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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BPro: What The Insiders Say Makes a Good Manager

C. Trent Rosencrans, former Cincy beat writer now a blogger for CBS Sports, contributes a guest piece on what people inside the game say about managers:

Despite managing nearly 3,000 games and winning three Manager of the Year awards, Dusty Baker is one of the most controversial and oft-criticized managers in the game. While fans blast Baker, more often than not, former players praise him for his abilities as a leader.

Your job is to get the best out of your talent and personnel that you have. You’re only as good as your personnel, but if you can get the best out of your personnel and keep them together and keep them playing on a daily basis. You’ve got to keep the right buttons and all this, but the right buttons only appear right if the players come through. It’s how you mesh your team together, how you hopefully have everybody pulling in the same direction with no envy, no jealousy, no selfishness. If you’re going to be a selfish player, you better be a hell of a player. You can accept that if they have such tremendous production. And how you handle the race, this is a long race we’re in, and sometimes you have to bite the bullet for them. Sometimes you have to tell the truth about them. It’s a rewarding job, but it’s a tough job.

The bulk part of the job (the media, the fans) aren’t supposed to see. You don’t see the disciplinarian part, you don’t hear about it. The bulk of the job is when you have constant meetings with different guys. The bulk of the job now is to continue to teach guys because they get here so early. You’re teaching on a daily basis. Most of the time you have to assume they don’t know, but you can’t treat them like kids, you have to treat them like men. A lot of times you find out what they don’t know after a mistake. A lot of my job depends on the job my coaches do. Everyone has a department, and my job is to let them allow them to do their job and not micromanage them, but to be in charge of everything.

Mike Emeigh Posted: September 11, 2012 at 03:35 PM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cincinnati, managers, pittsburgh

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: September 11, 2012 at 04:39 PM (#4232945)
Was that Baker in the italics?

Anyway, I have little doubt that most former players praise Baker as he's always been a (veteran) players' manager. His weakness comes with regard to in-game strategy, bullpen management, assembling a bench and, yes, young players.

It was interesting in Chicago ... ARam could drop a pop-up or Alou could get caught off of second base for the third time that season or whatever, and Baker would be in the press defending them. But guys like Murton, Choi, and what's his name (who was a butcher with the glove) had their abilities and playing-time worthiness openly questioned by Baker in the press.

It's true that managers need to light a fire under some players' asses and not others and it's also true that I don't know what conversations he may have had with younger players in private before going to the press but it seemed like the only guys he questioned in the press were the younger players.
   2. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: September 11, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4232981)
Baker's started a rookie at short all year and has stuck with Jay Bruce through some nasty slumps earlier in his career. He's been loyal to a fault to Drew Stubbs. The young player bias may have been true earlier but I don't think that's the case any longer.
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: September 11, 2012 at 05:04 PM (#4232990)
Baker's started a rookie at short all year and has stuck with Jay Bruce through some nasty slumps earlier in his career. He's been loyal to a fault to Drew Stubbs. The young player bias may have been true earlier but I don't think that's the case any longer


I don't think it's so much as a young player bias against starting players, but it's a young player bias against using young players on the bench. I think that is a legitimate complaint about many managers. When given a choice for their last two bench spots, they almost always prefer veterans. Baker had no problem playing Corey Patterson when he was younger. Frasier is a guy that people point to, Red fans seem to want to point that Baker was slow to jump on the Frazier bandwagon.
   4. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 11, 2012 at 06:03 PM (#4233038)
It was interesting in Chicago ... ARam could drop a pop-up or Alou could get caught off of second base for the third time that season or whatever, and Baker would be in the press defending them. But guys like Murton, Choi, and what's his name (who was a butcher with the glove) had their abilities and playing-time worthiness openly questioned by Baker in the press.

So he questioned the playing time worthiness of Matt Murton and Hee Seop Choi but not Aramis Ramirez and Moises Alou? What a hack!

Baker's a fine manager but like everyone else has his blind spots. Big deal. If you give him some players, chances are he'll give you a winner. That's all you can really ask, there are no miracle workers.
   5. SouthSideRyan Posted: September 11, 2012 at 06:28 PM (#4233051)
Baker's a fine manager but like everyone else has his blind spots.


