Neyer has more on Scioscia trying to rationalize his horrible misjudgment of Napoli. A few points:
- The Napoli for an $85 million anvil deal is the most irrational organizational move in many, many years, and everyone with decision-making authority in the Angels organization has to take a hit (and has, in the case of the guy with the ultimate responsibility.) But Scioscia can’t escape blame; if he valued Napoli at all there’s no way he gets included in a trade for a legendarily bad contract the Jays have been trying to offload for years.
- Having said that, claims that Scioscia has not been a good manager are not tenable. It’s not consistent with the best empirical data for evaluating managers. And while the Birnbaum database is not the God’s truth, I think a qualitative analysis would show the same thing. Given the success of his first decade, to argue that Scisocia was costing his teams several games a year is to argue that the Angels had a great roster that should be winning over 100 games most years. I think this is somewhere between “implausible” and “ludiciruous.” Seriously, you’re telling me that this team — with one player who could be even loosely described as “great” (9th best WAR in the league) and a grand quality total of zero premium starting pitchers in their primes — should be expected to win 100 games? Please. For most of his tenure, Scioscia has achieved quite remarkable results with the rosters he had to work with.
- With that said, as I said about Francona it seems very likely he’s contributed what he has to contribute and it would probably be best for the Angels to move on. His emphasis on Doing Things the Right Way actually has led to real wins for the Angels over the years. But getting rid of Napoli to play the hapless Mathis suggests that his vision has passed into self-parody. And it’s not just that — he no longer runs a good bullpen and the team’s baserunning is ordinary. (They’re still excellent defensively, but Sociscia has sacrificed too much for it.) He seems to have the job for as long as he wants it, but I think that’s a mistake. Again, only the greatest managers are effective for as ling as Scioscia has managed the Angels, and there’s every reason to think that he doesn’t qualify.
- You know who is an outstanding manager right now while getting very little credit for it, though? Ron Washington. The Rangers are by far the best baserunning team in the majors, play good defense, have an excellent bullpen, and hustle. His players often perform to or exceed reasonable expectations. Everything the Angels are supposed to be, in other words, only without Scoscia’s baggage; having coached for Billy Beane he understands that good fundamentals aren’t incompatible with power hitters. And while (just like the Hall of Famer in the opposing dugout in this World Series) he does overmanage in the postseason he’s generally sound tactically — only Francona issued fewer intentional walks this year. Hell of a manager.