As teams near the end of Spring Training, there is the task of trimming the rosters to 25 players. That’s called the “25-man active roster.” Teams also keep an additional 15 players on hand through their Minor League systems. This “40-man roster” allows teams to quickly and easily call up players from the Minors in case of injury to a key player or for some other reason. Perhaps a batter is in a slump and just needs to spend some time in the Minors out of the pressure and limelight in order to get his confidence back. He can also spend some quality time with a hitting coach who can work on fundamentals. The person who is on the 40-man roster who gets called up can get his “cup of coffee” in the Majors. That is, he gets to play some games in “the Bigs” (the big league) and experience the game from a whole new dimension. It can also serve as a good motivator to keep him doing well in the Minors in order to move up to the “Show.”
The task of trimming includes the 40-man roster plus a few invitees and non-roster players who might have been invited to Spring Training to help with split-squad games or travel days. The Manager will rely on advice from Coaches as he evaluates the past month (usually March but in 2018 this also included a few days in February). How did the player perform in the field while on defense, how many errors did he commit, did he show hustle, was he supportive of the team – back to that Little League affirmation! Looking at pitchers and deciding on a four- or five-man rotation and who gets the nod is often more difficult. A few performances over the period of a month may not give a truly accurate picture as to the durability of the pitcher or if he can get quality starts (i.e. getting into the later innings so as not to burn out the bullpen pitchers). Finally, Managers and Coaches talk a lot about the long-haul season: are these the guys we want to spend the next six months with, on an intimate, daily basis? It’s chemistry as much as anything.
In hiring situations through the years, in non-profit as well as for-profit settings, I looked at any number of factors in my decisions. Obviously, experience and qualifications were important. Could the person actually do the job? During the interview process, I had to determine if the person wanted the job and if s/he would do the job. I always had the person spend time with other team members. I wanted to hear from them if they liked being around the prospective new hire, if they were comfortable, if they had a sense of comradery or could easily build it with this person. We were likely to face stresses from time to time; would this person be “all in” and do whatever was necessary (obviously within limits) in order to see the project through to the end? We talked a lot about “chemistry” and “fit,” not just with our team but with the larger organization. In the long-haul season, making the right hires or roster moves can determine if the team will be productive. It will also determine if the time spent with each other will be mutually enhancing and fun or a total nightmare, sucking the life out of any experience (thus, driving down productivity).
If you are a hiring Manager, how can baseball and the Spring Training/roster-trimming experience be a helpful metaphor for your next important decision-making event?