File this one with the rest of the managerial moves this season: It was only a matter of time. Lancaster Barnstormers manager Von Hayes stepped down after Thursday’s game. The team made it official this afternoon.
The franchise’s first skipper, Tom Herr, returns to the helm of the team he last managed in 2006 — when Lancaster won both halves and the league title. He left in the offseason to work for the Nationals affiliate in Hagerstown. Lancaster has not posted a winning record since his departure.
This move is not a surprise. Since his arrival, players and sources from around the league have voiced opinions about Hayes. Most of the comments have been off the record and unfavorable. And when the team hired Herr as a bench coach, it appeared only a matter of time until Herr earned the title of manager again. A blog entry from the preseason explained why this was a bad decision.
The philosophy of bringing in former managers to look over the shoulder of current skippers is flawed. It doesn’t work. If the front office has no faith in a manager, and a proven winner like Herr or Bridgeport’s Willie Upshaw needs to “help” out, the organization has a big problem. It doesn’t have one leader.
And it appears Bridgeport and Lancaster found out the difficult way, replacing managers in the middle of the season. I don’t disagree with the move of hiring Herr or Upshaw. I disagree with the move of not hiring them as a manager in November or January or February.
Lancaster obviously hopes the move will alter the landscape of the Freedom Division. If Herr can somehow turn around the Barnstormers, Lancaster should figure in the playoff chase. Currently 6-9 and trailing first-place Somerset by 3.5 games, Lancaster can still make a push at the title. Lancaster has the players to challenge for first place, and the recent acquisition of Matt Watson could be the left-handed power hitter the club has been looking to find for some time.
Here’s the Barnstormers press release:
LANCASTER, Pa. – Von Hayes is stepping down as manager of the Lancaster Barnstormers for personal reasons and will remain as a baseball advisor to the organization. Bench coach Tom Herr will take over as acting manager for the remainder of the season.
“I’ve appreciated and have enjoyed my time in Lancaster,” Hayes said. “This community has tremendous fans and this team has some special ballplayers. I believe they’re going to win this year.”
Hayes became manager of the Barnstormers in November of 2007 after winning championships with the Oakland A’s at Single-A Modesto in 2004 and Double-A Midland in 2005. He was named the manager of the year in the California League and in the Texas League after each of those seasons. With the Barnstormers, Hayes had a 64-76 record in his first season. The team is 39-46 this season, including a 6-9 mark in the second half.
“We thank Von for his commitment to the team and for his leadership,” Barnstormers president Jon Danos said. “We offer him our support in the future and look forward to working with him as an advisor.”
Herr served as manager of the Barnstormers in 2005 and 2006, leading the team to its first championship in 2006. After spending one season with the Washington Nationals as manager at Single-A Hagerstown in 2007, the Hempfield High graduate returned to the Barnstormers as a bench coach in December of 2008.
“I’m excited about this opportunity,” Herr said. “I wish Von the very best.”