Jays 3, Royals 5: The Peter Principle

Saturday, July 23 2005 @ 03:00 AM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.
Laurence J. Peter

That's the Peter Principle - if you're good at something, you'll get promoted. And eventually you'll be doing something you're not good at.

The classic example is, of course, Captain James Kirk being promoted to Admiral. But we find the Peter Principle enacted in all walks of life. Including baseball. Think of Ray Miller the pitching coach, and Ray Miller the manager.

All this occurred to me when Jamie Campbell and Darren Fletcher mentioned that John Gibbons had stated that Pete Walker would remain in the rotation for the rest of the season. (Actually, my first thought was "Dave Bush might have something to say about that. Not to mention Roy Halladay.")

A pitching staff is a hierarchy too, is it not? The ace starter is at the top of the hierarchy, and the long relievers are at the bottom. Pete Walker's comeback is a nice story, and he has been doing an excellent job at the bottom of the pitching hierarchy. There are those who believe that this merits a promotion, and that's a hard sentiment to resist. It is by no means clear that promotion into the starting rotation is truly the best thing for Walker or for the team. That said, he's quite likely the best option right now. Even if pitching long relief is his first, best destiny.

The post-John McDonald era (more - but not much more - on this trade later!) began tonight with a loss to the Royals. Walker was not sharp, and the Jays bats couldn't climb out of the hole. I was, I admit, somewhat disturbed at the sight of a lefty reliever (Jeremy Affeldt) dealing easily with the RH heart of the order - Wells, Hillenbrand, Hill - in the eighth inning.

Liam and I were watching this game, and we were struck by the contrast between the very large Kansas City pitchers and the very small Blue Jay hitters. Liam wondered "Do we have the most short guys in baseball?" and "How tall is J.P. Ricciardi, anyway?"

Well, he's not a big guy. He's taller than me, but almost everybody is taller than me. I don't know for sure, but I'd say he's about 5-9. Is he building a team in his own image? Has he assembled the team with the most short guys?

Not quite.

He's come close, though.

Minnesota (10) - Juan Rincon, J.C. Romero, Mike Redmond, Bret Boone, Juan Castro, Nick Punto, Luis Rodriguez, Jaques Jones, Jason Kubel (DL), Shannon Stewart

Detroit (9) - Fernando Rodney, Ivan Rodriguez, Vance Wilson, John McDonald, Kevin Hooper, Brandon Inge, Placido Polanco, Fernando Vina (DL), Bobby Higginson (DL)

Toronto Blue Jays (8) - Gustavo Chacin, Jason Frasor, Chad Gaudin, Gregg Zaun, Aaron Hill, Frank Menechino, Frank Catalanotto, Reed Johnson
Pittsburgh (8) - Sean Burnett (DL), Ian Snell, Salomon Torres, Rob Macowiak, Freddy Sanchez, Chris Duffy, Matt Lawton, Tike Redmond
Colorado (8) - David Cortes, Byung-Hyun Kim, J.D. Closser, Todd Greene (DL), Eddy Garabito, Luis Gonzalez, Aaron Miles (DL), Desi Relaford
San Diego (8) - Clay Hensley, Rudy Seanez (DL), Khalil Greene, Damian Jackson, Brian Giles, Freddy Guzman (DL), Dave Roberts, Eric Young

Chicago White Sox (7) - Cliff Politte, Luis Vizcaino, Willie Harris, Tadahito Iguchi, Juan Uribe, Pablo Ozuna, Timo Perez
Florida (7) - John Riedling, Travis Smith, Paul LoDuca, Luis Castillo, Damion Easley, Chris Aquila, Lenny Harris
Houston (7) - Chad Harville, Wandy Rodriguez, Brad Ausmus, Humberto Quintero, Craig Biggio, Chris Burke, Orlando Palmeiro
Philadelphia (7) - Rheal Cormier, Cory Lidle, Billy Wagner, David Bell, Tomas Perez, Jimmy Rollins, Endy Chavez
Los Angeles Angels (7) - Bartolo Colon, Joel Peralta, Bengie Molina, Orlando Cabrera, Chone Figgins, Macier Izturis, Lou Merloni (DL)
Los Angeles Dodgers (7) - Elmer Dessens, Cezar Izturis, Antonio Perez, Oscar Robles, Olmedo Saenz, Jose Valentin (DL), Jason Repko
San Francisco (7) - Yorvit Torrealba, Edgardo Alfonzo (DL), Ray Durham, Omar Vizquel, Jason Ellison, Marquis Grissom (DL), Alex Sanchez

Seattle (6) - Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Adrian Beltre, Willie Bloomquist, Pokey Reese (DL), Chris Snelling, Ichiro Suzuki
Cincinnati (6) - Jason LaRue, Javier Valentin, Ryan Freel (DL), Luis Lopez (DL), Ray Olmedo, Joe Randa

Atlanta (5) - Macay McBride, Mike Hampton, Johnny Estrada, Rafael Furcal, Michael Giles
Oakland (5) - Ricardo Rincon, Mark Ellis, Keith Ginter, Marco Scutaro, Jay Payton
St.Louis (5) - Einar Diaz, Yadier Molina (DL), David Eckstein, Abraham O. Nunez, So Taguchi
Washington (5) - Antonio Osuna (DL), Carlos Baerga, Jamey Carroll, Jose Vidro, Jose Guillen

Kansas City (4) - Ruben Gotay, Joe McEwing, Donnie Murphy, Matt Stairs
Baltimore (4) - Tim Byrdak, Melvin Mora, Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada
Chicago Cubs (4) - Henry Blanco, Jerry Hairston, Jose Macias, Adam Greenberg (DL)
New York Yankees (4) - Tom Gordon, Rey Sanchez (DL), Tony Womack, Bubba Crosby
Arizona (4) - Lance Cormier, Mike Koplove, Kelly Stinnett (DL), Quentin McCracken

Tampa Bay (3) - Chad Orvella, Joey Gathright, Damon Hollins
New York Mets (3) - Pedro Martinez, Marlon Anderson, Kazuo Matsui (DL)

Cleveland (2)- Ronnie Belliard, Brandon Phillips
Milwaukee (2) - Trent Durrington, Chris Magruder
Texas (2) - Brian Shouse, David Dellucci
Boston (2) - Bill Mueller, Adam Stern

For tie-breakers, I have naturally used the number of little people on the Disabled List. Naturally.

As you can see, the John McDonald trade has had a huge impact on these rankings. This single transaction has moved Detroit ahead of the Blue Jays and into sole possession of second place in the race to accumulate the most vertically challenged ballplayers. You may quibble that only seven of Detroit's hobbits are actually active - two are on the DL. And you would have a valid point.

Still - clearly, someone should be asking Mr Ricciardi if this represents a change in philosophy. Is the organization striking out in a new direction? Does he have a secret plan he's not telling anyone?