Baker's blind spot being choosing to face Mike Lowell with a lefty rather than Lenny Harris with a righty in extra innings of a ####### playoff game.
   6. Crosseyed and Painless Posted: September 11, 2012 at 07:45 PM (#4233097)
The radio callers seem convinced the Tigers will win 20 or more games next year when Leyland's gone. I'm sure they're on to something.
   7. shoewizard Posted: September 11, 2012 at 08:06 PM (#4233112)
I don't think it's so much as a young player bias against starting players, but it's a young player bias against using young players on the bench. I think that is a legitimate complaint about many managers. When given a choice for their last two bench spots, they almost always prefer veterans


Thats true of almost all managers. I think it's a combination of veteran players are more likely to be used in late innings, and therefore seemingly have more experience dealing with situations and pressure, therefore are less likely to make a mistake, and also they are supposedly better able to deal with limited playing time, then say a young player just up from the minors who has been playing every day while trying to develop.

Both those sentiments seem intuitive, but I doubt there is any actual evidence that supports it. I see lots of boneheaded plays by veteran bench players all the time, and I see lots of vets fail to keep momnentum at the plate when they go 3 weeks with just getting 10-15 AB's, and then get to play again...they often slump. Anecdotally of course.

   8. Orangepeel Posted: September 11, 2012 at 08:13 PM (#4233122)
The radio callers seem convinced the Tigers will win 20 or more games next year when Leyland's gone. I'm sure they're on to something.


Probably - I don't think I'd bet on their losing 143 games either.
   9. Bob Tufts Posted: September 11, 2012 at 08:43 PM (#4233145)
Managers have to have simple rules that everybody can live by. For example, here is a pre-season speech by Rocky Birdges during my AAA days in Phoenix:

"I have very few rules. If you're hung over and can't play, you're fined a days pay. If you're sunburned and can't play, you also get fined a day's pay. And if the big feller is dripping, you probably have the clap, so go see Harry (Jordan, the trainer).
   10. flournoy Posted: September 11, 2012 at 08:48 PM (#4233148)
"When" Leyland's gone? Is he retiring?
   11. Walt Davis Posted: September 11, 2012 at 10:39 PM (#4233264)
So he questioned the playing time worthiness of Matt Murton and Hee Seop Choi but not Aramis Ramirez and Moises Alou? What a hack!

When the alternatives were Todd Hollandsworth and Eric Karros, yes, that's a "hack." When one goal of a manager is to develop young players, yes criticizing them publicly probably doesn't help. When you explain that your reasons for not playing a young guy are things like defensive mistakes and slumps then openly defend the defensive mistakes and recent poor performance of others, yes you're treating people differently.

But my point isn't about his playing time decisions, the point is about who he talks about in the press and who he doesn't.

Baker on Stubbs in late August this year, explaining why Stubbs won't be benched:

“He gets in funks,” Baker said. “I’ve tried to figure it out. He gets a little passive early in the count. That puts him in a hole. Then you foul off a pitch and you’re two strikes. You can’t hit unless you swing.”

A week later, Stubbs was benched for 4 out of 5 games with Baker "quoted" as:

outfielder Drew Stubbs will be benched in order to work through a slump, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay.

Manager Dusty Baker said Stubbs' benching won't be permanent. He just wants Stubbs to make some changes to his approach. Baker stressed that he still has confidence in Stubbs and that he doesn't question his ability to be a strong major leaguer


Late July 2012 :

"He’s still learning, more than anything, about how to be consistent, ... his upside is still great"

Late June (2012?):

“I’m beginning to see him attack pitches with his legs, which he needs to do because he uses an erect stance,” said Baker. “We’ve been harping on him, ‘Use your legs, use your legs, use your legs.’ He still has some things to learn, but he is a bright young man. We don’t all get it all at once. It doesn’t all click in at the same time.”

“He has been working on his bunting, but he can’t bunt every time as some people would want,” said Baker. “They shallow up on him at third, which will make it easier to shoot balls past them once he learns to make more contact. Then they’ll have to move back a little bit because he does have some power and it will make the bunts easier for him.”

This is Dusty's way. He's like the standard review of an academic paper -- "The authors are commended for tackling this important issue in an interesting way. Now here are the 97 problems with their paper. I thank the editors and the authors for the opportunity to review this interesting paper." There's nothing inherently wrong with sending Stubbs to the bench (he's hitting like crap but probably brings enough defense/baserunning that he should start). There's nothing necessarily wrong with Baker's various bits of advice although the "he needs to make more contact, he needs to drive the ball more, he needs to bunt more effectively" is a confusing mix of things to work on.

But does he talk so openly in the press about his veterans? Does he mention Phillips' inconsistency or the things that Arroyo needs to work on this often? He sure didn't seem to do any of that when he was with the Cubs.

Note, the problem is not arising much this season since Jocketty has given him a roster full of young-ish players and Scott Rolen.

And of course it's possible Baker does less of this now than he did when he was with the Cubs.

