The Colorado Rockies have announced the firing of Modesto Nuts manager Lenn Sakata, effective Sunday. Sakata was hired in 2011 as the hitting instructor for the Asheville Tourists and was placed as Modesto's manager in 2012. The Nuts will now be led by organizational development supervisor Fred Nelson.
The Rockies explained their reasoning for letting Sakata go in an article by Brian VanderBeek in the Modesto Bee:
"There are certain things that the organization is attempting to do and it became clear that Lenn was no longer going to be a fit as we moved ahead with those efforts," said Jeff Bridich, Colorado senior director of player development.
Sakata oversaw a team that was successful in several areas over the past year and a half; including the promotion of former Nuts Corey Dickerson and Rafael Ortega to the major leagues and a first place finish in the second half of the 2012 season. This year the Nuts are in fourth place with a record of 43-45 and while the pitching staff ranks second in ERA for the CAL league, the hitters have taken a step back in development. Trevor Story and Will Swanner are two highly touted hitters in the Rockies organization, but both have struggled to repeat the success they found in Asheville last year.
"So I got fired, I guess, because I don't believe in the philosophy of what they're doing. I got fired for caring too much about the development of each player." explained Sakata on his take of the events.
Lenn has made statements recently that could be perceived as critical of the Rockies. He made comments about a thin bullpen after a loss on July 2nd and has also increased the playing time of Ryan Casteel over Swanner since April.
This season the Rockies implemented development supervisors who were assigned to each team to oversee the progression of players and make sure each minor league team was following the organization's philosophy. Fred Nelson was assigned to the Nuts, but wasn't able to join the team until June due to a back surgery. Assistant director Zach Wilson worked the role until Fred's return.