Jocketty and LaRussa

Dave · September 19, 2007 at 10:22 am · Filed Under Mariners 

In an article that was co-published in a St. Louis newspaper this morning, Larry Stone gives words to the rumor that Buster Olney has been repeating on sports radio in recent days, suggesting that the Cardinals GM/Manager tandem of Walt Jocketty and Tony LaRussa could end up in Seattle this winter, replacing Bill Bavasi and John McLaren. As with all of Stone’s articles, it’s worth reading, even though the only connection to the story right now is Olney’s public assertions and some long running rumors about the future of the Cardinals franchise.

For those who haven’t heard, here’s the basic deal in St. Louis.

Walt Jocketty got his start in baseball under the Sandy Alderson regime with the Athletics, coming out of the same tree that would later produce Billy Beane, Paul DePodesta, J.P. Ricciardi, and the popularity of the Moneyball theories, but Jocketty is, at heart, a scout. He was hired to run the Cardinals in 1995, and a year later, brought in Tony LaRussa, whom he knew well from his days in Oakland, and the two have held their current positions ever since, achieving significant success.

Several years ago, Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt initiated some organizational changes with the franchise, including bringing in Jeff Luhnow, a guy with a strong business approach but no real baseball experience, to institute some of the new wave of analysis into the Cardinals organization. They overhauled their scouting department, shifted towards an extreme emphasis on drafting college players, and Luhnow created an “advisory board” of well known statistical analysts, including fantasy guru Ron Shandler and uber-stathead Mitchel Lichtman (inventer of the UZR defensive system, which we’ve quoted here frequently), though that board is mostly now defunct. Luhnow has steadily been given more power over the past few years, and he’s often seen as a trusted advisor to Cardinals ownership.

This has, naturally, created the perception of a divide in the orgnaization. Jocketty, LaRussa, and Duncan are all old school, despite their ties to the A’s organization, and they’ve garnered significant success through traditional evaluative methods. They are among the most respected men in the game. Luhnow’s group is far more aggressive in adding new evaluative techniques to the organization and approaches the game from a very different direction than the Jocketty guys.

It’s been rumored for years that Jocketty is unhappy with the fracturing in the organizational structure, and that Bill DeWitt has been grooming Luhnow to take the GM job when it becomes available. However, Jocketty has denied these claims and is under contract through the 2008 season. He wouldn’t be the first to deny the existance of a problem that actually exists, but it’s not quite as simple as stating that he’s leaving the first chance he can get.

With LaRussa’s contract expiring, however, and the close ties between GM and manager, it has fueled plenty of speculation that the two will make themselves something of a package deal this winter, and if LaRussa leaves St. Louis, Jocketty will attempt to follow him out the door. Popular reports have tied the two to division rival Cincinatti, where a major investor in the Reds is a former part-owner of the Cardinals, and has ties to both Jocketty and LaRussa.

Among the backchatter in baseball, it’s about a 50-50 split on whether Jocketty will actually attempt to get out of his contract and leave at the end of the year, though most expect LaRussa to leave either way. And, yes, the Mariners are still considered an attractive option for a lot of people, despite the struggles of the franchise the last four years. If the Mariners made their GM and manager positions available, it’s nearly a given that the big name executives would be fighting for a chance to interview for the position.

So, yes, there might – and I stress might – be something to Olney’s assertion. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Jocketty/LaRussa tandem are in Seattle next year. However, that’s a long way from saying it will happen, or that it’s even likely to happen. As of right now, the Mariners aren’t giving any indications that Bavasi or McLaren are going to lose their jobs at years end, and a month ago it was a given that the front office had done enough to earn themselves another chance in 2008. I wouldn’t go registering LaRussa for the local chapter of PETA just yet.

There’s also the issue, of course, of whether this a move the organization should be looking to make. There’s no doubt that Jocketty and LaRussa have long track records of success, and they undeniably come with credibility and respect within the game. However, they are also undeniably traditional evaluators who would bring many of the same evaluative techniques to the organization that are presently held. They are cut from the same cloth as Woody Woodward, Pat Gillick, and Bill Bavasi, though its pretty easy to argue that they’re more adept at getting results from that approach.

If you were hoping for an organizational overhaul, however, with the franchise finally adjusting some of the philosophes that have been holding them back for years, Jocketty and LaRussa would not represent that kind of sea change. The culture shift that many of us see as imperative for the long term success of the organization would not occur in a change of power from Bavasi to Jocketty. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered, but it should certainly be a factor in the decision making.

