HAVANA TIMES — It’s been three years since Lazaro Vargas Alvarez was selected to lead Cuba’s top-winning baseball team. I emphasize this, Cuba’s top winning team, because I feel we must draw up a balance of the Vargas’s triumphs and blunders, with a view to deciding if he ought to keep his position or not.
Everyone knows we aren’t talking about any old team. Havana’s Industriales counts on the material and logistical support that the capital of any country provides its team with. There are two million inhabitants in the city to choose its 25 players from.
It is also true that Havana is a complex city and this has a very specific effect on its banner-team. The unquestionable fact is that the team feels that it has to win.
All of this gives the selection of the team’s manager special significance. After the three unsuccessful seasons in which Vargas has been at the helm, it may be time to assess the situation. As is natural to assume, such an assessment should not be made by an aficionado, like me, who, at most, can only contribute some data from memory.
Below are the thoughts of yet another Cuban who thinks he knows something about baseball:
— For three years, Vargas has been managing a team that, on average, wins the championship 1 of every 4 or 5 seasons. Under his management, the team has come out in 2nd, 6th and 3rd place these past three years.
— The team showed a stable performance under the direction of its 8 first managers, followed by a three-year period (under German Mesa) in which the team lost more games than it won and was left out of the post-season on two occasions.
Looking towards the 2014-2015 season:
— The team has a pitching staff with a great future, including such names as David Mena, Pedro Duran, and Eddy Abel Rodriguez.
— Vargas has shown a tendency to do things on whim, something which clearly conspired against the team’s victory during the playoff series against Pinar del Rio. He has made bad use of pitchers on many occasions.
— The team’s batters aren’t properly prepared. There are far too many injuries and up and down performance curves for such a short period of time.
— Vargas has given the younger players opportunities in the field, but not at the right momento.
My opinion about Lazara Vargas, as manager, is more or less this: his chances of succeeding in the future will depend on his ability to mature over time. He may need to put together a better coaching team and make wiser selections in terms of reinforcements for the second stage of the baseball season.
My decision is: to allow Vargas to manage the team for one more season and have him commit to win. It seems harsh, but that is how the blue team rolls – if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be known as Cuba’s top-winning team.