Which teams, front offices and managers are feeling the most pressure? Insiders weigh in

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As the February sunshine beams down on all of baseball, and the standings say that everyone is undefeated, it’s easy to melt into a zen state of spring training nirvana. But there’s one question in our annual spring survey that jolts us back to life. That’s the part where we ask our voters — a panel of 31 executives, former executives, coaches and scouts — which teams, front offices and managers are feeling the most pressure. As always, they had some thoughts!

BRIAN CASHMAN, AARON BOONE AND THE YANKEES (16 VOTES): Does it sometimes feel as though Brian Cashman has been the general manager of the Yankees since the days of Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford? In truth, it’s only been 26 years. But in the last 14 of them, the Yankees forgot to do that thing they’ve done more than any franchise ever: Win the World Series. So if this vote reveals anything, it’s that Cashman and his manager, Aaron Boone, might want to re-route the path to the Canyon of Heroes, because their job security might depend on it. … “I love Cash,” said one National League exec. “He’s been there longer than anybody. But that team is going to have to make a statement.”

OLIVER MARMOL AND THE CARDINALS (12 VOTES): The good news for the Cardinals: Our voters had mostly good things to say about an offseason in which they added Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson to their rotation — and added depth to their bullpen with Andrew Kittredge and Keynan Middleton. … The bad news for the Cardinals: Their entire rotation might be 33 or older — and we heard lots of concern about their manager, Oli Marmol, and his ability to navigate this vessel’s storms. … “They’d be at the top of my list of teams most likely to make a change (of manager),” said a rival NL exec. “I’d just say this: Don’t go to sleep on the job Yadi (Molina) did managing (Puerto Rico) in the Caribbean Series.”

A.J. PRELLER/ PADRES FRONT OFFICE (10 VOTES): Last year, in this very same space, one rival exec made a bold prediction: If the Padres didn’t win their division, in a season when the Dodgers were in such an obvious retooling mode, “it will be head-rolling time.” Well … maybe not. The Padres revved up the payroll to $255 million, loaded up the lineup and still finished 18 games back of the Dodgers. Yet even after that debris settled, Preller’s head hadn’t rolled anywhere. But now the stakes seem even higher. The Padres missed that window to run down the Dodgers … beloved owner Peter Seidler lost his battle with cancer … they’re slashing payroll by nearly $100 million … and Juan Soto is 3,000 miles from the Gaslamp Quarter. So our voters sent a message that it’s time for Preller to get verrryyy nervous. … “They spent all that money,” said one American League exec. “And what do they have to show for it?”

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Four other teams feeling the heat


Pressure? Dave Roberts is looking calm, cool and collected this spring. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today)

They didn’t make it to the medal stand. But these four teams also got the attention of a bunch of voters.

DAVE ROBERTS/DODGERS (FIVE VOTES): When your team shells out more than a billion dollars on free agents, does the manager have to win? Five voters recommend that highly for Dave Roberts in Chavez Ravine. One voter’s take:

“They need to go to the World Series or they may make a change.”

FARHAN ZAIDI/GIANTS (FOUR VOTES): Are the Giants starting to feel like your buddy the fisherman, who can’t stop telling you about the size of all the big fish he didn’t reel in? Seems like it sometimes, every time another free-agent luminary wriggles out of their net.

So there were definite questions about whether this team’s lack of star power could catch up with its president of baseball ops, Farhan Zaidi.

PERRY MINASIAN/ANGELS (FOUR VOTES): It’s hard to see how it’s fair to pin the Angels’ troubles on their GM, Perry Minasian, considering all the dysfunction flowing from the owner’s box. But four voters thought Minasian could pay the price anyway.

JOHN SCHNEIDER/BLUE JAYS LEADERSHIP (FOUR VOTES): And finally, there are the Blue Jays. The good news is, they’ve made the playoffs under their eminently likable manager, John Schneider, two years in a row. The bad news is, they got bounced twice without winning a game.

The good news is, they were in hot pursuit of both Shohei Ohtani and Soto over the winter. The bad news is, their whole offseason turned into a massive swing-and-miss.

So the pressure is real. And our voters were divided on who’s squirming most — Schneider or this front office. But if a frustrating winter leads to a frustrating summer, we might find out.

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(Photo of Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman: William Perlman / Newsday RM via Getty Images)





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