It's the most common rationalization out there for teams that pick up a once-solid performer who has rather suddenly turned sour: A change of scenery will do this guy wonders.
Why teams feel the need to rationalize at all is a question for another day. Some are likely trying to appease a puzzled fan base, or calm the savage media demanding answers.
Whatever. I say do what you want and don't apologize for it. Don't feel the need to explain it. That's generally how Billy Beane of the A's works, with a confidence that's surely boosted by a tremendous history of successful reclamation projects such as the late Cory Lidle, Milton Bradley, Frank Thomas, and now, Scott Kazmir.
Did all of those guys benefit from a change of scenery? You could make that case, sure. Beane didn't, but you could. Just as easily, though, you could make the case that quality coaching, reduced pressure and expectations, or flat good timing played more of a role than a simple address change.
Is Jim Johnson going to benefit from a change of scenery, now that Beane has cut the cord? It's possible. It certainly won't be better coaching if he finds his game again. A's pitching coach Curt Young is the best in the business.
Brian Sabean of the Giants never really plays the change-of-scenery card, either. Folks did it for him in 2010, when Pat Burrell resurrected his career with a wildly successful and entertaining playoff push after being rescued from purgatory after being cut by the Tampa Bay Rays.
There was more than a little truth to the theory then, too. The Rays, at that time, had something of a hip-hop culture in the clubhouse. The core was relatively young, had come up together en masse, and went about their business with a certain amount of Rick Ross swag.
Burrell had swag, too, but he was a salty old vet. He was about as hip-hop as Queen Elizabeth, and had you asked him a question or two about Rick Ross, he might very well have answered by breaking down the various strengths and weaknesses of Rick Reed, the two-time All-Star pitcher who retired in 2003.
Thus, Burrell and the Rays parted ways. Sabean dispatched as a recruiter of sorts Aubrey Huff, who played with Burrell at University of Miami, and after a quick trip to the minors to sharpen the one tool he had left -- a powerful bat -- Burrell played a huge part in the Giants' magical roll to the title, winning hearts and minds and cementing himself as a local legend by donning S&M gear along the way.
Burrell's story, of course, is what gives the Orange and Black diehards hope as they imagine what's going to go down with Dan Uggla. Like Burrell, Uggla represents a huge need (second base production) potentially addressed, had been cut loose from a team (Atlanta Braves) that had guaranteed him big money, and was picked up on the cheap off the couch before being sent to Triple-A Fresno.
But the change-of-scenery thing doesn't appear applicable here in the slightest. The Atlanta Braves represent a very similar scene to the Giants: First-class operations that feature an enviable balance of youth and experience, swag and serious, on and off the field.
Whereas Burrell's struggles in Tampa Bay could be reasonably attributed to a lack of ease with his surroundings, Uggla's struggles in Atlanta, according to several veteran scouts who spoke to the issue on the condition of anonymity, can be attributed to little more than the ease with which pitchers can use his huge hack against him.
"He's never been, and never will be, a guy who can make adjustments, and he's lost some bat speed," one of the scouts said. "Game over."
Don't shoot the messenger, Giants fans, but do heed the message. If the scouts are on point, and they usually are, Uggla is going to give Sabean about what it cost to get him -- nothing.