It’s not Hargrove’s fault, Guillen is the new Everett
Jerry Brewer at the Times offers a horrible, horrible column that looks at Hargrove through the rosiest lenses ever put on a reporter.
Let’s say this now: It’s not Hargrove.
If the Mariners have a laundry basket full of problems, clean Hargrove last. His seat may be hot enough to make fajitas on, but this season shouldn’t be about him.
Really. How come?
The quiet truth is that, during this string of losing, Hargrove hasn’t had one team good enough to be a winner. The chronically mismanaged Orioles were a mess during his four seasons in Baltimore. And in 2005, he inherited a Seattle club that had bottomed out.
Bad teams will expose any manager. In professional sports, we always overplay the magic-making abilities of the strategist. Talented teams win. Untalented teams lose. The concept is as clear as Felix Hernandez’s potential.
This is quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever read in the Seattle Times in all the years I’ve lived here, in all the mocking I’ve ever done of that sports section.
Mike Hargrove may be the worst active manager in baseball. You don’t have to take my word for it – we’ve cited work on this before. He’s a horrible, horrible talent evaluator on a team trying to build around young players he’s entirely unsuited to manage.
But it’s not his fault, why? Because his teams aren’t good enough.
Of course. Every blue-haired old lady that drives 15 down major arterials, the problem is they don’t have Formula 1 race cars. The reason great managers have been able to win consistently with teams made of up different kinds of players, building, contending, and on their way down? All of those teams were supertalented.
The easiest thing would’ve been for the Mariners to succumb to public pressure and fire Hargrove and Bavasi. Their loudest skeptics wanted it. Their quiet, loyal fans wouldn’t have cared. And searches for new leadership usually generate excitement.
But Lincoln stood still. The public groaned. Now we’ve arrived at what could be one contentious season of perpetual innuendo.
Yes, all bow to the steely resolve of Howard Lincoln.
First, no it wouldn’t. The easiest thing was inaction, and that’s what they did. Firing them would have been controversial, they would have to find replacements, but most of all, it would have been an admission of failure. Better to hold on.
Second, even if you buy that argument, that doesn’t mean it’s not the right move to fire him. But, as Brewer asserts earlier, Hargrove’s fine. It’s his teams that have been bad. He’s just a figurehead.
But then why not fire him? Steely resolve?
Question: How might we view Hargrove right now, in Seattle, if his Indians had gotten those final two outs?
Would we be more patient? Would we have more respect? Would we trust him?
The 2007 Hargrove isn’t much different than the 1997 Hargrove. He has six months to prove that.
I don’t care if Earl Weaver himself managed this team, if he made the constant boneheaded decisions we’ve seen from Hargrove, if he’d so ineptly managed his roster, if he mismanaged his pitching, we would absolutely savage him. That Hargrove did or did not manage a World Series winner in 1997 wouldn’t excuse his constant lobbying for Carl Everett, to name one example. It wouldn’t conceal over his record of dismissing promising players like Adam Jones because he sees some imaginary flaw in their defense. It wouldn’t make him understand that Julio Mateo isn’t a particularly good reliever any more, much less that he’s not the guy to call in when you desperately require a ground ball. And on, and on, and on.
We judge Hargrove by his works, and his works have been wretched. As was that column.
And other news of today and yesterday. Lowe’s surgery supposedly went well, which is cool.
You also sense management wouldn’t mind if a small dose of Guillen’s fire singed a tepid team. That’s a dangerous hope. But that’s how desperate the Mariners are for some form of passionate leadership.
“Trust me, if I see something wrong with what’s going on with this team during the season, if somebody’s not doing what he’s supposed to be doing, I don’t care who it is — I’m going to step up and get in your face and tell you whatever I need to tell you,” Guillen said. “Like it or don’t like it. Get mad at me, whatever. But I’m going to tell you. And if we need to get into an argument, we’ll get into an argument.”