Saturday, October 01, 2005


Open Letter To Jimbo -

Dear Jim:

It seems as though you're seriously fed up with your lame duck status next year, and think that you deserve an extension. After all, you're still the same guy who led the team to a playoff berth last year. So it can't be your fault that the team tanked this year, right? You obviously want to keep your job, and you don't want people to point their fingers at you for this disastrous season.

So you lay the blame on the roster overhaul and thereby imply that it's DePodesta's fault.
"Familiarity goes hand in hand with success, in my mind. ... Some of the elements we had last year that made us successful were [not here]." LA Times
Here's some advice, Jim. Don't bemoan how this year went south because LoDuca, Cora, Lima, and others aren't on this year's team, because that is an embarrassing marginalization of the truth.

What this sounds like is sour grapes from a man whose market value is low following a bad year and thus has little leverage in contract negotiations. Since you don't like your current situation and there's a good chance you'll be axed anyway, it couldn't hurt to roll the dice and ask for a major raise, right? Something to the effect of "If they don't want me, they still owe me another year of pay if I don't opt out...I'll still be paid no matter what so might as well shoot for the moon..." Why else take the tone of "Gimme a raise or fire me!" if otherwise?

It hurts to say this, but I think that you are a competent manager who respects his players and most of them in turn respect you. The embarrassment of Bradley's recent antics might have been ho hum in the days of Carlos Perez, Sheffield, and Devo. I daresay that you've probably done a good job minimizing the friction inside the clubhouse.

Or did you? Was the relative peace in the clubhouse in the past five years a product of your people-managing skills or the relatively easy-going nature of the players themselves? How would Davey Johnson, a man that I despise to this very day, fare with the current roster? Jim, how would you have looked after Mondesi went off on you with an F-bomb tirade?

We'll never know, and that's fine. But you're dropping the ball, Jim. Your mouthing off on the roster is no better than Johnson blowing up and getting ejected in his last game as the Dodgers manager. One parting shot, never to be heard from again...

I realize that you're not responsible for the injuries that ruined this season. You didn't throw that pitch that broke Werth's wrist in his first ST game and you didn't trip Wunsch as he warmed up in the bullpen. You didn't block the plate when Valentin hurt his knee, you certainly didn't tear up Gagne's elbow. (Although you kept putting him out there when he clearly wasn't 100%...)

But you also didn't foul off 14 consecutive pitches before hitting a homerun, nor did you hit the walk-off grand slam that secured a playoff berth. As much as you're mostly not to blame for this year's collapse, you are also mostly not responsible for last year's terrific finish.

Perhaps what you were really trying to say about the roster overhaul was that your boss kept acquiring players with a history of breaking down, physically and/or mentally, and that the end result wasn't too surprising. That's debatable, and ultimately that's not your job to decide, Jim. You don't go around telling your boss what to do. Speaking of which...

If your boss gives you an order, you follow it. If DePodesta asks you to develop certain young players and give away fewer outs, then you do that with no questions asked. Whether you're right or not, shit always flows downhill. No boss wants an insubordinate employee, especially after times of crises that reveal the true nature of a man's character. You just showed yours by questioning your boss's skills AND demanding a raise after the worst season in recent memory.

So let's say that you don't get your two year extension, which is likely. Who will you work for? Pittsburgh? Tampa Bay? Do you think those cheapskates will pay you handsomely AND field a competitive team? Believe that and Lou Piniella has a home he'd like to sell you in Tampa. The Marlins? They don't even have a stadium to call their own. The Cubbies? Mariners? They could be great opportunities, except those positions are safe, as far as I know.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: The grass isn't always greener on the other side.

I think that you're a fairly good manager, Jim. I really do. But you are also eminently replaceable, either by a respected name (Leyland?) who might want to get back to coaching or by a young ambitious type looking for his first gig. (Girardi? Washington?) There are even talking heads who cover the team (Kennedy) who would jump at the chance to manage this team, one with a heralded history and more importantly, big market resources.

Maybe last year's success went to your head, Jim. I guess you started believing in all the accolades and view this season as an abysmal failure of others' undoing. Chances are that DePodesta would fire you immediately except that he doesn't want to risk another PR nightmare. So he'll probably play nice and offer a lowball extension that you'll surely reject, and agree to part ways as amicably as possible.

So long, Jim. Your probable parting is an appropriate end to a miserable season. Thanks for the memories, some good, some bad. It was nice knowing you.

I will be happy to see Tracy hit the road.

For a long time a thought he was a mediocre manager that didn't make much difference. His batting orders were strange and his penchant for bunting annoying, but he was a decent clubhouse guy and the players seemed to like him.

This year though, his managerial shortcomings seemed to multiple, especially regarding the lack of playing time for Choi and Perez. See and for more detail. And from Depo's standpoint, Tracy's insubordination really shouldn't be tolerated.

I don't think this year was Tracy's fault, but going forward the club needs a manager that is at least average and listens to his boss.
another in-house possibility i should have mentioned is hoffman, who did a decent job temping in a few years ago only to be demoted. he seems like a loyal company guy...
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