Thursday, May 05, 2005

With Friends Like Frank...

Maybe Zach Day's paranoid. Maybe he's not.

If he wasn't before, it's a good thing he's on the West Coast, because he had two separate articles written about him today and that'd be enough to put him over the edge. (Barry and Zuck; both are well worth the quick read)

With the duct-taped arm of Tony Armas waiting in the wings, and some recent poor pitching, Day's ummm days as a starter are numbered. Obviously he knows that. And I'm sure the pressure of needing to perform isn't helping him. And all that's before you factor in his vertigo!

But, it doesn't help when you've got a cranky ol' man of a manager running you down in the papers. Remember, earlier this week, Frank was asked if he thought that Day needed a new pitch. His surly bastard response? What the hell does he need another pitch for when he can't even control the ones he has.

What a touch of class. Maybe that's his way of telling Day to sac up, but it certainly isn't good, and it certainly doesn't build any sort of trust between a manager and a player -- not just that player, but any of them in the dugout.

Throw in another subtle message yesterday, and Frank's turning out to be a real prick:
"You don't want it to continue the way it is, to become unbearable to the point where it affects him, it affects his performance, and it affects my sleep patterns at night and my friendly, sunny personality," Robinson said before Wednesday's game. "Then, you have to start thinking about: Would [he] be better off if he'd go someplace else?"

No, Frank. He wouldn't be better off.

Frank's proudly talked about how he manages with his gut. That's fine in some cases, and it's certainly left him open to lots of second guesses -- a cottage industry just on this blog! But, if you're not maximizing your players' efforts on-the-field, shouldn't he at least be good off-the-field?

Instead, he seems all-too-willing to run players down. Day here; Horgan before. He even ripped into I.E. Chavez earlier this spring (much-more deservedly there). I can recall generalities of him saying un-PC things about players before. Maybe you have some specifics?

But, and I'm conjecturing here, maybe his players don't like him very much? Think about what we've heard about Frank from the players. Can you remember one quote about him from any of them about his abilities or style as manager? The few things that have trickled out always focus on what a great player he was or what an honor it is to play for a hall-of-famer. The only thing you will hear is about him being Old Sch(k)ool. [Basil, we need a ruling]

Contrast that with what you hear about other managers. Obviously he's not of the status of Joe Torre, who's literally had books written about his management style, but you don't ever hear phrases like 'leader' or 'steadying influence' associated with Frank either. Maybe I've missed them, but I don't recall any positive words coming from anyone about his management off-the-field.

But, back to Day.

I can see why Frank would be upset with him. We all are. Other than that dreadful start in Atlanta, he hasn't been bloodied; they're not hitting him all that hard. His sinker still has a nasty downward movement, reminiscent of Scott Erickson in his prime. When it's going well, it's like he's throwing a shotput. But, he just can't consistently throw strikes. Maybe it's mechanics. Maybe it's just a lack of talent. Maybe it is psychological.

But regardless, he's still a valuable member of the team.

Taking him out of the game on the shortest of leashes is fine and defensible -- a manager's job is to do what it takes to win. But, complaining about him in the papers isn't. Good managers don't do that. And unless his goal is to run Day out of town, the shut the hell up.

And if running Day out of town IS his goal, then maybe the team's management needs to consider what all the sources of this conflict are, and not just the player.

4 Comments:

  • I've always heard the sort of general, "He's a good manager, his players respect him and he gets them to play hard." Freqently, his tenure turning the late 80's mess up in Baltimore around is mentioned.

    But he's never taken a team to the playoffs. And I've often wondered, if he's so good and gets his players to play hard, why doesn't he have a better record, and why doesn't he last that long at any of his posts?

    Day's had a rough time of it. Whenever I hear that either he or Okha are on the mound for us, I cringe in anticipation (as does the bullpen, no doubt).

    Okha seems to be turning things around. I'm not sure what needs to be done about Zach. Based on today's articles, it seems like the team (or at least FRob and Randy) has given up on him.

    Of course, I was just on the Ballpark Guys board and there's a thread about who we could trade him for. But does anyone actually WANT him, given his performance problems? We wouldn't be dealing from a position of strength, that's for sure.

    By Anonymous MattNats, at 5/05/2005 3:06 PM  

  • And that's exactly the problem I have. They're leaving him for Dead.

    He's not a bad pitcher. He's not getting ripped hard, for the most part. He's just going through a stretch where he can't throw strikes.

    And with Frank on his ass, and a case of vertigo, it's certainly not getting any easier.

    Way to build his confidence.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/05/2005 3:10 PM  

  • Yeah, seems like Frank has no tolerance for pitchers who don't throw strikes, or batters who strike out. I've heard him give very firm comments on each.

    Maybe some time in the pen will help him get some confidence back. I just hope we've got someone (Armas? maybe?) who can fill in the rotation.

    And I hope this roster shuffling gets finished soon. I must admit, neither Chavez or Hammonds pathetically sucked as much as I thought they would (I was apoplectic when I saw both were starting and Wilky was on the bench). But I'd like to see players with a future get called up, rather than players with (questionable) pasts getting the at-bats.

    But we're still above .500 (who would've predicted that we'd still be that good a month in?). And it seems like we've got some winnable games in front of us.

    Actually have tickets at Wrigley this Sunday. During the next week or so, I'm going to see the Cubs play more than the Nats (1 at Wrigley and 2 of the 3 games here).

    By Blogger MattNats, at 5/05/2005 3:25 PM  

  • Did you see the "Armchair GM" at Baseball Analysts?

    'If I am Dan O'Dowd, I would swoop in and trade for Zach Day. The Washington National right-hander is apparently in manger Frank Robinson's doghouse. He is protoypical Coors Field type pitcher. Granted, Day needs to throw more strikes but his sinking fastball and low salary are an ideal fit for a rebuilding Colorado franchise.'

    The Rockies have quite a few intriguing infield and outfield prospects.

    By Blogger Brian, at 5/06/2005 8:43 AM  

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