I was on Sirius XM’s MLB Home Plate this morning and I was asked something I hadn’t considered before that moment: In light of the Rangers’ decision to give Ron Washington a second chance, will it now be harder to fire him for poor performance than it would be to fire any other manager? I took that to mean would it be harder from a PR perspective and would it be construed as caving to media pressure or something.
My answer, which now that I’ve had an hour to think on it I feel even more strongly about: Nolan Ryan is the last guy who cares about petty public relations games. My guess is that Washington will keep his job as long as the team contends and that if the team disappoints, he’ll be fired. And when he is fired, Ryan will say “I
fired him because we stink,” and that’ll be that.
I think we in the media tend to over think the PR implications of everything, and that the whole “fire Washington/don’t fire Washington” thing is an example of that. There were and there still are far more important considerations than PR in this situation: would keeping Washington last year be a bad move for the team? Would it be good or bad for him as a person? Would disciplining him last year raise employment law concerns? Same too with firing him at some undetermined point in the future, although in that case the biggest question by far is whether or not Washington maintains control of the team and puts them in a position to win baseball games.
Which is what every manager is up against. Not too many of them get to leave their jobs on their own terms. Bobby Cox will this fall. Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and probably Lou Piniella will. Maybe Ron Gardenhire. Everyone else? They get canned eventually. Unless he wins a ring or two, Ron Washington will someday as well. And when it happens, I don’t think anyone will be thinking too hard about the cocaine.
(BTW: how often do you think Nolan Ryan is asked to pose this way for pictures)
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.
Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.
Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.
Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.