Monday, May 17, 2004

Bono Would Approve 

Weekends tend to make one lazy, too lazy to update the blog, too lazy to win one game against the MONTREAL FREAKIN' EXPOS! Oh, well. I'd said Friday I thought the D-Backs would either sweep or be swept. Unfortunately, it was the latter.

Now, Brenly's tirade on Saturday meant one of two things. He was either A) actually mad, or B) just trying to fire up the team. Upping Gonzo's mild expletive from earlier in the week, Brenly used a Bono-approved expletive, though in a decidedly different context (no awards being handed out here).

And as soon as I read the comments, I knew -- knew -- that the "Fire Brenly" discussion would resurface. Sure enough, Dan Bickley's column this morning discusses Colangelo's defense of the manager over the team. And I expect this to be Topic A of talk radio today.

So, was Brenly mad... or just crazy (like a fox)!? Let's briefly go through what managers can and can't do.

1. In-game management: My sense is this is where most bloggers/observers give Brenly a thumbs down. Lineups (pitchers, ordering) have been OK -- he hasn't held onto a pitcher or lineup so far beyond what others would suggest. Go ahead and suggest a better 8-person squad currently on the club. His worst part has probably been specific play-calling -- at times, too aggressive.
2. Out-of-game management: Managers have some impact on what hands they're dealt, player-wise, but we'll never know how much impact Brenly had on the decision to, say, trade half the team to get Sexson, or to bring up Chad Tracy. I'm not saying he doesn't have any input, just that we don't know, so it's hard to quantify the amount of praise or vitriol to heap on the manager. But you do wish Brenly would make his team spend even more time on the fundamentals (i.e., reduce the errors).
3. Intangibles: In other words, manager as motivator. Brenly's laid-back style seemed to work well with the veteran team of 2-3 years ago, but may not work as well with this younger squad. (Then again, one of my favorite managerial moves was his putting in Mark Grace to pitch last year, which, if I recall correctly, preceded the 9-game winning streak.) Clearly, Brenly has never figured out how to manage Randy Johnson, though Randy's prickly nature may be the key to his pitching success and many managers might not deal well with him.

So, was Brenly mad? Probably. Was he trying to motivate his team? Probably more so. (Nothing else has worked so far.) Will Colangelo's defense silence the critics? Perhaps. But if the team is more than 10 back coming home from the road trip, expect the talk to resurface once again.

More coming (tomorrow, probably) on the upcoming road trip and other non-baseball stuff.

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