It’s an interesting story, but remember, it’s based mostly on speculation, and at this point, it’s more smoke than fire.

Comments

72 Responses to “Jocketty and LaRussa”

  1. BrianV on September 19th, 2007 10:44 am

    Very interesting, and I’m not sure how I’d feel about it. I’d be excited about the change, I think, but I agree with many that if we’re going to make a major change, it should be in a compeltely new organizational direction. This seems incremental at best.

  2. Max Power on September 19th, 2007 10:46 am

    So out of curiousity who do you prefer – Terry Ryan or Walt Jocketty?

  3. poulsbohemian on September 19th, 2007 10:47 am

    This story does little to fire me up about next year. It is a common fallacy for fans to jump and down and go nuts when a big name becomes available or expresses interest in managing their club. This is compounded by the World Series victory last year which, in some fans mind, gives anyone associated with that team membership a free pass or something of the sorts, when it is clear that the Cardinals were a big fluke last year.

    Not excited at all.

  4. msb on September 19th, 2007 10:47 am

    it certainly has been a topic of discussion of late, with Tony & Walt not joined at the hip or Tony as GM? or is Tony campaigning?

  5. Mike Honcho on September 19th, 2007 10:51 am

    Chris Antonetti turned down the Pittsburgh GM gig, according to John Heyman at si.com, fyi…

  6. galaxieboi on September 19th, 2007 10:54 am

    I know next to nothing of Antonelli. Anyone care to fill me in?

  7. gwangung on September 19th, 2007 10:56 am

    Hope this doesn’t degenerate into a rosterbation thread (with GM/managers added to the usual mix).

  8. Dave on September 19th, 2007 10:57 am
  9. terry on September 19th, 2007 10:58 am

    I would view WJ/TL to be an upgrade over BB/JM but that said, it wouldn’t be my first choice and frankly, I don’t know if I could stand Larussa at the helm of a team I care deeply for…

  10. the other benno on September 19th, 2007 11:09 am

    I’d personally prefer to see the organization go with new blood (Antonetti, Ng, etc.) than with a retread, regardless of past success. However that does not seem to be in the comfort zone of this ownership group.

  11. PositivePaul on September 19th, 2007 11:10 am

    And this is precisely the type of move that is likely to happen with Chuck & Howard in charge (assuming, of course, they make a move in the offseason). If you’re looking for a true shift in philosophy, you’ll have to wish Chuck & Howard out of that equation…

  12. The Ghost of Spike Owen on September 19th, 2007 11:11 am

    I would personally think of hiring LaRussa as a major step backwards (or sideways), especially after he was maligning this very blog’s pitching chart and its impact on Felix’s performance earlier in the season.

    Antonetti in ’08.

  13. Chris Hafner on September 19th, 2007 11:12 am

    I think we’d all agree the best case is strong leadership that can embrace both scouting and statistical analysis to get the most complete possible picture. I don’t know anything of Antonetti beyond what I’ve read here from Dave, but he sounds like that kind of candidate.

    But if I understand it correctly, one of the big knocks on the Mariner leadership isn’t so much that they reject sabremetrics as that they are simply poor evaluators of talent by any method. Pitching, hitting, defense – the Mariners leadership just can’t evaluate it correctly and don’t have a good holistic plan for how to run a successful organization.

    Unless Lincoln/Armstrong change their philosophy to the point where an all-arounder like Antonetti is a realistic option, a good traditional talent evaluator would probably be the best we could hope for. Frankly, a GM that can evaluate talent well and build a really good team, regardless of what means they use, seems like it would be a useful upgrade.

  14. 1996Coug on September 19th, 2007 11:14 am

    This couldn’t happen soon enough for me. I love LaRussa and the presence he has for an organization. We need someone that exudes control. I’m not sold McLaren has much other than the good relationship with Ichiro. And that wouldn’t be the reason to give him another season. We need to jump at the chance to get a LaRussa or a Jocketty. Either one is a significant upgrade. However, I don’t assume either will be showing up to a pizza feed…

  15. galaxieboi on September 19th, 2007 11:15 am

    Thanks for the link, Dave. Very informative. He does seem like a fella we should make push for.

