The Fine Line Between Panic and Inactivity

May 6, 2013 at 11:13 am | Posted in Luis Cruz | Leave a comment

mattingly_mcgwire_arizona_2013-04-13Fire Don Mattingly! Terminate Sue Falsone! Recall Yasiel Puig! Bring up Zach Lee!

Panic moves, one and all, and yet it’s in no way surprising that they’re the kind of moves many Dodger fans are clamoring for. Most of these fall under this this ill-conceived equation:

1) The team absolutely must do something
2) Fire/Recall/Cut {person name} is something
3) Therefore, the team should fire/recall/cut {person name}

I think you can see that there’s a lot of missing pieces there in that line of reasoning. It’s May 6 and the team is four games under .500 while dealing with an endless stream of injuries. I won’t pretend that time is infinite here — losses in April & May count just as much as they do in September — yet it’s far too soon to make major, irrevocable moves for the sake of making them.

I consider firing Mattingly to fall under that category. If you look back through the site’s archives, you’ll see that I don’t have endless love for his work, and in fact I was disappointed that he was selected over Tim Wallach in the first place. While I admire his ability to run a clubhouse and am far from blind to the awful ownership conditions he had to deal with in his first two seasons, if he’s let go at some point, I won’t be too broken up about it. (If that happens via some sort of bunt-related communication, all the better.)

But to do so now, on May 6, sends the wrong message. It shows panic at a time when keeping calm is paramount. It shows that the manager’s decisions have more impact on the team’s failures than the absences of Zack Greinke & Hanley Ramirez or the struggles of Matt Kemp. It might actually scare off future candidates, and it almost certainly doesn’t help for 2013 because there’s little coherent case anyone can make that Wallach or Davey Lopes or Trey Hillman are clear upgrades.

It’s too soon to panic. Now, all that being said, this malaise can’t go on forever, and I’m sympathetic to those who insist that a message must be sent. Disabling Mark Ellis for Chris Capuano, as they are likely to do today, isn’t enough. At least one move that’s based on performance rather than injury needs to be made, and that just has to be to DFA Luis Cruz, hitting .091/.116/.091 in 70 plate appearances. You can argue that his slick glove warrants his job, but that holds less water on a team that has Juan Uribe & Nick Punto; you can argue that it should be Justin Sellers, yet that move brings less impact. Cruz came into the season as the starting third baseman and has been a dreadful flop, and it’s time to send a message that even on a team as battered as this one, certain standards must be kept. Whether that means you add Scott Van Slyke or Tim Federowicz or Peter Moylan matters little to me; it’s the intention that does.

If not, as seems likely? Well, the one move I’d be in favor of approximately 365 days a year is to make some changes in the general manager’s office. Unfortunately, that seems as unlikely now as it ever has. Something has to give, while the season still has legs.

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