Cheap Seats

Hey Albert, who's next?

Angels manager Mike Scioscia isn't happy that his longtime right-hand man and friend Mickey Hatcher had to take the fall for the Halos' lousy start at the plate.

But the dean of major league skippers can't spend too much time pouting about Hatcher's firing. Because his neck could be on the chopping block next.

Dan Patrick said on his ESPN show this morning that the Angels will likely make a move at some point to hire Cardinals coach Jose Oquendo.

Pujols' confidant and mentor in St. Louis, Oquendo isn't likely to pull up stakes and leave an organization where he has been a player and coach since 1986 for a similar job in California. But he has been interested for several years in becoming a major league manager. It would be difficult for Oquendo not to be enticed by the chance to be the skipper of a club that has a free spending owner in a relatively weak division.

There is some sentiment that Scioscia is untouchable because he has a long-term contract that pays him handsomely through the 2018 season. But if there is a will, there is a way to get out any contract. The Halos could pay Scioscia a buyout for a lesser sum that would allow him to escape the seemingly toxic Anaheim clubhouse and find a job elsewhere else. What if the Dodgers, with a new ownership group finally in place, decided that they wanted a fresh start and came calling on their former catcher?

Scioscia seemed very popular in Anaheim -- right up to the point that Pujols deal blew up in his face. Now the LA papers and chat lines are full of people calling for his job. Is it his fault that the team has a lousy bullpen, that there is little support in the batting order around Albert and that the club is paying tens of millions to watch Vernon Wells chew the scenery?

It's funny how quickly things can go sour in the baseball world.

Like I said when the Cardinals were considering managerial candidates last winter: I think Oquendo is a heckuva coach. But I wonder if he is MLB managerial material because he doesn't deal with the media at all and because he is sort of a Mr. Nice Guy type. What happens when he has to get tough with major league egos?

If I was Scioscia, I wouldn't be worried about Oquendo taking my job as much as I would be worried that California native Tony La Russa will get restless and agree to take over for the rest of this season and 2013.