Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Baseball News

1. Allard Baird was fired today as the GM of the Kansas City Royals. The question that must be asked is what took the Royals so long in pulling the trigger. Baird had been the assistant GM from 1998-2000 at which time he was promoted to GM. Under his “watch”, the Royals have had three 100-loss seasons, two 90-loss seasons, a cumulative record of 550-794 (.409), and five different managers in eight seasons.

Far worse is the fact that despite picking at or near the top of the amateur draft for each of the past eight seasons during Baird’s tenure, the team has not produced a single prospect of note that has contributed at the major league level. All of Baird’s trades were lopsided disasters that yielded no fruit.

So, I ask again, what on earth were the Royals waiting for? And at what point should Commissioner Selig, a man supposedly so interested in parity and competitive balance, have stepped in? Over the past eight years, Selig was too busy gerrymandering related party transactions between the Expos, Marlins, and Red Sox and accepting “loans” from Twins ownership to curry favor for contraction. Under his watchful eye, Commissioner Selig let the once-proud Kansas City Royals, a team that finished first or second for 11 straight seasons from 1975-1985, waste away. Selig and an apathetic ownership group let baseball die in Kansas City.

Hopefully Baird’s replacement is able to breathe some life back into the franchise and the city. Selig better hope so because, try as he might, he can’t blame the Royals’ situation on the Yankee and Red Sox spending machines. The Royals didn't die because they couldn't compete. They died from an unwillingness to compete; they died from neglect and gross mismanagement at the team and league levels.

2. I’m thrilled that Roger Clemens is rejoining the Houston Astros. Not only does it put an end to his unseemly Brett Favre-style money-grab but it also means that he isn’t going back to Boston. As a Yankee fan, that’s just plain good news.

A word to Roger: it’ll take a Herculean effort to get the Astros into the playoffs this year. I’m not saying it can’t be done – at this point last year the Astros were in last place with a 19-32 and 14 games out of first place – but the NL Wildcard won’t be an easy task. Right now the Braves, Phillies, Reds, Dodgers, Rockies, and Padres are all ahead of the Astros in the Wild Card race and the Brewers and Giants are close behind. We’ll see if Clemens can make the difference and we’ll find out if it was worth $14M to bring him back for the final four months of the season.

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