I hadn’t planned this theme, but it’s time for another Charlotte Hornets related post.
By the way, I had someone who’s close to the KC organization ask me just this morning what it would take to get Francoeur. He told me that if Dayton and his assistants had a list of the guys they’d like to trade for, Francoeur is atop it. Seriously. They don’t view him in light of this past season so much as they do for the years he was in the minor league system when Dayton was with the Braves, etc. They LOVE his mental makeup and physical talent. Hey, just telling you what I hear.
Seriously? They LOVE his mental makeup, after the juvenile tantrum he threw last year about his being sent down while being the worst everyday player in baseball?
But, that’s not the point of this post. Dayton Moore appears to be fascinated with the farm system he used to oversee. Since moving to the Royals he’s acquired former Braves products Odalis Perez, Tony Pena, Kyle Davies, Brayan Pena, and Horacio Ramirez. It’s not that acquiring these players were necessarily bad moves, but I think that fans should have a right to be worried when a GM seems attached to things that he once saw as great in his mind’s eye. Jim Bowden seems to have a similar fascination in Washington, bringing in Reds products Wily Mo Pena and Austin Kearns (there may have been a few others, but I’m not going to investigate).
This brings me back to the Charlotte Hornets. Dick Harter was the first coach of the Hornets. (Funny aside: I knew a reporter who was involved in breaking the story that Harter would be the first coach. He found what he thought was his home phone number, and called the number in the late-evening to get a comment. A woman answered the phone and the reporter asked “May I speak to Dick Harter.” The woman, who heard “Dick Harder”, screamed and hung up the phone.) Harter felt that the Hornets could be competitive if they could get a good big man, and that big man was Stuart Gray, a man Harter felt was being underutilized by his former team, the Indiana Pacers.
The Hornets eventually did acquire Gray, I believe for a second-round pick, for the 1989-1990 season. Gray came to town and was nothing less than the pure embodiment of a “stiff.” His signature moment involved going berserk against the Lakers and attempting to rip Michael Cooper‘s head from his body by holding him in a death-lock on the floor for a minute or so. Pat Rilely was actually on the floor pulling and kicking Gray to release Cooper. Stuart played in only 39 games for the Hornets. I can’t recall whether he was released or injured, but it was the beginning of the end for Harter who was fired during that season.
This is just one data point in my memory. I’m sure plenty of GMs have used their past experiences to acquire good talent. Still, I would be worried to see such strong attachments to past players who really are not that good. Just remember Stuart Gray.
UPDATE:It turns out that Stuart Gray was not stiff.