Team owners, general managers and coaches have a lot of decisions to make throughout the season. Many of them are very difficult decisions to make. But, this season has seen its fair share of confusing decisions. For the purposes of today’s article, we’re going to focus on the front office. Some bizarre decisions made by GM’s and owners. Here are the three most confusing, and nonsensical decisions thus far this season…
#1 – Ron Roenicke Retained … Then Fired
The Brewers were not playing well this season, so I don’t think a ton of people were shocked that Roenicke was let go. But, here’s the confusing part – why fire him 25 games into the season? Yes, they were a miserable 7-18 through those 25 games, and had just won consecutive games for the first time all season. But, why bother starting the season with him as your manager if his leash is going to be that short? Frankly, I was shocked that Roenicke still had his job after the collapse the Brewers suffered at the end of 2014. On August 19th, last year, the Brewers won their 71st game of the season. They were 16 games over .500, in first place by 2.5 games, and had more series left against teams with losing records than winning records. If they had only played .500 ball the rest of the way, they would have won 89 games – which would have, at worst, put them just 1 game out of first, and they would have hosted the Wild Card game. Instead, they managed to lose 25 of their remaining 36 games, to finish just 82-80. In spite of that meltdown, for some reason, Roenicke kept his job. Well, for 25 games, he did. Then it was handed over to the always underwhelming Craig Counsell, who has managed only a nominally better 40-45 record thus far. If you don’t improve the team from a year ago (which Milwaukee did not), and keep the same manager – why would you expect different results? And, why would you be so disappointed less than a month into the season that your only recourse is to get rid of the manager? Maybe these types of moves are why the Brewers have only made the postseason four times in their 47-year history.
#2 – Reliable Bud Black … Gone
Wow. So, you throw together a team full of other teams’ castaways, and you expect the coach to figure out how to make them play together? And, when he has the team right around .500 through barely more than 1/3 of the season, it’s simply not good enough? Based on what, exactly? The team has no ace – in spite of having a couple really solid #2 starters. The team has no legit center fielder, and the closest to one you had has been injured most of the year (which has been Will Myers’ M.O. already at a young age). So, instead of trusting that injuries and a lack of cohesiveness have contributed to the team’s stutter-step start, you get rid of the manager that has been with the team over 8 years, and who repeatedly helped the team to actually over-perform?? A.J. Preller has not only caused the 2015 Padres to have no shot at the playoffs, but in making the trades he did (and the ones he didn’t at the trade deadline), he has decimated a farm system that had some promise. Bud Black was never the problem in San Diego.
#3 – Building a Consistent Winner Isn’t Good Enough … Apparently
How diluted is Mike Ilitch?? Dave Dombrowski is one of the most successful and respected GM’s in the game. He was responsible for putting together the Marlins team that won the ’97 World Series. He took a Tigers team that had nothing when he got there in 2002 (and subsequently lost 100+ games each of the first two seasons), and turned them into a team that has been a World Series contender the last four seasons, and only had one losing season out of the last nine. What exactly was it that led to Ilitch firing Dombrowski after the trade deadline? The Tigers are not the Yankees or Red Sox or Dodgers, who have seemingly unlimited resources. There are going to be times when they will need to shed some of their veteran players in order to restock the farm system, to prepare for the years ahead. And, that’s exactly what Dombrowski did this year. People talk about the Tigers only being 3.5 games out of the Wild Card. But, that’s a mirage – just ask the White Sox. They were also 3 games below .500, and one of about 6 teams fighting for one playoff spot. Dombrowski did exactly what Ruben Amaro should have done 2-3 years ago with the Phillies. Instead of clinging to aging players who aren’t likely to help you win anything significant now – you trade them for prospects who will help your franchise bounce back more quickly. In trading away just two of their aging players (Price & Cespedes – both of whom are going to be free agents at the end of the season anyway), they managed to procure 5 prospects that are now all among the top 15 prospects in their entire system (#1, #5, #8, #9 & #15). Three of whom are pitchers that have the potential to be on the major league team as early as next season. A brilliant move by an obviously under-appreciated GM. Don’t feel bad for Dombrowski, though – he won’t be unemployed for long.