  16. bakomariner on September 19th, 2007 11:26 am

    i wonder what’s going to happen to Mclaren if he is fired…i think he’s great with the players, cares a lot about the organization, but hasn’t really shown he can be a successful manager…would they give his old job back to him? would he want it if he is fired? would he go back to Lou?

  17. gwangung on September 19th, 2007 11:35 am

    What makes people think the Mariner brain trust will get rid of McLaren?

    From the actions I get, they’re not very decisive, they’re not very nimble or flexible when it comes to change, and they’ll worry the decision far beyond the point where it would do any good.

  18. msb on September 19th, 2007 11:40 am

    I love LaRussa and the presence he has for an organization. We need someone that exudes control.

    for some reason a DUI, a drunk-driving death, and a player out for substance abuse in one season doesn’t scream control to me.

  19. dw on September 19th, 2007 11:41 am

    Could I ask a really dumb question, Dave?

    *Why* is the Mariners GM job still attractive to baseball folks?

  20. msb on September 19th, 2007 11:44 am

    “I don’t think there’s anybody in baseball who wouldn’t want that job. The Mariners have a terrific fan base, a beautiful stadium and a thriving farm system. And when you mix in with that that there aren’t many better places to live, there’s no question this is a great job.”– Brian Cashman.

  21. Tom on September 19th, 2007 11:47 am

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first “pie out of the sky” rumor for 2007-2008.

    Woohoo!!!

    Considering the two of them have gotten results over the years it wouldn’t be too bad of a move for this organization to make, although this organization is one in development as well as one that is well behind the Angels and A’s in forward thinking.

    So someone like a Terry Ryan or Chris Antonetti, who are deep in statistical analysis and finding guys that can win games in any ballpark, would probably be the better fit as GM.

    And then someone like a Joe Girardi, who showed last year that he could be successful as manager even with a team full of young kids, would be a much better fit than Tony LaRussa probably in the Mariners case where there are a good amount of young players.

    But hey, Walt and Tony have World Series rings and playoff appearances to prove that maybe they know a thing or two about building successful teams. So they might work well together here.

    Either way though, whoever gets these jobs need to be guys that can bring some long term credibility and success to this organization.

  22. Dave on September 19th, 2007 11:52 am

    *Why* is the Mariners GM job still attractive to baseball folks?

    It’s not a dumb question at all. There are several factors.

    1. Seattle is, as most residents can attest, a beautiful place to live. There’s a reason why home prices continue to defy the national trends, as more and more people realize that the northwest offers a lot of great advantages as a place to call home.

    2. The organization is extremely profitable. The M’s are consistently in the top ten in payroll and there’s no signs of any kind of financial downturn. Safeco is an attraction in itself, and with the affluent demographics of the Seattle population, it’s easy to see this team being a money making machine for a long time.

    3. The team is in the AL West, a four team division, which presents significantly less competition than taking a job in a five team division, especially considering that there aren’t any established big market powerhouses. You can make the playoffs without having to beat out Boston, either New York or Chicago team, or worry about a larger pool of teams competing for the division title.

    4. There’s a relatively strong core of talent in place. Ichiro just signed a long term, below market deal. Felix is under team control for another four years. Yuniesky Betancourt, Adam Jones, Jose Lopez, and Brandon Morrow are all talented players 25 or younger, combining to make a couple of peanuts per year in salary. Carlos Triunfel is one of the best talents in the minor leagues.

    5. The media is considerably more team friendly than in many other cities. The spotlight is significantly reduced, especially in light of the way the media handles the coverage of other potential contenders.

  23. fetish on September 19th, 2007 11:52 am

    All I have to say is WINS.

    This would be like not Jason Giambi to your team because he doesn’t improve the starting rotation.

    Even without a change in philosophy, you’d still rather take more wins the less, wouldn’t you? Bavasi is a league-average GM at best, whereas McLaren is (literally) replacement-level. Jocketty’s and LaRussa are better than that.

  24. Chris Hafner on September 19th, 2007 11:56 am

    Dave, do you think the current underperformance vis a vis payroll might actually be a positive factor for candidates?

    No doubt any qualified baseball man would look at this situation and feel he could do better with these resources – and with any reasonable improvement over mediocrity, he could be hailed as a hero.

  25. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on September 19th, 2007 11:56 am

    This is an interesting rumor, to be sure. I don’t know what to think about it, to be honest. Clearly the in-game decisions that LaRussa brings to the table would be a clear upgrade over McLaren. Bavasi is a nice guy who has done good things in the lower levels of the organization, but is it unreasonable to think that Jocketty is a better deal-maker? I honestly don’t know, but I am sure you have a thought on that.

    My question for you Dave, is what tier do you put the duo (or the Cardinal’s organization, I suppose) into in baseball? I understand you’ve got the first tier including teams like the A’s and Indidans, and the bottom rung occupied by the some of the duds we’ve discussed from time to time. If the alternative is to keep McLaren and Bavasi or move up to another tier, I think I am ok with it, only because I don’t see ownership going with non-track record people, to be honest. They’d love a shot at a manager with some WS rings and a GM who gets along with him and presided over some sustained success as well. I’d love Antonetti, but if he (or his kind) isn’t coming, what then? Is it bad to hope for some of the better traditionalists if that’s all that’s on the table?

    Along those lines, would Billy Beane like to GM with a major market team? I mean, is he the A’s GM for as long as he can stay, or does he salivate at a payroll over 100 mill? Just wondering, even though the Moneyball lightning rod he brings is probably more than ownership would stomach.

  26. Dave on September 19th, 2007 11:58 am

    So someone like a Terry Ryan or Chris Antonetti, who are deep in statistical analysis and finding guys that can win games in any ballpark, would probably be the better fit as GM.

    Terry Ryan has zero credentials when it comes to statistical analysis. He’s as old school as it gets.

    And then someone like a Joe Girardi, who showed last year that he could be successful as manager even with a team full of young kids, would be a much better fit than Tony LaRussa probably in the Mariners case where there are a good amount of young players.

    Seriously, the Joe Girardi love is just mind boggling. It really is amazing to me that the guy’s developed a bulletproof reputation based on one year of a team of young players outperforming expectations, then being such a tremendous prick that he could no longer coexist with his bosses and got himself fired.

    I have zero interest in Joe Girardi, and the idea that he’s some kind of wonderboy is essentially without merit.

    Even without a change in philosophy, you’d still rather take more wins the less, wouldn’t you?

    Opportunity cost. If Jocketty means that the team doesn’t get to change organiational philosophies for another 4-5 years, then no.

  27. Max Power on September 19th, 2007 12:00 pm

    Along those lines, would Billy Beane like to GM with a major market team?

    Aren’t the A’s expected to get a big payroll bump with the opening of the new stadium?

  28. Max Power on September 19th, 2007 12:06 pm

    Terry Ryan has zero credentials when it comes to statistical analysis. He’s as old school as it gets.

    I seem to recall you having varied opinions of some of the old-school types – ie that you wouldn’t agree with Scheurholz’s or Ryan’s methods but that you did appreciate that they ran efficient and effective organizations. Is that correct?

    I see there being a couple of problems with the org as it stands – one of them being talent evaluation, the other being in organizational willingness to bargain-hunt/fill vacancies internally. I’m wondering if the old-school-but-good-organizational-guy would at least solve one of the problems.

  29. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on September 19th, 2007 12:07 pm

    #27 – I had forgotten about that. It’s a test of sorts, to be sure, but I suspect Beane would have a good time with his approach AND money. I had heard your point (probably even here at some time), but forgot all about it.

  30. JI on September 19th, 2007 12:07 pm

    I think Jocketty/LaRussa is the best we could do under the current regime. The only real problem I have is that they would sell away the farm system much like the Cardinals have. On ther other hand, LaRussa is old-school but not a traditionalist– he’s willing to think outside the box> Chris Duncan would be a kick-ass DH, and Miguel Batista seems like the kind of guy Dave Duncan could work a miracle on.

  31. everett on September 19th, 2007 12:10 pm

    If it came down to a choice between Bavasi/Mac and Jocketty/LaRussa, I guess I’d go with the Cards duo, as they do seem to be better at the old-school stuff. However, this would then mean that we’re committed to “old-school” philosophis for even longer. What we really need is a change at the very top of the organization (bye-bye Howie and Chuck), to get the whole ball rolling. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem particularly likely.

  32. DC_Mariner on September 19th, 2007 12:13 pm

    18

    I don’t think that a manager’s control extends beyond the clubhouse. For example, it is not reasonable to believe that a manager can follow home 25 grown men and watch everything they do to make sure they aren’t breaking any laws, harming themselves or others, or just being assholes. To say that there is a cause and effect link between J. Hancock and Player A’s situations is, well, stupid.

  33. the other benno on September 19th, 2007 12:14 pm

    Along those lines, would Billy Beane like to GM with a major market team?

    He turned down the Red Sox job.

  34. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on September 19th, 2007 12:14 pm

    “Unfortunately this doesn’t seem particularly likely.”

    Well, age catches up with everybody eventually. The question I know nothing about is whether or not there’s somebody being groomed for either senior post.

  35. CC Rosco on September 19th, 2007 12:15 pm

    Dave,
    Would bringing in a new GM have any effect on the tenure of some of M’s who have done, in my opinion, a great job. Namely Fontaine and Engle.
    Keep up the great work.

  36. Dave on September 19th, 2007 12:16 pm

    My question for you Dave, is what tier do you put the duo (or the Cardinal’s organization, I suppose) into in baseball?

    I think they’re in the upper half of the middle tier, if that makes any sense. I think they’re clearly several steps behind the cream of the crop – Schuerholz, Shapiro, Beane, Epstein are the big four, now that Ryan has resigned – and comparable to guys like Dave Dombrowski and Omar Minaya. I have some fundamental disagreements with things they believe about the game, but in the area of subjective analysis, Jocketty has shown that he’s one of the best.

    Along those lines, would Billy Beane like to GM with a major market team?

    He turned down the Red Sox job several years ago and constantly gushes about how much he loves working for the A’s. He’s not going anywhere.

    that you wouldn’t agree with Scheurholz’s or Ryan’s methods but that you did appreciate that they ran efficient and effective organizations.

    I don’t agree with all of Schuerholz or Ryan’s methods, but they’re both tremendous scouts, and they’ve obviously figured out how to succeed despite some analytical flaws. I don’t think Ryan is in Schuerholz’s category, and his insane devotion to terrible players like Nick Punto has cost his team a shot at the playoffs this year, but you can certainly be both a traditional GM and a good GM a the same time. It’s just harder to succeed if you completely ignore statistical analysis.

    Chris Duncan would be a kick-ass DH, and Miguel Batista seems like the kind of guy Dave Duncan could work a miracle on.

    Uhh, Chris Duncan isn’t part of the package – he’s under contract to StL for a while.

  37. galaxieboi on September 19th, 2007 12:17 pm

    In regards to the A’s opening up a new park I’m thinking it’s a case of being a little late on the draw. Are they gonna draw another 10,000 people to games? I’m pretty sure Baseball Prospectus did some research on money made from new parks in the last couple years. I’ll try to find it tonight. The A’s will probably never (well, in the next 10 years or so) have the pockets the rest of the AL West has.

  38. galaxieboi on September 19th, 2007 12:20 pm

    #35 – I thought I’d heard that this was Fontaine’s last draft with the M’s. Is he still around? Apparently much of their revised outlook/success in the draft is due to Fontaine. This is only what I’ve heard or read.

  39. JI on September 19th, 2007 12:21 pm

    Uhh, Chris Duncan isn’t part of the package – he’s under contract to StL for a while.

    Yeah, I know.

    But obviously Duncan’s not really an outfielder, and it’s going to be much easier to trade him when daddy’s gone.

  40. JI on September 19th, 2007 12:22 pm

    [oops hit enter early]

    …LaRussa/Jocketty took many player with him when he left Oakland, no doubt they’d try to do the same wherever they end up.

  41. Brooklyn on September 19th, 2007 12:38 pm

    Dave,

    Do you think if this were to come to pass that Dave Duncan would be part of the package and do you feel that he is as good as his reputation?

  42. Teej on September 19th, 2007 12:39 pm

    Dave, what’s Jocketty’s reputation when it comes to the farm system? I could be wrong, but it seems like aside from Colby Rasmus the Cards don’t have much top talent in the pipeline. How much of that can be pinned on Jocketty? Luhnow? Little of both?

  43. Ralph Malph on September 19th, 2007 12:41 pm

    I don’t know that it’s fair to say LaRussa is entirely an “old school” guy. As a young manager he was known for his use of statistics, and I think he tries to use an analytical approach, although he may be out of touch with the latest work. He’s at least a smart enough guy to have graduated from law school (yeah, I know, that doesn’t mean all that much).

