The strange thing is that it’s not like this doesn’t happen from time to time, and the manager sometimes wins. Yankee fans should be familiar with this right now, as one of the more obvious examples in recent history was Ozzie Guillen’s open disdain for Nick Swisher when Swish was with the White Sox. That feud ended with Ken Williams under so much pressure to get Swisher out of town, he traded Swish to the Yankees in what may well go down as one of the most lopsided trades in a generation in any major American sport. Needless to say, things have gone much better for Swish since 2008 than they have for the White Sox.
There’s no real point to this, I guess, other than my own observation that managers are wildly over valued in baseball these days. Sure, there was a time when managers wielded an enormous influence over the success of their teams, but that was a time in which the role of the manager was much different. Today they’re no longer principally responsible for roster construction or signing talent, they’re basically relegated to making on-field decisions. And because baseball isn’t a sport that’s highly receptive to coaching decisions’ impact on the game, this means that managers just don’t have much chance to impact the outcome of the game and, to the extent they do, they’re much more likely to hurt the their team than help them. And yet,we still act like managers are savants, and there’s at least a possibility that Tony LaRussa will run a promising centerfielder who can hit and won’t be eligible for arbitration 2012 out of town. It’s just very bizarre to me that more teams haven’t realized the limited marginal value of a manager.