Thursday, June 19, 2008

Conspiracy Theories And The Rapid Rash Of Firings

  • Randolph's conspiracy theories (relayed through other parties):
The New York Post is implying, through quotations of anonymous Willie Randolph "friends" (take that for what it's worth) that the former Mets manager feels betrayed by new manager
randolph at home pic.jpg
Jerry Manuel and thinks that he may have been stabbed in the back by an ambitious subordinate----NY Post Story. If this is accurate, then Randolph is grasping at straws to find some reason why he was let go other than the reality of a team that was underperforming for him and hadn't played well and with life since early last season.
Any bench coach or "manager in waiting" is in a no-win situation while the entire episode is unfolding. Few and far between are the bench coaches who have little or no interest in becoming managers, so the current manager has to know that his trusted assistant would probably like nothing better than to have his job if the situation calls for it. Yesterday, I mentioned two recent situations where the bench coach may have undermined his manager to get the top spot; with Manuel, I didn't suspect similar machinations and I still don't. What was Manuel supposed to do? Was he supposed to ignore the front office personnel that wanted to talk to him because he didn't want to upset Randolph? Technically, since the front office personnel were above Randolph, they too were Manuel's bosses, so he had no choice but to respond to them when appropriate.
Randolph knew that there were front office personnel that wanted him out and had become paranoid (with good reason apparently), but to all of a sudden have "friends" implying that Randolph now feels betrayed by a bench coach with whom he'd become close and had counseled him during the turmoil strikes me as the Post either making things up or Randolph trying to find ways to deflect the blame away from himself for his dismissal.
It doesn't matter who the manager is and how close he is to a present of former employee
torre girardi pic.jpeg
who's been mentioned as a possible successor, there has to be tension once the criticism becomes more pronounced, a firing is imminent and the replacement is seen to be skulking around and waiting for the job. Joe Torre was about as successful as a manager could be with the Yankees and had Joe Girardi as his bench coach before Girardi left to manage the Marlins, but Torre had to know when Girardi turned down several opportunities after the Marlins fired him and instead chose to work for the YES network, that his former catcher and coach had an eye on his job. Torre's bench coach from last season, Don Mattingly, doesn't have an undermining bone in his body, but Girardi seemed to be waiting for the opportunity that he eventually received. Friendship doesn't matter; loyalty doesn't matter and what actually happened doesn't matter; it's the perception that counts and if Randolph wants to see Manuel as a power hungry usurper who took his job through scheming, there's no way to dissuade him even if it's just a conspiracy theory to protect himself from the truth----he deserved to get fired.
  • Mariners fire John McLaren:
This was somewhat inevitable once Bill Bavasi was fired even if it's just for cosmetic effect. McLaren may get another shot somewhere eventually (although he waited a really long time for this chance and may not have the stomach for another long delay), but it's hard to blame
Thumbnail image for mclaren pic.jpeg
him for this disaster. That being said, the Mariners have been unlucky and terrible in just about every phase of the game and that generally is a reflection on the manager.
Rob Neyer wonders if McLaren "could have fought harder for the young players he managed, particularly Adam Jones and Jeff Clement", but I don't think that McLaren would've been given such a strong voice in the construction of the team in his first full season on the job. Given Les Miserables Erik Bedard's injury-history and misanthropic behavior throughout his career, it was silly to think he was going to show up and suddenly become a legitimate number two starter and expected savior. The centerpiece of the deal for the Orioles, Adam Jones, hasn't been exactly lighting the world on fire in his chance to play, so it's hard to rip the deal as a total nightmare yet. With the fire both McLaren and Bavasi were under early in the season, they really couldn't afford to wait out Clement's struggles and try to win simultaneously.
McLaren may go down as a better coach than manager and, even though this wasn't exactly a fair chance for him, the results are what they are. The players didn't seem to be listening to him and installing Jim Riggleman makes sense to give the appearance of doing
riggleman pic.jpeg
something even if it's too late to do much of anything useful but clear out the house of some veterans and retool the organization.
One thing about Riggleman that needs to be watched is that he tends to batter his pitchers. While Dusty Baker has the Kerry Wood/injury problems laid at his feet, it was Riggleman who overused Wood as a rookie with some ridiculously high pitch counts----Wood 1998 Gamelogs. The argument that the Cubs were in a pennant race and were trying to win as many games as possible is the same argument that Baker can give for his usage of Wood and Mark Prior in 2003. The 1998 Cubs made the playoffs, but Wood missed the entire 1999 season with Tommy John surgery. Felix Hernandez is a valuable commodity who needs to be kept on a reasonable pitch count under Riggleman and if they're going to trade Bedard, they'd better keep him healthy and on the mound. They're out of the race, so going crazy with their pitchers makes no sense.
  • J.P. Ricciardi's flapping mouth:
There are guys who should be baseball executives; there are guys who should have their
Thumbnail image for ricciardi pic.jpeg
own radio shows; there are rarely guys who can effectively combine both. Say this for Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi----he's entertaining. Now he's gotten into a war of words with Cincinnati Reds left fielder Adam Dunn. After receiving calls on his radio show from fans
adam dunn pic.jpeg
advocating the Blue Jays acquisition of the power hitting left fielder, Ricciardi unloaded on the player----Story----with some unkind comments. As much as I hate to say it, Ricciardi might be well-suited to taking some lessons from Brian Cashman on saying a load of stuff while saying nothing at all. As annoying as it is, it seems to keep Cashman out of the same trouble that Ricciardi's free mouth uses to get himself into such verbal scrapes.
Never mind the inappropriate nature of a current GM unloading on a player in such a way, Ricciardi makes it worse by unloading on a player who isn't even on his team! It never ends in Toronto; Ricciardi's players fight with his manager (Ted Lilly and Shea Hillenbrand with John Gibbons); he accuses players of malingering and milking injuries (A.J. Burnett); he gets into
burnett pic.jpeg
verbal confrontations with players and releases them in fits of anger knowing their penchant for getting off to slow starts and because they have contract options----that Ricciardi negotiated----which kick in with a certain number of at bats are reached (Frank Thomas); and his team has never, ever been a legitimate contender despite his brazen proclamations upon getting the job in 2001.
Again, amid high expectations, the Blue Jays are floundering at 35-39 and Ricciardi's job has to be in jeopardy with all the bluster, controversies and failures on and off the field. One thing about him though, he's not going to go out gracefully and if anyone's going to leave in a blaze of glory, it's Ricciardi.

No comments: