The Baltimorons won the race to be first to fire their manager today. Even though they have a record three games better than the Rangers, they’re in a division with the Red Sox and Yankees, which pretty much says it all lately. My immediate thought after hearing that Sam Perlozzo had been fired was “what’s Leo Mazzone going to do?”. Mazzone took the pitching coach job of the Orioles because he is good friends with Perlozzo. Unfortunately it appears that he will be staying in the meantime, because he would be my number one candidate for the Rangers pitching coach job. Of course, he’d be number one with about 20 other teams too, and the Rangers have nothing to offer him, except perhaps the chance to perform miracles.
Perlozzo didn’t last quite two years, from August 05 to June 07, as Orioles coach. How much do you want to bet that Ron Washington will still be in charge by the end of 2008? I wouldn’t wager too much on it, that’s for sure. One guy at my office asked what the heck Wash is thinking these days, and my response was that since he’d watched the team for a decade as division rivals, he knew what he was getting into. For sure, the lure of being a major league manager would have to play a big part of taking any job, no matter how bad, especially after so long as a coach. After all, if the Royals called me, I’d say yes in a second to being their manager, even knowing I’d lose 150 games and be pilloried in the press for my decisions.
Next question is for the Rangers: Now that the Orioles have fired their coach, does it make it easier for the Rangers to fire theirs? You’d argue that every excuse the Orioles gave can apply to the Rangers, except you’d substitute poor bullpen decisions for poor rotation decisions. In this article on ESPN, Tim Kurkjian quotes Peter Angelos as saying he’s never enjoyed owning the Orioles. Funnily enough, ask any Orioles fan and they’d say the same, they’ve never enjoyed him owning the Orioles either. Of course, the Orioles fire managers because the GMs (yes, they have two GMs, and everyone knows that doesn’t ever work) want to keep their jobs. And the owner won’t look himself in the mirror and see the real problem. Kurkjian ends up saying that Cal Ripken will eventually own the Orioles. Who does the Rangers have that could do the same? An ex-player, well-liked both in his own team and around baseball, with enough money, backing and charisma to pull it off? I can’t think of anyone, unless you say Nolan Ryan. Pudge maybe, in 20 years or so. But that’s about it.
Millwood actually pitched well yesterday, and got a win. Now, when I say well, he still gave up a run in the first after being staked to a 3-0 lead, and looked like giving up more. He gave up two more in the third to let the other team pull back to 4-3, but fortunately the Rangers kept scoring to win 11-4. Hard to believe that four runs in six innings is considered a good start around here these days, but he actually lowered his ERA by doing that. Still not quality, and it was against the other worst team in baseball, but every little helps.
What’s bothering me more is the way Washington is making out the lineup. Okay, he’s having to do a bunch of plug and play to get things going, but putting Hairston in the two spot and Byrd at cleanup? The important thing is not that it worked for one game, it’s that it is destined to fail when he tries it again and again based on a little success. Byrd would be good in the second position, because he’s hitting really well. Actually he’d be good at leadoff right now, since Lofton isn’t doing anything. Michael Young is and should be #3, but for the rest of them it doesn’t really matter, they’re all much of a muchness. Wilkerson at cleanup, I guess. Laird at 5, Cat at 6, and anyone else to finish the lineup. At least that’ll change a little with Sosa coming back to DH, but it’s all just putting your finger in a dike these days. The lineup lacks quality from top to bottom. Think of Opening Day 2009, how many of these guys will be with the Rangers? Young. Hopefully Byrd. Kinsler. Maybe Laird, although I don’t know when he’s eligible to leave. Quite possibly after 2008, I don’t know the exact rules that will get him out, except for the six year rule, but I’m sure there’s a few teams out there that will love to have him and use him properly. So you’ve got two, maybe three, and that’s a bad situation to be in for continuity, for future filling in of holes, and for the chances of success. And none of the young guys will get a shot, not as long as Hicks is impatient and has a checkbook. Tom, Tom, will take a look at Angelos and take the same hints, please?