Given the content of my earlier post, it should be apparent that I believe there is a leadership void on this team. Kirk Gibson is partially at fault here, as well as the rest of the coaching staff. But there seems to be a lack of leadership among the players as well. What follows are some theories as to why there seems to be no leadership, and what can be done to rectify it.
Given the performance of the pitching staff, it should be apparent that there is a major problem. Given that we all know the players are better than this, leadership seems to be at least part of the problem. Knee-jerk reactions to poor performance probably haven't helped. The rotation is currently comprised of two solid performers (Miley and Arroyo), one streaky veteran in McCarthy, and two decent pitchers that have Peter Principled their way into the role (Collmenter and Bolsinger, in case anyone was wondering). The bullpen seems to have improved, and given the starting rotation, probably needs two long relievers.
The role of Dave Duncan may need to be revisited. I wonder (and that is all I can do, as I am totally outside the situation) if his role with the team is serving to undercut the authority of Harkey as pitching coach. Perhaps I am totally off-base to see in Duncan a sort of behind-the-scenes king-maker who can suggest whoever he wishes as coach, and just as easily have that coach removed and replaced. But if I can speculate, surely the players can as well. Are they not listening to Harkey because they know he is not really in charge? Is Harkey not taking steps he needs to take because he knows he's not really in charge?
Not only does this rotation not have an ace, it also has no clear leader. Arroyo is the senior figure, but is a newcomer with the team. McCarthy has been here longer, but his public persona, at any rate, doesn't seem to be that of a motivational leader for the starting rotation. Miley has been the most solid performer (both this year and last), but is relatively young. One of these three needs to step up, take ownership of the leadership of the starting rotation, and fill the gap.
The bullpen is better suited, with Brad Ziegler looking like an ideal figure to rally the troops. He has the experience, he has been here, and he was a fill-in closer last year. No one else in the bullpen really appears ready or able to take the leadership role.
Miguel Montero, of course, will be a key figure if the pitching is to improve. But his necessary leadership of the pitching staff only serves to increase the leadership void of the position players.
There are a lot of good position players on this team, both young players and (to use everyone's favorite term) gritty veterans. But who is the leader? Montero is the senior member of the team, but can he afford to spare time from his role with the pitching staff to light a fire under the rest of the players? Doubtful. The pitching staff (including the process of planning and calling the game) needs his full attention at the moment. The rest of the team is largely guys you would want, but they don't scream "leadership". Perhaps Goldy is developing into a leader; he seems most likely to do so. Cody Ross might provide some leadership, now that he is back with the team. But to whom will the other players listen? Given the radical drop-off in performance, one wonders if some of the "bad clubhouse guys" were actually the people trying to light a fire under everyone else.
Unless I'm mistaken, Gibby's record as a manager sits right at the .500 mark, or is within a game or two of it. Alan Trammell was unsuccessful as a manager in Detroit. I think it's time to look at Turner Ward as the next manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, for two reasons. One, he has had success in the minor leagues, and two, he has managed many of the current players in the minor leagues. As a figure important to the development of many of the players currently on their team, he already has their respect, something Gibby and Trammell may be losing. And if he needs to, he can always run through a wall to motivate the team (a sentence shamelessly inserted so as to use this GIF).
Hopefully, the team is about to turn the corner. Being 11 games below .500 just isn't going to cut it, but there is still plenty of time to turn things around. Hopefully that will start tonight, and hopefully no one will try to run through the wall at Wrigley.