Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Final Thoughts on Bowa. Really. Final.

Wow. My new Phriend, Tom G. seems to think we're all a little simple-minded back home.

To wit:
"Look at the results compared to the payroll, there is no way someone can look at that team and realize Bowa isn't a big part of the problem"

"Are they drinking the Bowa-flavored Kool-Aid (probably colored flaming red) so much that they truly believe that the bad luck of injuries cost the manager his job?"

"...but to want Bowa's job to be preserved means that the phans are more concerned with having a manager that supposedly reflects the city's personality than with having a winning team."

I have a tendency to ramble. But today I'm going to try to boil down the Bowa argument as simply as I can.
1) As I've said before: the manager's job is limited. In terms of wins and losses, he mostly contributes to the team by assigning playing time. A manager is often judged best by what he doesn't do. Francona and Fregosi were nice guys, but they were bona fide arm-wreckers.
2) Arguments against Bowa presume that bad chemistry in a clubhouse negatively effects winning percentage. If you can quantify that I'd like to see the evidence. You'll have to explain the Oakland A's of the early 1970's (and any number of other victorious, but unharmonious clubs) while you're at it.
3) Injuries AND underperformance both played a role in the failure of the team.
4) Personnel is the General Manager's job. Greater depth, faster reactions to shore up problems, and the wise arbitrage of assets may have staved off the Phillies' slide. After all, they still had a winning record and only ended up six games out of the wild card. Replace the 41 starts by Abbott and Myers with league-average pitching; then replace 500 AB of sub-600 OPS ball from Marlon Byrd and Slaptastic Glanville with league-average CF offense. I suspect you'd easily make up sufficient marginal runs to account for the missing six wins--probably with a few to spare.
5) There is nothing magical that Bowa brings to the game, but if finding a scapegoat allows you to avoid addressing an organization's real shortcomings, it could be quite detrimental in the long run. The Phillies have some real core strengths going for them, and I'm not sure they even know what they are.

In short, it's a bum rap that doesn't really accomplish anything.

Here's hoping the Davey Johnson rumors amount to something. (And here's hoping the Mike Hargrove ones do not.)

That's all I have to say on the Phils in 2004. I'll be waiting for some hot stove league action in the meantime.


Blogger Tom G. said...

I'm not saying that Joe Phan is slow-witted, I just feel like he/they are sort of saying, "Stop confusing me with the facts, I've already made up my mind."

I probably shouldn't have said "look at the payroll and look at the results", what I should have said was "look at the ROSTER and look at the results". Nearly every member of the roster has a consistently good statistical track record, and the ones that didn't were too young to have accumulated one. But nearly all of the young players development has been retarded once they reach the Bigs and several of the veterans have had slumps while under Bowa that just don't fit in with their history. Players fizzling out or going into prolonged slumps is part of the game, but for it to happen to that many players on a roster is just to big a trend to ignore.

I agree with you that a manager isn't going to make a HUGE difference in the win column, but it will certainly help. I also agree with you that their are other problems that need to be addressed all over the organization besides Bowa, but he was one of the things they could have fixed quickest.

Anyway, I've enjoyed our little e-debate. Hopefully in the near phuture we can debate why they are playing so well ("It's great hitting!", "No, it's great pitching!").

1:57 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Ed Wade and David Montgomery and Dallas Green surely deserve to be on the hook for this season as much as anyone. But to say Larry Bowa didn't deserve to be fired is just plain wrong. He made poor lineup decisions, he made poor pitching staff decisions, and his Phillies teams have been marked by wild inconsistency and a tendency never to add up to the sum of their parts. If that's not his doing, I don't know what is.

11:31 AM  

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