Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Lightning 4.25.2010

  • How about Gary Allenson to replace Dave Trembley?

The Orioles are going to have to make a managerial change soon.

It's unavoidable.

Born out of some misplaced and overly sentimental sense of loyalty, the wrongheaded decision to make all the moves they made this past winter and move forward with Dave Trembley must be rectified; they can't continue on their current course losing, losing and losing some more in the endless cacophony of creative ways that they have so far.

It's 18 games into the season for the Orioles.

They've lost 16 of those games.

This isn't to blame Trembley for the way they've lost. He didn't pick the players. he's using the troops he has; they're not hitting; and the bullpen has been catastrophic. Many times, the only reason a manager is fired is because it's the easiest course of action to make a bold move. They're certainly not going to make any huge trades now. If they do start dealing the marketable players they have----Kevin Millwood, Luke Scott, Ty Wigginton----it won't be until the beginning of June at the earliest.

The quickest and cheapest alternative is to chop off the infected limb to save the body; and that limb is manager Trembley. He's on the last year of his contract and it's a widely known non-secret that he was on thin ice to start with.

Loyalty is one thing, but delusion is another.

Team architect Andy MacPhail is notoriously patient, sometimes to a fault; but Trembley is not Tom Kelly----a fantastic manager who was MacPhail's field boss with the Twins; he's not Dusty Baker; MacPhail's manager with the Cubs, who had a resume of success. Based on his record since taking over, Trembley shouldn't have been brought back for 2010 to start with; now there's no excuse for not doing something.

Assuming the liquidation of the manager is completed, where can the Orioles go?

In recent weeks, I've suggested that a respected and feisty coach the likes of Joey Cora----Ozzie Guillen's bench coach; or Pete Mackanin----Charlie Manuel's bench coach----would be solid selections. Others have suggested Bobby Valentine.

With Valentine in mind, it occurred to me that I can't remember the last time a coach from another club was hired away mid-season to take over as a flailing club's manager. I may be wrong about that. In 1985, Valentine was hired away from his job as Mets third base coach on Davey Johnson's staff to take over the sinking Texas Rangers. That Rangers team was so awful that the hiring of Valentine didn't pay dividends until 1986 when he took a very young team into contention and to 87 wins.

Valentine is not the right choice for the Orioles now.

At his age (60), he is not going to want to play wet-nurse to a bunch of kids and patch together a team that's in a division with the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox for what would be a futile effort over the next two years at least.

Bearing in mind the rarity nowadays of a club plundering another team's coaching staff for a manager, the Orioles have one choice and one choice only to take over as manager----their manager at Triple A Norfolk, Gary Allenson.

Allenson is the epitome of the "baseball-lifer" who's always been respected for his intelligence and acumen as a backup catcher to Carlton Fisk with the Red Sox in the late 70s, early 80s; and as a minor league manager. He's been in the Orioles organization since 2006 and knows the young players he'd be handling in the majors.

It's making things worse to hire a manager who has no experience whatsoever in doing the job despite a winning pedigree; and while a sound, impressive resume doesn't necessarily mean that it would work in the big leagues, the Orioles have few options. Royals manager Trey Hillman is a prime example of a great choice in every conceivable way, but one who has failed. That shouldn't dissuade the Orioles from giving Allenson the job.

Since the Orioles don't have anyone on their current staff to take over, they have one option----Allenson. He deserves a chance to manage in the big leagues and the Orioles circumstances are so dire that they have to make a change; keeping it in the organization with someone who knows the team and the players is the wisest course of action.

This is nothing personal against Trembley. I admire the man. His rise to big league manager was similar to the way a football coach makes his way up to the big time. High school coaching; college coaching; working his way up through the bushes, riding buses clawing his way to the show; but it's not working; and such a rise is hard to replicate in baseball in which players have guaranteed contracts and can look at a manager like Trembley and say, "Who are you to be saying anything to me? You never played pro ball."

It's not his fault, but he's not the solution either.

Unless MacPhail is hiding at Dick Cheney's undisclosed location, waiting things out, he has to do something and soon.

This is the move he should make, and it may happen as early as tomorrow regardless of the designated replacement, Allenson or someone else.

  • The Frozen Bomb:

You've heard of a "frozen rope" line drive.

You've heard of a "bomb" of a home run.

Well, last night in the Phillies 3-2 win over the Diamondbacks, if you saw Jayson Werth's first of his two homers, you saw a "frozen bomb".

Werth's homer was hit so hard; on such a line off of Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy that it could've injured someone severely like a missile if it hit them squarely.

