Mike Scioscia, Mike Napoli, and Tom Grieve

I stumbled across this article from the L.A. Times on the resignation of Tony Reagins over at BTF, and while it is almost a week old, I thought it was noteworthy for this paragraph in particular:

Every time Napoli came to the plate and they flashed his .315 average on the scoreboard, you could hear the grumbling in the stands. Or maybe that was the rumbling in Reagins' stomach. From all accounts, Scioscia, who is untouchable and should be, was the one who forced the issue on Napoli because of perceived defensive shortcomings. But Reagins pulled the trigger and now has paid the price.

The Times piece says what I think most people in baseball have thought and assumed to be the case...that Napoli was gone because Scioscia wanted him gone.  While the manager doesn't make the ultimate decisions, a strong manager, particularly one with a successful track record, is going to have a lot of influence over the personnel moves that a team makes.  Remember Buck Showalter in Texas?  Remember Colby Rasmus getting dealt in St. Louis because Tony LaRussa didn't want to deal with him, or his father, any more?  

Which brings us back to the awkward circumstances in the penultimate game of the regular season, in what was likely the next-to-last time Dave Barnett and Tom Grieve do a Rangers game together, when Grieve objected to Barnett's criticism of Scioscia running off Napoli, saying that managers aren't the ones who make the trades, and then going silent, leaving Barnett to fend for himself the rest of the inning.  (Link is to Joey Matches' blog post on the subject, which has the audio).

A couple of sort of related, but not really related, points here...Grieve was, I think, off-base in taking Barnett to task for criticizing Scioscia's role in letting Napoli go, and a bit disingenuous by seeming to exempt Scioscia from blame because the g.m. is the guy who makes the trades.  I think Grieve would admit that what Bobby Valentine wanted, or didn't want, when he was managing the Rangers played a role in the moves Grieve made.

That being said, it also doesn't really matter...Tom Grieve is the g.m. who brought Nolan Ryan to Texas, signed him to a big contract, and facilitated him finishing out his career in Arlington as a Texas hero.  Grieve, meanwhile, is a Ranger icon, a former player and g.m. who has now been the color man on the TV side for a number of years.  As long as Ryan is calling the shots, Grieve will, no doubt, stay in the booth as long as he wants, and I don't think it is unreasonable to believe that includes picking, or at least having significant say in, who his partner will be.  To draw an analogy...while Nolan may be Tony Reagins, the guy who ultimately hires and fires the TV PBP guy, Grieve is Mike Scioscia, someone whose opinions on the subject are going to carry a significant amount of weight.

Finally, though, it is worth remembering that the people who are paid to write or talk about this stuff are human and are influenced by relationships.  We saw it earlier this year, when the D/FW media bent over backwards to assure the fans that the quality of the TV broadcast was really good and getting even better, because the alternative was to bash (or at least, not defend) someone they consider a friend.  We see it when ESPN talks about the Baltimore Orioles, as Peter Gammons and other former colleagues of Buck Showalter bend over backwards to assure everyone that there's no one better, smarter, and more prepared as a baseball manager than Buck.  And we see it when those in the local media criticize, or choose to defend, those they cover.

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