Friday, January 30, 2015
There are minor league legends, and then there was Rocky Bridges. Jim Bouton called Bridges his favorite manager, even though he never played for him. Why? Because Bridges made the game fun for his players.
Bridges was also the man who dubbed Mike Epstein “Superjew” and Greg Minton “Moon Man.”
Friday, December 12, 2014
30. Clint Hurdle: Last year someone told him that I ranked him last and he was reportedly happy about it, as I would hope a legit old school baseball man would. Indeed, he even took it as a compliment. So far be it from me to elevate him from this position of honor. Which is difficult! He just had hip surgery and, as my father has told me, when you get to a certain age in life, your attractiveness is positively influenced by your access to handicapped parking placards. So use what you got, Clint. Use what you got.
Posted: December 12, 2014 at 11:57 AM | 46 comment(s)
Friday, December 05, 2014
The Rays will hire former big league catcher Kevin Cash as their next manager, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Cash was reportedly one of three finalists with Raul Ibanez and former Mariners manager/current Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu. Ibanez had reportedly withdrawn himself from consideration earlier this week…
Cash, who turns 37 tomorrow, served as the Indians’ bullpen coach in 2013-14 after a brief stop in the Blue Jays’ scouting department following his playing career… Cash spent parts of eight Major League seasons as a catcher for the Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, Rays and Blue Jays, batting a combined .183/.248/.278 in 714 plate appearances.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
We know that over the course of a season, plate discipline erodes as hitters presumably get more tired. It’s hard to get enough sleep out on the road and after a while even a fun job becomes just another job. Well, if players lose plate discipline, they are probably bleeding away strikes, and that can have a significant effect on a team’s chances. Maybe there are some managers who are just better at handling the grind, and in minimizing the penalty to be paid for fatigue and boredom at the end of a long season.
Ideally, we could find a manager (or 12) who could actually reverse the downward trend. That is, over a season, we would actually see that the players who played under them performed a little better. While everyone else was trending downward, his players would be trending upward. At the very least, he would hold the line. It turns out that there are a few of those managers. Again, setting aside the managers who were interims or who only managed for one year in the sample, we see that Mike Matheny actually turns out to be pretty good at this, along with Cito Gaston, Bud Black, Davey Johnson, and Terry Francona.
There’s a certain chicken-and-egg problem that we must first deal with. One could make the case that perhaps what we’re seeing is that as the season wears on for some teams, they become involved in a pennant race, and that’s really what keeps them from trailing off. I can’t fully rule that one out. There’s also the question of whether the manager should take all the credit (or blame) for these effects. Maybe it’s the hitting coach who wears the rainbow wig. Maybe it’s an organizational thing. We know that there’s an effect, but there’s a black box around it right now. How can we encourage managers to set things up to better fight The Grind? There’s more work to do here and it’s pretty clear that the possible benefits are enormous.
Posted: November 19, 2014 at 10:51 AM | 0 comment(s)
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
BBC might have been on board with Parker’s rant ... until he wondered aloud about Ausmus.
The Maddon hire isn’t the problem. He’s a veteran skipper who has had success. It’s the Molitor hiring that should make aspiring black and Hispanic managers feeling salty.
While a great player, Molitor doesn’t have any managerial experience - not in the minors or majors.
That’s a new trend in MLB, hiring guys who have never managed before. Some have never even been a coach on the minor league or major league level.
Enter Brad Ausmus. Somehow, Ausmus got the Detroit Tigers’ manager’s job without ever being a coach first after his playing days were over.
Sadly, the last three managers to get such a plum gig had more than just no experience in common. All three were white.
In St. Louis, Mike Matheny was named manager of the Cardinals in 2008. It was a shocking hire because Matheny had no prior managing or coaching experience in professional baseball, but took over for the retiring Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa.
The trend would be cool if it were happening to all involved in MLB, if black and Hispanic former players were landing these gigs as well. But it’s not the case.
Right now, there’s only one black manager left in the MLB ranks. That’s Lloyd McClendon of the Seattle Mariners. McClendon had a good first year, just missing the postseason in the final week of the season. ...
With Maddon gone from Tampa Bay, the Rays need a new skipper.
It should have been a layup. Dave Martinez, their longtime Hispanic bench coach, should have gotten that gig already.
Martinez is qualified, to say the least. Best of all, he knows the organization and the personnel. Plus, Martinez has been interviewed for numerous managerial gigs in the majors in recent years. He hadn’t gotten a gig thus far mainly because the fit wasn’t right.
