Oh, Bill Madden. He’s been on the baseball scene since well before I was born, yet still demonstrates a level of cluelessness in his coverage. For instance, in today’s column, he complains about the Mets not handing Willie Randolph a new contract, despite his success with the team.
This is absurd and yet, thanks in no small part to the “managers are immaterial” philosophy espoused in “Moneyball”, baseball owners have become increasingly hardline when it comes to paying the men they entrust with their multi-million dollar rosters. In that regard, you could make the case for managers being the most important components of the organization.
Billy Beane does not believe managers are immaterial. Anyone who has read the book knows that Madden’s statement is wholly inaccurate. If he did believe it, why did he pawn Arte Howe off on the Mets? (Answer: because Steve Phillips is the only GM dumb enough to take him.)
Rather, Beane’s take on managers is that they’re not of enough consequence for a small-market team to overpay for one. Why would Beane, working with a tight budget, pay Lou Piniella $3.5 million per season? That money would be better spent on players, who have a weightier impact on the outcome of games. For a team like the Mets, for whom money isn’t much of an object, it would be wise to open the checkbook for a guy who’s proven his worth with the team.
Madden has demonstrated his misunderstanding of Moneyball. I’m just hoping that he’s not right about the rest of the league.