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Thursday, August 02, 2007

K.C. Star: Posnanski: In many small ways, Bell made Royals better

While you’re waiting for Rob & Rany…Poz’s take on a class act.

Now that things are looking up, Buddy Bell steps down. He says he wants to spend more time with his family. He wants to watch his grandchildren grow up a little bit. Of course, everybody always says they want to spend more time with the family when they resign, but with Buddy Bell you can believe what you hear. He’s honest to a fault. It’s one reason why people around the game respect him so much.

It does look like he will stay with the Royals in an advisory role. And that’s a very good thing. When he steps off the field for the last time with the Royals, his won-loss record will look awful. He leaves the team in a whole lot better shape than he took it. Buddy Bell is more than a good guy. He’s a good guy to have on your side.

Repoz Posted: August 02, 2007 at 04:04 AM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: royals

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 02, 2007 at 04:49 AM (#2467137)
When Bell was hired as Royals manager in the middle of that spectacularly awful 2005 baseball season, I wrote that it was a colossal mistake.

Well he was right about that. Which is surprising that he wrote that, since Buddy was one of his favorite players growing up. I still think Alan Trammell was a great manager.
   2. robneyer Posted: August 02, 2007 at 06:13 AM (#2467181)
I'm still in Missouri, doing various things and usually with spotty Web access, so I don't know when my schedule and Rany's will sync up for long enough for us to R&R;. Thus, this might be my last contribution to the Buddy Analysis...

You all probably know how I feel about Joe Posnanski. But frankly, I don't have any idea what he's talking about here. I quote: "They have an impressive young bullpen, the makings of a fearsome middle of the lineup, a few promising starting pitchers."

Well, yes. But the middle of the lineup is due solely to Allard Baird, and the "few promising starting pitchers" are due to Dayton Moore, who signed Gil Meche and traded for Brian Bannister (I know that's only two, but if Joe is counting Leo Nunez and/or Luke Hochevar, those are Baird and Moore, too).

I'm inclined to give Bell some credit for the bullpen ... but isn't it fair to ask, if he's got this skill, where it's been before these last few months?

One of Joe's strengths as a writer is that he's a nice guy. But if he's got a weakness as a writer -- or specifically, as an analyst -- it's that he's a nice guy, especially when he's writing about other nice guys. In the past, he's bent over so far backwards that he's nearly broken his back, defending Allard Baird and Tony Muser because they were nice guys and he liked them, and I suspect he's doing the same now. The last two months have been great, but I don't see how they come close to balancing everything that came before.
   3. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: August 02, 2007 at 06:33 AM (#2467186)
I read this more as "Buddy's influence helped these guys on more of a personal level".

stil..
He's bee good about sticking with Gordon, putting Greinke in a role where he's succeeded.
As well as batting Billy Butler in the middle of the lineup from almost from day one, a pretty gutsy move.

Bell's overseen a very strong bullpen, trusted a rule 5 guy as his closer.
Also he's done an admirable job juggling a lineup full of outfielders and 1b/DH types while getting everyone playing time.

He's seen the good in Esteban German and managed to get him into the lineup (one pace for ~375 ABS) despite Esteban not having a real position to play.
   4. mgl Posted: August 02, 2007 at 10:06 AM (#2467199)
I am no Royals expert, but because Buddy Bell is a "nice guy," because he is stepping down after the season, and because the Royals have been winning more games lately, all of a sudden one of the worst managers in baseball is a good one? Please! I have to agree with Neyer. From what I have seen watching games and following the Royals during Bell's tenure, I think he is a terrible manager. And no amount of winning this year is going to change that.

Here is a dirty little secret that I don't feel like arguing or even defending. A team's w/l record in the short or long term has virtually nothing to do with how good or bad a manager is.
   5. The elusive Robert Denby Posted: August 02, 2007 at 12:07 PM (#2467212)
I read this more as "Buddy's influence helped these guys on more of a personal level".

That's probably true, especially with Gordon. There had to be times in the first three months of the season where Gordon wondered if he could play in the majors. I think Bell and George Brett had something to do with keeping him from falling apart.

