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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Hal McCoy: The DBers are out (Dusty Bashers)

That goofuss-hatted rumble scene between The Dusty Bashers and The Jay Cocks in Gangs of New York was tops!

THE MOST PUZZLING criticism comes from the fact that with runners on second base and first base in the eighth inning, Baker had Brandon Phillips bunt to move the runners to second and third. Of course, the Angels walked Joey Votto intentionally, which raised the howls, “Because Dusty took the bat out of Votto’s hands.”

Well, that’s merely Baseball 101, especially on this day. And wasn’t that an oh-fer hanging around Votto’s neck after the game?

... And Baker had a legitimate explanation for ordering Phillips to bunt.

“Even if I don’t bunt with Brandon they’d probably walk Joey, pitch around him, anyway,” he said. “We couldn’t take a chance on Brandon hitting into a double play. If Brandon has one fault, it is hitting into double plays because he hits the ball hard on the ground a lot.”

Phillips led the team last year in GIDP’s with 19 and hit into 15, 14 and 21 the previous three years. He did it 26 times in 2007.

“The game was a lesson in futility on both sides as far as scoring runs,” said Baker. “A tough day for both sides — a bunch of strikeouts, missed opportunities.

“Leaving runners on based plagued us early last year and this spring (during exhibition games),” he added. “It seems like it is all over baseball, not just us leaving runners on third with less than two outs. Strikeouts get you nothing and we just have to get better at putting the ball in play. There are those who say strikeouts aren’t important, but they are important if you want to play winning baseball.”

Repoz Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:47 AM | 117 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: reds, sabermetrics

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   101. JJ1986 Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:46 PM (#4403861)
For some reason, the Angels decided not to IBB Votto tonight.
   102. Walt Davis Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:53 PM (#4403867)
He developed nobody in Chicago

Aramis Ramirez might disagree.

As Stubbs, Patterson, Bruce and surely some others show, Dusty is willing to put some kids in the lineup come hell or high water. As Choi and Murton and surely some others show, he picks and chooses who he's going to stick with. I don't think he's been shown "wrong" on anybody he didn't stick with but then I'm not sure he's been shown "right" on anybody he did stick with -- Bruce has done OK but he was supposed to be better than this (at least as a hitter).
   103. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:39 AM (#4403987)
Similar situation last night - with Heisey batting in front of Votto now due to lineup reshuffling in the wake of Ludwick's injury. Heisey successfully bunts with a runner on first and no outs in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth. Rather than walk Votto, the Angels pitch to him - and he singles in the gw run.
   104. depletion Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:23 AM (#4404015)
Kingman ran the bases well with the Mets, also. I recall him bunting for base hits and the bunts had strategic value as well: 3rd baseman usually stationed themselves at life preserving distance on the outfield grass. His occasional bunts had the effect of bringing them in a few steps and increasing the chance of a hit through the left side.
   105. Covfefe Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:35 AM (#4404033)
I left the 'young player' gripe off my list of anti-Dusty-isms because the evidence (young players who turned out to be good that he screwed) isn't really there... I still maintain in my heart that Choi and Murton both could have been something (and Choi did still post a career 106 OPS+ over about 1000 PAs, Murton an even 100), but I have not yet mastered the multiverse and how to access it at will so can't prove anything.

But -

I find it hard to give Dusty much credit for Aramis Rameriz.... Rameriz was 'only' 25 when he came to Chicago, but he had already had 5 years of major league service, 2700 major league PAs, and posted an all-star level season (and was in the midst of another good one when the trade went down).

If anything, I'd say that A-Ram is an example of Dusty having a knack for keeping terminally gimpy players in the lineup and effective better than most... I think Rameriz's success is more a matter of a good hitter entering his prime, staying nominally healthy, and moving from a moribund organization to one that was just a wee bit dysfunctional.
   106. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:28 AM (#4404093)

well, aramis has specifically called out baker as being a key figure in his career. I know in his time in Milwaukee he has mentioned dusty a couple of times in how to prepare and know the difference between playing hurt and not.
   107. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4404138)
I still maintain in my heart that Choi and Murton both could have been something

The way people stalk about Murton and Baker strikes me as bizarre. Baker gave Murton 500 PAs as a 24-year-old near-rookie, and Murton responded with a 104 OPS+. Then Baker got fired, and Piniella made Murton a bench player.
   108. Styles P. Deadball Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:24 AM (#4404163)
You know who was quite a good bunter? Dave Kingman.

