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Thursday, June 14, 2007

MLB: Tigers Lose Mo’ In Series Loss To Brewers

Sheets allowed three runs on eight over 5 2/3 innings despite seven strikeouts. A procession of relievers preceded ex-Tiger Francisco Cordero’s 23rd save, but not before the Tigers scored two runs in the ninth and left the tying run at third. Monroe and Mike Rabelo struck out to end the game.

So with the tying run on third, one out, a chance for a huge series win against baseball’s best closer, Leyland sends up Monroe to collect his FIFTH strikeout, followed by the third-string catcher. Polanco, Pudge, and Thames were all sitting on the bench.

Is Jim Leyland a bad strategist? It’s starting to look that way. Certainly, there have been a lot of head-scratchers the last two years.

Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: June 14, 2007 at 10:00 PM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: tigers

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   1. Every Inge Counts Posted: June 15, 2007 at 01:32 AM (#2404570)
go to go with the gut. Or something I have no idea. We usually hit well with men in scoring position, but I guess since the bullpen decided to not blow it, we let the bats let us down instead.

Are there any good baseball managers out there anyway?
   2. GORP Posted: June 15, 2007 at 04:46 AM (#2404758)
We usually hit well with men in scoring position


I don't like that line. We usually hit well with RISP? It's ... it's not a skill.
   3. mgl Posted: June 15, 2007 at 10:59 AM (#2404803)
No there are not ANY good baseball managers out there - not even close - as far as technical strategy is concerned, as compared to some hypothetical person who does roughly the optimal thing every time there are alternatives.

Monroe has a better projection straight up than Pudge or Polanco. With the "pinch hitting penalty" it is not even close. Thames, however, kills Monroe straight up versus a righty pitcher, so that even with the pinch hitting penalty, he is the clear choice. There are some prices to pay though for pinch hitting (future defense and flexibility) and I don't know off the top of my head what the value of them are. It seems like pinch hitting Thames is the thing to do, but it is not 100% clear to me because of the aforementioned "prices."
   4. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: June 15, 2007 at 11:20 AM (#2404805)
There might be some question as to whether or not Monroe should have been PH for, but I think it's pretty reasonable to say that Mike Rabelo should not be allowed to be making the final out of a close game. If I were a Tigers fan, that would be a very frustrating thing to watch.
   5. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 15, 2007 at 12:30 PM (#2404827)
According to Uke, Polanco was ill with the flu.

But folks tend to focus far too much on the in-game aspect of a manager's job. As has been discussed elsewhere, a manager is expected to recognize talent, organize talent, and motivate the talent. Jim Leyland does all of those things pretty well. Sure, pulling the levers DURING the game counts. But if you start out with the wrong guys in the wrong places and they are sulking to boot you could have Earl Weaver and Charlie Dressen rolled into one and still lose a LOT of games.

Ozzie Guillen called Mags names and Ordonez has been nothing short of spectacular with Leyland.

Ask Cubs fans how easy is it to get your young pitchers to improve and stay in the rotation.

Brandon Inge was a Dean Palmer wanna be, now he's a pretty solid player.

Curtis Granderson just keeps getting better and better.

Yes, these guys were here before Leyland showed up. But the fact is that players on Detroit have made incremental improvements in their game. That's impressive as h*ll.

Credit has to go the manager. Has to. To suggest otherwise is to ignore the umpteen guys who have come up, looked to have the goods, and then done squat. Until, of course, they find the right home.
   6. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 15, 2007 at 12:50 PM (#2404838)
Maggs is going great guns now, but last year he was an adequate hitter for an RF, no more. And by rights he probably should be a DH. It could certainly be argued that he wouldn't perform as well if he were a DH and Leyland recognizes that, but Ordonez has to hit pretty well for a RF to justify that love.

Chris Shelton is a data point in the other direction. He did nothing but regress severely under Leyland.

Inge was already coming out as a solid player when Trammell was running the place. He did no better under Leyland than he did under Tram.

I'm not sure how much credit Leyland deserves for Verlanderman. Maybe as much as for the godawful bullpen this year, maybe less.