And that might be the only thing Buddy did well. I'm sure Buddy's a helluva guy, but I definitely won't be sorry to see him go.
   6. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: August 02, 2007 at 01:17 PM (#2467250)
Geez, guys, there's no point to slamming a man who's on his way out the door if that man is a class act for his part. It's time for encomia, not barbs.
   7. Shibal Posted: August 02, 2007 at 02:13 PM (#2467336)
MGL, if the won/loss record has nothing to do with a manager's skill, what angles are you using to say Bell is one of the worst managers in baseball? I don't think he was the solution to any of the KC's past problems, but he for the most part he wasn't the cause either.
   8. Shibal Posted: August 02, 2007 at 02:39 PM (#2467361)
Well, yes. But the middle of the lineup is due solely to Allard Baird, and the "few promising starting pitchers" are due to Dayton Moore, who signed Gil Meche and traded for Brian Bannister (I know that's only two, but if Joe is counting Leo Nunez and/or Luke Hochevar, those are Baird and Moore, too).

I'm inclined to give Bell some credit for the bullpen ... but isn't it fair to ask, if he's got this skill, where it's been before these last few months?


I think the skill running the bullpen involves having Greinke, Soria and Riske out of pen instead of Burgos and Sisco. I can't go back past June to see what Rob wrote about the Royals/Bell (no archives Rob?), but I believe Bell is blamed for failing to turn chickenshit into chicken dinner. Makes little sense to me, especially when the positives aspects of the team are credited to Dayton Moore and Allard Baird. A manager without power to make his roster is like a Nascar driver; his success depends on others to give him the tools to win. The top of the organization failed to do so, and Bell's managerial rep suffers because of that.
   9. mgl Posted: August 02, 2007 at 06:38 PM (#2467726)
Shibal, evaluating a manager has to do with in-game strategies, bunts, IBB, bullpen usage, pinch-hitters, etc. Also lineups, roster construction, evaluating talent at both the major and minor league levels. Leadership, motivation, and teaching is a big part of managing, but unfortunately without knowing the manager and the players, impossible to analyze, so I stay out of that arena.

No manager is ALL bad or all good. For all I know, Bell is a good leader and motivator. I do give him props for leaving Gordon in the lineup, assuming that was his decision, despite an horrendous start.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 02, 2007 at 06:48 PM (#2467767)
I think Bell generally handles the bullpen pretty well (especially now considering he has good parts to work with). I think he relies on veterans too much, and his lineup structure is generally poor. Then again, he doesn't have a whole lot to work with there either - Ross Gload, Ryan Shealy, Emil Brown are all garbage, yet he's forced to put them in prominent roles due to the construction of this roster.

Like Rob, I don't think Buddy should be given much credit for player development. I simply don't think managers affect development all that much. Maybe they can stunt it by not playing certain guys, in which case, Buddy should be criticized for Justin Huber somewhat.

The guy didn't overly rely on the bunt, or at least, not as much as his predecessor. The players seemed to like him and wanted to bust their butt for him, which IMO is probably a manager's most important duty. Other than that, its rearranging the chairs on the deck of Titanic. I'm not sorry to see him go, and I don't think he ever would have led a good team to a division title, but he's not a god awful GM like his record indicates IMO.
   11. zonk Posted: August 02, 2007 at 06:57 PM (#2467795)
So, since Whitey Herzog -- or maybe Dick Howser as a better baseline -- has any team employed a more forgettable string of managers? Bob Boone. Tony Muser. Buddy Bell. Hal McRae. Tony Pena. That's some serious managerial suckery... I suppose the Cubs might have a horse in that race ;-)

I don't say that clearly based on record -- in the cases of Pena, Boone, Muser, and Bell at least -- I think they were all afflicted with the same illness that beset Don Baylor: They think that a manager is judged by how many moves and tactics he employs in-game. Lots of hit-and-runs... lots of bunts... lots of confusing activity with accomplishment.

I sorta wonder if that's just a problem for all managers that had long big league careers - they miss the action of playing, so they try to simulate it as a manager. I can't really think of any good counter-examples... Scioscia? Torre?

