<
>

Do Pirates overreact to players' frustrations?

9/22/2010

Baseball Management 101, via Dejan Kovacevic:

So, Garrett Jones thinks he can be more than a platoon player?

You can read about that it in the Notebook below, but I will add here that all concerned, the Pirates and Jones, would do well not to affix or accept labels prematurely. And then, if the Pirates do affix such labels, they should not take umbrage when the athlete thinks he can do better.

Any of this ring a bell?

In the summer of 2008, just before a morning workout at Wrigley, Jose Bautista was told by John Russell that he had lost his job to Andy LaRoche. This was what Bautista told me that morning in the visitors' dugout.

Seem harmless?

Nevertheless, the Pirates, by several accounts, took umbrage that Bautista expressed that he still saw himself as everyday material, almost as if it were an act of insubordination.

Then, Bautista was sent to the minors.

Then, after Bautista did very well in the minors, he was traded to Toronto for third-string, since-released catcher Robinzon Diaz.

You know the rest.

The Rest: Diaz signs with Tigers, posts .269 on-base percentage in Triple-A; Jose Bautista leads Major League Baseball in home runs.

Oh, and in case you didn't click: That morning in the dugout, Bautista told Kovacevic, "If there's a reason for my demotion, I don't have one. They really didn't give me one."

That's his side. And frankly, while we have some idea of what Bautista told Kovacevic, we have no idea what Bautista might have said to management. Still, you can understand if he was frustrated. At the time, his .251/.326/.421 line wasn't anything special ... but at the same time, Andy LaRoche's line in 62 games with the Dodgers was less special: .217/.348/.316.

Of course, at the time I loved that move for the Pirates. I loved LaRoche's fantastic minor-league numbers, and was convinced that all he needed was a real chance to play.

You know the rest of that, too. The Pirates were wrong. I was really wrong. Jose Bautista's leading Major League Baseball in home runs.

Maybe, as Kovacevic suggests, there's a lesson in here for the Pirates about letting players express themselves. I hope there's a lesson for me in here, about the unpredictability of young men playing a difficult game.

Granted, Garrett Jones does have a .245 career OBP against lefties ...