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|History says Davey Johnson knows how to turn around struggling franchises.|
|Team||Years||Before Johnson||With Johnson||After Johnson|
|Mets||'84-'90||68-94||7 straight seasons finishing 1st or 2nd||6 straight losing seasons|
|Reds||'93-'95||73-89||2 straight 1st-place finishes||235-252 next 3 seasons|
|Orioles||'96-97||71-73||1 AL East title, 1 wild card||9 straight below-.500 seasons|
|Dodgers||'99-'00||83-79||163-161, finished 3rd, 2nd||4 straight above-.500 seasons|
Some caveats apply. Johnson often had the good fortune of taking over a team with rising, young talent -- the 1984 Mets with Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry being a prime example. There's also the question of whether or not the game has passed him by: Johnson, now 64, hasn't had a big league managing job in seven years, and his last effort with the Dodgers was arguably his worst performance, given how the team performed before and after his departure. Still, there's a lot more winning than losing on his résumé. Johnson always had a knack for putting his best players on the field, valuing performance over name value. Jim Leyland's successful return to managing shows that a good manager can flourish even after a long time away from the dugout. His firings usually had more to do with his abrasive personality and refusal to genuflect in front of ownership than any failures on the field. By bringing him back, Peter Angelos would be burying the hatchet over disagreements that happened a decade ago, acknowledging the O's haven't been the same since Johnson left. It would be a great move for a franchise that needs to get back to their winning ways of old. Plus, then we can move on to why Bobby Valentine and Larry Dierker aren't managing in the majors. 2. Seven teams hit the beach too early. How else can you explain seven road sweeps among the 15 series played over Memorial Day weekend? Let's take a quick look at those seven results, and the lessons learned from each one: Rockies sweep Giants
|Jorge Posasa is one of the best catchers in baseball, but his batting average is deceptively high.|
4. The Astros have lost eight straight games. Here are three things they can do to get better. Bench Craig Biggio against right-handed pitchers. I hate to keep picking on Biggio, a deserving Hall of Famer and an institution in Houston. But this has gone on long enough. He's at .228/.281/.380 this season, including a miserable .204/.257/.358 versus righties. Biggio's still a good enough hitter (.298/.353/.447) to be an asset against lefty pitching, garnering enough ABs to get his 3,000th hit before too long. Put him in a spot where he can contribute, instead of embarrassing everyone involved. Play Morgan Ensberg every day. Yes, he's an incredibly frustrating player to watch, prone to long, painful slumps. But he also showed enough power and patience to rack up OPS marks of 945 and 858 the past two seasons. Mike Lamb doesn't scare anyone. Installing Mark Loretta at second and Morgan Ensberg at third, with Biggio and Lamb spot-starting, would give the offense a much-needed boost. Find a legitimate major league catcher, as soon as possible. In Brad Ausmus' second tour of duty with the Astros, now in its seventh year, not once has he managed even a 700 OPS (he's at .242/.333/.312 this year). Those who defend Ausmus' employment by citing his defense are ignoring the diminished value of a stolen base in today's game, or the studies that show how a catcher's ability to help his team by calling a good game is highly overrated. Despite John Buck's emergence as an offensive threat in Kansas City, it's unfair to fault the team for trading him to acquire Carlos Beltran -- a deal that helped propel Houston to the brink of a championship. But the Astros need to put sentiment aside, acquire a new starting catcher, and usher Ausmus to the bench. 5. There might not be a Liriano or Verlander in the bunch, but this year's rookie class could rival last year's bumper crop.
|After 27 games as a major leaguer, Astros outfielder Hunter Pence boasts a gaudy OPS of 1.006|
|Might the Yankees be disappointed|
in the Giambino's production?
10. Barry Bonds says he doesn't owe it to the Hall of Fame to donate bats, balls and other memorabilia relating to his chase of Hank Aaron's record. He's right, he doesn't. And neither will I. "I'm not worried about the Hall," Bonds said of the expected requests for those souvenirs once he hits his 756th home run. "I take care of me." Bonds is 10 homers shy of the landmark homer. According to Clay Davenport's latest estimate, that homer could occur around the time I hit AT&T Park to see Giants-Diamondbacks June 30. When Bonds' 756th sails over the right-field wall, know that I have very long arms, and a Canadian's scrapper mentality. Let the bidding begin.