Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 10, 2003
BASEBALL: Magic Dust

Chris Kahrl on Baseball Prospectus Premium yesterday (subscription required) was bemoaning Dusty Baker's preference for veteran ballplayers, currently manifested in preferring Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek to giving everyday jobs to Hee Seop Choi and Bobby Hill. That's true enough, and I agree with Kahrl that this is not a wise or cost-effective way to run a baseball team. But maybe we should consider the flip side: maybe Baker's preference for veterans is inseparable from his biggest strength as a manager, the fact that veterans play well for him and respect him as a 'player's manager.' After all, if there's one thing veteran ballplayers don't like, it's young players who are after their jobs. If you're Sammy Sosa, and you see that Baker is loyal to Mark Grudzielanek, what are you going to conclude about how he'll treat you? Joe Torre is the same way.

This is not to suggest that this is the only way to manage men; managers like Casey Stengel and John McGraw got great mileage out of keeping the fear of God in older ballplayers, dropping them at a moment's notice for younger men. But that was also in the days before guaranteed contracts, when players were genuinely hungry; many of today's players share that hunger out of pride or competitiveness, but they don't need to. Sometimes, something else needs to be employed to motivate the millionaire ballplayer, and loyalty is as good a candidate as any. So hiring a manager who -- when given the choice -- will demonstrate loyalty to the old guys may not be as unthinkingly stubborn or stupid as it may sometimes be portrayed.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:06 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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