    I think he gets a bit of an “old school” rap from the Buzz Bissinger book (a truly awful, awful book), but I dont think that’s entirely true.

  44. Dave on September 19th, 2007 12:42 pm

    I know a few people who were on Luhnow’s advisory board and sat in meetings with LaRussa, explaining how the statistical evidence could shed some light on different things that a manager should be interested in, and let’s just say that TLR wasn’t particularly receptive.

    He’s earned his old school, anti-sabermetrics label.

  45. Max Power on September 19th, 2007 12:49 pm

    As a young manager he was known for his use of statistics

    Presumably he still uses statistics to dictate some of his actions. The issue, I think, is that he uses stats that aren’t super helpful and is really averse to new stats or statistical concepts.

    Might describe him as knowledgeable enough about stats to be dangerous, but may do more harm than good.

  46. msb on September 19th, 2007 1:01 pm

    #32– well, I didn’t actually say there was a cause and effect– of course an adult is supposed to be an adult; if your manager employer gets pulled for a DUI with little repercussions, could one assume a culture of laxity that might lead players to feel they can do what they want?

  47. Mat on September 19th, 2007 1:09 pm

    I wonder–just for the sake of argument–how TLR would have run this year’s team. Given his penchant for platooning, it seems natural that Sexson and Broussard would have been platooned by at least some point in May or June. He likely would have driven us crazy playing matchups with the bullpen, but might have chosen his matchups in a more systematic/logical way. I’m not sure what he would’ve done with Jones. How much does he care about defense, and how likely would he be to notice that Ibanez was killing his defense in LF?

  48. John in L.A. on September 19th, 2007 1:28 pm

    The best thing about this rumor is that it fulfills the “making a big splash” rumor without being Dusty Baker.

    Faint praise and all that.

  49. scott19 on September 19th, 2007 1:28 pm

    Good point on Girardi, Dave — one above-average season does not a saint make.

    If I’m not mistaken, Buck Showalter also won a MOTY — though I certainly don’t think he endears too many folks on personality points, either.

  50. galaxieboi on September 19th, 2007 1:43 pm

    I’m not sure I care about a manager’s personality so much as his qualifications and performance. I’m NOT saying I want some wife-beater or racist or whatever, but just because a guy rubs people the wrong way isn’t a huge issue for me.

  51. DC_Mariner on September 19th, 2007 1:54 pm

    45

    You didn’t say it, but it was implied. I see your argument that if the manager is able to get away with breaking the law, the players may feel that it is ok for them to do it as well.

    But I don’t think that LaRussa not being punished has anything to do with his control over the team, the punishment would have to come from above. And LaRussa could override that lax culture by being a disciplinarian.

    But really, we are just speculating have no idea cause we aren’t in the clubhouse. So who knows haha

  52. Chris Hafner on September 19th, 2007 2:04 pm

    #50:

    I’m not sure I care about a manager’s personality so much as his qualifications and performance. I’m NOT saying I want some wife-beater or racist or whatever, but just because a guy rubs people the wrong way isn’t a huge issue for me.

    I agree with the gist of what you’re saying, but these things don’t exist in a vacuum. If the guy rubs people the wrong way and can’t hold down a job, then that’s a factor that mitigates his performance. And if his personality disrupts the team to the point that it hurts the team’s performance, then that should count against him too.

    Though I’d guess this happens less than most media people expect.

  53. scott19 on September 19th, 2007 2:04 pm

    50: Interesting point, since Billy Martin never seemed to have a hard time finding work as a manager.

  54. scraps on September 19th, 2007 2:29 pm

    Billy Martin didn’t have much trouble getting fired, either.

    Dave, I agree that the worshiping of Girardi is at least way premature. But,

    then being such a tremendous prick that he could no longer coexist with his bosses and got himself fired

    is somewhat mitigated for me by the fact that the bosses who fired him are among the biggest pricks in the game.

    If Davey Johnson was a realistic possibility, how would you feel about him? He was a consistent winner who also couldn’t get along with his bosses.

  55. the other benno on September 19th, 2007 2:32 pm

    Well, Baker blogs today that Chuck Armstrong told him that Bavasi was re-upped for 2008 earlier this summer, they just didn’t feel the need to tell anyone.

