Thursday, August 04, 2005


When you open up the local newspaper in the morning and the sports page headline that wakes you out of your fuzzy-headedness is...


in, oh, about 48-point font, you know that it was Not A Good Game.

(And, no, it was not. Defensive miscues and an offense that nearly made Ezequiel Astacio look like Roger Clemens Part II.)

So rather than ramble on about that, a few words about Joe Garagiola, Jr.

How should we view Joe's tenure? Predictably, the reaction ranges from unthinking adultion (really, how can you praise Joe for recovering from the Wally Backman debacle without, er, mentioning that he helped get the team into that debacle?) to unfettered criticism all over the internet, with very little in between.

The "black-or-white" approach much journalism (and especially Internet journalism) takes leaves me very cold. It's why I've never really worried about the relative lack of give-and-take on this site -- I'm happy giving my opinion, well-considered or not, without the shouting that takes the place of dialogue on many sites.

My main issue with Joe's critics is that he never seems to get any credit for the moves that turn out well. Gonzalez for Garcia? Nobody could've ever predicted that. Signing Randy Johnson? Well, duh. Drafting Stephen Drew? Well, duh. Good drafts? Mike Rizzo's doing. Winning the World Series? All Buck Showalter's doing.

Meanwhile, Joe gets 100% of the blame for moves that turn out poorly. The Schilling trade. The Sexson trade. Every trade, in fact.

I have no problem saying that a particular move went well or turned out horribly. The Schilling trade, that was bad. That Gonzalez-Garcia trade, that was great. You get the idea.

But how much of the credit or blame should Joe get for any move? To begin with, the constant muddling of actual results and expected results (particularly from injuries) makes things more difficult to analyze, and it's easy for critics to say "no way could we have expected Gonzo to do what he did" while also saying "we could've told you Lyle Overbay would be a reeeeally good batter." Injuries obviously make things harder to analyze.

More complicated to factor into any evaluation are the boundaries any GM has to work within. Does the owner have any special requirements or preferences for players? How much say does the manager really have? Are you supposed to do everything yourself, or can you get credit for listening to others? What is the budget? Are you building a team merely to win or also to sell tickets?

That last question is really important to me, because most analysis I've read presumes the sole goal of a General Manager is to win the most ballgames or win the most playoff games, and I can't believe that that's the case. A GM needs to put together a squad that meets a variety of needs -- winning, sure, but also financially successful, entertaining, and appealing.

There are other aspects of Joe's criticism on the Internet that bug me, but this has already gone on long enough. I'll just say that while I don't think Joe was one of the top General Managers in the game, he certainly wasn't the worst. The team went 627-614 during his tenure. For a team that wasn't in existence when Joe took over, that's not bad.

While Garagiola is rightfully blamed for getting so little for Schilling, we must also credit him for getting Schilling for so little.

Which ends up sounding like some parable or something, so rephrase it in your own mind until it works better.
Yeah, I read somewhere (who knows where, but it was somewhere on this interweb thingy) that all five of Schilling's trades have been incredibly lopsided (based on subsequent results) in favor of the team receiving Schilling.
Post a Comment