The New York Mets announced today that Paul DePodesta has been named Special Assistant to General Manager Sandy Alderson. He joins J.P. Ricciardi in the “Former GMs Who Made Their Bones While Working for the Alderson/Beane ‘Moneyball’ Atheltics Teams Club.”
DePodesta’s tenure as Dodgers’ GM was kind of a pain for him. He only got two seasons — and only one offseason — as the Dodgers GM. Hired just as spring training was getting underway in 2004, he was let go right after the 2005 season ended. Not all of his moves worked out, but he was hounded by the media — Bill Paschke and T.J. Simers called him “Google Boy” in ignorant disdain of his sabermetric background — and ultimately cut loose by Frank McCourt.One wonders what would have happened had he actually been given a chance to breathe. Oh well, a lack of respect for DePodesta seems to be a common theme, sadly. In the upcoming “Moneyball” movie he’s being replaced by a fictitious character played by Jonah Hill, who probably could not be a more polar opposite from DePodesta physically speaking. I’d think that would bug me more than getting canned by McCourt.
The important fact here, though, is that DePodesta is bright. As is J.P. Ricciardi. As is Sandy Alderson. And in them, the Mets have a sharp-as-a-tack front office team working for them now.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