Ok, I noted in a previous post that I was kind of on the fence on the whole Allard Baird firing thing and that it seemed to me that the buzzards were circling even though it was clear to anyone familiar with the team that they would be lucky to not lose 95 games.
Then I received this excerpt from Ron taken from a recent column by Rob Neyer.
Last September, we spent a few innings together at a game in Seattle. At one point, Baird gestured toward Terrence Long in left field and said, "I can't believe my phone's not ringing about that guy."
Seriously. At that point, Long was nearly finished with a season in which he did bat .279, but also posted a .321 on-base percentage and a .378 slugging percentage. He probably wasn't the worst everyday player in the major leagues, but then again, maybe he was. Now, it certainly didn't make much sense to continue playing Long down the stretch -- he got more action in September than in any other month -- when younger, more talented players were on hand. Rather, it didn't make sense unless Baird believed that playing Long was akin to showcasing Long, which might have worked except everybody else in baseball was aware that Long couldn't, you know, hit or field.
Just as [David] Glass really didn't know the Royals were going to be terrible this season, Baird really didn't know that Long wasn't good enough to play regularly in the major leagues. Of course, Baird wasn't the only one. Manager Buddy Bell kept writing Long's name into the lineup. In the middle of September, in response to a question, Bell said, "But at the same time, you don't just want to give up the ship. And that, quite frankly, is why Terrence is playing. He's been our best player for the last month. He gives us a better chance to win."
Bell said that on the 11th. Over the previous calendar month, Long's average dropped by a point (from .278 to .277) while he hit zero home runs, two triples, and four doubles, and drew eight walks. All while playing in nearly every game. I'm sure that Bell had access to all the numbers, and it's possible that he even looked at them. But he believed that Terrence Long was playing well, and that was all that mattered to him.
In the Royals' organization, everybody seems to live in a sort of Bizarro Baseball World, where left is right, up is down, and Terrence Long is better than Matt Diaz. Everybody's delusional, and it's not coincidental. The owner's delusional, and so it should not be surprising that he hired (and continues to employ) a delusional general manager, who hired (and continues to employ) a delusional manager.
Ummm. Maybe I should take that back. I had kind of assumed that Bell was insisting on playing Long (aka "Magellen") and that Baird was going along since he was paying him $2M. Turns out it would seem Baird clearly doesn't quite understand the baseline level of performance expected from a corner outfielder. That's kind of scary.