Nationals Baseball: Firday and Girardi

Friday, October 27, 2017

Firday and Girardi

So I figured I'd paste what I wrote about Girardi in the comments - just in case you guys don't read those : 

I have a hard time characterizing Girardi. I guess he's like a Showalter but not as much a martinet. He is definitely a "I'm manager, my decision" guy not the type to be a player's manager type who lets things go if the performance is there, but he doesn't take that to the extremes guys like that usually do, like extra practices or dress codes. It's kind of strictly in between the lines. He also mixes analytics with gut feelings. He is not dismissive of the former, which is why talk of a "more analytic" manager is probably nonsense. You'd have to get a strict number cruncher to find a real difference.

He's good. He's flexible in his line-ups, doesn't mind benching players who aren't performing (stars or not). His biggest issues are learning to manage desperately (he's better but still not good) and, in my opinion, not being aggressive enough on the basepaths. He's a long term thinker - during a season and during a series and it tends to work out just as well as any other method but it can be frustrating if you are used to more "win every game" managing. 


If you think that, along with all those wins and a couple seasons where the Yankees did better than expected, sound good you might wonder why the Yankees let him go. A popular theory is that they wanted someone more invested in analytics, but I don't really buy that as a primary reason. Go back and read articles when Girardi was hired. He does buy into analytics, maybe not full-throated (which honestly I like) but enough so that the difference between him and most "modern" managers is slim. The other reason, which I think has more credence, is they don't think he relates to the players well. In kind of the Buck to Torre transition, the Yankees have a young team - now they need someone who will better connect with those players. Of course - one game from the World Series so I call nonsense on that as well as being a worthwhile reason to fire somebody, but I do think that's more of what's driving this.

Would Girardi be good for the Nats? Sure. He's good for anyone. Would he guarantee a NLDS victory? Eh - take away 2009 and he's a .500 type playoff manager. Like I said - I think his biggest issue is managing in urgent situations. I think he'll set up the team better going into each game, but during it isn't anything special. Of course basically anyone you hire is an unknown, so the question is will you take a guy who is as expected in the playoffs, vs a guy that will be a complete unknown? I guess you would given the time frame.The unknown could learn to be a good playoff manager - but he'd have to learn and the Nats really don't have that time right now. It's either he's good right off the bat or not.


Other notes - Trade for Ramos? You know... I do kind of like that idea. The Rays are forever rebuilding and the contract is short (1 yr) and reasonable (8.5 million). Rays also seem to like to deal with the Nats. I like this. This is fun. Let's do this.

Mike Maddux is gone. I have no idea how important coaches are in general. I have less that that concerning how this coach was important to this team. It's been said the Nats wanted to keep him so it's a shame in that regard but beyond that I don't know.


There's kind of a general feeling of... unsettledness with the Nats. No Dusty, who regardless of whether you think he should have gone or not, had undeniably become a fan-favorite face of this team in 2 years. No Werth, while Dusty was A important face, Werth was  THE important face for his time here. A chance Bryce, arguably the other important player to the fans, will be gone after next season. A chance Rizzo, the architect of a half-decade of successes, could be gone as well. This feels different than a window change. It feels like a paradigm shift. It feels like there's a chance that things will fall apart, as they inevitably always do to all teams, even the best. 

The question is - how much do we trust the Lerners? Sure they don't pay managers well but they've generally brought in good managers. You can do that with low pay when the supply of jobs is so low. We can talk about the deferred money contract hurting FA signings, but they have maintained a payroll that has been competitive, just not the most aggressive. We can say it was a good Stan Kasten who brought in the good Mike Rizzo, who did many good things, but the Lerners had to give the oks and were the ones to bring in Kasten in the first place, weren't they? 

Things could change rapidly in the next 18 months. But how it happens and how it effects the product on the field is still up in the air. The team is still set up for a 2018 division titles, and at least competitiveness in 2019, and as I've said many times, looking beyond 2 years is foolish.  Bring on the off-season!

15 comments:

Carl said...

That perceived change in team direction, combined with post-All Star Game hangover, plus the general sense that season ticket holders' benefits are drying up while prices go up and we're otherwise being nickeled and dimed, equals big exodus of STHs after next season. Bank on it.

KW said...

STHs and fans in general will really feel low-balled if it isn't Girardi . . . unless he truly takes a year or two off. And please spare me the stuff about the Lerners can't/won't afford it because the MASN non-settlement, etc., etc. They've let their park sit for a decade with no naming rights. That's $100 million-plus right there that they've elected not to claim. Money is NO issue with them. Stubbornness is. But having a top-tier manager in his prime on the market at the same time that they've got an opening really calls their perpetual bluff like it's never been called before.

Jonathan Edge said...

So to be clear, Harper - You agree that Girardi would be a good hire, but won't go so far as to say the Lerner's would be out of their minds not to make a strong push with a market-competitive rate? To me, given the messaging of the team around playoff success, it just doesn't make logical sense to take a risk with an unknown. The only logical conclusion that I would make is that the Lerner's are so worried that 2019 and the foreseeable forward years are going to be in the good but not great category (or worse) that they aren't willing to pay for a great manager today that demands top of the market salary because they would also require top of the market in contracted years. Seems to me that a 1 year deal @ $6M would be the best of both worlds, but not sure if the precedent of something like that across the league. Another $2M/2yr contract with Matt Williams 2.0 would be inconsistent with the rest of the messaging and spending that the team has committed to...

Froggy said...

