Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bloodletting

  • Fired...

...or technically, their contract options were not exercised or their teams chose to "head in another direction".

As always happens when things go horribly wrong or expectations----realistic or not----aren't met, people lose their jobs. Yesterday saw a spate of firings in markets large, medium and small.

Let's take a look:


Mets fire GM Omar Minaya and don't exercise manager Jerry Manuel's contract option:


Minaya was technically removed as GM and the initial idea was that he could possibly be moved to another role in the organization if the incoming GM so chose; Minaya decided that this situation was unfair to the new boss and is leaving.

Manuel had a contract option which the club declined to exercise. You can parse words as the Red Sox did in 2003 when they decided not to offer a new contract to Grady Little or you can tell the truth----he was fired.

I've gone into detail about the positives and negatives of both Minaya and Manuel before. Both are quality baseball men and people who will get other jobs elsewhere in a less dire atmosphere; said situations will be more agreeable to their skills.

Minaya is a keen evaluator of talent who plainly and simply doesn't have the deftness with the English language to answer questions and handle crises while dancing through the rapid fire raindrops of the predatory circling by the ravenously hungry media. He's better off in a scouting and assistant-type role where he can blend into the background and provide input without having to be something he's incapable of being----the ruthless executive who can fire people without losing more than a night or two of sleep.

Manuel is a passionate baseball man with a quick wit and eclectic take on life. His flaws were exemplified by a roster that was lacking in depth; he abused several relievers to the point of uselessness; and made bizarre lineup decisions. Quick to argue with an umpire, he's been a good bench/hitting coach in the past. He'll land on his feet somewhere. If Willie Randolph gets the Brewers job, I would expect Manuel to join him in Milwaukee as a member of Randolph's staff.

Regarding the Mets; the Wilpons; the press conference; and the new GM, they're going to conduct interviews and it will be someone from outside the organization who gets the job----ESPN Story. It's pointless to repeatedly toss names out there as to whom it should or will be. Once they start the process and leak names, the fog will clear.

The story of the day was Fred and Jeff Wilpon.

The ridicule advanced at two people who seem truly intent on doing right by their organization; spend money to win; built a beautiful new ballpark; and are generous with their money and time, is ludicrous and cheap.

I'm not entirely sure what people expected Fred to say yesterday. Was he supposed to start screaming like a raving lunatic and biting the heads off chickens to express his displeasure at the failures of high quality people like Minaya and Manuel? It's as if the Mets ownership can't win regardless of what they do.

They take steps to fix problems and still receive vitriolic and unfair criticism before and after the fact. The consensus was that the Mets need to bring in new leadership; they're doing that; what else are the owners supposed to do? What did the media and public want them to say?

Judging from what was said without reading between the lines to find what a writer or fan wants to hear, they're getting a new voice to run the club; they're going to have a similar payroll as they've had in recent years; they're willing to listen to any and all ideas regarding personnel and that includes everyone being on the table for potential trades (including David Wright); and are taking a new approach.

How about showing some empathy before celebrating the Minaya/Manuel firing? Or wait and see what they do before taking new shots at the Wilpons?


Pirates fire manager John Russell:


No kidding.

This is the blame game at its height. Russell was not a good manager by any stretch of the imagination, but would this Pirates team have won more than another 10 games with Tony La Russa running things? With Jim Tracy?

Oh. Wait. Tracy was there already and couldn't win either.

Here's a clue: IT'S NOT THE MANAGER THAT'S THE PROBLEM!!!!

This organization is a catastrophe. I don't want to know about the success of their minor league clubs; nor do I want to hear overmatched lawyer Frank Coonelly rambling on about accountability. Accountability begins in the mirror and I've yet to see any of that from the Pirates current hierarchy.

Russell's resume was impressive when he got the job; journeyman players who didn't make the big leagues or bounced around in the big leagues tend to make solid managers----Connie Mack; La Russa; Buck Showalter; Jim Leyland----because they have to learn every trick to try and hold onto their jobs. Russell had managed in the minors as would be a prerequisite for me hiring anyone to manage (except in extreme cases); and had a relatively lengthy career as a defensively-minded catcher despite not being able to hit.

It didn't work in part because he didn't have a handle on strategies; nor of the nuance in dealing with players. I can't blame Russell for what went on with the Pirates; his hands were tied by an inept front office led by a team president who doesn't know what he's doing.