But instead of nabbing Martinez, the Rays have opened up the job and looking at a number of candidates to replace Maddon.
It would be a crime if Martinez doesn’t get the job. The man has paid his dues. That’s the way guys used to become managers.
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Jay Jaffe gives a rundown of three new managers.
Monday, November 03, 2014
Saturday, November 01, 2014
Where’s the proof? Maddon had a opt-out clause in his contract. He reportedly was reminded about the clause by TB’s Matt Silverman, “The opt-out clause, Maddon said, was something of a fine-print treasure revealed to him in a call from Matt Silverman, the Rays’ president of baseball operations, just after Friedman left. “I had totally forgotten about it,” Maddon said. “Andrew leaves, and I get a phone call that I have an opt-out clause. Otherwise I would not have known, I swear to you.”” Without evidence, this is reckless reporting.
From the Rays’ perspective, the way the Maddon situation has played out must be, well, maddening. In the hours after Andrew Friedman’s departure to the Dodgers was announced, Maddon publicly stated a renewed commitment to remain with the Rays for the long term, and Matt Silverman—who replaced Friedman at the head of the Rays’ baseball operations—announced that Maddon would be the manager for 2015, and that the team would work to sign him to a long-term deal.
And the Rays followed up. They opened negotiations with Maddon and offered him a deal that would guarantee him standing as one of baseball’s highest-paid managers. There was a sense in the Tampa Bay organization that the two sides were on the verge of a deal.
Then, abruptly, something changed, days before Maddon formally opted out of his contract.
Update: Alen Nero talking about Joe Maddon.
Posted: November 01, 2014 at 01:52 PM | 39 comment(s)
Friday, October 31, 2014
“You’re always going to have those questions,” Bochy said of managerial criticism. “‘Well, you could have done this or done that or it may not work out.’ It’s part of the game now, more so now than ever. You understand that, but hey, it’s great people are watching the game.”
Posted: October 31, 2014 at 09:43 AM | 9 comment(s)
Sunday, October 26, 2014
The scrutiny of every managerial decision has been over the top this series. Every decision shouldn’t be made based on the Win Expectancy Table.
As always, you will find a lot of good sense from Rany Jazayerli in this postgame write-up after Game 4.
Someone – I believe it may have been Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus – wrote earlier this month something to the effect that we’ve reached the point with baseball analysis where players no longer are blamed for failure: it’s either the fault of the manager for putting him in that position or the GM for not acquiring a better player. It’s hyperbole, but seeing the reaction to Game 4, I wonder just how much of an exaggeration it is.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Micro analysis in real time.
Friday, October 24, 2014
Thursday, October 23, 2014
“I don’t think I can ever live up to matching a wit with Tony La Russa,” quipped Washington. “What I will try to do is put my players in the right position. If my players perform, I don’t have to worry about matching wits; they’ll take care of things.”
Monday, October 13, 2014
Just like the title says.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
In the case of the Rangers’ managerial search, which is likely to be pared down to three finalists this week, the mentors — particularly Terry Francona and Clint Hurdle — loom very big. Both are models for what the Rangers want in their next manager. Both have taken two different organizations to the postseason. Both have been to the World Series.
Most importantly, they both have commanding presence, yet manage by inclusion.
Thursday, October 09, 2014
Friday, September 26, 2014
Only 15 minutes before a press conference set to announce their new leadership team in baseball operations, the Diamondbacks announced they have fired Kirk Gibson and will immediately begin a search for a new manager.
Bench coach Alan Trammell also has been fired.
Gibson was the National League’s manager of the year in 2011, the year the Diamondbacks won 94 games and the National League West. The club went 81-81 each of the following two seasons. This year, they have the worst record in the majors at 63-96. Gibson went 353-375 as Diamondbacks manager.
“Kirk has done an admirable job under difficult circumstances and we are grateful for his professionalism and his dedicated service to the organization over the past eight years,” La Russa said in a statement.
Monday, September 15, 2014
“Ned Yost is the worst manager in baseball, except all the others.”
On Sunday, with the Royals up 4-3 in the sixth inning and starter Jason Vargas on his way out of the game, Yost brought in Aaron Crow with a man out and two on. Crow walked Yoenis Cespedes to load the bases, struck out Allen Craig, then allowed a grand slam to Daniel Nava to blow the lead and then some. Nava is one of the more extreme platoon bats in baseball — a switch-hitter, he’s got a career 125 wRC+ against righties and merely a 60 against lefties — and he even admitted to being surprised after the game that Yost allowed him to face a righty.
