Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Managerial shuffling

In the Monday print column, I took note of the extreme longevity of a number of current managers and suggested that well-run organizations are more loathe than ever to change managers for the sake of change.

Also on Monday, I heard Tim Kurkjian of ESPN say that by the start of next season, as many as 10 teams could have new managers.

These are not mutually exclusive thoughts. I specified "good organizations," which was meant to exclude the operations on the sub-.500 treadmill. And Kurkjian wasn't talking about firings exclusively, but also accounting for the pending retirement of Bobby Cox (photo above) in Atlanta and the speculation that Lou Piniella (Cubs) and Joe Torre (Dodgers) will walk away at the end of the season.

There is a certain self-destructive pattern to be seen in the fallen-and-can't-get-up operations:

  • New general manager takes helm, brings in his own manager (and other front office and coaching personnel) within a year.
  • Three years later, team continues to lose — no surprise, since even if the new organization is now drafting and developing players better than the previous regime, that's seldom going to be a quick fix.
  • The GM, now under pressure for immediate results, fires his handpicked manager, brings in a new guy.
  • A year or two later, the GM gets the ax, and his replacement tears up the organization and restarts the cycle.

Thus the Mets, for example. Omar Minaya hired Willie Randolph to manage, only to can him in a particularly messy way. The team continues to struggle, and Jerry Manuel, Randolph's successor, is almost certainly one of the managers on Kurkjian's at-risk list — and Minaya's grasp on his job is none too strong either.

The Twins, to the credit of the Pohlads (and particularly Carl) have avoided this treadmill. Even in the ugly days of the mid-to-late 90s, the organization remained stable, and when changes came, there weren't violent upheavals. Tom Kelly retired, and his third base coach was promoted to manager. Terry Ryan stepped aside, and his assistant GM took the helm.

It may not be a perfectly run operation, but it remains a coherent one, one with a notion of what it's about that everybody involved, including the fans, can grasp. That would seem an obvious thing, but it has long eluded the likes of the Royals and Pirates.


  1. Ed, any thoughts on why all the speculation centers on Oswalt and nobody is talking about the Twins outfield situation? The Twins have two outfielders (Span and Cuddyer) and two d.h.s who masquerade as defenders when they grab a glove. Cuddyer could probably use a day off and Span may not play today. I'd love to find a right-handed power bat who can play passable defense to spell the regulars. Such an upgrade is much more important than renting Oswalt at an outrageous price for a couple of months.

  2. Mike Scoiscia is playing hard and fast with the Rules right? Pretty shady use of the DL.


    There are strong indications that Brandon Wood will be placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday or Wednesday because of a hip flexor strain, a setback that will give the struggling third baseman a chance to find his swing in the minor leagues. Wood, who is batting .156 with two homers, one double, seven runs batted in, 36 strikeouts and two walks in 122 at-bats, was not in the lineup for the third straight game Monday. Scioscia wants to give Wood a chance to “catch his breath mentally and physically.” Asked to elaborate, Scioscia said Wood “has a little hip flexor.” Wood is out of minor league options, meaning he would have to clear waivers before the Angels could send him to triple A. But by putting Wood on the DL, the Angels could extend his mental break and then send him on a minor league rehab assignment, perhaps a lengthy one, to give him a chance to find his stroke in a low-pressure environment. — LA Times

  3. Bob Gorinski said... btw:

    this is an even year. i thought we were due for the good Punto -not the, "hard to find in MLB history as statistically as bad of a season hitting," Nick Punto of 2007.

    So far Gardy's lil' buddy is hitting .218 with an OBP of .268

  4. 0swalt has this yr and next on his deal (plus a club option for 2012.

    He'd be much more than a rental. He'd be out #1 starter by a wide margin.