Olney: Jack McKeon to manage the Marlins

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It was only rumored yesterday, but last night Buster Olney reported that, yep, 80-year-old Jack McKeon is going to take over the Marlins as interim manager.

It’s fun to put McKeon’s age and experience into perspective with little factoids such as “McKeon’s first game as a Major League manager happened over three months before I was born” and “Jack McKeon’s first game as a manager at any level occurred when my now-62-year-old mother was six-years-old,” but that gimmick will get old pretty fast. So too will the plain old old jokes. Yes, McKeon is old. There’s not much he can do about that.

As an interim hire, though, I like it. Partially because I was always a fan of McKeon’s when he managed the Padres, Reds and Marlins on his first go-around (I don’t remember his earlier jobs). He let his players play, didn’t seem to be under the delusion that managing a baseball game was as sensitive as nuclear disarmament talks and, thanks to his experience and front office stints, seemed to recognize talent and put it in the best position to thrive rather than simply impose his will.  It’s the kind of manager I’d want to hire if I ran a team.

But maybe more importantly, this gives the Marlins some flexibility. They got boxed in when Rodriguez did well as the interim manager following Fredi Gonzalez’s firing last year and, despite looking elsewhere, felt obligated to give Rodriguez a shot at the job.  The Cubs did the same thing with Mike Quade.  It’s the classic in-season interim manager trap that, while it sometimes works out well, often leads to compromise hires.

But McKeon? To put it delicately, he’s not the long term solution in the dugout, so it will allow the Marlins’ brass several months to figure out exactly who they want leading the team when they move into the new ballpark next spring.

Clayton Kershaw’s initial prognosis: 4-6 weeks on the disabled list

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Some seriously bad news for the Dodgers: Ken Rosenthal reports that the initial prognosis on Clayton Kershaw is that he will miss 4-6 weeks with his bad back. A final determination will be made after he gets a second medical consultation.

Kershaw exited Sunday’s start against the Braves with back tightness after just two innings of work. He was seen talking with trainers in the dugout after completing the top of the second inning and did not return to the mound for the third. Kershaw has a history of back problems. Last year he missed over two months with a herniated disc in his back.

Assuming the preliminary schedule holds, Kershaw would be on the shelf until late August at the earliest, but more likely early-to-mid September. The Dodgers currently hold a 10.5 game lead in the NL West so they can withstand his absence. But if they have any hopes of advancing in the playoffs, they’ll need a fully armed and operational Clayton Kershaw to do it.

David Price was a complete jackass to Dennis Eckersley

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In late June, Red Sox pitcher David Price confronted Hall of Famer and NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley during a team flight to Toronto. The circumstances of the argument were not clear at the time and at least one report said that it was a “back and forth,” presumably about some critical comments Eckersley made on the air about Price. We learned a few days after that it was less of a “back and forth” than it was Price merely berating Eckersley.

Now, via this story from Dan Shaugnessy of the Boston Globe, we get the true flavor of the exchange. It does not reflect well on Price or his teammates:

On the day of the episode, Price was standing near the middle of the team aircraft, surrounded by fellow players, waiting for Eckersley. When Eckersley approached, on his way to the back of the plane (Sox broadcasters traditionally sit in the rear of the aircraft), a grandstanding Price stood in front of Eckersley and shouted, “Here he is — the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!’’

When a stunned Eckersley tried to speak, Price shot back with, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Many players applauded.

Eckersley made his way to the back of the plane as players in the middle of the plane started their card games. In the middle of the short flight, Eckersley got up and walked toward the front where Sox boss Dave Dombrowski was seated. When Eckersley passed through the card-playing section in the middle, Price went at him again, shouting, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Assuming this account is accurate, Price’s behavior was nothing short of disgraceful. Disgraceful in that Price was too much of a coward to take his issues up with Ecklersley one-on-one. Beyond that, it’s classic bully behavior, with Price waiting until he was surrounded by lackeys to hurl insults in a situation where Eckersley had no opportunity to effectively respond.

But it’s mostly just sad. Sad that David Price is so painfully sensitive that he cannot handle criticism from a man who is, without question, one of the best who has ever played the game. One of the few men who has been in his shoes and stood on that same mound and faced the same sorts of challenges Price has attempted to face. And, it should be noted, faced them with more success in his career than Price has so far.

No one likes criticism, but David Price is at a place in his life where he is, inevitably, going to receive it. And unlike virtually every other person who may offer it to him, Dennis Eckersley knows, quite personally, of what he speaks.

Shame on David Price for acting like a child. Shame on his teammates for backing him up. Shame on John Farrell and the rest of the Red Sox organization for not sitting Price down, explaining that he messed up and encouraging him to apologize. And, of course, if he apologizes now, it’s not because he means it. He’s had a month to reflect. It’s simply because his disgraceful behavior is now all over the pages of the Boston Globe.

What a pathetic display.