Buster Olney sought a comment from Rockies’ GM Dan O’Dowd on the Pirates hiring of former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle:
“The Pirates are getting a leader who brings a positive, passionate energy everyday, and someone who handles every situation with honesty and integrity!”
Obviously O’Dowd is not gonna bury the guy in such a situation, but whenever I read something like that I can’t help but think “then why the hell did you fire him in the first place?” The best of these ever — and it will never be topped — was when Ted Turner fired Bobby Cox during his first stint with the Braves. When asked who would be an ideal candidate to replace him, Turner said: “It would be Bobby Cox, if I hadn’t just fired him.” True story. Probably helps that Turner is as crazy as a peach orchard boar.
I know the dynamic: a team loses, and you can’t fire the players, so out goes the manager. It seems to me, however, that more teams would probably do themselves a favor if they acknowledged the limitations of a manager’s ability to make a team win by himself, found a guy who was really solid and smart and whom they could trust, and stick with him. Bruce Bochy is a good recent example. He was in San Diego a long time and has stuck in San Francisco through thick and thin too. How many organizations would have fired him after two 90-loss seasons right out of the gate? A lot, I’d wager.
My sense: fire a manager if he can no longer get along with the players or if he is failing to carry out the orders of the front office. Or, at a certain point, if the team just changes dramatically from one that is veteran-laden to one that is all kids, sure, there could be compatibility problems. But if he was the right choice at the time you hired him, and nothing about him has changed apart from the quality of players he has to manage, stick with him.