Time to take the managers off the hook

Posted By on July 3, 2011 12:41 pm

As is to be expected this time of year, a spirited debate is raging about the managers’ selections for the All-Star team. Giants manager Bruce Bochy found himself right in the middle of it after he named three Giants pitchers with his nine selections to fill out the NL All-Star roster. He took Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum, leaving out guys like Tommy Hanson and Jordan Zimmerman.

There are two sides to this issue…

Bochy won the pennant last year, so he earned the right to favor his players and reward them for helping winning that pennant.

Yes, that’s true.

But the All-Star Game should go to the most deserving players this year, not as some reward for performance in past years.

Yes, that’s true.

See, what I’m getting at here?

Problem is, the managers should not be picking any All-Stars. It’s a conflict of interest. Would you be the best person to be hiring for a job if your brother was one of the candidates? That’s essentially the system we have here. Managers are family with their own players. They have to live with them for eight months. The performance of those players is what determines if managers will be able to keep their jobs. Point is, if you’re a manager, you damn well better take care of your players. No one should expect you to do otherwise.

But that’s just what MLB does when it gives managers discretion in those final All-Star spots.

Why?

Well, it’s one of the spoils of victory, I suppose. But is it really a spoil that the managers need? Do you think Bruce Bochy wasn’t satisfied with simply winning the pennant last year? (Yes, he won the World Series, but he only had to win the pennant to get this job.) Do you really think that Bochy would complain if they took this “honor” away from him?

I don’t think so.

Jayson Stark at ESPN wrote a story today in which he had Charlie Manuel and Terry Francona, both two-time All-Star managers, tell him that they’d be content without this responsibility. Francona even told Stark that in 2005 he had to have a team meeting because some of his players were unhappy that he didn’t pick enough of them for the All-Star Game. Is that a headache that any manager wants? (Especially not one with as big a head as Bochy. Coudn’t resist.)

All of this says nothing of the fact that MLB managers are pretty busy guys, so whatever time they have to spend figuring out their All-Star roster is overtime to their already all-encompassing jobs.

I think there are two choices to remedy this. One is to just let the player voting determine all of the remaining roster spots. The problem with that is that every team might not be represented, so at some point someone would have to intercede to make sure the Royals got someone on the team. (Or, you could just get rid of the rule that every team must be represented. You can make a case for that, but that’s another topic. Personally, I don’t mind every team being represented.)

Or, you could just have someone at the commissioner’s office fill out the rosters. Joe Torre works there now. Get him to do it. Or there could be some panel of former GMs and managers that would do it, like the NCAA tournament selection committee.

Yes, those guys may also make bad picks. Certainly, people would still complain. But at least no one would be put into the impossibly awkward situation in which baseball now puts the managers with this “reward.”

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