Brewers don't exercise the option for manager Ken Macha:


Macha isn't a particularly good strategic manager; the players didn't like him all that much; and the Brewers didn't win. I'm wondering if Macha will receive the same treatment as Art Howe did after he left the "genius" Billy Beane's Athletics and couldn't win with the Mets.

The bottom line with teams like the Brewers and the Howe Mets is that the talent wasn't good enough to realistically compete. A manager can squeeze a few wins out from his teams, but there has to be the depth of talent to do it.

In recent years, the Brewers spent big money on the likes of Randy Wolf; LaTroy Hawkins; Jeff Suppan; David Riske; and Trevor Hoffman. Is that the fault of the manager or does that fall at the shoes of GM Doug Melvin? Who could possibly have thought it was a good idea to sign Riske to a 3-year contract worth $13 million? To sign Hawkins to a 2-year, $7.5 million deal? To give Suppan $42 million?

The Brewers are a mediocre team that has a limited payroll and can't make such glaringly obvious errors in judgment. That's not Macha's fault. He'll get a job as a bench coach somewhere. While not cut out to be a manager in today's game, he's a solid, veteran baseball guy.

I mentioned Willie Randolph as a candidate for the job earlier and see him as the best choice. He deserves another chance after the job he did with the Mets; seemed to have a positive affect on Rickie Weeks as Weeks had his best season; the players like him; and he's got the winning resume as a player, coach and manager for the players to be willing to listen. His pitching coach, Rick Peterson is already there; and Manuel is available to join his staff.

Even with that, until the Brewers make some smarter acquisitions and improve their pitching, they're not going to be much more than a team hovering around .500.

  • Viewer Mail 10.5.2010:

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE Carlos Pena:


I'm afraid of what Carlos Peña might do in Hitters Heaven at Arlington. He just seems like he could hit the ball out of the park at a clutch time.


I wouldn't be worried about Carlos Pena. Lefties do a number on him and the lefties the Rangers are throwing at him----Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson----are no joke.


Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Yankees-Twins:


Obviously, I disagree with your Yanks-Twins prediction. AJ won't figure into the equation for this round; they'll go with CC, Andy and Hughes. Question marks, yes, but I think those three will be as good as they need to be. You highlight Cano versus Fuentes, but I think A-Rod is key. He seems to enjoy hitting against the Twins. I hope he'll make himself feel right at home at Target Field.


I dunno. The Yankees walked that same tightrope last season and had fewer questions despite going with a 3-man rotation for the entire post-season. This is a different Twins team from the previous ones. In 2000 the Yankees endured a similar stumble down the stretch and turned it on at the right time, but that was a different team as well.

They'd better win the first game with C.C. Sabathia; if they don't they're in some big, big trouble.


Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE my Division Series picks:


Total agreement in the NL.

But, I think the Rays have the edge with Texas... and believe it or not, I think the intangibles will get the best of the Twins.

My lord am I in disagreement with the Prince's predictions!?! A first!


Disagreement is healthy in any organization (within reason). I have the Rays-Rangers series going 5 games and we all know that if any series reaches "one game playoff" status, anything can and usually does happen.


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


I have an elegant solution to the Mets' problems (well, some of them). Hire Oliver Perez as the team manager on the condition that he never throws another pitch! You'd get something from the sunken costs, and I bet he'd be no worse than your average garden variety managerial retread. If that's a step too far, is the bench coach position available?

Here in Oakland we are sleeping soundly, dreaming of Chris Carter's 2011 season. And Gabe Gross's retirement party.


The Ollie idea isn't all that bad if they do a promotional tie-in and have "Truncheon and Torch Day" at Citi Field very early in the season. Other than that, I don't see it as viable.

Your Chris Carter (in comparison to my Chris Carter with the Mets----pinch hitter extraordinaire) looks like he's got a future as an everyday player in some way. He's only 23 and has but up big power numbers in the minors. After not hitting much in his big league cup of coffee, one would think he'll get a chance to play in 2011.

I haven't seen your Carter play, but the one red flag with me is that Kenny Williams gave him up to get Carlos Quentin; Williams doesn't miss on many prospects.

Is Gabe Gross young enough to go back to the NFL like Chris Weinke did?