Let me try to be clear before this gets out of control. I am not accusing Baker of a pathological hatred of young players or a refusal to play young players. He of course has no problem with young, productive players. I am saying that, during his time with the Cubs at least (and this is not the first time he's given Stubbs the Corey Patterson treatment), he talked very differently about young players _in public_ than he did about veteran players. This was particularly striking in his last couple of years with the Cubs when most of the veterans were playing absolutely horrible "fundamental baseball" and picking fights with the broadcasters yet the public front given by Baker was that none of that was a problem and he totally had the veterans' backs.

Now do we want to talk about him giving Cairo 9 starts at 1B in the last month? :-)







   12. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: September 11, 2012 at 11:30 PM (#4233306)
deleted
   13. Bull Pain Posted: September 11, 2012 at 11:33 PM (#4233312)
Watch Robin Ventura and do the opposite
   14. steagles Posted: September 12, 2012 at 12:15 AM (#4233339)
"I have very few rules. If you're hung over and can't play, you're fined a days pay. If you're sunburned and can't play, you also get fined a day's pay. And if the big feller is dripping, you probably have the clap, so go see Harry (Jordan, the trainer).
i have two rules: don't touch my ####### percocets...and do you have any ####### percocets?

also:

Lisa Simpson: I was wondering if you and your friends could tell me about baseball strategy.
Moe Szyslak: The only thing I know about strategy is that everything the manager does is crap. Unless it works, in which case he's a button pusher.
   15. phredbird Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4233660)
how does TLR fit in here? i've always thought he got a lot of loyalty from his players, but it was the ones who bought into his level of intensity. if they weren't like him (rolen and drew come to mind) he was accused of running them off and being a real ##### about it. looking at it that way, i don't see how he managed to keep control of a clubhouse, but he must have given his level of success.
   16. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:26 AM (#4233676)
phred

don't forget colby rasmus.

tony was a master at understanding the mindset of his clubhouse. and as a manager if you are going to last every few years you need to cut off someone's head to remind everyone else that you either do it my way or hit the road.

i think a good many of the scraps tony picked were staged to generate a message to his team. jd drew was a bit injury prone, was quiet and didn't work to know anyone well enough on the team for anyone to say they liked him. since tony figured he had options he ran him out of town not just because he thought drew was a bad fit but if you are a guy and you see the former number 1 pick with all the articles getting shoved out the door you raise your eyebrows.

tony always had a plan.
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4233683)
how does TLR fit in here? i've always thought he got a lot of loyalty from his players, but it was the ones who bought into his level of intensity. if they weren't like him (rolen and drew come to mind) he was accused of running them off and being a real ##### about it. looking at it that way, i don't see how he managed to keep control of a clubhouse, but he must have given his level of success.


Rolen was a lot like him, the issue that caused the riff between them was Rolen was injured and wanted to play through the injury while it was apparent to EVERYONE that if Rolen had a day off, he played better for the next 4-5 days, so TLR kept giving Rolen days off(or pulling him early or using him in a pinch hitting role) and Rolen just couldn't accept that he was injured.

TLR gives a lot of loyalty to his players(he takes the fall for their failings and with few exceptions never throws anyone under the bus.) The problems he has is on an individual basis and it seems that when he's fed up enough with you, he doesn't have a problem with letting you know it. Not many managers have a list as long as he does of players who clearly don't care for him (off the top of my head, Ozzie, Rolen, Gant, Brian Jordan, Kerry Robinson, JD Drew, Eli Marrero, Colby Rasmus, some scrub relief pitcher that went to the Astros) but each of them for different reasons, there is no normal trend.
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:35 AM (#4233692)
i've always thought he got a lot of loyalty from his players, but it was the ones who bought into his level of intensity. if they weren't like him (rolen and drew come to mind) he was accused of running them off and being a real ##### about it. looking at it that way, i don't see how he managed to keep control of a clubhouse, but he must have given his level of success.


In addition to what Harveys and CFB said, it's also possible to run off the right guy, which strengthens the loyalty of those remaining while still sending a message. I don't know who precisely might fit the bill for most of those guys, but it seems like Rasmus might have been one.
   19. cardsfanboy Posted: September 12, 2012 at 11:54 AM (#4233722)
One of my favorite things is in Milwaukee there is a bar by the stadium called fourth base (had the best porterhouse I have ever eaten at a restaurant--which is funny because it's more or less a dive bar) has(had?) a wine bottle from 2004 signed by Rolen and TLR...That was before the riff.
   20. Bob Tufts Posted: September 12, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4233965)
he was accused of running them off


TLR was always big on the use of the sacrifice.

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