Hey Astros: Call Frank Robinson, For Crying Out Loud
Drayton McLane has hired five managers since firing Art Howe, the manager he inherited from the prior ownership. Three of those five managers were first-time-ever managers (Terry Collins, Larry Dierker, and Cecil Cooper). The other two were guys who failed at multiple managerial stops (Jimy Williams and Phil Garner). Frankly, I'm tired of Drayton hiring first-timers, and I'm tired of him hiring guys who have failed previously. Dave Clark has shown absolutely nothing in his time as third base coach to indicate that he can handle a managing job -- Justice says this doesn't matter as sucking as a third base coach doesn't mean he'd be a bad manager. I say that if Clark can't handle getting a runner from third to home, then he definitely can't handle the proper time to make a pitching change.
Since Justice is throwing names out for the job, I'd like to throw out a name. I think the first guy Drayton McLane should call is Frank Robinson. Robinson's in the Hall of Fame as a player, and he was the first African-American manager in the majors. If you go just off his record alone, Robinson would look like a bad choice in that his record makes it appear that he's failed in just about every job he's manager. His career managing record is 1065-1176. He's managed the Cleveland Indians, the San Francisco Giants, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. In 17 years, his clubs have only finished with a winning record five times. And he has never managed a team to the playoffs. So he appears to be just another manager who has been given the opportunity to fail with multiple managing jobs.
But it's for this reason that he's the best possible manager for the Astros next season.
For the most part, Robinson has been handled the job of managing bad teams with limited talent. His last job was with the Expos/Nationals and while in Montreal, the team was owned by MLB and MLB didn't exactly pay lots of money to keep the farm system stocked. Yet Robinson was able to keep that team competitive in both locations, leading the 2002 Expos to a second place finish and while the 2005 Nationals finished in fifth place, the team finished with an 81-81 record.
Robinson was able to get Alfonso Soriano to stop pouting and to make an effort when he was forced to change positions, so think of what he could with the likes of Carlos Lee. And if Robinson couldn't command the respect of the Astros clubhouse, then it's just not possible to tame that clubhouse and massive changes elsewhere need to be made.
The Expos/Nationals under Robinson were actually competitive and relevant with a very limited, talent-impaired roster, so then just think of what he could do with the Astros, a team with an aging, talent-impaired roster and an empty farm system. If I were Robinson, I would be sick of trying to turn awful rosters into competitive ball clubs. But if I were Drayton McLane, he would definitely be the first guy called. I'm sure he'll demand more money than Drayton's used to handing out to managers. But for once, unlike with Carlos Lee and Kazuo Matsui, it would actually be money well-spent.