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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Neyer: Who Will the Cardinals Miss the Most?

Rally squirrel, obv.

Thursday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s website ran a poll:

Whose departure will have the biggest impact on the Cardinals?

The choices: Dave Duncan, Tony La Russa, Albert Pujols…

What I found most interesting about the poll wasn’t that Pujols finished last, but that Dave Duncan finished first, with 42 percent next to La Russa’s 30 and Albert’s 28… I’m intrigued by the notion that Cardinals fans might actually give more credit to Duncan than La Russa for the team’s recent successes. Partly because I’m not completely sure they’re wrong.

But hey, let’s make this about the Hall of Fame, since we could never get tired of that.

This isn’t an original thought, either for me or the rest of the Internet, but I believe Dave Duncan deserves, if not more credit than La Russa, at least some real Hall of Fame consideration…

In the five years before Duncan got hold of Dave Stewart, he went 30-35 with a 98 ERA+. In the next five years, he went 93-50 with a 118 ERA+.

I don’t know how much of that was Dave Duncan, how much was Tony La Russa, and how much was just Dave Stewart getting a chance to pitch. But if I were somehow involved with the Hall of Fame, I would like to know.

I would like to know that, and a lot more.

The District Attorney Posted: January 12, 2012 at 07:40 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, hall of fame

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 12, 2012 at 08:42 PM (#4035739)
The scarecrow?
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: January 12, 2012 at 08:48 PM (#4035743)
I'm a huge TLR fan, but if I had to rank who they are going to miss the most, I probably go Duncan, Pujols, TLR. (ask me in half an hour and I might flip Pujols and Duncan) TLR is a great manager, but I don't think that means that he is irreplaceable if Matheny is competent, I'm not sure that Duncan is replaceable. And the Cardinals lost of Pujols hurts less with Berkman on the roster and competent to good outfielders in Allen Craig. Add in Furcal for a full season, Wainwright for a full season and no Theriot on the roster and I think this team is as good on paper, if not better than they performed in the regular season last year.

If I'm judging by a war value difference in the team, then the drop from Pujols/Berkman to Berkman/Craig is probably more costly than either the loss of Duncan or TLR.
   3. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 12, 2012 at 08:49 PM (#4035744)
This isn’t an original thought, either for me or the rest of the Internet, but I believe Dave Duncan deserves, if not more credit than La Russa, at least some real Hall of Fame consideration…

In the five years before Duncan got hold of Dave Stewart, he went 30-35 with a 98 ERA+. In the next five years, he went 93-50 with a 118 ERA+.

I don’t know how much of that was Dave Duncan, how much was Tony La Russa, and how much was just Dave Stewart getting a chance to pitch. But if I were somehow involved with the Hall of Fame, I would like to know.


And unlike with Leo Mazzone, about whom similar things were once asked, we may never find out.

   4. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 12, 2012 at 09:16 PM (#4035766)
Anyone who ranks Tony anywhere but first is daft
   5. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 12, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4035768)
In the five years before Duncan got hold of Dave Stewart, he went 30-35 with a 98 ERA+. In the next five years, he went 93-50 with a 118 ERA+.


Imagine if Dave Stewart had put up a 115 ERA+ over 342 innings before he turned 27. Would Dave Duncan get as much credit for him then?
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 12, 2012 at 09:33 PM (#4035775)
Whither Nick Punto?
   7. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 12, 2012 at 09:35 PM (#4035779)
Mazzone was pretty much given #### for pitchers in Baltimore, and wasn't there long. The fact that he didn't work any transformations with the Orioles doesn't mean he wasn't a great pitching coach.
   8. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 12, 2012 at 09:40 PM (#4035787)
Pujols. Next Question.
   9. cardsfanboy Posted: January 12, 2012 at 09:42 PM (#4035790)
Anyone who ranks Tony anywhere but first is daft


As I said, I love TLR, but I think that this team will be fine without him. Partially because it's largely his coaching staff, it's his type of players, he helped shaped the organization and Matheny has a little of TLR's redass in him. I just hope Matheny doesn't coach out of fear and try to be too conservative. TLR was a great manager, because ultimately he didn't care what the writers or fans said about him so he was willing to bat people in different lineup spots(both pitcher batting eighth, and his stated desire to bat more of a power hitter second than a traditional contact hitter) he had no problems with pissing off the old guard and using three (or more) pitchers in an inning, etc.

