The threshold for changing managers varies from team to team. In Boston, an obviously wrongheaded move with Pedro Martinez was enough the get Grady Little handed his hat, whereas in Houston a more sustained failure of critical thinking (rather than a failure of intelligence, which means a whole different thing these days) gets overlooked. As Billy Joel sang, it’s a matter of trust, though not in the “Will Billy Martin come to the park sober tonight?” sense, but rather the “Would you trust this doctor to prescribe you a Band-Aid?” aspect. Among the many underpublicized acts of suicide by a manager last year was Jimy Williams’ overfondness for Geoff Blum, Orlando Merced, and a host of other fill-ins; plate appearances were thrown away with an alarming profligacy, more than enough to make the difference in a close race. This time around, the big question is not only if Williams will repeat the same mistakes with his Orlando Palmeiro, his Jose Vizcaino, and his Mike Lamb (“Sometimes, when you have nothing to do,” says Sbirro in Stanley Ellin’s classic 1948 short story, “The Specialty of the House,” “you must turn your thoughts a little to the significance of the Lamb in religion. It will be so interesting.” ) but if, when the time comes, the organization will forcibly divorce the team from its favorite crutches by trading for a real catcher or center fielder.
The Rockies have become more like a puzzle than a baseball team. While the intellectual exercise is good, the fact is that the problem of winning at altitude has become a lot more interesting than the team itself. While baseball at a mile high should be among the most exciting spectacles in the game–tape measure home runs and plenty of hitting–this team just doesn’t look like anything more than a bad team. The Rockies head into the 2004 campaign with most of the same questions they had last season. Their best players are slightly fragile and their supporting cast isn’t enough to take up the slack when those players inevitably miss games. The pitching staff will be slightly healthier, but Denny Neagle has to be taken into account in the overall assessment of the medical staff.
The Braves hit the trade market for pitching help. The White Sox aim to find some use for Timo Perez. Kahrl to Twins: Free Justin Morneau! Khalil Greene claims the Padres SS job outright with St. Rey shuffling off. These and other happenings in today’s Transaction Analysis.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Four years ago, when the Mets and Cubs became the first teams to open the season
with a short series in Tokyo, I went to bed early, set my alarm for 2 a.m. PST,
jumped out of bed right around that time, watched the game and fired off a
diary of the experience for posting that morning. It was a fun exercise,
especially since it was a pretty good game and I had at least a few hours’
So with my…er, the Yankees opening their 2004 season in Japan, I
figured this would be another opportunity to get a fun column out of it. Being
on the East Coast now, though, and with no real sleep pattern to speak of, I
elected to stay up all night to do so.
I guess that was my first bad decision. My second was asking Grady Little to
be my insurance policy in case I dozed off. As you’d expect, Little eventually
got me, but just a few minutes too late. Figures.
Curt Schilling could be perfectly suited for Fenway Park. The Reds’ rotation needs a lift from some young guns. The Marlins don’t need a roof on a new ballpark. The Yankees hope to avoid jet lag on their trip home from Japan. The Pirates’ baserunning errors didn’t hurt much last year. The Padres should expect improvement in their rotation. These and other news and notes in today’s Double-Stuft edition of Prospectus Triple Play.