Saturday, August 14, 2010

Credit Due

  • A footnote? A whitewashing? Or a thank you?

If the Padres make the playoffs, how will the current leadership handle the delicate subject matter of the man who was in charge of the organization when the foundation of this team was built? Will they mention him and accord deserved credit? Or will there be an omission of convenience for his contribution to the team they've become?

I'm of course talking about former Padres GM Kevin Towers.

Towers was fired by CEO Jeff Moorad after last season and replaced by former Red Sox assistant Jed Hoyer. While Hoyer has made some smart moves to assist in the rapid coming-of-age of this very young team, it was the decisions by Towers that led to their current status of first place in the NL West and serious playoff contender.

What will they do?

While Towers has been lauded as an "excellent" GM in many circles, I always felt (and said) that he's competent and not top tier. He made some great moves (Adrian Gonzalez) and some ghastly mistakes (claiming Randy Myers off waivers and getting stuck with his contract). He handles the press well; has dealt with interfering bosses; forced sell-offs; factional turf wars within the team, and always comported himself professionally and with dignity. My guess is Towers will be the next GM of the Chicago Cubs.

But what of the Padres?

As they're celebrating a playoff berth (if they make it), will they credit Towers?

The players Towers brought in by various means----drafting, trading, cheap free agents----and the players Hoyer brought in have both been a major part of the club's resurgence.

The aforementioned Gonzalez came from the Rangers along with Chris Young for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka in a trade that is one of the best in the history of baseball. Closer Heath Bell was robbed from the Mets; starting pitcher Clayton Richard came over in the trade of Jake Peavy to the White Sox. Kevin Correia was signed as a free agent; and invaluable set-up man Luke Gregerson was stolen from the Cardinals for Khalil Greene. He also drafted Chase Headley, Mat Latos and Wade LeBlanc.

For his part, Hoyer has done some good things as well. The signing of Jerry Hairston Jr. and trade for his brother Scott Hairston were negligible; trading Kevin Kouzmanoff brought Hairston and Aaron Cunningham; but more importantly, it cleared some money to sign Jon Garland and Yorvit Torrealba. I don't know if people pay close attention to Torrealba; his contributions are under-the-radar; historically he's not a good hitter, but has provided big hits in the clutch and his teams often find their way into contention----not a coincidence. Garland's been very good.

Hoyer also acquired the bat the Padres so desperately needed in Ryan Ludwick and has been very active in outside-the-box thinking by inquiring about Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt among other big names.

While he was criticized for firing Towers, I said at the time that Moorad had a right (even a duty) to hire the person he wanted to run the team regardless of perception; he felt that Hoyer was that man and he hired him. Initially, Hoyer seemed either frightened or paralyzed and made shruggable moves; but as the season's worn on, he's blossoming into an adept and smart executive----he learned his lessons from Theo Epstein well----and the Padres are not only making a serious run at the playoffs, but will be dangerous when there because of that pitching and the one basher in the middle of the lineup, Gonzalez.

Judging Hoyer completely will have to wait until he makes the big time move of trading Gonzalez (it's going to happen after the season) and what he gets in return; but as of right now, the Padres are benefiting from their former GM Towers, and current GM Hoyer.

I'd guess that when and if they're celebrating a surprising playoff berth and the bosses are navigating a champagne-soaked clubhouse, Moorad, Hoyer and manager Bud Black will make it a point to credit Towers; Towers will land on his feet as a GM somewhere after the season (he's currently an assistant to Brian Cashman with the Yankees), and all will be well with everyone involved.

It's a rare occurrence when such can be said.

  • Bench him and if he squawks, release him:

I've long been an admirer of Jeff Francoeur's talent. He's only 26 and is salvageable. It's hard for me to dump such alluring ability that can be saved with some work, but in watching him this entire season and judging his reaction to the Mets rightfully deciding to begin platooning him, it's become clear that he's either got to get his head together and make the conscious decision to alter his entire approach and accept that the club is doing what's right for the team in the moment, or he's got to go.

There are instances when he goes up to the plate with the genuine intent to implement that which the Mets have been trying to get through his thick skull for a year----don't decide to swing before the pitch is thrown!!! To try and wait for a pitch to hit; to rein in his aggressiveness and make the pitcher work.

Then there are other times when he goes up to the plate and swings while the pitcher is staring in for the sign; it's as if he has to go to the bathroom or has a hot chick waiting for him in the clubhouse and wants to get back there as quickly as humanly possible and, as a result, swings like it.

His reaction to the recall of Fernando Martinez and decision to platoon him and Francoeur was completely selfish and unacceptable. If Francoeur had been anything other than hit or (mostly) miss, then okay, he'd have a right to complain; but an objective look at his performance will say that the Mets aren't losing anything by playing Martinez because he can hardly be worse or or less-disciplined than Francoeur; at times, I could hardly be worse than Francoeur.

The public whining about wanting to play regularly is understandable and acceptable for a competitor; being a divisive force and making the young players feel as if it's their fault for the underperforming veterans being pushed aside is not. At this point, it's either be a team player or don't; and if he doesn't, he has to go. Now.

  • Viewer Mail 8.14.2010:

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Joe Girardi:

Boy, that Girardi, he sure does a lot of "stuff". I think a weasel could manage that team to success. He has very little do with it.

He overmanages, there's no question about it. Dunno about a weasel, but of course many, many managers could and would be successful with that group; in fact, like the 2001 Diamondbacks, this team could function quite well without a manager at all; or Derek Jeter as player-manager. I mean it.

One thing I'll say about Girardi is that after the rocky start that happens when former teammates become bosses, the players----from the outside at least----have taken a shine to and like him while still casting wary glances at one another for some of the things he says and does. They're winning. Things could be worse.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Girardi and C.C. Sabathia:

Girardi does tend to overmanage (I would have let CC try to finish the game too, despite his numbers against (Willie) Bloomquist and the intense heat), but more often than not his maneuvers pay off. And no, Jeff, a weasel could not manage the Yankees.

If it was Mariano Rivera coming in? Okay. To yank him for David Robertson was absurd. It's either Sabathia or Rivera; not Robertson.

Now now, no bickering within Mi Familia, especially in the upper echelon positions. We all know that if I have to mediate it could end quite badly and I don't need the aggravation.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE Girardi; and the Mets:

Sorry Jeff...I agree with Jane. A weasel was childish/immature to say; not to mention just plain wrong. A pigeon is just as capable and I'm immature too.

Prince ~ Jeff Wilpon needed to be front and center of the situation. They are home so there is no excuse. He needed to be present and available. An 18 word delivered statement is impotent. And in their current self-created climate that exists around them, they can't afford to get much else wrong. Take control of your organization Jeff. There is no time like the present to start setting standards at Citi and for those who wear a Met uniform. It's your team Jeff. It can be same-ol ~ same-ol, OR....?

Why was a slightly misinformed (at the time) Manuel the first to speak about KRod? No Omar? Ricco? No FRED? All we got was a simple prepared statement.

At least we knew where Fred stood. He wanted meaningful games in September (*sigh*). But where does Jeff sit? What's his angle?

I definitely have my opinions of course. But I'm just think out loud.

Ah, my people. Let's all try to behave for the greater good.

There's no "right" way to handle something like this, but Jeff Wilpon probably should have come out strongly; that said, I would think there are liability/contract concerns with an employer-employee that could be compromised if he says the wrong thing. He's more apt to be criticized if he stays silent, but sometimes the boss has no choice. Fred has pulled back from the club; we're not going to hear from him about this.

People are intentionally focusing on the negatives with this team. It's not as if they're the Cubs, who've just gone into hibernation----there are many positives about the Mets underneath the muck. The young players are showing great ability and the future is promising despite the hit-and-run media lurking and waiting to attack.

I was a guest with Sal at SportsFan Buzz a week ago Tuesday talking about the trade deadline, Ozzie Guillen and the pennant races. Click the link above or go to the site to download it on I-Tunes. Or you can get it directly here.

Sal and I scheduled to crank it up again later this week; let the preparations begin....

Also, listen to the Red State Blue State podcast appearance. Click here for the RSBS blog and here to hear it directly.

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.

Tell your people they work for me now.

This is my city.


Joe said...

Martinez and Francouer shouldn't even been platooning. Martinez should get all the at bats to help aid his development. He is much more a future of this organization than Francouer is.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

This Kevin Towers Moment is brought to you by ~ "CREDIT DUE" and to those who do not suffer selective post column positional flip/flop syndrome. My biggest criticism about columnists and the talkies is never having to deal with things they've said in the past. They have no reason to admit, reflect, revisit, nor entertain such talk of correction about positions they may have made on a given subject. They and many like them whether in main stream media or even "bloggers" are forward moving meteors stopping nowhere at anytime to account for anything they may have said until ultimately that meteor impacts in self humiliation, or, to be less dramatic, a dissipation of journalistic respect. The PRINCE of NY admits, reflects, revisits, entertains and pursues discussions of correction. The Prince holds "the Pros" accountable on Twitter and he gets blocked. The Prince, in his work, conducts his own self challenge and revisits positions he selectively and conveniently does not forget unlike said Pros. He puts out a lot of information but never enough to take time away from self analysis. Twitter...I'm almost there and you may not like it. (inspired by kevin towers)

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