Update [2006-9-5 19:44:58 by billy pilgrim]:I changed the title of this diary because I really want to hear some reasons for keeping him around any longer. As a long-time lurker of BCB it's about time I contribute and I simply need to rant. It is time to fire baker. Not in the off-season. Not moments after the final game. Today.
In today's Tribune, Maddux gives us two reasons...
I'm a first time poster, so be kind, or rant along...
see Louis Salazar's diary for more on the Maddux article...
1.When speaking about his new clubhouse...
"That's the way it should be," Maddux said. "You can actually get ready for the game. It's easier to talk, it's just ... quieter."
2. When speaking about the guys playing behind him, he said...
"I've seen more plays here in a month than I've seen in the last three months." And, "Turning double plays, I don't know how many we've turned here, but there have been some you can't believe."
I was excited when the Cubs signed Maddux, because he simply embodies professionalism, and I hoped it would rub off on the others. As he correctly noted, though, during that first press conference for his second trip with the Cubs, it wasn't his job to "mentor" the younger pitchers. That is, it's not one player's job to teach other players how to go about their professional careers. Nope. You need a leader, and in the world of baseball that leader has the official job title of "manager." Although I've never been in a major league clubhouse, I would imagine it's the job of the manager to set the standards for what is or is not acceptable in the clubhouse. And, while some big league teams have veterans to help cultivate and sustain professionalism, when teams do not, it is the manager's j.o.b. If the manager doesn't like that role or doesn't feel as though that's the way to run a clubhouse, then he's got to teach a player or a group of players to take on that role. That is, he's either got to be a leader, allow leaders to do what they do best, or cultivate the leadership qualities in some player(s) in order to get a leader. From the outside looking in and from making inferences through Maddux's comments, we have a leadership vacuum in the clubhouse. And it's simply unacceptable.
Not only does a manager have to provide leadership, but he's got to emphasize some part of the game, something his team can create an identity around, some sort of style that provides some sort of structure for his players (and fans) to grasp on to. For Maddux and his new team, it seems like it is defense. For other teams it is power hitting or lights-out starting pitching or "small ball." I'm not sure what the style of the Cubs is this year. [Insert snark here about swinging at first pitches, lack of clutch hitting, or extending middle relievers]. If a team doesn't have an identity, the manager is supposed to shape or form one.
And, while Hendry is complicit in providing particular kinds of players, the manager still has a responsibility to take what he has and work with it. Coach them. Teach them. Scold them behind closed doors. There seems to be a lack of accountability or, at the very least, no boundaries for what is considered the kind of baseball Dusty wants his team and his players to play.
To be sure, this is also an organizational problem. Maybe the organization has a bunch of guys who don't want to learn. Maybe we just have lousy teachers up and down the system. Maybe the general manager, the one I've been giving a pass to for years because he stole two good players for Todd Hundley, isn't sure what kind of baseball he wants his teams to play. But Dusty has done a seemingly lousy job of leading and teaching his players.
And, we have a ton of young players on the roster, including, I would argue, D. Lee. We can debate all winter long about the kind of organization, team, and manager we wish our Cubs would embody, but for now, I would just like any sort of clarity and a few boundaries. Personally, I'm for a roster filled with guys who aren't afraid to have two strikes on them, who know how to hit to right field with a guy on and less than two out, and a staff of groundball pitchers who trust their fielders -for good reasons - to do their jobs. But if we can't have that, then I'd settle for simply having a manager who actually helps his players improve. And, really, who has improved under Dusty's tutelage? Does he really get the most out of what he has? What's the point of having him here if no one is going to get better? Is just the experience of being in the big leagues enough? I think not. Players need to learn and managers are the ones who help create situations for that learning to take place. Don't waste anyone else's time. Dusty isn't teaching the youngsters or any of the guys who will be on the roster next year.
On his new manager, Maddux said, "I trust Grady's judgment. Whatever he thinks is best for team is best for me." I wish I could say the same for Dusty.