Saturday, July 01, 2006

End of the First Half, with the Score 33 to 48

So a milestone has been reached. 81 games, one half of the season gone, one half remains. Time to take stock.

The Nats finished the half 33-48. Many will compare that to last year's first half, where we went 50-31, seventeen games better. What I'd like to do, though, is to look at our record over the past 162 games, the first half of this year plus the second half of last year, where we went 31-50. That provides a full-season record of 64-98.

That is a terrible record. Only 13 out of the 150 "team-seasons" in the past 5 years (30 MLB teams, 5 seasons each) had that record or worse, less than 9%. Let's look at those teams, and what happened to their managers:

2005 KC 56-106 (Tony Pena fired during season)
2004 KC 58-104 (Tony Pena keeps his job, probably because it was only one year removed from a 83-79 season, and because it's the Royals)
2004 ARI 51-111 (Bob Brenly fired during season)
2004 SEA 63-99 (Bob Melvin fired after season)
2003 SD 64-98 (Bruce Bochy keeps job, probably because he'd been to the playoffs and World Series)
2003 TB 63-99 (Piniella keeps job, it was his first year)
2003 DET 43-119 (Trammel keeps his job, it was his first year)
2002 TB 55-105 (Hal McRae fired after season)
2002 DET 55-106 (Phil Garner fired during season)
2002 MIL 56-106 (Davey Lopes fired during season)
2001 PIT 62-100 (Lloyd McLendon keeps job, it was his first year)
2001 BAL 63-98 (Mike Hargrove keeps his job -- it's the O's , who knows why.)
2001 TB 62-100 (Larry Rothschild fired during season)

So basically a non-first-year manager who compiles such a record gets fired, or keeps his job thanks to the wisdom of the baseball geniuses who run the Royals and Orioles. An exception is San Diego, who actually made the right call, as Bochy would lead the Padres -- yes, the 82-80 Padres -- to the playoffs in 2005. None of the other retentions worked out.

It is conventional wisdom that Frank Robinson will not be fired this season. It would make a lot of sense to do so, however. We all know what kind of manager he is, and how much he can get out of this group of players. We should replace with someone who does things differently, even an interim manager, to see what we have left in this team, to know better what to do in the offseason.

It only makes sense, but it won't be done. I wake up this morning to find that "stability" is the vision of the new owners. Though that article hints that Robinson might not last after this year, we will have wasted the next 81 games as an information gathering session. But hey, we'll be "stable" -- stable like the Royals.


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