  56. scott19 on September 19th, 2007 2:32 pm

    We could probably add Bobby Valentine to that list as well.

  57. scraps on September 19th, 2007 2:35 pm

    That Bavasi was extended doesn’t mean he can’t be fired.

  58. The Ancient Mariner on September 19th, 2007 2:43 pm

    I also wonder about Jocketty re: the farm system, since the Cards have had one of the worst in baseball for much of the last decade or so, iirc. Obviously that doesn’t land directly in the GM’s lap, it’s the scouting director, etc., but the GM hires and fires those guys, and bears ultimate responsibility for their success (or lack thereof) in their positions.

  59. firova2 on September 19th, 2007 4:39 pm

    From Will Clark to Mark McGwire to Larry Walker to the second baseman of the week, Jocketty has been very willing to bring in vets at any point of the season. The price has sometimes been prospects. The cupboard isn’t entirely bare, but that system’s biggest impact player since Pujols has been Ankiel, converted from pitching. They won the title, but with an aging, beat-up, 83-win team.

  60. schmicky on September 19th, 2007 5:30 pm

    Still alot of smoke and very little fire to see. Anybodies guess at this juncture, I’d say.

  61. JesseNYC on September 19th, 2007 6:02 pm

    I’m no great fan of Tony LaRussa’s, and I fully appreciate Dave’s comment about the potential opportunity cost of bringing in these guys, but the thing that sticks out in my mind about his Cardinals tenure (perhaps in part because my best friend is a Cards fan) has been his ability to make real impact trades, including at the deadline. Granted, the Mulder trade seemed like a colossal blunder at the time and it seems even worse now, but he was also able to get Mark McGwire for nothing, Jim Edmonds for almost nothing, Larry Walker for nothing, and Will Clark for nothing.

    And this is pure front office-turbation (but that’s the nature of this thread, isn’t it?), but if Dave Duncan were part of the package, I’d be still more intrigued, given his record of success with reclamation projects from Dave Stewart to Chris Carpenter. He’s not Leo Mazzone, but he’s always seemed like one of the best in the business, to me. (Wasn’t he an M’s pitching coach at the start of his coaching career?)

    And even if Tony’s in-game tactics can sometimes make you want to jump off a bridge, at least he knows how to platoon.

    I’d love to see Kim Ng or Chris Antonetti get a shot with this organization as much as most other regular USSM readers, but as a previous poster pointed out, that’s seriously unlikely to happen as long as Chuck and Howard are around. If we have to have old-school guys, I’d rather have Jocketty and La Russa (and Duncan) than what we have now. Put another way, if there was a rumor floating around that Gillick and Piniella wanted to come to Seattle in 2008, would we be jumping for joy? Probably not. But the franchise did experience its greatest success under those two.

  62. JesseNYC on September 19th, 2007 6:05 pm

    Oops, and by his Cardinals tenure, I meant Jocketty’s, not La Russa’s.

    Also, these are just my impressions, and if anyone out there feels like Jocketty/La Russa is no better, or maybe even worse, than Bavasi/McLaren, I’d love to hear why.

  63. firova2 on September 19th, 2007 7:29 pm

    Dave Duncan and LaRussa are basically joined at the hip, though with Duncan’s son on the Cardinal roster that may not now be the case. I would like to see an analysis of Duncan and what he would bring to this staff. Some say LaRussa/Duncan burn up pitchers, others that Duncan is some kind of miracle worker.

  64. Wishhiker on September 19th, 2007 7:41 pm

    I enjoyed a long section of LaRussa’s Managerial career with the Athletics. What I recall is that he understands statistics much better than the present choices of the M’s have shown that they do. LaRussa would have figured out ways to get Jones starting 3-5 days a week. He understands and uses matchups much more than McLaren/Hargrove have/do.

    Old School read stats too, just not as many.

    I don’t think he’s a bad idea to replace McLaren, as long as he’s happy to do so under Antonetti.

    I don’t know much about Duncan beyond some of those things (well, I guess all now)

  65. msb on September 19th, 2007 7:49 pm

    FWIW, La Russa last month:

    “If Dave Duncan gets a better deal to become pitching coach somewhere else, I’m happy for him.”

    “If Walt’s got something better out there, I would say, ‘You do whatever’s best for you.’ I’ve told the coaches that. If you’ve got something better, the loyalty card is really a bad card to play if you have respect for somebody and are friends with them.”

