Stupid title, I know; but the missus and cubs took off for two weeks in Yellowstone with Nana and Papa and I've had a few celebration beers... I'm not even going to bother with pictures.
So the M's are officially cleaning house. John McLaren is out and Jim Riggleman is in.
You always feel bad for a "company man" like McLaren. He's been around a long time - So long in fact, that I remember rubbing elbows with him back when I was an employee of the M's in 98 and 99. The other nobodies and I used to grab dinner at Mac's Smokehouse right across Occidental from the Dome. The coaches used to do the same and Mac (I can call him that because we ate BBQ together, even though he didn't know my name. God, I feel so cheap...) was always really nice to us. That had to have been a really tough pink slip to write for Lee Pelekoudas, who has been around about as long as Mac (I think he preferred the pork butt with beans and slaw...) - but it did give him an excellent opportunity to show off his jet black businessman's special. (Seriously, if he fails at this GM gig, he can team up with Keith Hernandez and Clyde Frazier in those Just for Men commercials.)
So here's what I'm thinking, and maybe later, I'll actually do some research to see if my theory is right...
That whole John McLaren situation sounds pretty familiar to us doesn't it? (The company-man part, not the me eating BBQ near him part.) Ol' Dobes and Johnny Mac are birds of a feather. Highly-regarded, long time assistants who were handed the reigns when the old coach/manager unexpectedly bolted; and then promptly pissed down their legs.
Here's why it's not their fault: They're long-time assistant coaches. Keyword: assistant. They have been the good cop to the head-man's bad cop for too long; and while they may have the respect of their players, it's more like the respect you have for your grandpa who served in the war - you respect him, but you'd still sneak a beer or two from him whenever you felt like it. They're not like your ball-busting dad, that you actually fear because you know he measures the booze in his bottles and counts every Schmidt in the 'fridge. Get my drift? Longball, you got me?
The reason why Jim Riggleman may actually work is that he's new to the organization. The players still don't know that much about him - but they do know that he's managed in the majors and been a successful minor league manager. If Riggleman sheds the good cop hat and puts a little fear in these guys as their manager, they may very well start playing with more of a sense of urgency to perform. I think this could work especially well, if we cut and/or trade a couple veterans and replace them on the roster with the clubhouse leaders from Tacoma and maybe even West Tenn. Bring up a couple kids who have proven themselves to have strong character and leadership abilities. Ala Dick Bennett, the kind of guys you think you can lose with for a year or two - but will be better for it in the long run.
Get rid of the dead weight that you know is hurting the team and replace them with youngsters that believe in each other. You may take your lumps for a while but they'll battle hard and come out of it battle-tested and ready for all comers. I always go back to the example of the Braves turning their team over to Glavine, Smoltz, Justice and Gant - but there are many more examples over the years, including the Marlins, a couple times over.
So back to the manager thing. Because the M's management is old school, I'd suspect that they'll encourage Riggleman to shake things up a bit. They've already hinted at that with the promotion of Clement. I'd be surprised if this isn't followed in the next few days by another player or two being cut - especially if there happens to be one or two guys on the team who don't feel like buying into a youth movement. Let him put his stamp on the team and see how the guys react. If it works? Great - keep him around and see if he can sustain it - but don't accept mediocrity. If the players don't respond well to him this year, get the roster even younger next year and bring in a young manager that will command the players' respect.
I wonder if they'll be tempted to go the former player route like the Cougs? Joey Cora is getting a lot of attention right now. What about The Sherriff? I'd pass on little Joey, but Norm could be fun, don't you think? Bring in Dibble as pitching coach to guilt Putz off of the DL... OK, probably not going to happen.
Personally, I'd love to get an Eric Wedge-type guy. He's young, hard-nosed and respected in the clubhouse. The M's may have a guy or two like this in the system right now. Guys that the young players will maybe have a little history with - like Gary Thurman or... how about former Coug Jim Horner? Like Wedge, Horner is the prototypical Crash Davis (minus the home runs and the belief that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.) He's a long-time minor league catcher, turned minor league manager. He hasn't been at it long, but given a little time, and hopefully a little success, he may be a great candidate. Truth be told, I don't know a thing about Horner's short career as a manager. My point is to bring in a guy who's young but is an ass-kicker and a proven leader of young players.
Want one last Cougar tie-in for the road? How about promoting former Coug Greg Hunter from Director of Player Development, to GM?
Next, we can replace that God-awful teal with Crimson...
Go Cougs. Go M's.