By Mike Steffanos
If you're a regular reader of the comments on this site, you are familiar with the excellent comments dd leaves on this site. However, many of the readers don't check out the comments, and I thought this one from yesterday deserved to be more widely read:
I don't believe in crucifying a General Manager over a bad personnel decision, so long as I generally have confidence in that manager's good judgement. It's not because I am such a nice guy -- I'm a right bastard, ask anybody -- but rather because I don't wish to disarm the fellow from making the next decision without an exaggerated fear of the outcome. I want him to be able to continue to exercise that good judgement, in other words.
But there's a corollary to that thought: if your decision maker makes a decision that proves to be a bad decision, then he must have the fortitude to correct that mistake; otherwise that decision maker is sentencing you to ALL of his actions, both good and bad, and who needs that? I'm thinking about Scott Schoeneweis, as you might have gathered.
Mr. Schoeneweis was given a three year contract, for something like $10 million as I recall. That's not looking like a very good move today, as he sports an ERA of just under six runs a game. Why that should be a surprise to anyone eludes me, since his LIFETIME ERA is over five, but we've all seen what Minaya can do, and I was willing to follow along with that signing. Pretty willing, anyway.
Today, I see no good reason to continue with this pitcher. Yes, he has been reasonably good at recording outs from the other side's left handed batters -- but if the other side pinch hits a righthander, any righthander, he's suddenly facing a vintage Todd Helton with an extra hundred points of slugging percentage. A pitcher can't succeed, allowing righthanders an OBP over .400, a slugging percentage over .700.
Releasing Schoeneweis would be costly, indeed -- but that is a cost already borne by the Mets, whatever they do next. Will the signing decision come to look better if the team gives him another hundred innings? I see no reason to believe that.
Curiously, this year the Mets have been connected with two of the worst free agent signings in baseball history besides Schoeneweis. Damon Easley signed a long term contract with the Tigers; when he was cut before the 2003 season his was the highest contract for a player to be released, something over $6 million. And I have read at least two articles that traced the Texas Rangers' decline to the signing of Chan Ho Park.
Everyone is human and therefore liable to errors in judgment. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, declare error, fix the error and move on. If you can't do that, I'm not so sure I want you to be the one to make that next judgment call.
I'm willing to give them some slack on the original signing. Omar indicated in an interview that the club evaluated Schoeneweis as someone who is just coming into his own as a reliever. Perhaps if he wasn't pitching with a severed tendon in his leg we would be seeing the pitcher they thought they signed. But the simple fact is that he's been absolutely brutal for most of May and June. In fairness, he has been better since a brutal 1/3 of an inning against the Phillies earlier this month, but that's a relative term. As Dan mentioned in his comment, it's like throwing up the white flag allowing Schoeneweis to pitch to a right-hander.
Maybe Schoeneweis will turn his season around and a couple of months from now I'll be doing a mea culpa similar to when I wrote off Jose Valentin last season. It's hard to picture that, though. Even as he has lowered his ERA from 7.17 to 5.88 over his last 6 appearances, he has still allowed 4 inherited runners to score and has given up 6 hits in 4.2 IP. I know they won't release him in the first year of a 3-year deal, but maybe it's time to shut him down until that tendon heals. I just don't think this struggling bullpen can afford to carry him right now.