Based on the likely outcome of your hypothesis Harper (Bryce gone, Rizzo gone after 2018) and depending on postseason 2018 outcome, I wouldn't be surprised if the Lerner's sell the club while the market is high.

Harper said...

John - I think if the Lerners are serious about winning in the playoffs next year they SHOULD hire Girardi. The team is set-up to win a pennant and make the playoffs in 2018. Girardi has shown that he wins games during the regular season and is not a playoff detriment. You cannot say that with certainty about a new manager (such as Dave Martinez)

I don't know if I believe though that the Lerners are serious about winning in the playoffs next year in the face of their larger beliefs. One such belief being there is no reason to overpay for a manager because the demand is so high and the supply is so low. And I'm saying - that belief may be justified over the course of a franchise's existence. So if 2018 isn't a priority to them then they aren't crazy to sit out on Girardi, or any high priced manager, keep pumping out competitive teams and wait until they find one that can win.

Shawn said...

I might be recalling incorrectly, but I thought Kasten was involved in another bid to buy the team, but MLB obviously liked the Lerner's deep pockets, so they got him to switch over to give them some "veteran baseball guy" credo. This April 11 2006 Murray Chass story seems to more or less suggest what I'm remembering. Later stories talk about him joining the group. So the real question is who pushed for the merging bids - Lerners or MLB.

Jay said...

Shawn is correct. Kasten was added to the group as a baseball advisor. Anyway, rumors are already flying around the twitter-sphere that the Lerner family is unwilling to pay anything approaching what Girardi would want. Dumb move IMO. I'm not saying he has to be the guy, but money shouldn't be the deciding factor when you let Dusty go bc "winning division titles isn't enough".

Anonymous said...

Ken Rosenthal reported that Nats interviewed Farrell today. Makes me wonder if the Post reporters are all that plugged in, since they didn't even report he was interviewing.

ssln said...

Harper

There is always a lot of angst about the deferred money contracts that the Lerners used to sign players. But that might not be as big as issue as some of you think. There was a important decision in the MASN case on July 13 by the New York State Supreme Court.
How about doing a post on it and what it could mean for the finances of the club.
I said that I think the Nats will make a run at resigning Bryce. The ruling in this case underpins my belief.

BxJaycobb said...

Wait. Werth was THE face? Am I the only fan that hasn’t thought of Werth as the face of the Nats for at least half a decade? When’s the last time Werth was one of the first names that came out of any pundit on MLB Network or Baseball Tonight’s mouth when they brought up the subject of the Nats? The face at least in national media is Bryce, then Bryce, then Bryce, then Max and Stras, then maybe Zim (as the “first star Nat” etc. Maybe in 2011 and 2012 Werh was the face of the Nats, that’s fair. But he definitely hasn’t been the face of the Nats (or anywhere close?) for YEARS. Yeah he is disproportionately a fan favorite compared to his value as a player and I buy it as a clubhouse leader, but who thinks about Werth when discussing the Nats or marketing the Nats?
So let’s discuss the loss of him as a clubhouse guy combined with no Dusty, since that is definitely a real thing. Are sure having Jason Werth be the team leader was a positive? Its not like the team really went anywhere until Bryce showed up and Stras returned from TJ and Gio showed up (most of that first run Werth was out). And for your team leader he seems like kind of an ass, no? Some dude who went to jail, curses on the mic on the field (I get people thought it was funny), and drove a manager out of town and contributed to a fracturing team so badly that people were eventually fighting in the dugout? I’m honestly happy to see him go. Truly. He’s always struck me as incredibly full of himself for a guy whose biggest contribution to the franchjse was taking an incredibly large pile of money (thus the “he made us relevant! myth). The other day he said something like “Before I got here nobody ever dreamed of losing in the playoffs.” Yup. You did it Jason. You’re magnificent. Was once a good player. Had one star year with Nats, and otherwise vacillated between decent, mediocre, and horrible, while carrying himself like christ. I predict his absence is a plus on and off the field.

G Cracka X said...

If one manager needs 2/$2 and the other 4/$16, the latter manager has to be WAY better than the former in former to justify both the extra cost and the extra years. Sure, managers without prior managing experience can flame out, but they can also take their teams to the World Series. Sure, the delta is lower with experienced guys, but are they really the best value?

The Lerners don't always make the best decisions, but they are business people who aggressively hunt value. Over the long term, that is a good overall strategy for running a team.

Sammy Kent said...

Jayson Werth has never been the face of the franchise. That title belongs to Ryan Zimmerman, and will until he retires.

KW said...

Looks like Martinez is the guy. Not sure if they even talked with Girardi.

Ole PBN said...

Bx - wow, you are totally speaking my language regarding Werth. I’ve been saying/felt the same way about his for a while. Refreshing to find that I am not the only one who feels this way, there are very few of us who would say “such blasphemous things about the great Jayson Werth.” Great post. Glad he’s gone.

John O'Connor said...

Not sure I agree with, "Sure [the Lerners] don't pay managers well but they've generally brought in good managers."

They inherited Frank so we don't need to debate him. Manny Acta might be a good manager someday, but I wouldn't say he was a good manager here (unless you have a fetish for unnecessary and mindless double switches) I guess you can debate whether the Lerners "brought in" Riggelman, since he was on staff as bench coach when Acta got fired, but they gave him the interim job and brought him back. He was not a good manager at all. Way too much of a meathead. I'll give you Davey Johnson, vehemently not give you Matt Williams, and give you Dusty Baker. That's a mixed bag at best.