Monday, November 15, 2010


  • The Pirates gain is the Mets gain as well:

Clint Hurdle was said to be one of the finalists to be the next manager of the New York Mets, but rather than wait that opportunity out and see what happened, he accepted the offer to be the next manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While Hurdle may not have been the best choice to take over the Mets, he's a very good selection for the Pirates.

It's a shadowy line to straddle when deciding that a certain manager might work in one venue and not in another but that's exactly where Hurdle stood in comparing his suitability for the two jobs for which he was a finalist.

I've been open in my preference for either of the other two main candidates for the Mets----Terry Collins and Bob Melvin----over Hurdle. (They're also set to interview Cardinals coach Jose Oquendo.) Due in part to the success on the field both Collins and Melvin have had in comparison to Hurdle and that there are some issues I see with Hurdle that could have caused a few bumps with the Mets that would be avoided if they chose another manager, he would have been a poor choice.

Hurdle's record with the Rockies was not particularly good and was only bolstered by a hot streak that was----with all due respect----ridiculous. Had the Rockies not had that blazing run over the final month of the 2007 season, they would've ended up with a similar result as they achieved in every other year that Hurdle was at the helm; in fact, had that happened, he probably would've been replaced along with Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd.

Hovering around .500 for much of the 2007 season, the Rockies went on a rampage winning 14 of their final 15 games, including a one-game-playoff against the Padres to make the playoffs; they swept the Phillies; swept the Diamondbacks (managed by Melvin); and were swept by the Red Sox in the World Series.

Could Hurdle be credited for this?

I suppose it's only fair that if he's blamed for the poor years----years in which he never won more than 76 games----that he gets credit for the pennant; that said, his record is not good. While the likes of Joe Torre were called "journeyman" managers and "scrapheap pickups" before taking over the Yankees, then where does that place Hurdle?

The Rockies were a work-in-progress for much of Hurdle's tenure. As he took over for the fired Buddy Bell in 2002, the Rockies were still under the constraints of terrible contracts doled to pitchers Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle; dealt with the onus of Colorado being perceived as a graveyard for pitchers and, as a result, had to overpay to get them to come; and were hindered by O'Dowd's repeated attempts to find a different way to compete in a park that amounted to baseball in a pinball machine.

Hurdle was not to blame for the failures of the club as a whole----O'Dowd was.

There were years in which the Rockies should have been better than their record. Such was the case in 2004 when they had a high-powered offense and respectable (in name and subsequent performance anyway) pitching and went 73-89. It was much the same in 2005 and 2006 and for most of 2007...until the magical hot streak that only happens in Disney movies or a Rocky-themed comeback story.

Having reverted to their usual mediocrity (or worse) in 2008, they went 74-88 and both Hurdle and O'Dowd entered 2009 working under the looming and implied threat of expiring contracts and were in serious jeopardy of losing their jobs if the club didn't perform. In addition to that, Jim Tracy had been hired as Hurdle's bench coach. Tracy is not an undermining personality; nor would he be the type to position himself to take the manager's job; but it was understood that Hurdle would be tossed overboard and replaced by Tracy if the Rockies started poorly.

They started poorly at 18-28 and Hurdle was fired.

Two things would have concerned me had Hurdle taken over the Mets----he'd lost the Rockies clubhouse and had an especially tense relationship with star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki; plus as soon as Hurdle was gone, the team went on an utter tear and made the playoffs as a Wild Card.

Hurdle's relationship with Tulowitzki was something of a father-son situation in which they could no longer co-exist. Neither would have been where they were without the other. Hurdle wouldn't have been the manager of a pennant-winning team; Tulowitzki wouldn't have won the Rookie of the Year in 2007 or been compared to Derek Jeter in terms of being a young leader.

One of them had to go and the logical choice between the young star and the replaceable manager is always the manager.

How would Hurdle have worked with the Mets?

Would the veterans have appreciated his teaching style and "you're doing it my way" approach? Would he handle the young players appropriately to teach them to win?

It was risky and I don't think it would've worked with the Mets.

With the Pirates, he's an excellent choice. They're in slight disarray in the front office with the interference of a non-baseball man, team president Frank Coonelly, hindering everything that GM Neal Huntington is trying to build. Former Pirates manager John Russell was a poor strategist and couldn't rein in the players; Hurdle is a major improvement both strategically and in garnering respect off the field.

It's quite possible that Hurdle is a transitional manager. By that I mean, he's the man to teach the players to play the game correctly, but when they're ready to win, a different personality has to be brought it.

