Monday, June 18, 2007

Whatta Sport! (News) - Sam Perlozzo Fired as Baltimore Orioles Coach

I read from Bob Timmermann over on The Griddle at Baseball Toaster that Baltimore Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo was fired as of this morning. Bullpen Coach Dave Trembley takes over as interim coach until they find a replacement (or not!)

Quoting from the Baltimore Sun:

"Perlozzo's job security became a hot button issue following the Orioles' 6-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox on May 13. In that game, Perlozzo removed starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie just two outs shy of a complete game and saw Baez and Chris Ray, the supposed backbones of the bullpen, cough up the lead. Guthrie had thrown 91 pitches and was pulled from the game after catcher Ramon Hernandez dropped an infield pop-up."

Whadda cowinky-dink. In yesterday's Mets-Yanks game, manager Joe Torre elected to take out starting pitcher Chien Ming Wang after 113 pitches, which happened to make it 2 outs in the 9th. There was quite a bit of howling about that decision from various areas (including Bronx Banter, since I was "watching" the game on that site) , but in my opinion you have to consider that Wang threw a CG (Complete Game) in his previous start, and that took 104 pitches. 113 pitches may not seem like much compared to that, but to those who have watched this team overcome injury to most of its staff, it was enough for most to temper the notion that Torre was being completely arbitrary or capricious. Compared to what Sam Perlozzo did in the Boston game and the result there, you have to consider Joe quite lucky.

"Talk of Perlozzo's job security cooled late last month as the Orioles ran off six straight wins, but the club has fallen on hard times since, with each close loss seemingly pushing Perlozzo further and further out of favor with the organization and its fan base. During the nine-game home stand, which ended with a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday that dropped the Orioles 1-8 during the stretch, Perlozzo was booed several times when he came out of the dugout to make a pitching change.His handling of his pitching staff was one factor that led to his dismissal, though team sources said that the Orioles' front office felt that the manager had also lost the clubhouse."

Sound familiar? Joe got booed only less than three weeks ago, and it was kind of surprising that it had gotten to that point, and then that it almost immediately stopped after that. One of the major criticisms of Joe Torre has been and continues to be his handling of the pitching staff. Yesterday's game almost put a permanent exclamation point on that criticism. Throughout the terrible swoon that was may, the Yankees' bullpen was a constanty failure, and Joe's consistent use of failing pitchers from the pen was constantly scrutinized. Since June started, the Yanks have won 11 out of 12 games, and the pitching staff has seemingly recovered from the plague (save a couple of stragglers), so talk of Torre being replaced has died down a bit...

"This season alone, veterans Jay Gibbons and Kevin Millar had gone public with their frustration over their roles with the club, which they said Perlozzo didn't define. Third baseman Melvin Mora, the longest tenured Oriole, had also criticized Perlozzo late last month after he was angered that the manager didn't tell him the night before that he wouldn't be in the starting lineup that day. Privately, other players had also let their complaints be known to upper management, said sources. When The Sun did a story on Perlozzo's job security last month, none of the team leaders, including Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts, Millar and Jamie Walker, stepped forward in support of their manager; instead declining to comment on his status. Mora and center fielder Corey Patterson did finally back Perlozzo after Saturday's loss to the Diamondbacks."

A-ha! Here's the difference: in Baltimore, the inmates are running the asylum. In New York, Joe is in command at all times. When things began to get really, really stupid for the Yanks, Torre drank some Green Tea and told everyone to basically hang in there, because these things are basically going to happen. When a reporter asked him if he ever woke up in the morning and asked himself, wy me?, Torre's response was remarkable in it's perspective. "Why not me?" he said. When you think of all the things you've accomplished in the time you've been here, he continued, why couldn't something like this happen? "It's how you react to it that matters the most."

Jeter and Posada, Joe's most experienced and trusted players in the clubhouse, both stood up for Torre when the papers and the speculators began to question his sanity and fitness for the team. I myself said that it was probably a good idea for Joe to take a short vacation to clear whatever was going on in his, and perhaps the teams' minds and rededicate themselves to baseball. A lot was going on at once besides injuries, and to be sure it likely had an affect on the team and the individual players. But Joe's strength has always been patience and confidence in his core players, even when they are experiencing a disasterous slump. Joe's confidence has seemingly paid off as the Yanks have climbed back into a race for the widl card, with the AL East not too far ahead.

Baltimore's reaction to similar circumstances is interesting. Had Brian Cashman or anyone else who matters listened to us or the media, Joe would have been out the door in mid-May. Who knows if we have this resurgence without him? But then, Joe is a different kind of leader, in that his style suits the needs of the players he has. Sam Perlozzo is no Joe Torre, apparently. But neither is Melvin Mora jeteresque. Nor are Miguel Tejada, Kevin Millar, Brian Roberts, Jamie Walker and Corey Patterson. Do see what I'm getting at here? That's gotta be some real nasty soup down at Camden Yards.

In conclusion here, the article from the Baltimore Sun also notes that Joe Girardi is being mentioned as a possible replacement, along with Davey Johnson. I don't think Davey comes out of retirement to take over a team that basically mutinied against a coach that was glad to be home until now. If he did, he'd probably have a lot to say about who stays and goes, and that would just make things worse. And as intriguing as bringing in Girardi would be, that would have the potential for disaster as well; Girardi has always struck me as a hands-on leader, and with the guys you have in Baltimore, hands-on might turn into "Hands Off!". Not to say he couldn't turn that club around in a couple of years, but does he really want to step into the arena, per se? Besides, he's got a sweet gig in the YES broadcast booth as a royal manager-in-waiting as we all wait to see what Torre does with this season and at the end of the season. Between him and Don Mattaingly, it would be interesting what turns out if Torre decides to hang it up.

But say that Joe does take the job in Baltimore... what then? Is Mattingly, assumed to be the crown prince or The Anointed One, really ready to take over the club? There is speculation that he's still not seasoned enough to do the job, though he did manage well in his one voyage this season when Joe was ejected for his umpire tirade during the lowest point of the losing. Would he coddle the vets and shun the babies; another constant criticism of Torre? And if not him, and with Girardi gone, who??

All I really know is, count your blessings and don't let the green grass fool ya. For what Torre and the Yanks have been through, do you realize how close we were to being Sam Perlozzo and the Orioles? Wowzers...

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