October 6, 1998
September 26-October 5CINCINNATI REDS
Released LHP Steve Cooke. [9/30]
Claimed LHP Eddie Priest off waivers from the Indians. [10/1]
Four months after Jim Bowden sends Priest off to Cleveland for Rick Krivda, he grabs him back. Priest still isn't a great prospect, and Krivda had a painful year in Cincinnati, but this was a nice little move by the Reds to get something for nothing.
Fired manager Don Baylor. [9/28]
Named Jim Leyland manager. [10/5]
Baylor was the first manager to be axed in the postseason, and it wasn't a particularly bad move on the part of the Rockies. Baylor was inordinately fond of one-run tactics for a manager of a team playing on Planet Coors, and he worked his bullpens really, really hard. That said, the Rockies have a rapidly- emerging organizational problem, and it isn't the manager. The team's committment to known quantities like Fonzie Bichette is potentially devestating; at least back when they were truly noxious, they didn't break the bank to keep the likes of Charlie Hayes.
Hopefully the Rockies had enough left over from the big Leyland signing to take out some insurance on Darryl Kile's arm.
Announced the resignation of manager Jim Leyland. [10/1]
Named John Boles manager. [10/2]
Surprise, surprise--Livan Hernandez and his pitching mates made it to the end of the Leyland era with no apparent ill effects (yet...). Boles was reasonably successful in his short stint as interim manager after Florida fired Rene Lachemann in 1996, going 40-35 with the team. He's got the unusual talent of looking simultaneously dazed and wide-eyed at the same time in the dugout, but Leyland has always been an overrated manager, and Boles will probably tread more lightly on the Marlins' fragile young arms.
Kudos to Dave Dombrowski for moving decisively and replacing Leyland before his office chair was cold. There's rarely any sense in dragging a decision like this out, especially when handing the job to someone already in the organization, and the unsettled period until things smooth out is minimized.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Fired manager Glenn Hoffman. [9/30]
Hoffman will be offered a job with the big club, which could create a sticky situation with the new manager. In large part, Hoffman was a sacrificial lamb at the altar of the Pastaman's dubious moves during his tenure as interim general manager. He put up a reasonable record (47-41) during his brief stay, but the Dodgers are reportedly considering bigger fish for manager in their quest to restore some of the team's vaunted managerial stability. Kevin Kennedy, Felipe Alou and the great Davey Johnson have been frequently mentioned.
Extended the contract of GM Sal Bando through the 2001. [10/5]
Ugh. The co-chief architect (along with Scrap Iron Garner) of Midwestern Little Ball gets some additional job security. Milwaukee is the definition of a mediocre organization, with no recent glory to look back on and no bright future to look forward to. Garner kept his job by agreeing to the dismissal of half his coaching staff, but it isn't his fault that the fans in Milwaukee get to look forward to watching a shell of Marquis Grissom's former self traipsing around in CF, collecting $150K per catch, for the forseeable future.
Players like Grissom are a good way to measure the health of a small market franchise like the Brewers; if you've got a guy like this when he's overrated, but cheap and young (like the Expos), you're doing something right. If you've got him when he's old, pulling five million per annum, and generally useless, you need to re- evaluate your development strategy.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Extended the contract of manager Joe Torre through 2001. [9/30]
Everybody's manager of the year after the Yanquis' magical 1998, Torre is riding a wave of good feeling in Steinbrennerland. He seemed primed to retire after this season, and his agreeing to the extension is somewhat of a surprise. To his credit, he lets his players play and isn't grabbing for air time so he can polish his image; he's probably best suited for a team like the Yankees.
Anounced the resignation of president Sandy Alderson. [9/28]
Alderson, the longtime A's general manager, is resigning to assume the title of "executive vice president for baseball operations" (which presumably comes with a company car) in the commissioner's office, and by now this is Billy Beane's team anyway.
Exercised their 1999 option on designated hitter Edgar Martinez. [9/30]
Acquired LHP John Halama from Houston as the PTBNL in the Randy Johnson deal. [9/31]
Houston thought Halama was so hot, they let Bobby Abreu go in the expansion draft to protect him. He's got a good curve and a great changeup to go with his wicked pickoff move, which he's been shredding baserunners with for years. Seattle is making noises about Halama competing for a spot in the rotation next year, and if they know what they're doing that's exactly what will happen. Of course, who knows what'll happen with Piniella driving the bus? On the down side, he doesn't have a great fastball, he's pretty old for a prospect, and he's not Scott Elarton.
It wasn't Martinez' fault that Seattle had such a poor season. He did his usual professional job at the plate (.429/.567) despite a slow start and knee problems which will require offseason surgery. Martinez is the most consistent and best DH in the league, and at $3.5M will be a bargain for the Mariners next year.