   10. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: January 12, 2012 at 09:47 PM (#4035795)
Pujols. Next Question.


Yeah, really. The best player in the game (yes, he had an off-year, but I need to see other one to strip him of his title) is almost certainly more valuable than the best pitching coach (if, in fact, Duncan is that - and he likely is).
   11. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: January 12, 2012 at 09:51 PM (#4035799)
Matheny, with no managerial experience, is taking over the reigning champs and following up one of the greatest managers ever. He's going to do it without one of the best players in franchise history and perhaps the best pitching coach ever. I have no idea what's going to happen, but I can't wait to see how this plays out. It's going to be a very compelling season.
   12. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: January 12, 2012 at 10:30 PM (#4035825)
I must be daft, because I think HoF players are more important than HoF pitching coaches or managers. In the long run a GM is more important, but over a incompetent year (next year) I still think player (assuming an average and not incompetent replacement).

In other words: Pujols.
   13. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 12, 2012 at 10:38 PM (#4035829)
With no disrespect to their formidable abilities and accomplishments, La Russa and Duncan can fight it out for third place.

1. Pujols
2. See above
   14. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 12, 2012 at 11:15 PM (#4035846)
Mazzone was pretty much given #### for pitchers in Baltimore, and wasn't there long. The fact that he didn't work any transformations with the Orioles doesn't mean he wasn't a great pitching coach.


Sure. But the fact that he didn't enjoy any success there enhances the possibility that his great run in Atlanta was as part of a Mazzone-Cox pairing, or an entire organizational thing, rather than any singular quality Leo has. It wouldn't surprise me if the same is true with the wizardly Duncan.

   15. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: January 12, 2012 at 11:23 PM (#4035852)
Wiploc?
   16. Johnny Slick Posted: January 13, 2012 at 01:51 AM (#4035886)
I have to agree that Mazzone's time in Baltimore was too short to come to any conclusions about it one way or the other. I also don't think it says a single thing about how influential he was on Atlanta's pitching. I do think that since the default position is something along the lines of "it was the combined work of a lot of different people", any bit of evidence that doesn't prove counter to that bolsters it just a little bit. Nonetheless, I think people pointing to the Perlozzo/Mazzone tenure in Baltimore (did that even last a year?) is about as wrong-headed as saying that, I don't know, Ray Miller wasn't really all that great as a pitching coach with the O's because of his crappy record with the Twins in the mid-80s (which was in and of itself a longer period of time than Perlozzo/Mazzone got).

With Duncan, anyway, it's not just his time in St. Louis. In Oakland during the days of the Bash Brothers, he was turning sow's ears into silk purses right and left. Yeah, Dave Stewart turned his career around there. Duncan also revived the careers of Dennis Eckersley, Gene Nelson, and Rick Honeycutt - as relief pitchers, yeah, and at that relievers who didn't pitch a whole lot compared to other relievers of the era, but really, really good ones for the time they were on the mound. He also coaxed a good year out of Bob Welch, got Mike Moore to play a lot better in Oakland than he did before or after, and did well there with several other players as well.

Back to the OP... I think LaRussa left because he saw the writing on the wall as much as anything else, and Duncan in turn left in large part because LaRussa got out. I have to agree that of course Pujols is the biggest loss for that team, and it's not even close. I do think that we as statty guys like us - like me - tend to discount managers a bit because their impact on the game is mostly stuff that you can't read in the boxscores, and at that a lot of the stuff that you can read in the boxscores does not paint them in a good light. The real impact of a loss of Duncan/LaRussa isn't so much anything you'll necessarily see out of the Cards this year, it's that you won't see another guy picked up off the scrap heap and turned into an extra couple wins, for instance. It's tough to measure things like that but it doesn't mean that ability doesn't exist.
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: January 13, 2012 at 01:59 AM (#4035887)
Back to the OP... I think LaRussa left because he saw the writing on the wall as much as anything else, and Duncan in turn left in large part because LaRussa got out.