    Duncan is under contract through 2008 and said Saturday that he has given little thought to his or La Russa’s status.

    “If things change, then I’ll have something to think about,” Duncan said Saturday. “But I really don’t see any reason to think about that now.”"

  66. julian on September 19th, 2007 10:04 pm

    I was at a statistics conference a couple of years ago and heard a presentation by a guy who’d been hired by the Cards to do statistical analysis (name was something like Sig Mejdal). He said that the front office was pro-Moneyball, but someone asked him about in-game tactics and he pretty much said that they didn’t have much influence over the guys making on-the-field decisions, i.e. Tony LaRussa didn’t really buy into their methods.

    On a side note, the guy expressed bemusement at the fact that “Someone wrote a book detailing exactly how to win more games and run a team more efficiently, but only a few teams seem to care.” The Mariners, obviously, are NOT one of those teams.

  67. Teej on September 19th, 2007 11:42 pm

    66: Sig Mejdal was the statistical analysis part of Sam Walker’s attempt to win the Tout Wars league in the book “Fantasyland.” Never thought I’d see his name again, but that’s awesome. I forgot he got hired by the Cards.

    That’s a fun read, by the way, for any of you guys who are into roto stuff.

  68. fetish on September 20th, 2007 1:40 am

    I think the opportunity cost argument is a non-starter.

    If Howard Lincoln et al haven’t heard of “statistical analysis” at this point (and let’s not forget, he’s the head of a corporation that could measure it’s revenue in relationship to billions of dollars) then we’re clearly sunk and even the most conservative owner would have fired him years ago.

    Lincoln and the board are clearly aware of the different ‘types’ of GM available – a hire of LaRussa/Jocketty would indicate that they are eschewing a statistics-based approach. It’s not as if Billy Bean’s twin brother is the alternative to Jocketty – the alternative is a guy who (also) fits into the M’s culture.

    As long as Lincoln and the Mariner’s board maintain this viewpoint, there is no ‘opportunity cost’ to hiring a scouting-based managerial staff, because they’re simply not going to hire someone who’s views are not in line with the board.

  69. Dave on September 20th, 2007 6:32 am

    You’d have said the exact same thing before Tampa Bay hired Andrew Friedman, Arizona hired Josh Byrnes, Texas hired Jon Daniels, Toronto hired J.P. Ricciardi, or Los Angeles hired Paul DePodesta. All of these organizations were run by traditional managers and had a history of ignoring statistical analysis, but then turned their teams over to a young, first time general manager and let them reshape the organization.

    You can argue that you don’t think it will happen. You can’t argue that it has no chance of happening.

  70. bermanator on September 20th, 2007 7:03 am

    Dave-

    I may not be phrasing this clearly, so let me know if this makes no sense.

    Of the above five teams, I’m least surprised at Tampa Bay and Toronto, simply because the alternative would be to try to beat the Yankees and Red Sox at their own game. Texas was so bad at doing things the “traditional way” that it made it easy to sell a new approach. I’m not as familiar with the NL teams, so I don’t know the story there.

    While I may be oversimplifying things with the benefit of hindsight, the three AL teams were in a situation that encouraged a paradigm shift in terms of organizational development. The old way clearly wasn’t working, and any good businessman uses that situation to go back to the drawing board and see if there’s a better approach to try.

    Do you think that Seattle’s management is in the same place right now where it realizes it needs a systematic change? Or do you think they are more likely to think that they just need to keep on doing what they’re doing, only better?

  71. eponymous coward on September 20th, 2007 2:13 pm

    Well, the upside to it would be Duncan has a very good record of extracting performance from pitchers- something the Mariners don’t really have a record of doing (see: Meche, Gil, and KC correcting some mechanics). I think “establish the fastball” might go by the wayside.

  72. RoopRoopRoop on September 20th, 2007 3:47 pm

    Clearly the in-game decisions that LaRussa brings to the table would be a clear upgrade over McLaren.

    Would we likely see LaRussa or Girardi managing any differently than they did in the NL? Is there a such thing as an NL manager vs. AL Manager? It seems a good manager would manage with what he’s given. It seems the M’s as a 4-cylindar, powerless machine should have played more station to station/motion baseball. The M’s have given it lipservice but not done it. Would a LaRussa or Girardi bring a style or change their style to meet the roster.

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