Thursday, March 4, 2010

2010 Stories To Watch, Part IV

  • This is a sequel factory...

But they're good sequels.

I'm entertaining myself endlessly with this stuff. Let's have a look at more 2010 Stories To Watch.

Managerial common sense:

I'm not talking strategy.

Here's something I don't get: if a club is rebuilding and knows----knows----that their current manager isn't going to be at the helm when they turn the corner, then why keep him on?

After the way the Blue Jays collapsed last season and appeared to quit, I would've either fired or requested a resignation from manager Cito Gaston. I've said before I can take a team that plays poorly if their talent level is substandard or has outside issues that are negatively affecting their results; but for a team to pack it in as the Blue Jays did was totally unacceptable.

Ignoring that, the Blue Jays are moving forward into a new era without Roy Halladay; without dispatched GM J.P. Ricciaridi; they've imported a load of new players and young pitching in addition to what they already had. Gaston, age 66, is not going to be managing the club when they turn the corner----nor should he be. His contract is up at the end of the season and he's not going to be back unless the Blue Jays contend. Suffice it to say that such an event would only be achieved by some miracle or baseball-wide plague rendering most of the players from the Yankees, Red Sox, et al incapacitated. In other words, forget it.

So, with all those marks against him, why bring him back?

New GM Alex Anthopolous had to trade Roy Halladay, which was far more of a traumatic break than firing the manager would be. The Blue Jays fans are presumably happy that Ricciardi's gone. The re-hiring of Gaston was done to try and create some goodwill with the fan base for whom Gaston was still quite popular after managing the team to back-to-back World Series wins in 1992-1993. Would they revolt if he was replaced? It seems as if they were revolted enough by the repeated controversies fostered and expanded exponentially by Ricciardi; what difference would it make to them if the club hired a new manager?

What I would do in the case of the Blue Jays, the Nationals, the Orioles and the Padres is to find a younger manager who could grow with the players as they learn to do things correctly and win. It's organic. It can't be forced when nurturing an evolving group. Building trust between the manager and players is important in the formative years of a club that's essentially starting from the ground up. To have a lame duck 66-year old running things makes no sense whatsoever.

Don't forget that Gaston couldn't keep the Blue Jays from bagging the season in August and September in 2009. As if that wasn't unforgivable enough, they needed to bring in someone younger. And they didn't.

What are the Tigers?

It's is a very bizarre conglomeration in Detroit. The combination of hideous contracts; declining and mentally shot veterans; a semi-punchless lineup; youngsters being incorporated; and a manager who wants to win immediately lead to the question: what's the endgame?

They've signed Johnny Damon to provide some veteran stability and leadership along with his production; they're going with a rookie second baseman and two young starters in the rotation with Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer; they're functioning with black holes in the lineup at shortstop and catcher; and they have no idea whatsoever what they're going to get from center fielder Austin Jackson.

At his age (65), Jim Leyland has neither the patience nor the lung capacity for the cigarettes he'll need to handle the growing pains of the youngsters nor to witness the freefall of his veterans.

At the very least with a rebuilding team like the Padres or Blue Jays, you know what you're getting. With a team like the Tigers there appears to be an attempt to be all things to all people at all times. They have enough talent to hover around .500, but can't compete in a rough division. They're not bad enough to do a teardown----a teardown against which the manager would loudly protest----but not good enough to expect to contend.

They're inserting youngsters; signing veterans; dealing movable contracts; and hoping that they can cobble together something viable and that's really hard to do.

In retrospect, the club might've been better off last season had they collapsed completely as many expected them to. They didn't make the playoffs going for it and riding Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson hard; and they're faced with this current pile of stuff.

Sometimes what "is" is better than what "if". Ambiguity is an enemy in the long run.

The Mets:

There are two ways things are going to go for the Mets this season and their future will be known relatively quickly. Either they're going to galvanize into an "us against the world" philosophy, have a little better luck and try to shove it to the cheap-shot artists for whom they've been a convenient punching bag since September 2007; or they're going to stumble to the depths of mediocrity and worse.

With the cautious optimism in spring training so far; the personality of Jeff Francoeur; the return of Jose Reyes; and the way the pitching has looked; along with the signing of Jason Bay, it's looked like they're on the way to a positive season.

The paranoia still exists after the way everything went wrong last season; and they're inviting themselves to certain jokes that are irresistible even to me (Prevention and Recovery?); but the laughter isn't as primal as it was in the winter especially at the time the Carlos Beltran-surgery controversy blew up and the organization was shunned by Bengie Molina.

Now, there seems to be a conscious tamping down of the ludicrous "Mets as a laughingstock" rhetoric that was prevalent going back to last summer. The reluctance among opponents and opposing fans stems from the talent in camp and the quiet enthusiasm that's palpable. As long as nothing catastrophic happens to tumble the house of cards that this good vibe has created, the Mets will play well and shut a lot of people's mouths.

  • Roto-baseball and the Prince don't mix:

I was talking to a friend about rotisserie baseball and fantasy baseball and all that stat zombie crap and it became clear that I'm incapable of thinking in such a way to have any success at the game whatsoever.

It's boring to me anyway; I have no interest; but it's funny how the way I think publicly in my attacking of Moneyball and stat zombies is so entrenched in my psyche that I can't move to stat zombie-ing even for a second.

My questioning seemed commonsensical; my argument logical. It centered around the Padres. Everyone wants Adrian Gonzalez because he's a player that's a fantasy sports player's dream because of his production; and he can actually play in reality. But with his potential for being traded sometime this season at about the Ivory Soap pure percentage of 99 44/100%, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up Kyle Blanks; the argument being that he'll be moved to first base when Gonzalez is dealt and it'll be a neat transition and a smart pickup.

Evidently, my logic doesn't translate into any kind of stat zombie-ing because Blanks is listed as an outfielder and will be gettable via free agency, cheaply, as a bench player/outfielder. Once he's actually a first baseman, he'll be listed as a first baseman.

I don't get it.

I don't wanna get it.

Because if I get it, I won't be able to un-get it.

And I don't wanna get it.

Best to steer clear and stay in my own World of Wonder with Teddy Ruxpin.

It's quite the place!!!

Um. Yah.


Larry said...

Hey Prince, you may be waaaaay over the top at night on Twitter (and during the day too) but this baseball blog of yours is sensible, interesting and readable. I'll be reading. Take care @HeartyLarry

PS: Tell anyone I had something nice to say and I'll deny it.


She-Fan said...

So not into rotisserie/fantasy bb.

Jeff said...

The worst thing about Ruxpin, let us not forget, is where ya have to insert the tape.

As for fantasy, I play it -- a lot and well... meaning, I make $$$ doing it, and it's fun for me -- but I realize the most boring thing in the world is listening to some jagoff talk about his fantasy team. Therefore, I keep mine to myself.

But I will say this: the good fantasy players have known who Kyle Blanks is for some time and he is definitely getting drafted in the late round roto leagues. Believe that.