The Pirates are in the nascent stages of another rebuilding effort and have talent for Hurdle to work with. Worrying about what happens when they're ready to compete is fruitless; as of now, he's a great choice for the Pirates and would've been wrong for the Mets.

Hurdle's hiring by the Pirates works out best for all involved.

  • Viewer Mail 11.15.2010:

DaGodfather writes RE Moneyball and Joel Sherman:

You start off talking about Moneyball (didn't read it. Don't care to. Beane and James didn't invent it. Lee Thomas did but didn't realize it) and how the backers do not comprehend what they are reading then you question two columns Joel Sherman wrote and how he contradicted himself in a span of a week.

I'm not a fan of Mr. Sherman's but I got to tell you that you are wrong and you did not comprehend what he had written. The first column, he was giving them a suggestion on how to get a deal done. He did not offer any opinions on whether it should be done or not. He merely offered an opinion on HOW to get it done. The second column gives the opinion on whether it should be done, and he basically says depends on the cost.

You didn't read Moneyball but feel free to comment that Billy Beane and Bill James didn't invent it and that Lee Thomas did; then you critique my reading comprehension skills in Sherman's "throw everything at the wall hoping it sticks" columns.

Did I say that Beane/James, et al. are responsible for the Moneyball content? No and, in fact, I never have implied anything close to that. What I have said is that the subjects of the book who were portrayed in a positive light have run with the accolades received----deserved or not.

Beane is a highly sought after corporate speaker and makes a lot of money with his reputation having been crafted in large part by that book. I would've done the same thing, but that doesn't shield Beane and the others from the fallout from the book's failures and prevarications therein----prevarications that were knowingly crafted in the interests of fitting neatly into the predetermined story's end.

Your questioning of my understanding of what Sherman wrote is ludicrous. Both columns are making suggestions to the Yankees to solve the Jeter issue.

If you're right about Sherman's intent in the first column, all that needed be written was one sentence to explain his position if it indeed isn't that the Yankees actually go ahead and do the post-career deal: "It may not be wise to do such a thing and I wouldn't do it if I were them...."

That's it.

But he didn't, He presented two separate ideas and advocates them both, which is a direct contradiction of himself so he can say something and claim to have been "right" if one of them is done. This is not predicting; nor is it presenting an opinion. It's saying "stuff". No more, no less.

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

I now think Moneyball, the movie, will end up being about a guy with a crazy idea (see: Facebook) who makes it work, becomes the toast of the town but "loses himself" or something. Bad News Bears was a comedy, and Sorkin will probably go much more dramatic with the story.

Either way, it's obviously not going to be anything close to the book and that's been my point all along. Beane's going to want to crawl into a hole when the thing comes out; he'll play along and use it to his advantage, but those in the know will see the reality.

I can promise you this: the only people who are really going to love the movie are the casual baseball fans. The stat zombies who still worship at the Moneyball altar and people like me (there are a few) will despise it and expose it for what it is.

Matt writes RE Alex Gonzalez and my posting on Saturday:

Alex Gonzalez is actually under contract with the Braves for next season. Just dropping in with that vital piece of info.

That was a gack on my part for which there's no excuse.

Interestingly, the perfect place for Jeter (if he was to leave the Yankees) would be the Braves; it's not happening and we know it, but in theory? Perfect on-field landing spot.

Mike Fierman writes RE Manny Ramirez:

I wonder what will be the manny story next year. I have a feeling he won't play. He will demand a ton of money and I just don't think there is a GM dumb enough to pay him. And that might be the dumbest thing i've ever said on-line.

Manny's going to play. The best possible place for him would be in the American League as a DH and one would think he'd take a short-term deal with a base of say $6-8 million with loads of incentives to push it up to the $12-15 million range. Amid all the injuries and poor power numbers in 2010, his on base percentage was still above .400; his OPS above .800. He was awful with the White Sox, but I believe Manny can still contribute given the right situation.

Come on, Mike---you've said faaar dumber things than this!!!

  • Hot stove previews/analysis will begin again tomorrow:

There's not much to add to that statement.

One of the keys to writing is to know when you've said everything that needs saying and the title does it. The title does it.


She-Fan said...

I'm with dumb Mike (lol). I don't think Manny will play either. What team will pay him $$$ to be a DH at this point? I can't think of one.

Jeff said...

Manny might not play... but rumor has it Jermaine Dye wants a job and is willing to take less dough. I still can't believe he didn't play last year.

Also, been a while since we heard anything about Milton Bradley. Doesn't he still have a year left on that ludicrous $10 million/year contract?