I'm from the Earl Weaver school of managing -- the bulk of your job ends when you hand over the lineup card. It should be all about preparation and matchups. Sure - you need to handle the double switches right, use the bullpen properly, etc... but the last thing I want is a manager that feels the need to manage like he's an NFL coach on the sidelines calling every play.
   12. Eric Bartman Posted: August 02, 2007 at 06:59 PM (#2467803)
Geez, guys, there's no point to slamming a man who's on his way out the door if that man is a class act for his part. It's time for encomia, not barbs.

I believe that is the point of JoPo's column.
   13. zonk Posted: August 02, 2007 at 07:02 PM (#2467816)
Shibal, evaluating a manager has to do with in-game strategies, bunts, IBB, bullpen usage, pinch-hitters, etc.


See - I wholeheartedly disagree with that... unless you're also considering the negative of it (when NOT to bunt, when NOT to hit and run, etc).

Far as I'm concerned, if I owned or GM'ed an MLB team, I'd want a list of the following in analyzing managers:

1. Position player sac bunts... rank near the top of the league, thanks but no thanks... near the bottom, continue to item 2

2. CS percentage. Sure, a lot may have to do with the players, but if you're consistently showing negative returns, then I think you're running too much... or H/R too much... or whatever.

3. Pitcher usage. PC numbers for starters < 25. Appearances spreads in the pen. Number of times a reliever warmed up, but didn't enter the game.


EDIT: Just re-emphasizing what I said above... Gimme an Earl Weaver type any day. The guy that does his matchup homework and knows to wait for the 3 run homer. A guy that believes your 27 outs are the most precious resource a team has every day.
   14. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: August 02, 2007 at 07:08 PM (#2467849)
has any team employed a more forgettable string of managers? Bob Boone. Tony Muser. Buddy Bell. Hal McRae. Tony Pena. That's some serious managerial suckery... I suppose the Cubs might have a horse in that race ;-)

I don't think McRae was as bad as the rest, but his temperament apparently exhausted everyone associated with the team. But, yes, as to your larger point, either McRae or John Wathan is the best Royals manager of the last 20 years.
   15. Padgett Posted: August 02, 2007 at 07:14 PM (#2467863)
Leadership, motivation, and teaching is a big part of managing, but unfortunately without knowing the manager and the players, impossible to analyze, so I stay out of that arena.
But I believe Shibal would respond again: on what basis is Bell "one of the worst managers in baseball"?

I don't mean to play the "didn't you guys RTFA?" card, but didn't you guys RTFA? Posnanski listed in some detail all of the failures during Bell's tenure, noting that "the hiring of Buddy Bell was, in all the obvious ways, exactly what I (and everyone else) had predicted." And Posnanski qualifies his noting of Bell's positive features:
Baseball managers, on the whole, don’t have a big effect on what happens on the field. They can’t call timeout, draw up plays, give fiery halftime speeches or rest a star player and put him back in when the game is on the line. A manager has a few options here and there — bunt, hit and run, match up lefty vs. righty, switch around a lineup — but it’s often true that the less they do of that, the better off the team will be.
I don't read this at all as an effort to bend over backwards for Bell.
And, hey, that’s part of the price of being a big-league manager. And there have been plenty of times when I have disagreed with baseball moves Buddy Bell made. But I realize now that these were mostly irrelevant, immaterial, beside the point. The Royals were bad. Buddy Bell wasn’t going to make them good. He was trying, instead, to build something — a team that played hard and played right. I think to a great extent, he did.
But let's say that Posnanski in fact was falling victim to his weakness for "good guys" here. Is that really so bad? So much of current sportswriting is just plainly nasty, negative, arrogant, moralistic, shallow, lazy. Posnanski isn't making up some psuedo-statistical mumbo-jumbo to justify a predetermined conclusion; he isn't claiming some position of knowledge superior to Bell or the reader. I read this and I count all the ways that the column would have been butchered and made unreadable had it been penned by any number of half-witted columnists at other papers.