Yes, it makes utterly no sense, but it's a fact nonetheless. The universe is a weird place.

Actually, my recollection is that Kingman really hated to run... so assuming he saw the bunt (sac bunt, I guess) as another way to avoid running it makes some degree of sense. The obvious follow-up is why he'd never take a walk, but that's explained by the fact he'd have to potentially deal with what happens from 1B to 2B to 3B back to the plate.

I once saw Dave Kingman hit a triple... it was also the first time I heard my father say "You gotta be f*^&ing; kidding me".... but not the last.
   109. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4404165)
The regular rotation missed ONE start all of last year
This isn't exactly true. The Reds had a double header in the middle of a long stream of games and needed an extra starter. No one "missed" a start.
   110. Greg Pope Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4404180)
I have not yet mastered the multiverse and how to access it at will so can't prove anything

This is the real problem, isn't it? We can't prove that Choi would have been a superstar with non-Dusty handling.

Ramirez is actually an example of Dusty's veteran preference. He was an established major leaguer by the time he got to Dusty so Dusty played him.

Bruce is a good point. And of course every prospect doesn't turn out, so while Stubbs didn't develop, that's not proof of anything, either.

   111. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4404192)
Also, except for his cup of coffee Votto has played exclusively under Baker. Baker gave Scott Hatteberg a handful of starts in the first couple of weeks but basically gave the job to Votto.
   112. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4404196)
Also, except for his cup of coffee Votto has played exclusively under Baker. Baker gave Scott Hatteberg a handful of starts in the first couple of weeks but basically gave the job to Votto.

But Votto had a strong mLB track record, and hit very well from his first days in MLB (907 OPS in his Sep callup, never dipping below 850).
   113. Greg Pope Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4404199)
Yes, I mentioned Votto in my first post about it. As the only exception I could think of. I'm not arguing that "Votto's so good he forced his way in" as a way to give Dusty zero credit. Dusty's been managing for 20 years and the only young position players who have developed under him have been Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. That's either an indictment of Dusty or the organizations that he has worked for. No real way to prove either. My opinion is that Dusty doesn't trust young position players and I wouldn't hire him if I had a boatload of hitting prospects coming up through my system.
   114. Covfefe Posted: April 04, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4404219)
Well, like I said... I didn't put the whole 'young players' thing on my list of beefs with Dusty. I accept that I might be unfair to him in my own personal opinion and also accept that the case really can't be made with any available objective facts.

In the end, I just have a real problem with the things Dusty Baker doesn't do well... but I've also pointed out many things I think he does do well - and also noted that I wouldn't have any problem with him someday being Dusty Baker, Hall of Fame manager. Winning multiple division titles with three different teams is no small feat (even if he's never won a WS). I respect his accomplishments as a manager -- I just would not him managing my team again.

FWIW - I could still easily come up with a good number of Cub managers I've disliked MORE than Dusty... Don Baylor was the worst, Jim Essian the most inept, Riggleman the most HTF does he keep his job...
   115. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: April 04, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4404227)
The Reds offense is mostly built with homegrown players. Aside from those already mentioned, Baker gave the SS job to Zack Cozart last season. Todd Frazier, another rookie, collected 465 PAs in a utility/injury-replacement role (and is the starting 3B this year). Age/experience is not the end-all, be-all. If Baker believes in you, he'll stick with you long after most fans have called for a benching (see Drew Stubbs).

My opinion is that Dusty doesn't trust young position players and I wouldn't hire him if I had a boatload of hitting prospects coming up through my system.

When the Reds hired Dusty in 2008, they had Bruce and Votto in the wings (along with Cueto and Bailey). I didn't like the decision at the time, but it's worked out much better than I thought.
   116. Walt Davis Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:05 PM (#4404818)
Ramirez is actually an example of Dusty's veteran preference. He was an established major leaguer by the time he got to Dusty so Dusty played him.

Sure but that's not the point I was making (and ARam never struggled with the Cubs anyway). Sure, ARam had a good hitting year at age 23. But through age 25, he's a guy with a career 92 OPS+, a 100 OPS+ from 23-25 and coming off a 102 OPS+ season (105 for the Cubs). Over the next 9 years, he puts up a 129 OPS+. That's hardly unprecedented but it's not expected. In real time Baker spoke about fixing some of the things that ARam was doing wrong.

