Why Hargrove Is An Idiot, But the Losing Isn’t His Fault
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on March 27, 2006
Why is Mike Hargrove an idiot? Okay, he's really not an idiot, or a dumbass, or anything that follows the same defining tune.
But he is a very ordinary and sometimes bad manager. Here's why.
– He's stuck in his ways. Twelve pitchers go north, no matter how good or bad they are, or how good or bad the fifth man on the bench might be. He's married to the idea. I wouldn't have an issue with the concept if it was thrown away in May. Protecting pitchers in the cool April in Seattle is a good idea.
But after the arms are loose and the weather warms up, it's a waste, especially when three of the first four arms in the pen can go two innings. Julio Mateo can go three and four.
When the biggest problem on the club is scoring runs, that fifth benchie is more important, especially when that player is someone like Roberto Petagine. The M's need to squeeze every last drop of offense out of the roster, not waste 50+ innings on an undeserving arm just for the sake of having that "extra" pitcher.
– The game hasn't passed him up, but the personalities certainly have. He doesn't have the edge on his players that the good managers have. He's too old school, and too old in general, to be on their level and he doesn't have legendary Lou Piniella-Joe Torre-type status to hold iconic advantages over his players.
Hargrove appears to have very little effect on the win-loss column for the Seattle Mariners, or any other club he's ever managed. His success, and lack thereof, is a direct result of the talent on his roster.
Bad Baltimore team? Bad record. Good Cleveland team? Good record. It just seems to be the way things go with Hargrove, and his track record is long and serves as pretty strong evidence that he's a very ordinary baseball manager, to say it nicely.
– Exhibit C is where things fall apart for me. Both A and B are bad enough, fireable traits in my opinion. But Hargrove's tendency to play favorites is just disgusting. No, he isn't the only manager that does it. Bob Melvin did it, too. heck, most managers do it. But if you are going to pick a favorite, be smart and pick one with talent. One you won't ever lose your job over.
Lou picked Griffey from day one. You'll never, ever lose your job when you favor a superstar. He helps you win. He helps the club sell mucho tickets. He's a fan favorite. He gives his all and produces regularly.
Willie Bloomquist, on the other hand, does not. Bloomquist, I'm sure, is a nice human being. He works his tail off and is willing to do whatever it takes to help the Mariners win. But Grover takes it too far. Bloomquist gets in the game any chance his manager sees to insert him.
Struggling rookie? Willie gets the nod. Injured vet? Bloomquist is now the starter.
It's not just with Bloomquist, but that's the glaring example.
Hargrove has a lot of qualities and by all accounts is a pretty admirable person who is liked by many. As a manager, he simply doesn't have what it takes to be considered "good" at what he does.
He's baseball's version of the 2005-2006 Los Angeles Lakers; play terrible when the opponent is the Charlotte Bobcats. Play great when the defending champs are in town.
Hargrove can take a playoff roster – any playoff caliber roster – and make the postseason. But he's never shown, in more than a dozen years in the business, that he can mold a group of 25 players and get more out of them than what the talent suggests.
I believe a baseball team reflects their manager directly. The Mariners are a very ordinary baseball team. From 69 wins in 2005 to whatever they end up with in 2006 — 70-85 is the consensus — it mirrors what Mike Hargrove's abilities can do — ordinary.
The 93 losses last season were not his fault. A manager can only do so much and the club just wasn't any good. Barring injury, the Emerald City Nine are good enough to post 85 wins this year. If they win any less than 80, either something went very wrong with a key player or two, or Hargrove was outmaneuvered on a nightly basis.
Wether it be the everyday lineup, putting the game in motion, or handling the pitching staff, Hargrove is only as good as his talent allows him to be.
For me, that makes him a bad manager. A skipper's job is to get more out of his team than the talent adds up to and if that isn't happening the manager is failing. Last time I checked, failing was bad.
In the end, Mike Harrgrove is just not the captain that the goodship Mariner needs to get back to the top of the AL West.
An idiot? No, too strong, at least in general terms. Let's go with "ceremoniously unspecial" and often times "bad."
But if Bloomquist starts in center field more than once a week while Jeremy Reed is recovering from a broken wrist bone, the "I" word is making a comeback. Grover deserves criticism just for suggesting that Willie is a possibility for regular play – anywhere on the field.