Wednesday, November 22, 2006
27 years I have worked in Television News, working under some of the most extreme working conditions imaginable--sharing those many experiences, both good and bad, with others, and through it all, you develop tight friendships, with many talented people. You come to trust some, others not, and, you want those trusted by your side, when it counts the most and the situation demands it. But, that doesn't mean you hire all your friends, immediately upon receiving a new gig.
Its a topic that been discussed before, surrounding our Washington Nationals, hiring folks to work with you, people you are familiar with, from your past. And, Our Washington Nationals have done it, once again. Manny Acta rounding out his 2007 Coaching Staff with Hires--some colleagues that helped him along in his baseball career--maybe, not necessarily the best choices of those available.
Pitching Coach, Randy St.Claire was already returning, we all knew that. Now--its official; well liked hitting coach, Mitchell Paige, will return for his second season with Washington, both excellent hires and both, well deserving.
One new choice, I see as a big improvement. The Nationals yesterday hired long time--Atlanta Braves Bench Coach (Manager Bobby Cox's righthand man) away from the Braves to be Manny's new bench coach. Corrales comes with a ton of experience--and a familiarity with Team President, Stan Kasten. 49 years in the game--I can actually remember him playing for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1967 World Series (that's how old I'm getting). As hot of a name as Acta has been this off season-he still hasn't managed a single game in the Majors. Corrales has, for many seasons, and has sat on the bench, next to Cox, for thousands more. He has, most likely, seen it all, and then some. Not a bad pickup to compliment a rookie manager. A manager that may need some help, when certain situations arise, as they always do, each and every season.
And, one time Montreal Expos first base coach, Jerry Morales, returns as 1st base coach and outfield coordinator. One time All-Star Morales, a veteran of 15 years of Major League Experience, brings respected experience, both on and off the field to Washington.
But, its the remainder of the coaches hired that has me concerned. Granted, I don't know much about newly appointed third base coach, Tim Tolman or bullpen Coach, Rick Aponte--they have been in the game for some time. Tolman played in the Majors during the 1980's and has stuck around, ever since, as Scout, Minor League Manager, Minor League Field Coordinator, first with the Astros, then Tigers and finally, the Cleveland Indians. Aponte--has spent his entire 32 year professional career with the Houston Astros-coaching on the minor league level--throughout their system and Managing in the Dominican League. Both, most importantly to Manny Acta--recognized Manny's potential as a leader, off the field--and directed him toward coaching and managing--eventually resulting in his hire last week as The Washington Nationals new Manager. Both Tolman and Aponte are over 50 years old, something deep down inside tells me there's a reason why they have never made it to the Big League as Coaches. I may be wrong, and way off base, but are they really the best choices?
This manner of hiring has been the mantra for our infant Nationals.
Nationals General Manager, Jim Bowden, has filled his Front Office command structure with many from his days running the ship in Cincinnati--Bob Boone, Barry Larkin, Jose Cardinal and Jose Rijo, among others. Since the first days Jimbo has taken control--most every move, both on and off the field, centers around the Reds--Just look at the latest rumor of Bowden possibly discussing trading "The Chief", Chad Cordero, to Boston for his former Red--Willy Mo Pena. That trade is a non-starter. If our GM is discussing this seriously-someone needs to check out his marbles. The GM's penchant for all things Cincinnati has got to stop.
But, Jimbo's not the only one hiring his people. New Assistant GM--VP of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo--came over from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Rizzo, immediately pushed the Livan Hernandez Trade for Matt Chico and Garrett Mock, then hired his former Scout from Arizona, Bill Singer, for Washington. The Livan trade may well work out--but the trend continued with our Nationals, looking to friends first.
Team President, Stan Kasten, has also brought on board, a few he's comfortable with, running the business management side of the Nationals. That does not bother me in the least. Business is business when it comes to money and operating with it. Whether its Baseball, A Grocery Chain, Publisher, Home Building, etc--its a financial risk, but its all the same, a business, and you need money folks you trust in financial management.
The Baseball side of game, though, should not be treated in the same manner. Many times, throughout our lifetimes, we have promised others something good, if we succeed, whether or not, they deserve it--just because they were there when it all began. Tolman and Aponte are "THANK YOU" Hires. A few years back, I did the same for someone, I was close to in television news--hiring him for a major assignment. Now--5 years later, we don't speak.
Its fine to go into battle with those you like--its better to go into battle with those you, not only trust, but have the proper experience and know how. I learned the hard way, I hope our Washington Nationals are not learning that same hard lesson.
The African Queen and I wish EVERYONE a SAFE AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!