Is there anything more to a manager's reputation than the abilities of the players who play for him?
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Dash Treyhorn watched his first Phillies game at two days old, and he led his Wiffle Ball league in OPS+ in 1996. He blogs about the Phillies for NBC Philadelphia.
Willie Randolph wasn't the only manager fired this week, but the manner of his dismissal caused an uproar.
Nearly a week has passed since the Mets fired manager Willie Randolph, and egg is still being wiped off the organization's collective face. The Mets have been castigated inside and outside the industry for the way they handled the move, having Randolph take a cross-country flight from New York to Los Angeles after last Sunday's doubleheader with the Rangers at Shea Stadium, then dropping the ax on him after a win over the Angels.
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The defiant A's refuse to lose while recharging, managers on the hot seat, and a Giant among shortstops outlasts all the rest.
The Athletics were supposed to be rebuilding this season. General manager Billy Beane supposedly ran up the white flag last winter when he traded away two of his best players, right-hander Dan Haren and outfielder/first baseman Nick Swisher, especially since both are in their prime and were signed to club-friendly contracts. Beane's rationale was that, after a 76-86 finish, the Athletics needed to rebuild a depleted farm system, and the only way to do so was by trading his established stars for a bounty in return.
So that is exactly what Beane did, dealing Haren and right-hander Connor Robertson to the Diamondbacks for six players, and Swisher to the White Sox for three more. The Athletics' farm system has consequently gone from one of the worst in baseball to one of the best.
The 2007 Mets are already being compared to the 1964 Phillies, which puts skipper Willie Randolph in Gene Mauch's shoes.
Over the next few weeks, explorations of the reasons why behind the untimely death of the Mets on Sunday will be revisited more often than the latest theories Kennedy assassination. The last out had scarcely been made before WFAN call-in lines were lit up with disappointed, irate fans demanding the demolition of the roster and the dismissal of Willie Randolph and Omar Minaya. Both, it was said, were too passive-Minaya in not upgrading a clearly shaky pitching staff at the trading deadline, Randolph because he didn't yell more at players like Jose Reyes, who sleepwalked (.205/.270/.333) through September.
Before all the IBA ballots are counted, staff picks give a hint as to what hands the awards may find themselves in.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Travis Hafner posted the highest OBP in the AL while nobody noticed, while Neifi Perez ended up getting playoff PT. The young guns had their day and then some. Jermaine Dye gave a lengthy spanking to his 90th percentile PECOTA projection (PECOTA's .288/.359/.516 versus an actual .315/.385/.622). The crop of AL rookies included a guy with a 0.92 ERA finishing third, and rooks like Jered Weaver (105:33 K:BB) and Francisco Liriano (144:32) threatening to be Johan Santana's biggest challengers in 2007. The National League featured tighter races, including a four-way brawl for the Pitcher of the Year and another impressive crop of newbies.
Eight staff members weighed in on the season that was, casting their ballots for the Internet Baseball Awards. We summarized their findings below, and then let them have their individual say.
Two wounded rotations, two bullpens likely to work early to often and up to the challenge... will the difference be the Mets' eight-deep attack, or the Cardinals' power of one at the plate?
The beginning of the postseason marked a chance for Willie Randolph's Mets to consummate something the baseball world had anticipated for at least four months, the chance to show that their regular-season dominance was no fluke. Yet the run-up to the Division Series against the Dodgers brought disturbing news. Not only was ace Pedro Martinez, the symbol of the team's resurgence under Randolph and GM Omar Minaya, likely to miss a start due to his calf strain, but he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff that would knock him out into the middle of next year. The team's next pick to open the series, Orlando Hernandez, tore a calf muscle running in the outfield, knocking him out of consideration as well. Undeterred, the Mets retooled their postseason roster to play to their strength, a deep bullpen, and Randolph ably improvised his way through the series while the lineup punished nearly every mistake the Dodgers made. The result was a victory in straight sets, confirming that at the very least, the road to the NL pennant runs through the Big Apple.
Flash back to January 1987. Walk Like an Egyptian is at the top of the pop charts. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has coasted past 2,000. John Elway has broken Cleveland's heart for the very first time. And in baseball, the free agents are getting utterly and completely shafted.
In an article that appeared on Baseball Prospectus recently, I concluded that, in spite of an across-the-board decrease in player salaries, the winter's market has done a very efficient job of equating free agent salaries with performance. Players are being paid less, but more so than in the recent past, they're being paid in proportion to what they're worth. I went on to suggest that this constitutes compelling evidence that ownership is not colluding to restrict the market: