Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 1/26/12

Every year a handful of managers enter the season with contracts that expire once the season ends. These are the proverbial "lame duck" managers.

Most of the time, being a lame duck serves as the ultimate signal from club management that the manager's job is on the line. In more rare cases, the situation is quite the opposite with the manager having the utmost job security but wanting the team to show him some respect in the form of a rich long-term extension.

This year, there are seven such lame duck managers, a group that includes three managers that have taken their current clubs to the World Series and four former Managers of the Year. Suffice it to say that despite their similar circumstances, these seven skippers all face various degress of "lame duck"-ness.

So who's already on the hot seat before the season even begins and who deserves to be shown some love by their current employer? Let's find out!

Joe Maddon, Lame Factor = Soon to Not Be Lame - If you took a straw poll of who the best manager in baseball is right now, Maddon would win in a landslide... unless you took that poll in Iowa, where he would inexplicably lose out to Rick Santorum. As such, the cash-strapped Rays are actively working to lock him up to a multi-year extension. That deal is going to happen and happen soon, so Maddon's lameness is really not an issue.

Ron Washington, Lame Factor = It's Incredibly Not Lame - As hard as it is to believe, Washington is a lame duck despite two straight AL pennants. It should be familiar territory for Wash though as he was a true lame duck in 2010. His job was most definitely on the line entering that season, but then he took the Rangers to their first ever World Series and got an extension through 2012. Now, Washington is a lame duck again, but his job is most definitely not in jeopardy. Unlike Maddon, Ron doesn't have an extension knowingly in the works, but it seems hard to believe that Texas would get rid of him under any circumstance.

Jim Leyland, Lame Factor = Inexplicably Lame - Detroit's front office recently got extensions well beyond the 2012 season, but Leyland somehow did not even though he just delivered a division title. With Prince Fielder now in the fold, another AL Central title is pretty much in the bag. Maybe Dave Dombrowski wants to make sure that Leyland can handle Fielder and get this roster to perform up to expectations? If this were some wet-behind-the-ears skipper, I could buy that logic, but Leyland has won one World Series, lost another and won Manager of the Year three times. How does that not buy more respect?

Dusty Baker, Lame Factor = Lamer Than You Think - Dusty Baker is a well-respected manager, but he has delivered just one winning season in his four years at the helm of the Reds. That one winning season turned out to be a division title though, so his tenure is still a positive one. However, Baker's Reds are coming off of a disappointing 2011 season and have now made several very aggressive moves to load up for another division title run in what looks to be a weak NL Central. If he can't at least get his squad to contend for a playoff spot, his reputation may not be enough to overcome his oft-criticized tactical decisions, which could very well mean that he gets run out of town.

Ned Yost, Lame Factor = Forever Lame - For a team that has only finished better than fourth in their division once in the 21st Century, it is hard to say just how lame a manager can be. Yost seems like he is doing a competent job and the Royals have loads of young talent and promise. Considering how bad the AL Central could be this year, the Royals have a real shot at finishing about fourth once again. That would be a nice feather in Yost's cap, but what really matters is that Yost fosters his young talent and gets the team headed in a positive direction. If he does that, he'll probably get to stay. If he doesn't, he might still get to stay since the Royals at some point just need to quit turning over managers every two or three years.

Jim Tracy, Lame Factor = Not as Lame As You Think - There is a lot more evidence that Jim Tracy is a poor manager than their is that he is a good manager, yet his lame duck status doesn't add up to him being in immediate peril of losing his gig. The best thing that Tracy has going for him is that the Rockies are a curious sort of organization. They are not afraid to let managers and GMs enter lame duck seasons, yet they are also quite loyal. Tracy's predecessor Clint Hurdle was give a long rope before he was finally cut loose early in his seventh year of a tenure that included just one winning season (though he did win the NL pennant). Tracy hasn't reached the heights Hurdle did, but he also hasn't approached the lows either. So while Tracy may not be good at his job, it will probably take a disaster of a season for Tracy to not get at least one more bite at the apple in 2013. On the other hand, we are trying to predict the decision-making process of an organization that spent the off-season stockpiling flyball ptichers even though they play their home games more than a mile above sea level.

Brad Mills, Lame Factor = The Very Definition of Lame - Poor Brad Mills, he is saddled with an impossibly awful roster and is now working for a brand new owner and front office in a franchise that is going to be switching leagues next year. Even if he somehow polishes this turd of a ballclub into something not terrible, he's probably still going to get the axe by the end of the season. New regimes always want to pick their own guy. Mills is not that guy. In fact, the main reason he even still has a job is because the ownership transfer and subsequent hire of GM Luhnow took place so late in the off-season that it just didn't make since to try and replace the manager at that point. Nothing personal, Brad.

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