves above, this one was an enormous surprise and makes no sense.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone: Signed a three-year contract to return

Given that the Yankees fired many other coaches who deserve the blame for the team’s inconsistency in 2021, those moves suggested a return for Boone. While Boone deserves the blame for many Yankees losses in 2021 — due to putting out awful lineups and making very suspect pitching decisions — he does not deserve all of the outrage and disgust that his extension is creating.

It cannot be completely on Boone that Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton were the only two players on the team hitting consistently throughout the year. Individual players need to own up to their struggles, and Boone can only do so much when a majority of the offense is regressing at the same time. 

The Yankees might make big moves in the coming offseason. While the potential new players would bring a boost to the roster, and the returning players would need to get back to past levels of performance, there is also a level of responsibility on Boone to prove that he can lead the Yankees to a superb season like 2019, and not repeat an enigmatic and disappointing campaign like 2021.

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