So Posnanski is writing something nice about a guy who by appearances tried to do his job the best he could -- so what? For me, if this constitutes one of Joe's weaknesses, all the more reason to keep reading him: his strengths are pretty good, too.
   16. zonk Posted: August 02, 2007 at 07:18 PM (#2467880)
I think Padgett's right...

I did go back and RTFA (and -- but it’s often true that the less they do of that, the better off the team will be., preach on, brother Joe!)- and it's hard to argue with Joe's point. Bell was no Earl Weaver, but even Earl Weaver wouldn't have won with this team. I have never met Buddy Bell nor do I know anyone that has -- but if everyone that talks or writes about him says he's honest, stand-up, and generally a good fellow, then I'll accept that.

This is certainly a lot better to read than whatever screed someone like Jay Mariotti would pump out when the manager got canned.
   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 02, 2007 at 07:29 PM (#2467920)
So, since Whitey Herzog -- or maybe Dick Howser as a better baseline -- has any team employed a more forgettable string of managers? Bob Boone. Tony Muser. Buddy Bell. Hal McRae. Tony Pena. That's some serious managerial suckery... I suppose the Cubs might have a horse in that race ;-)

Tony Pena was manager of the year!
   18. zonk Posted: August 02, 2007 at 07:34 PM (#2467942)
Tony Pena was manager of the year!

Ummm.. yeah... Both Dusty and Donny Baylor have one of those trophies, too ;-)

I rank them right up there with Raffy Palmeiro's DH gold glove!
   19. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: August 02, 2007 at 07:45 PM (#2467982)
i'll let you in on a secret. you just need to remember that mgl is a cranky old man. i'm not willing to argue or discuss this point.
   20. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: August 02, 2007 at 08:02 PM (#2468052)
I believe that is the point of JoPo's column.

I do, too...what's amazing, though, is how much the influential poster of #2 seemed to miss that point in his headlong rush to kick Bell's azs out the door.
   21. zonk Posted: August 02, 2007 at 08:55 PM (#2468259)
I do, too...what's amazing, though, is how much the influential poster of #2 seemed to miss that point in his headlong rush to kick Bell's azs out the door.

Well, I do generally cut Royals fans --- even the famous ones -- some slack in their testiness.
   22. mgl Posted: August 03, 2007 at 02:54 AM (#2468703)
Cranky "old" man? How old do you think I am?
   23. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 03, 2007 at 03:10 AM (#2468715)
Cranky "old" man? How old do you think I am?
Well, I don't know, every time I try to come close and find out, you keep yelling at me to get off your lawn
   24. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: August 03, 2007 at 03:10 AM (#2468717)
I put you at 43, which I hope isn't old because I'm heading that way soon. You just have to remember that scott is a young whippersnapper. Doesn't Bell own some record of futility for never sniffing the postseason as a manager or a player? FWIW, Chris Jaffe's study of managers wasn't too high on Bell. The guy had some baseball genes, though.
   25. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: August 13, 2007 at 05:52 AM (#2483119)
The problem with evaluating managers is all we have concrete to go on is their in game tactical stuff. It seems to me more and more that that's less than half of what a manager does and how he influences a team's W/L, plus it's the easiest to change. You can't turn some meak introvert intoa great leader of men, but you can tell him to change the batting order.

Isn;t their some business creed about even the best managers and CEOs having a shelf life of only 5-7 years at a job before becoming detrimental?
   26. baudib Posted: August 13, 2007 at 08:23 AM (#2483132)
I don't know how many times I have to say this here, but Earl Weaver most certainly did not wait for the three-run homer. His teams were typically in the top half of the league in steals, leading the league in 1974 (by comparison, his teams never led the league in homers). Basically, when he had basestealers, he stole bases. When he had guys who could bunt, he bunted. When he got guys who could hit-and-run, like Dauer, he hit-and-ran (or ran-and-hit, which was his preference).
   27. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 13, 2007 at 11:51 AM (#2483150)
Ummm.. yeah... Both Dusty and Donny Baylor have one of those trophies, too ;-)

In fact, Baker has won Manager of the Year three times.

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