And as long as there is an Internet, we will know he started Neifi Perez and batted him second in a post-season game.
   7. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 15, 2007 at 12:56 PM (#2404842)
C'mon Doc. We both know that players can get better, remain the same, or get worse. The majority of players on Detroit under Leyland have gotten better.

That happened in Pittsburgh too. He got some guys to play pretty ok in Florida. In Colorado he was a burnout case.

I don't know why it's so hard to give someone credit for the people management aspect of the job. I know I give Yost a hard time about a lot of things but one thing that is pretty clear is that the guy knows how to massage egos. No small task in this day and age.

And Leyland is managing some pretty strong egos. Or is Sheffield now on Paxil and nobody told me?
   8. Mike Emeigh Posted: June 15, 2007 at 01:07 PM (#2404850)
Leyland's moves were defensible, IMO, especially when you consider that it's only mid-June.

Marcus Thames this season hasn't hit well against RHP at all (.167/.245/.250, 16 K in 53 PA), and at some point current form should take precedence over career value. Monroe's not having a good year, either, but he has been - and still is - a very important cog in this offense, and the Tigers need him to get it in gear. Pinch-hitting for him in this situation, especially with a guy who at this moment is not a demonstrably better hitter against RHP, would be a questionable move. If you had a quality LH bat on the bench, it would be a different story; the Tigers didn't.

Mike Rabelo, after getting off to an 0-15 start this year, has hit well in his limited playing time since. Pudge needs days off to stay sharp down the stretch, and the Tigers have been consistent in giving them to him and in not using him to PH and then come in and catch 2-3 innings; he's pinch-hit only twice (both times in April when Rabelo was struggling), and DH'd once, this year. Now that Rabelo has gotten his sea legs, so to speak, it probably doesn't hurt the Tigers over the long run to leave Pudge on the bench when he's getting a day off. And Rabelo's not a terrible hitter; he'd probably give you something like .250/.320/.400 as an everyday catcher, if you needed him to catch every day. The knock on Rabelo has always been his defense.

As HW suggested, Leyland's strength as a manager is handling the talent. Part of the job of handling the talent is recognizing that the goal is not always limited to winning today's game, but includes doing what you have to do to be on the top of the heap at the end of the season - and sometimes that involves doing something that may not maximize your chances of winning "today's" game but does set your team up better for the long haul.

-- MWE
   9. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 15, 2007 at 01:20 PM (#2404857)
C'mon Doc. We both know that players can get better, remain the same, or get worse. The majority of players on Detroit under Leyland have gotten better.

Oh, absolutely, absolutely. That's sort of my point, though...can you tell difference between that from coin tosses that come up heads a majority of times? I'm not sure I can. And if Leyland has a touch, what happened in Florida in '98, and in Colorado in '99, and in Pittsburgh after Bonds and Drabek left and Van Slyke lost it? I'm just not feelin' it.
   10. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: June 15, 2007 at 01:47 PM (#2404870)
No there are not ANY good baseball managers out there - not even close - as far as technical strategy is concerned, as compared to some hypothetical person who does roughly the optimal thing every time there are alternatives.

Serious question here. If a manager of an MLB team wanted to do the optimal thing, how would he go about it? What kind of data would you need available in the dugout? I'm pretty sure that mgl didn't know the projections with the pinch hitting penalty for the three Tigers players off the top of his head, so what would a manager be able to do?

I'm thinking you'd need:

1. Hitter vs. Pitcher matchups for every hitter. This would include at a minimum L/R matchups, but what else? Numbers with runners on base? G/F ratios? K-rate? Numbers vs. specific pitchers would probably not be useful, but it's possible.

2. Pitcher vs. Hitter matchups for every pitcher. Same as hitters, what else?

3. Stolen base percentages for all hitters plus opposing percentages for all of the other team's catchers.

4. Hit charts for all opposing hitters. Again, L/R matchups plus something?

5. Defensive ratings for all players for all positions that they can play.

6. LI for various game situations. It would be impossible to take everything into account, but you could have some standard situations.

