I can’t imagine why the Mariners would want Lou Piniella to come back and manage. I mean, sure, nice associations with the past and a great personality and all of that, but when you’re trying to build with young players and your competitive horizon is still measured in terms of multiple years, I don’t feel like hiring a 70 year-old manager who has been out of the game for a few years makes a ton of sense.
But the Mariners do a lot of things I don’t quite understand, and this was just the latest. From Rosenthal:
The Seattle Mariners recently contacted Piniella about the possibility, asking him to come out of retirement to manage their team again. One source with knowledge of the discussions described the Mariners’ pursuit of Piniella as “a full-court press.”
Piniella, however, declined the Mariners’ overtures.
Can’t blame him. He’s got a nice part-time job with YES Network, can fish or do crossword puzzles or scrimshaw or build ships in bottles or whatever the heck else he wants to do with very little pressure but while still having at least some contact with the game. The guy spent 23 years blowing his top as a manager. He’s entitled to a little relaxation now and sounds like he wants it.
But back to Seattle: if the idea is to just bring back a face the fans would like to see, I have to question their plan overall because “manager-as-p.r.-initiative” is a pretty dumb idea. If the idea, however, is to hire an experienced manager with a notable media profile and some color and fire, why not go with someone who is less obviously retired? I’ve joked about it before, but heck, go get Ozzie Guillen. He’d fill most of the Lou Piniella qualifications. And it’d be a lot of fun too.
The Nationals bullpen is a tire fire. They’re about to add another tire. Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Washington is about to sign free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.
K-Rod was released by the Tigers last week after posting an ERA of 7.82 over 28 appearances this season. He has a 1.658 WHIP, is allowing 11.9 hits per nine innings and is posting his highest walk rate in five years. Also worth noting: the Detroit Friggin’ Tigers decided that he was not good enough to be in their bullpen.
So, yeah, good luck with that Washington.
I’ve spent years arguing with people about team chemistry. You know the battle lines on all of that now: people who talk a lot about team chemistry tend to attribute winning or losing to good or bad chemistry, respectively. I tend to think that characterizing chemistry is a retroactive exercise in which teams that win are happy and then cite their happiness as the reason and vice versa. Jim Leyland agrees with me, for what it’s worth, so I’m pretty happy with my take.
Not that I’ll claim a monopoly on wisdom here. I’ve never played on a professional baseball team. I don’t know what it’s like to try to prepare to play baseball while surrounded by jackwagons who don’t get along with anyone. I can’t imagine that makes life easier. Indeed, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, I will grant that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I dismiss team chemistry arguments for the most part, but if I ran a team I’d at least try to get rid of bad seeds if their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play. You want your workers happy, folks.
All of which makes me wonder what the heck to do about this passage from Ken Rosenthal’s latest column. It’s about the reeling San Francisco Giants. They have all kinds of issues — their offense is putrid, their pitching isn’t much better and they’ve been without their ace most of the year — but today Rosenthal looks at their team chemistry. It’s a quiet and subdued clubhouse, he notes, and it has a lot of people wondering if something is wrong there. What could it be?
Sandoval, who was an often noisy and boisterous presence during his time with the club, departed as a free agent after that season. Pence has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and declined offensively, making it difficult for him to be as vocal as he was in the past. Some with the Giants muse that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who created an odd sort of unity because most of the players disliked him.
Read that last sentence again. And then go on with your talk about how team chemistry is a legitimate explanatory concept regarding what makes teams win or lose as opposed to a post-hoc rationalization of it.
Not that it’s not a good article overall. There’s some interesting stuff about the Giants’ bullpen culture. And, of course, we now know why no one signed Pagan last winter.