October 23 - Comings and Goings
You're on a job interview for a very high-profile position. Your potential boss lobs you a few standard
“So what,” he asks, “do you know about us?”
“Nothing, really,” you admit. “I haven't followed you much recently.“
“Okay, what do you know about the way things are done in our industry?“
“Well, not much, since I've never worked within your rules, but I think I can learn it quickly.“
“And when did you last work in the field?”
“Six years ago.”
“And how did you perform?”
“I had the worst record in my area for the last two years.“
“So why do you want to work for us?”
“Well, I used to live an hour away so I've always had an interest in leading your organization.“
“Congratulations, Mr. Leyland, welcome to the Tigers!”
Incredibly, those are paraphrases of Jim Leyland's responses at his press
conference as he was introduced to the Detroit media last week. He confessed to
not knowing anything about the current Tigers roster and the American League in
general. He was a combined 126-198 in his last two seasons managing in 1998
and 1999, both last-place finishes, the latter a one-season disaster in Colorado.
But at least he did grow up as a Tigers fan -- more than half a century ago.
Not to be outdone, the Baltimore Orioles looked far and wide in their search for a
new manager. Hiring Sam Perlozzo is akin to having Brutus take over for Caesar.
Perlozzo, one of the prime conspirators in the ouster of his former boss, Lee
Mazzilli, who had only led the overachieving O's to first place before steroids,
injuries and other Ponsonic maladies led to his demise. Surrounded by the likes of Perlozzo and Rick
Dempsey (does he still think someone will hire him for anything more important than first-base
coach/cheerleading duty?), two guys who were angling for the job when Mazzilli got it two years ago,
Maz was set up to fail. He'll get another shot somewhere, once he pulls the shivs out of his back.
Can't wait to see how the Devil Rays' search concludes. If there's a more glaring example of
mismanagement than the Tigers and O's in the past decade, it's the Rays. Who would want this job
anyway? Maybe Rick Dempsey should apply...
Finally, a measure of sanity... Joe Girardi hits Miami and takes with him
15 years as a big league receiver and nuggets of knowledge from
respected baseball men like Joe Torre and Don Baylor, who each picked
Girardi twice to lead their teams either behind the plate or on the bench.
He's the perfect successor to the venerable Jack McKeon: I think Girardi's
baseball acumen, reputation and work ethic will make the Marlins a
Series contender, provided management lets him keep his pitching staff
and add a bat or two (okay, or three...).
The other high-profile switching has involved pitching coaches. I'm not sure why the Braves were so
accommodating in letting Leo Mazzone go, but the fact that he ended up in Baltimore makes me even
more sure that that would have been the wrong move for the Yankees in replacing Mel Stottlemyre.
Apparently the Yankees brass is mixed on who should guide the staff, which will likely remain largely
intact at the front and extreme end, and completely revamped in the middle in 2006. Neil Allen, Gil
Patterson, Joe Kerrigan and Ron Guidry are the most prominently named figures, and Don Cooper's
Flavor of the Month stock has risen along with the post-season complete-game totals of his ChiSox
hurlers. My pick, in an upset, is Patterson, a studious type who can inject some new ideas into the
But first things first. With Torre now safely in the fold, George Steinbrenner's immediate project is to
somehow convince Brian Cashman, whose personality and toughness have allowed him to succeed
in the cauldron where others have failed, to return to his GM post. The Yankees would be
considerably worse off without him.
But at least they won't have to worry about the Orioles or the Tigers anytime soon.