Too Many Cooks

Kirk Gibson is an accomplished baseball player and baseball legend. He won the National League manager of the year in 2011. He won the World Series with the Tigers in 1984 and the Dodgers in 1988. That isn’t nothing. He’s been around winners, he knows what it looks like.

He is an accomplished baseball man. What he isn’t, not yet anyway, is a baseball general manager. Though, it appears, he plays one on TV!

Hmm. That’s weird. Why on Earth would a team go about such an overhaul after an incredibly successful season? One can only imagine they will be much better in the future, right?

We’ve had our fun with Kirk Gibson here at Getting Blanked. For better or for worse, he isn’t shy about voicing his opinion on how his players should conduct themselves. But his reported involvement in player personnel moves can only be troubling for the D-Backs future.

It comes back to a popular topic from earlier this week: should teams value personality over talent?

When considering the 25th man on a playoff-calibre team, certainly a case can be made for heart over head. When numerous front offices — those with a demonstrated ability to make sound decisions and make good player choices — choose to fill out the final spot on their roster with a good clubhouse guy, those of us commenting on the games can take a step back and appeal to authority.

This is not the same as running talented players out of town in pursuit of some fabled clubhouse culture; a culture, we are led to believe, which will trump the increasing disparity in talent between this grinder haven and the teams who actually pursue better players. It is the pursuit of a homogeneous (ISWYDT) clubhouse which causes statty-types and rational minds to turn up their noses at the overpraising of so-called intangibles.

Mark DeRosa doesn’t make the Blue Jays much better nor does he make them worse. If he makes the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse and team plane a better place to work and hang out, so be it. That is his job and his mission statement, he is not alone in pursuit of this noble endeavour. Trading away perceived malcontents like Trevor Bauer and Justin Upton to give playing time (and plenty of money) to limited players like Cody Ross or fresh-off-a-career-year surprises like Martin Prado is reckless. It stands to make the team worse, not better.

If Kirk Gibson truly believes the 1984 Tigers won all those games because everybody tried hard and came to the ballpark with their hard hats on or whatever, fine. Sure, his Dodgers were overmatched against the A’s in that famed World Series, but a short series is not the same as a 162 game grind.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have more balls in the air than just keeping the manager’s office clear of grumpy ballplayers. Just as a key trait of role players is the willingness to accept their role, the field manager must also acknowledge his place in the pecking order. If the manager pushes his general manager to make moves which weaken the club in the long term, both guys are going to be looking for work in the short term.