Time for Change?

added 8/30/2009 by Scott Barzilla

My favorite pastime is reading the rants from Richard Justice and putting my own spin on his efforts to gain attention. In this case he came up with his own theories about what to do about the Astros. Apparently, he thinks Jeff Bagwell should be the manager and Manny Acta should the bench coach. This is despite the fact that Bagwell has frequently asserted that he doesn’t want any prominent role until his kids get older.

I understand his thinking. I recently came to that conclusion myself and I didn’t even have the time considerations that a big league manager would have. Yes, big league managers make considerably more than I made as a high school volleyball coach, but Bagwell has made millions in his career. He’s made the same decision that a lot of us make. He decided his kids mean more to him than the game or the extra million or so he can make as a manager. Besides, he’s never done it before. While Larry Dierker pulled it off, that’s not something that works more than one out of a hundred times. It’s a gimmick. I’m a fan and I know ten fans or more that are tired of gimmicks.

Pennants and rings are won with hard work. They aren’t won with gimmicks. They aren’t won with marketing. They aren’t won by spending just enough to be competitive. Sure, the Astros have spent 40 million more on big league players than the Cardinals. How much more have they spent on coaches, instructors, and scouts. How much more have they been spending on player development overall? World Series titles come from talent that comes from within. The Yankees would be the first organization to tell you that. They’ve spent more on free agents the last eight years than the rest of baseball combined and it’s gotten them exactly nothing.

Yet, it is more about player development. It’s also about putting the right people at the helm. Drayton McLane has never been about really finding the right guy. He’s been about doing the good public relations and keeping it inside the Astros family. Larry Dierker, Phil Garner, and Cooper were all a part of that plan. Terry Collins was the only manager he ever hired where any kind genuine interview process was used. Jimy Williams was hired without much of an interview process because he was well-known, but also not a top dollar manager.

If you really want to get yourself out of this mess you will go through a real interviewing process and accept wherever it goes. You shouldn’t worry about who was friends with who. You shouldn’t worry about who once managed in the chain or who interned for the organization thirty years ago. You should hire the best man for the job and pay him a good wage. You should bring in the best coaches that money will buy. If he decides to fire Wade he should get the best money can buy there to.

When you have a collection of guys that have been together for awhile and are moving to their logical end, you don’t bring in someone from the inside to fix everything. You look outside and you give those people the power to do what needs to be done. The Astros' way worked well in the 1990s and early 2000s, but every good baseball person knows you need to evolve in order to win. The Astros have been doing things the old way and they are being passed by teams that look to innovate when they can. Gimmicks don’t innovate; they just dress up the same old crap in a shiny new box.