It was a frozen....bomb.

As for the game itself, I have no idea who that Diamondbacks pitcher was, but what's he done with the Ian Kennedy we've come to know and about whom we've come to shake our heads?

He threw strikes; looked confident and poised; was doing instead of yapping; and he was efficient. Whether he can continue this work is the question. I'm dubious.

Naturally, the Diamondbacks bullpen blew the game in the ninth as Juan Gutierrez allowed Werth's second homer (also a rocket) to give the Phillies the lead and the game.

The Phillies have struggled offensively without Jimmy Rollins. Rollins had gotten off to a hot start and without him, they've looked off kilter. They didn't hit Kris Benson on Friday; Kennedy last night; and are facing Rodrigo Lopez today. They should've put up big numbers against those pitchers, but didn't.

  • Speaking of missing bats...

Did the Brewers leave their bats in Pittsburgh?

Some were looking on in star-stricken awe at the offensive firepower of the Brewers as they scored: 11, 8, 8, and 20 runs in four straight games. To put those massive numbers into proper context, they were facing: Jason Marquis in the first game; and the Pirates in the subsequent three games. They've scored 2 runs in the last two games at home against the Cubs and were stymied by the useful Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly.

As with most teams that are reliant on the home run, the Brewers can be nullified by good pitching; pitching that throws strikes and keeps them off the bases so that when they do hit the ball out of the park, they're all solos.

Speaking of Ted Lilly, if the Cubs fall out of contention and Lilly shows himself to be healthy, they're going to get some good stuff for him in a trade. He's a respected veteran; he's a competitor; has experience in pennant races; and is a free agent at the end of the year. He'll be in heavy demand at the trading deadline for any and all contenders and would be a good, possibly playoff-implication-level pick-up.

  • Viewer Mail 4.25.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE ARod and home plate collisions:

Well, A-Rod certainly does generate blog comments and good material. We have to give him that. As for Elliot Johnson/Cervelli, that was in spring training, talk about unwritten rules of baseball.

In a way, ARod is like the stat zombies----what would I do without him?!?

I honestly don't understand the controversy over the Elliot Johnson-Francisco Cervelli collision. Had Cervelli not gotten hurt, it would've been seen as a clean, hard play; and the games in spring training are games. I love how Joe Girardi came out with the gem (paraphrasing): "It's when you don't go hard that you get hurt."


And it was in the same spring training of 2008 that Shelley Duncan went into Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura, leading with his spikes, with the intent to injure another player in retaliation for the Johnson hit. There's a difference between playing hard and sending a message cleanly and trying to hurt someone. The home plate crashes were a combination of said messages and playing hard; the Duncan move was filthy. No one would've said a word had Duncan slid in hard and knocked Iwamura into the next county; but the spikes? Absurd.

And it was in a "meaningless" spring training game.

On a far lower scale, it's the fog of war.

Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Mark Teixeira:

Teixeira and Keith Hernandez are a lot alike, especially on defense. My dad and I argue over who's the better defensive 1st baseman ad nauseum.

The only defensive comparable to Keith Hernandez that I've seen was Don Mattingly. Teixeira's not in their class. Hernandez was the best I've ever seen, pure and simple. Great range; classic instincts; strong, accurate arm; plus the glove. He was a weapon over there, especially against the bunt.

John Seal (West Coast Spiritual Advisor) writes RE the Athletics:

Just realized I referred to Jack Cust being at 'triple-AAA'. If ever there were a 'triple-AAA' hitter, though, it's Big Jack.

Maybe he learned to be a mechanic or roadside assistant during his trek from one organization to another finding his way in the world like Caine from Kung-Fu; in that case, you'd have been right with the designation.

There are worse bats being used as regulars or semi-regulars in the big leagues today. At least with Cust, you know what you're getting. The A's have been kind of cruel to him I think, for no reason other than that they could. Neither Jake Fox nor Eric Chavez have done anything at all to justify being in the lineup; it's another error in management for Billy Beane for reasons only he knows, assuming there are reasons.

There's absolutely no reason that I can think of for you to not have purchased my 2010BaseballGuideCover.gifbook yet, but I'm slightly biased.

Paul Lebowitz's 2010 Baseball Guide is available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here.

1 comment:

She-Fan said...

MacPhail hiding at Dick Cheney's undisclosed location. Good one. And re: Shelley Duncan's spikes up slide, I think I've finally come around to the notion that "clean" depends on if it's your guy or the opposition. If somebody did that to a Yankee, it would be dirty. But since Duncan was a Yankee? Clean. In other words, I have no objectivity whatsoever.