Now, the more data you have, the more time it would take to sift through. Are managers allowed to have computers in the dugout? If not, you'd never make it through the relevant information in time. Maybe you'd have to hire a bench coach to look 3-4 batters ahead and prepare all of the possibilities (i.e. If this guy makes an out, here's the move. If he doubles, here's the move).

How often do you update your numbers? Daily? On a computer that might work. Weekly is probably all that would be needed.

And of course this leaves aside the biggest thing which would be that you'd completely lose your team if you didn't actally make any decisions yourself plus the ridicule that would come from sportswriters and fans. But continuing to leave that aside, would it even be practical? If not, what level could you go to?
   11. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 15, 2007 at 02:57 PM (#2404914)
Greg:

Actually, Earl Weaver used to have a packet of note cards jammed with various bits of information almost identical to what you described. Earl never let himself get too close to his players so if and when anyone said anything Earl either ignored them or told them to STFU.

Tony LaRussa later on had a computer in his office in the late 80's as did Steve Boros but when both were ridiculed these tools were abandoned in such an obvious way. While I can't prove it I think Will's book made LaRussa very uncomfortable with is "bookish" or "intellectual" persona that he began to tilt in what has now become his current projection of being a manager who relies more on instinct and experience than any fancy-schmancy techno cr*p.

I think your standard Treo or BlackBerry would more than sufficient if configured properly. I can call up the ESPN splits page on my Treo but it takes too long. If a team had its own site with no graphics to clog things up, etc. I am sure a manager could get whatever was needed in seconds.

That it hasn't been done says more about the lack of self-confidence in the younger cast of managers than anything else. I can understand a Bobby Cox not leveraging this type of tool as Bobby has been befuddled by in-game tactics for 20 years. (Ha, ha) But a Ned Yost or a Clint Hurdle should be looking for every edge possible.

The site of Ozzie Guillen smashing a Treo against a dugout wall after a reliever gives up a game-winning homer would certainly be worth the price of admisssion.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 15, 2007 at 03:09 PM (#2404924)
Is Jim Leyland a bad strategist?

Just one of thirty bad strategists leading a baseball team right now.
   13. Padgett Posted: June 15, 2007 at 03:20 PM (#2404934)
Thames, however, kills Monroe straight up versus a righty pitcher, so that even with the pinch hitting penalty, he is the clear choice.
Care to elaborate on this?
   14. ian Posted: June 15, 2007 at 03:20 PM (#2404935)
Monroe has a better projection straight up than Pudge or Polanco. With the "pinch hitting penalty" it is not even close.

0-4, 4K's, and considering the situation: man on 3rd, need a run, 1 out? Polanco is the perfect hitter in that situation. That being said, pulling C-Mo there is a vote of no confidence and shouldn't be done to a guy you're going to (unfortunately) have to depend on.

re. Verlander, Leyland has done an excellent job with pitch counts, which should count for something considering what a lot of other managers would do.
   15. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 15, 2007 at 03:32 PM (#2404949)
ian:

Well, as I wrote earlier it was reported that Polanco was sick.
   16. chemdoc Posted: June 15, 2007 at 03:39 PM (#2404955)
0-4, 4K's, and considering the situation: man on 3rd, need a run, 1 out? Polanco is the perfect hitter in that situation. That being said, pulling C-Mo there is a vote of no confidence and shouldn't be done to a guy you're going to (unfortunately) have to depend on.

Of course there was the issue of Polanco's flu-like illness, although I read Polanco would've hit for Neifi if needed. Even if Polanco has ebola, he's a better hitter than Neifi.

And as Leyland wisely said, "If I've got to pinch-hit for Craig Monroe, we're in trouble."
   17. ian Posted: June 15, 2007 at 04:24 PM (#2404980)
I was responding to a post that seemed to assume Polanco was healthy
   18. strummer Posted: June 15, 2007 at 04:52 PM (#2405010)
That being said, pulling C-Mo there is a vote of no confidence and shouldn't be done to a guy you're going to (unfortunately) have to depend on.

This is the crux of the issue. Players are people. People have emotions and motivators.

