June 23, 2017

Fire the manager because that’ll fix a broken roster!

May 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

When the Diamondbacks fired manager Bob Melvin recently, less than 2 years after he was named NL Manager of the Year, the only thing they really did was play “c.y.a.” for the mistakes of the front office.

I assume you all know what “c.y.a.” is….

Look, Melvin didn’t suddenly forget how to manage and firing him was a lame attempt at “doing something” to jump start the sagging D’Backs. It doesn’t even matter to me who they replaced him with, the move just didn’t make any sense.

You’ve got a team full of flawed hitters, many of whom also happen to be injury prone, and a team that’s missing it’s #1 starter in Brandon Webb.

Look at their hitters for God’s sake…

* Chris Snyder (.717 OPS w/ 20 K’s in 74 AB)
* Chad Tracy (.582 OPS)
* Chris Young (.542 OPS)
* Eric Byrnes (.672 OPS)
* Conor Jackson (.517 OPS)
* Stephen Drew (.684 OPS)
* Mark Reynolds (.840 OPS is respectable but 49 K’s in 139 AB is not)

Felipe Lopez has been productive and Justin Upton has taken a big step toward becoming a superstar this season but, other than those two, every single D’Backs hitter has underachieved. When you tack on the fact that Webb’s replacement, Yusmeiro Petit, is 0-3 with an 8.03 ERA you see why this team isn’t winning.

And it doesn’t have anything to do with the manager. When you’ve got a team full of free-swingers who strike out a lot and aren’t doing much even when they do put the ball in play you’re not gonna win with anyone playing the role of Skipper.

GM Josh Byrnes is just as much to blame for this early season disaster as anyone but somehow the 2007 NL Manager of the Year needs to go to get things turned around?

Puh-leeze.

I’m sure Melvin has his flaws, as do most managers, but firing him just to “do something” is foolishness. You want to shake things up? Start trading players away or sending them back to Triple-A for a while and see how that works. If you want to motivate a guy, put the heat on him not on his boss.

The same thing goes for Clint Hurdle in Colorado. His seat is as hot as it can get at the moment with the likes of Woody Paige yammering for the manager to be fired when it is so abundantly clear that the roster, put together by Dan O’Dowd, is incredibly flawed.

The Rockies have two hitters, Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe, providing any kind of consistent offense and a weak pitching staff. What do people expect Hurdle to do?

Turn water into wine?

Make chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what?

This was a roster that needed some change during the offseason and the GM didn’t do anything, he sat back and watched the offseason go by even though he could have gotten something for Garrett Atkins (.670 OPS so far) and opened up playing time for Ian Stewart, who is at least hitting some home runs.

And somehow it’s the manager’s fault?

There is some talent on the Rockies’ roster but they’re just not consistent. Guys like Troy Tulowitzki and Chris Ianetta disappear for weeks at a time.

This team made a miraculous run in 2007 – perhaps a bit of a fluke given how weak the NL West was - and now expectations are higher than they should be. Their best pitcher in ’07, Jeff Francis, is out with arm trouble and some of the others have been banged up or inconsistent ever since.

Even Aaron Cook, who was pretty good last year, is getting knocked around.

Again, what is the manager supposed to do?

I’m not saying managers are never to blame, I’m just saying that in these cases they’re nothing more than useful scapegoats. Firing Melvin won’t accomplish anything and neither would firing Hurdle unless all the players listed above start producing as expected.

And don’t give me that “the players aren’t responding to him” crap. That’s the weakest argument I’ve ever heard. Players perform for themselves. The players on the these teams are trying, they’re just not good enough at the moment.

Do you really think Garrett Atkins is going to start hitting just because someone else is sitting in the manager’s office? Come on.

I’m not saying either Byrnes or O’Dowd should be fired, I’m just saying they’re as accountable for their teams’ current problems as the managers and firing the guy in the dugout isn’t likely to fix anything that wouldn’t have eventually leveled out due to the law of averages anyway.

If your manager was good enough to have the job on Opening Day then he is certainly good enough to make it until at least the All-Star break.

Kevin Wheeler is the host of Sports Open Line (M-F 7-9 PM ET) on News Radio 1120, KMOX in St. Louis (www.kmox.com) and he is a baseball instructor with All-Star Performance (www.all-starperformance.net) and the St. Louis Gamers (www.stlgamers.net). You can reach him via e-mail at thebaseballgods@gmail.com

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