MacW writes RE Ichiro and me:


Actually, Prince, both Figgins and Ichiro are similar offensive players. I was just trying to point out that asking Ichiro to hit 20 or 30 homers is as unfair as asking Figgins to do the same. Citing Ted Williams' advice and saying that Ichiro could work the count in his favor and use his hand-eye coordination and bat control to bang out home runs is to say that anybody could do the same thing. If Ichiro, then why not Dom DiMaggio or Richie Ashburn, both of whom are the same size as Ichiro. Imagine Ozzie Guillen going up to Juan Pierre, a player similar to Ichiro and saying: "Look Juan, Magglio Ordonez has gone down with an injury. We need you to move down in the order and hit more homers. I know you can do it because you have 14 career home runs. All you need to do is double that total this year. You can do that by looking for a good pitch to hit and using your superior bat control to knock it out of the park. No less an authority than Paul Lebowitz says it can be done." This of course is absurd. As for citing Iwamura, Kaz Matsui, Fukudome, and Hideki Matsui, you completely ignored my larger point, that those players showed dramatic declines in their power numbers when they moved from Japan to the U.S., declines that you seem to think that Ichiro should be immune to. To simply say that Ichiro has more ability than they do is to damn him with faint praise, while imputing to him a skill (power hitting) that he doesn't have in order to denigrate him.


I do so love when people abandon an existential argument about "ability", go with out-of-context stat comparisons with different players; then resort to snideness and condescension.

If you're seriously comparing Chone Figgins and Ichiro, I can't help you. Figgins and Ichiro may have similar bottom-line statistics, but talent-wise? Skill-wise? Are you serious?

That your haphazard defense of Ichiro is degenerating into making such statements as: "No less an authority than Paul Lebowitz says it can be done" says everything in and of itself.

You lumping Ichiro into the category of Juan Pierre is more of a denigration of Ichiro than anything and everything I could ever say about him.

I was a guest with Sal at Sportsfan Buzz yesterday talking about the post-season; the firings; and Ichiro. Click to listen directly here. Or at Sal's site here and get it on I-Tunes.

Like me or not, at least I'm interesting.

6 comments:

Jeff said...

I like that MacW thinks Maggs is still with the White Sox.

We had a fun chant here in the Chi for whenever Maggs was in the field:

"Oh-ee-oh, MAAAAAAAAAG-lee-oh"

And regardless of who manages the Brewers, that team ain't winning anything until they get some Big League pitching to help out Yovani.

Macw said...

It would be one thing, Prince, if you simply cricized Ichiro for not not being able to hit more home runs. That's a valid but trivial criticism. A player can't be held accountable for what isn't in his skill set. But you do something far worse. You imply that he could hit more home runs (as many as 30 a year) but refuses to do so in order to pursue his own selfish agenda. If you simply slandered Ichiro with innuendo, by suggesting that he was sulking in center field (I couldn't see it), by saying that he runs things in Seattle (although if he did why would he agree to move to center field or allow the hiring of Hargrove in the first place), by using fallacious logic to say that he drove Hargrove out of Seattle (post ergo procter hoc -- after this therefore because of this), I could dismiss you as a shameless gossip. But by saying a singles hitting lead-off hitter can suddenly become a slugger who hits thirty home runs a year late in his career, something that is unprecedented in the history of baseball, you're doing something else. You're creating a straw man (that Ichiro is selfish) that you can pummel, and then in the next breath you claim that that is not what you're doing. If you could simply acknowledge my larger point (that there is no power hitting slugger that Ichiro is purposely hiding within his 165 pound frame)instead of dancing around it I wouldn't have to resort to snide remarks or use the extreme case of Juan Pierre to show the absurdity of your argument. I could have just as easily used Tony Gwynn or Rod Carew or Pete Rose or Lou Brock or thirty other players to make the same case.

She-Fan said...

Yes, the Yankees are a slightly different team than last year's. But the Twins will be without Morneau, which is bad luck for them and him. It's kind of scary how long he's taking to get over the concussion. He's a really good player and seems like a good guy, so I wish him well (as much as I won't miss his bat).

Macw said...

You're right Jeff, I inadvertantly pulled Magglio over from Detroit to make my Juan Pierre point. Maggs has been out so long I forgot who he was playing for.

Anonymous said...

hey prince,

maybe you should throw your name in the hat for mets gm.

i'm sure you could suck just as hard if not harder as minaya did.

go phil's!

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

Jeff and John Ricco will be chosing the next GM? *sigh*
Here's to hoping they get it right.