Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Coaching Shake-Up

Works for me. I don't see anything any of these guys have done to deserve to get re-hired.

But, I hope this isn't a situation where the coaches are getting scapegoated for the team's failures. The Nationals coaching staff could have been made up of Earl Weaver, Casey Stengel, Lou Piniella, Vince Lombardi and Erwin Rommel and they would have stunk up the joint with this roster.

I'm all for accountability and change, but if we stop here at the lower rungs of the food chain, it'll be a disappointment.
  • Actually there's one thing I don't like about this. It's clear from the coverage that Manny was not included in these decisions, that the decision came from above, and Manny seems at least ambivalent. This is once again an example of the dysfunctional lack of clarity in the chain of command within this organization. The president should hire the general manager who should hire the manager who should hire his coaches. Here, no one was hired by or can be fired by his boss. The structure is just totally bass-ackwards. Fire the coaches, fine. But it should be Manny's call. If they don't have confidence in Manny to run the coaching staff, they should get rid of Manny too. If the Lerners don't have confidence in Kasten's ability to pick his own GM, then he should go. Etc., etc.


JayB said...

I agree that clearly Acta did not make this call and in fact had no input in the decision. You may see this as a flaw in organizational structure and it is, I see it as a sign that Acta is in over his head and was not hired because he was the best person for the job, but rather the cheapest guy who would take the job. Recall how many established managers who declined to even interview and Terry Pendleton who was just a hitting coach who did not even want to talk about working for this Plan.

Then problems are so deep it is tough to unravel. Acta does not have the experience to hire top coaches or to fire bad coaches so Jimbo steps in.....the problem is the hire of Acta in my mind.

Steven said...

Maybe that's true, but if there was clear accountability you could just follow it up the chain. If the Manny hire was a blunder, hold Jim accountable. Except Manny wasn't really Jim's guy either.

You're way more down on Manny than me, but even if you think Manny's a bad coach or in over his head, he's in a totally unfair position working not only with subpar players but also you have no authority over your coaches.

I wonder if he gets to draw the lineup card or do Mark and Ted and Stan and Jim all get to take turns?

Hendo said...

Enough Manny-bashing. Let Acta, or whoever his successor may be, hire his own coaches, and then judge his ability as "first among equals."

JayB said...

To be clearer.....I think my comment is more about bashing the Lerners, Stan and Jimbo. They are the ones who hired Acta and they did it for a few reasons, not of which make good baseball sense. If Acta was Lou Piniella do you think Jimbo would be able to hire and fire his coaches? Nope they hired Acta because they could control him and he would be grateful for the chance and thus not make any waves. How is that turning out for him, fans and whole organization? Nope Acta will be the next fall guy and then maybe after 2009 someone will fire Jimbo, and we can start over with a chance of success.

I have met Acta and talked briefly with him....He is a great guy. I do not dislike him at all. I want to fix what is wrong with this organization. Acta is here for the wrong reasons with the wrong level of experience, that is my point.

Steven said...

I think my comment is more about bashing the Lerners, Stan and Jimbo. They are the ones who hired Acta.

Exactly my point. Hiring a manager can't be some group-grope team decision.

John O'Connor said...

Because a lot of what makes a manager successful occurs out of public view, I don't think I can fully say whether or not Acta is a good manager. Hearing him in the post-game pressers, he is a good public face of the franchise, and I haven't heard much grumbling from players, so my uninformed impression is that Manny is probably pretty good at the things that he does outside of game management.

As for game management, well, there's work to be done. Manny did seem to learn as the season went along that all of those unnecessary double switches were counterproductive. He still babies his starting pitchers in my opinion, not letting them work through adversity often enough. I think that's a useful ste in growing young pitchers, but Manny seems too concerned with hurting their psyches rather than strengthening them by having them work through difficulties or (gasp) throw 110 pitches every now and then.

There might be a chieck and egg issue there. Maybe Manny will let his starters work through adveristy more when he has better starters. But right now, he's basically murder on a bullpen, which probably helps explain why the stalwarts from earlier in the year blew up in the second half of the year, even if they were on other teams by then.

That's not a reason to need to blow Manny out this offseason, but if he can't fix that problem, then his long-term future is in doubt in my mind.

John O'Connor said...

Proofreading is my friend.

"ste" = step

"chieck" = chicken

Anonymous said...

"I have met Acta and talked briefly with him....He is a great guy."

Well hell, they gotta to keep him then!

Clearly, Manny Acta had little to do with shaping his own coaching staff, and this coaching staff (ok, with the exception of Lenny Harris) had little to do with the piss poor product that was put on display this year. This move today is more about scapegoating, like Steven suggested, than it is about trying to fix real problems. If this is the extent of the shakeup, then it's a slap in the face to Nationals fans. Get ready for more of the same in 2009, folks...

Steven said...

@John--last year, Manny I think did a great job hiding a very weak rotation behind a strong bullpen. This season, I tend to think he probably coddled some guys. Lannan is one. You know he didn't throw a single pitch in the 8th inning all year? And you can't say the pen was a strength. I also tend to think he overworked some RP guys, though he spent a lot of time short-handed, and the starters were terrible, so that's not all his fault. And if you have to choose between overworking Ayala and Rivera or Lannan and Balester, you protect the SPs.

All that said, there's really very little good data out there about how much overwork risks a pitcher's health. I don't think it's about protecting their psyches but their arms. And I'd rather have a manager err on the side of caution given that we're going nowhere. Looking around at a league where meat-grinders like Dusty Baker and Charlie Manuel are still employed, I can live with a manager who coddles young arms.