On Murton ... in 2006, yes, he started 48 of the first 52 games. He's got a solid but unspectacular 780 OPS but with a 360 OBP. Then he goes into an 8-40 slump. Now he starts just 6 of the next 10. He continues to struggle and doesn't start any of the next 6 (he appeared in 4 so he wasn't hurt). By this point, we're at the trade deadline and Baker is ordered to play the kids. Still Murton gets just 12 starts in 19 games. While he is technically losing time to Angel Pagan (who turned out pretty good but also wasn't getting much playing time), they are both really losing out playing time as to Jacque Jones and Juan Pierre. In Sept he starts 25 of 29 games -- while Pagan continues to sit the bench in favor of Pierre and Jones.

Now, fair enough, I never expected Pagan to amount to anything so I wasn't that annoyed in real time that he was sitting the bench. I was wrong. But given the choice in a hopeless season, Baker chose to give playing time to Pierre and Jones rather than Murton and Pagan. That's just bad managing plain and simple.

As to Piniella -- the Cubs signed Soriano and Floyd. Whether that was Hendry or Piniella, I'm not going to fault Piniella for not playing Murton under those circumstances. That team also had a winning record -- despite an awesome defensive OF of Soriano, Jones in CF and Floyd.

But let's not forget Baker's mishandling of Murton in 2005. A mediocre Cub team brings him up after the AS break. Baker gives him only 10 starts in 21 games through the end of July. He's got an OPS of 1083. After starting July 30, he doesn't start again until Aug 8. You couldn't do better to screw up a young player if you tried. He in fact gets only 6 starts in all of August (he may have been hurt for 2 weeks ... he didn't play at all, but I have vague memories he was sent down to our consternation). This strategy has certainly been a success -- over a month he gets 30 PA and goes 5-27. He then gets 22 starts in 28 games in Sept. Playing regularly he puts up a 957 OPS.

And who was he losing playing time to? The Cubs managed to find 671 PA for a 36-year-old Burnitz putting up a 94 OPS+. They found 430 PA (all over the place) for Hairston, 190 PA for Macias and 290 PA for Hollandsworth. That stretch in August ... the Cubs, concerned about LF for their "stretch drive" traded for Matt Lawton (giving up bbc dreamboat Jody Gerut). By the end of the month, they'd shipped Lawton off to the Yanks. The Cubs were 53-52 at the time they traded for Lawton.

So the Cubs used mainly Hollandsworth to start the season. They bring up Murton who tears it up. So they trade for Lawton and sit him down. Now the Cubs have a history of idiotic moves so I can't guarantee the blame for the Lawton trade lies with Baker but it seems unlikely that a GM would trade for an LF unless his manager had expressed concerns about LF. And they kept trotting Burnitz out there everyday too.

That handling of Murton looks quite reminiscent of the handling of Choi where a young player, doing well, struggles to find playing time.

I think neither Choi nor Murton was ever going to be a star. I was quite happy when the Cubs traded Choi for Lee and not just because I didn't think Baker would ever play Choi. But I do think both could have been average-good ML players ... Murton in a Mike Marshall type of career; Choi in a Carlos Pena type of career. The annoying bit in both cases (and we can add Pagan) is not so much that these young players weren't given full-time roles right away but it's who they were losing playing time to, when they were losing the playing time and the overall quality of the Cubs at the time. These were mediocre or worse teams giving playing time to under-performing, old veterans instead of developing what young talent they had. That's on both Baker and Hendry.

With the Reds, Baker has played a number of younger players but then he hasn't been given a whole lot of choice. Baker-Jocketty is a combination that is working pretty well and you'd have to be a very stubborn manager not to think that playing what Jocketty gives you won't work. I'm sure Baker has a mountain of respect for Jocketty (and vice versa).
   117. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:04 PM (#4404856)
The Reds offense is mostly built with homegrown players.

With the Reds, Baker has played a number of younger players but then he hasn't been given a whole lot of choice.
These comments got me thinking, so I looked.

With Ludwick hurt, 6 of the 8 starting fielders, 3 of the 5 starting pitchers, the closer, the back-up catcher, and one reliever were all either drafted or signed by the Reds; J.J. Hoover was acquired before he'd made a major league appearance.

More than half of the 25 man roster combined for 0 MLB PA/IP for teams other than the Reds.
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