I'm pretty shocked, actually, that both Matt Garza and Bruce Rondon have been sent home for the rest of 2015. I mean, I'm not surprised that their teams are tired of them, necessarily, but I'm actually surprised that their clubs decided it was better in the long run for them to be away from each other, to hopefully learn something, and come back refreshed next spring.
Garza has long been considered a pain in the butt by his teams. The Twins famously shipped him to Tampa for Delmon Young (another winner in the clubhouse!) rather than put up with him. He performed well for the Rays, settling in as a good number 3 starter before being shipped to the Cubs, aand then to the Rangers. Signed to a big free agent deal by the Brewers in 2014, Garza performed well last year, but has found himself hampered by injuries in each of the last two campaigns. In 2015, he finally was awful, posting his worst ERA (5.63) since he was a rookie, and eventually losing his spot in the rotation.
As one might expect, Garza didn't take this well, telling the Brewers he didn't want to work out of the bullpen the rest of the way. When Garza took paternity leave to be present for the birth of his kids earlier this month (something nobody should criticize), Craig Counsell told him not to come back. He did, however, leave the door open a crack, talking about how Garza is a part of the club's future and how they want to him to be focused and ready for 2016.
Rondon, on the other hand was actually just kicked off of his team altogether. Not satisfied with Rondon's effort level, embattled manager Brad Ausmus sent the gigantic Rondon and his 5.81 ERA home. Health and performance wise, nothing has come together for the hard thrower, and while the Brewers seem to want to repair their relationship with and reincorporate Garza at some point, the Tigers seem to be punishing their former closer.
It's easy to criticize both Garza and Rondon, and certainly I don't have a lot of sympathy for either one. But I also don't want to make them scapegoats for their clubs' horrible seasons. These moves are those of teams in turmoil, which both clubs certainly are.
That's not to say that the Brewers and Tigers are equals, however. The Brewers wanted to try out younger starters, and when Garza wouldn't help them do that, they let him make the decision to stay away. They seem to want to work to get back to a productive relationship on and off the field with their talented, but contentious, pitcher. The Tigers, on the other hand, were just fed up. Like an exasperated parent out of ideas, they banished Rondon to his room and grounded him.
Either way, this is not something that good teams do, but at least the Brewers are looking to the future. They're pursuing a goal. The Tigers, especially embattled manager Brad Ausmus seem to be focused on the present, trying to cling to whatever illusion of control over their clubhouse that they have left. But good organizations don't isolate their problem players in order to do that. They work to incorporate them. To help them succeed. Sending guys home when they misbehave isn't a long-term solution, and it's indicative of a club that isn't sure which way is forward.