In this situation we are not talking about PH-ing Sheffield for Perez. To me, Monroe and Thames almost seem to be carbon copies of each other. To pull your everyday LF'er for a PH in a crucial late inning AB for someone who is, arguably, no better suited for the situation would have been ill-advised. The move wouldn't have substantially improved the chances of winning this game and could have the chance (not knowing anything at all about Monroe's personality) to cause friction.
To put it this way, how would you like it if you had a critical project/task/deliverable and your boss replaced you with someone else who is no better qualified in order to get the job done?
   19. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: June 15, 2007 at 05:17 PM (#2405030)
I think your standard Treo or BlackBerry would more than sufficient if configured properly. I can call up the ESPN splits page on my Treo but it takes too long. If a team had its own site with no graphics to clog things up, etc. I am sure a manager could get whatever was needed in seconds.

That's a good point (if allowed). I wasn't thinking about it being dynamic, but it would work. You have your stat guy run the numbers for the situation, plug the situation into the database, then the manager goes to the "strategy" page and it pulls up the top 4 recommended choices or other relevant information.
   20. philistine Posted: June 15, 2007 at 05:21 PM (#2405034)
I think there are times to show faith in players and times to take them out of the firing line. After 4 Ks, I think Leyland made the wrong choice. So Monroe's full of confidence now he's made the news with his fifth strikeout? I'm not sure Leyland has done him a favour here.

If Polanco was going to PH for Neifi, as seems to be the case, he'd be the obvious choice - a run down with 1 out, a runner on 3rd to drive in and nobody on first (so no danger of a GIDP). You just want someone to make contact and Polanco hardly ever strikes out. But if he wasn't fit, I'd go for Pudge and then Thames. What's the point of having a bench if you don't use it in this sort of situation?

That said, I agree with the generally positive comments about Leyland's man-management. But I think he made a mistake here and not just because they lost the game.
   21. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: June 15, 2007 at 05:33 PM (#2405041)
To put it this way, how would you like it if you had a critical project/task/deliverable and your boss replaced you with someone else who is no better qualified in order to get the job done?

If I had just failed the same task four straight times in one of the worst ways it can be failed?

Seriously, though, is it really a big deal for Leyland to say to Monroe, "Hey, you've had a tough night, take a seat and let Thames give it a shot."?
   22. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: June 15, 2007 at 06:25 PM (#2405072)
Well, Jason Beck reports that some changes are being made:

If there's any bright side for the Tigers in Craig Monroe's five-strikeout game -- only the third in franchise history, the first since Danny Bautista in 1995 -- it's that his 2-for-12, eight-strikeout series made manager Jim Leyland's decision easier on how to fit four outfielders into three spots without the DH for this weekend's series at Philadelphia.

Leyland said Monroe will sit Friday's series opener and possibly a day after that, allowing Gary Sheffield to start in left field. At some point, Leyland will rotate his outfielders and put Monroe in there. And at some point against a left-handed starter, Monroe will have a start in center field. Whether Saturday's matchup with Jamie Moyer is that time remains to be seen with Monroe struggling. As for pinch-hitting for Monroe on Thursday, Leyland said that wasn't a consideration, as it wouldn't be for his other everyday starters.


And Harvey, with respect, you took me out of context in my intro. I didn't say "is Leyland a bad manager?" I think he has been good-to-excellent in DET, for the reasons you described. I raised questions about him as a strategist. Given how he has handled the lineup (esp Casey), pinch-hitting and the bullpen, these are valid questions to raise.
However, this would all be a moot point if your man Bill Hall hadn't robbed Maggs of a two-run double in the 7th...
   23. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 15, 2007 at 06:31 PM (#2405076)
Justin:

Understood.

Billy is really making progress out there. If his bat has woken up on a permanent basis the Crew will have quite the centerfielder. That was some catch. Surprised me that's for sure.
   24. The Polish Sausage Racer Posted: June 15, 2007 at 06:34 PM (#2405080)
I think your standard Treo or BlackBerry would more than sufficient if configured properly. I can call up the ESPN splits page on my Treo but it takes too long. If a team had its own site with no graphics to clog things up, etc. I am sure a manager could get whatever was needed in seconds.

I wonder if this isn't already being done behind the scenes, and relaying the info to the manager in a completely unobtrusive manner so as to let no one know they're completely geeked out.

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