“Are you going to deal with ‘Sori’ the same way you deal with (Blake) DeWitt?” he said. “No.”
Steve Rosenbloom thinks that’s ridiculous.
Maybe he was intimidated by big-money players. Maybe he wanted them to say nice things to help him lose the interim tag. Whatever, the fact is he didn’t bench Ramirez when he gave up on some defensive plays and generally played dodgeball in the field. Nor did he bench Soriano for an utter and typical lack of hustle out of the batter’s box. What’s worse, Soriano’s stylin’ came in Quade’s first game. Soriano stayed in the game. Soriano was in the lineup the next day. Message to Cubs players: Become a big-money veteran.
There’s a reason Steve Rosenbloom works on his own. He and other like-minded (is it right to use the word mind about someone who refuses to think?) individuals opine that the only way to communicate to players is by benching them. Fredi Gonzalez is apparently one of those people. That’s how he handled Hanley Ramirez. It worked out well. I’m sure the righteous indignation made his final month of employment the very best ever.
Maybe in some phase of the Industrial Revolution, it made sense to treat every laborer exactly the same. Keep everyone at the factory in place. Forget individuality. The commoners can have their dignity when they go home, but at work you treat them like two year olds and put them in time out when they’re naughty.
But this isn’t 1832, and the Cubs aren’t children. Enlightened employers realize that impartiality doesn’t require blanket uniformity. Respecting the individuality of each team member calls for some amount of personalization in the way you relate to them. That holds true for any workplace. The need for specialization is even more pronounced in baseball.
Think it’s important to treat everyone exactly the same? Why on earth would Quade do that? The Cubs don’t pay everyone the same. Alfonso Soriano makes about 45 times as much money as Blake DeWitt. If Mike Quade wants to use playing time to send a message stronger than that, he’ll have to bench Soriano until the year 2078. If he wants to send a real message, however, he needs to communicate like an adult.
Some people viewed Starlin Castro‘s benching last year as a punitive act, but I think Quade’s decision was a bit more sophisticated than that. A player will respond to his own mistakes much differently when he’s 20 than when he’s 35. The time off gave Castro a chance to slow down his reaction and deal with it thoughtfully (or “reflect,” as Quade put it). I don’t know if it was the right move, but it was a thoughtful one, not the loud-mouthed, drill-sergeant approach Rosenbloom is calling for.
Benching Ramirez and Soriano would do nothing but disrespect them. Beat reporters, columnists, and bloggers have no obligation to show respect to players, but Mike Quade does. Treating multi-millionaires (or $400,000-aires, for that matter) like children isn’t macho, it’s mindless. I’m glad Mike Quade understands that.