Worse, Yost’s postgame comments defy logic. He chose Crow because he wanted strikeouts, but Crow doesn’t really strike people out, with a K% mark tied for 296th of the 311 pitchers with 50 innings. He found it frustrating that the game was lost before he could bring in Kelvin Herrera, but didn’t actually bring in Herrera because “the sixth inning is Crow’s inning,” whatever that means. Crow’s velocity is way down and he’s having the worst season of his career, yet he was still allowed to face a hitter who had the platoon advantage in the biggest spot of the game, apparently because Yost feared Mike Napoli would pinch hit if he made a move….
Back in May, when Yost had to fend off complaints about his refusal to use Holland in tie games on the road, Jonah Keri did some research and came away with this:
Since the start of last year, non-Yost managers have used their closer in the ninth inning of tied road games 19 times out of 307 opportunities, a rate of just 6 percent. Even taking mitigating factors like closer fatigue and closer committees into account, that’s still an astoundingly low number. It’s about half the closer usage rate we’d see if managers simply rolled a die to pick which reliever to throw into the fire.
It takes every manager in baseball making that kind of call to get to a 6 percent usage number. In 2012, Dan Lependorf, then writing for The Hardball Times and now working for the Oakland A’s, attempted to come up with a way to come away with “manager’s WPA” in terms of bullpen decisions. While it’s possible to question the methodology, Yost’s 2012 was ranked as the tenth-best overall. That seems crazy, but maybe it’s not. You can see above that he used three of his four best relievers in the highest-leverage situations, and it’s not at all difficult to find examples of other managers doing the same things that drive Royals fans nuts.
Posted: September 15, 2014 at 11:51 AM | 46 comment(s)
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Monday, September 01, 2014
Right after Bo Porter was hired [as Astros manager] I was told he was the only candidate who answered “yes” to the question, “are you OK with influence from the front office in every day decisions like setting the lineup?” There was a reason he was the only one who said yes, no one wants to manage a major league team where they are told what to do by someone who has never played the game or even done the job.
There is balance here. Influences from front offices are part of the new equation in baseball and the game is smarter because of it. Clint Hurdle told me the Pirates utilize a sort of hybrid theory and it is working well in Pittsburgh. He is open to advanced metrics, he listens, he gets it and he and the front office work well together to implement the new school of thought.
There is one essential caveat though, he makes the final in game decisions, including lineups and he is never second guessed on those decisions…
The Astros need two managers. One right now who is not competitive and will do whatever the front office tells him while they’re still losing. Then they’ll need one when they get good who is ultra competitive and has the track record to tell the front office to back off. Of course that guy will go through the interview process and immediately withdraw his name.
Something has to change or this will be the beginning of a cycle that never ends in Houston.
The Astros have fired manager Bo Porter, according to a team press release. Bench coach Dave Trembley has also been relieved of his duties. Tom Lawless will be the club’s interim manager for the rest of the 2014 season.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
And I would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you meddling managers!
To determine how much each manager has meddled — or, to use a more neutral term, tinkered — I identified 10 areas in which a manager might try to make an in-game impact: changing the lineup; calling for an intentional walk, a pitchout, or a hit-and-run attempt; ordering a sacrifice bunt attempt by a position player (sac bunts by pitchers are par for the course); pinch hitting for a position player; pinch running; inserting defensive subs; challenging a call that’s reviewable by replay; and using a pitcher to face a single batter (which, while often effective, might be the most intrusive and disruptive action of all)....
With the default stats selected, Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons claims the title of most active manager, largely on the strength of his fondness for replacing his starters. Gibbons is conservative when it comes to intentional walks and pitchouts, but he’s very aggressive in challenging umpires and in fiddling with his lineup card during games: The Jays lead the majors in pinch hitting for position players and in inserting defensive subs, as they pursue the handedness advantage at positions where they platoon and try to reduce their exposure to defensive liabilities such as Juan Francisco…
On the opposite end of the spectrum sits Washington’s rookie manager Matt Williams, who’s exhibited a below-average activity level in every area. The average NL manager has called for 15 hit-and-run attempts, using the definition provided here by former Baseball Prospectus author (and current Astros analyst) Mike Fast. Williams has tried only two, tying with the Orioles’ Buck Showalter for the fewest in the majors.
for his generous support.
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