I know that's a lame title for a post but it's hard to think of a pithy title for everything you write.
Anyway, the Royals have hired a manager and selected....Buddy Bell?
I guess I'd have to side with Rob and Rany and think that perhaps Allard Baird pulled the trigger a bit too fast and should have instead been concentrating on the draft. After all, it certainly couldn't have hurt to have Bob Schaefer play the interim role for a bit longer during this train wreck of a season.
That said, I find it hard to believe that Bell was the best available candidate from a tactical perspective. After all, he hasn't exactly distinguished himself in the past with a record of 352-458 in his tenure with the Rockies and Tigers. His best season was an 82-80 finish in 2000 with the Rockies courtesy of Baseball Reference.
Year League Team Age G W L WP Finish
1996 AL East Detroit 44 162 53 109 .327 5
1997 AL East Detroit 45 162 79 83 .488 3
1998 AL Cent Detroit 46 137 52 85 .380 5
2000 NL West Colorado 48 162 82 80 .506 4
2001 NL West Colorado 49 162 73 89 .451 5
2002 NL West Colorado 50 22 6 16 .273 4
Colorado 346 161 185 .465
Detroit 461 184 277 .399
TOTAL 807 345 462 .428
So apparently it isn't his results on the field that led Baird to hire him. In fact, if you look at Brad Doolittle's WAMMER ratings Bell ranks 96th out of 100 managers at -15.6 - meaning that his teams underperformed by almost 16 wins during his tenure based on a combination of their pythagorean record given their offensive and defensive elements and their record in one-run games. I'm not completely sold on Doolittle's methdology since Bill James has shown that winning percentage in one-run games is a pretty ephemeral thing to try and measure, let alone stick completely on a manager. In addition, I think the methodology penalizes managers of bad teams by assuming that their teams should play .500 ball in one-run games. James showed in the article just mentioned that that wouldn't be the case. Bad teams should be expected to lose more one-run games than good teams.
What it was that led Baird to Bell, according to this story on Yahoo was his combination of experience, teaching ability, and toughness.
"We're very excited about this," general manager Allard Baird said. "If you look at his career -- 18 years in the big leagues -- he's a teacher, a communicator.
"He's been there and has experienced it as a player and as a teacher. He has patience but is extremely demanding."
So there you go. My hope is that Baird sets some philosophical direction in the front office and that Bell has bought into it but I'm not holding my breath. The Royals gave him a contract through 2007 but I don't know the amount.
Interestingly, the Yahoo article also mentioned that owner David Glass said that there is room to expand the payroll next year as well above the $39M level of 2005. I'm wondering how that fits in with the youth movement given that the two biggest offseason acquisitions, Eli Marrero and Terrance Long are huge busts up to this point. Does it mean that they spend enough to sign a quality free agent or keep spending a couple of million on mid-level players? It seems to me Baird would be better off using the free talent pool of replacement level players to fill positions until the young players are actually ready. That means Gotay, Burgos, Nunez, Bautista, et. al. get some more seasoning in the minors before being asked to step into a major league role. Of course, what I'd like to see Glass do with that money is draft the best player available in a couple weeks and pay the signing bonus. That would probably be their best investment.