this is utterly insane comment.
TLR left because he's been trying to leave for damn near a decade. There was no writing on the wall, he just didn't like it here in St Louis, in which the hicks here are too stupid to appreciate his talent, and instead would bad mouth him as an egomaniac, while ignoring the fact that Whitey was massively a much bigger ####### ass than TLR....and that Whitey actually quit on the ####### team, and that Whitey told his team, hey you might as well quit, not one world series, but two, because whitey thinks that ready made excuses for sucking is perfectly fine, yet somehow he has managed to convince the cardinal faithful that he's actually worth a ####### ####, and these morons in St Louis fell for the whitey ####, while refusing to actually embrace a great manager like Tlr. We would rather have a quitter egomaniac, than a guy who accepts responsibilty for the team, but is from the west coast.

Duncan left for much more obvious reasons, he's been a career coach for 30+ years and his wife is dying and he has a chance to be with her in her last days. Really how more complicated than that do your really think this is?
   18. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: January 13, 2012 at 02:10 AM (#4035889)
I find it more interesting that Pujols finished last than that Duncan finished first. Pujols should have been Stan Musial here. Even if LaRussa and Duncan are HOF caliber, they're not Pujols.
   19. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 13, 2012 at 02:13 AM (#4035891)
With Duncan, anyway, it's not just his time in St. Louis. In Oakland during the days of the Bash Brothers, he was turning sow's ears into silk purses right and left. Yeah, Dave Stewart turned his career around there. Duncan also revived the careers of Dennis Eckersley, Gene Nelson, and Rick Honeycutt - as relief pitchers, yeah, and at that relievers who didn't pitch a whole lot compared to other relievers of the era, but really, really good ones for the time they were on the mound. He also coaxed a good year out of Bob Welch, got Mike Moore to play a lot better in Oakland than he did before or after, and did well there with several other players as well.


Sure, but my point is that you can't isolate what is Duncan from what is Duncan/LaRussa, while noting that Mazzone/Cox was wildly successful in a way that Mazzone/Perlozzo was not (Leo got two full years in Balt., BTW). It's possible that Duncan's tremendous work with pitchers exists independent of TLR being in the big chair, but it's not certain.

   20. The District Attorney Posted: January 13, 2012 at 02:17 AM (#4035892)
this is utterly insane comment.
Foreshadowing.
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: January 13, 2012 at 02:26 AM (#4035895)
I find it more interesting that Pujols finished last than that Duncan finished first. Pujols should have been Stan Musial here. Even if LaRussa and Duncan are HOF caliber, they're not Pujols


agreed, but that isn't the case. Pujols is going to the al, is going to make a crapload of money to be a 6 war player, is going into the hof with an Angels cap, at the end of the day, he turned away from being an icon, into accepting the less popular road of being filthy rich.

more power to him. Pujols in 2011 was worth 5.4 war, Berkman was worth 5.2, craig is probably going to be worth around 3.5 war, the loss of Pujols relative to last season is around 2 war, which is being picked up by the addition of Wainwright, full season of Furcal, no Theriot etc.

His loss has been covered by replacement players. Meanwhile TLR was replaced by a person who has never managed, and the greatest pitching coach in baseball history is taking a sabbatical. I do not see how the loss of Pujols in regards to the changes that the team made, is the worse thing for the team. If we sign Pujols, we don't resign Furcal, we don't add Beltran to the roster. For the next year, the loss of Pujols is minimum if at all.
   22. depletion Posted: January 13, 2012 at 10:25 AM (#4036037)
I can understand that Dave Duncan's a really good pitching coach. But there are other good pitching coaches. There are no other Albert Pujols's.
   23. Swedish Chef Posted: January 13, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4036055)
Duncan, easily, You don't have to squeeze out many extra wins to be a net plus on a pitching coach salary, Pujols has to be a great player to just be a break-even proposition at $25M.
   24. bunyon Posted: January 13, 2012 at 10:42 AM (#4036061)
Which would I miss most?

Air, water, food?


By the way, I may have missed it amidst all the politics, rape and football, but did anyone discuss TLR's comments with regard to how the Cardinals went after Pujols. I heard it on a SportsCenter update: basically, Pujols offered a significant discount and the Cards played it cool, according to TLR. He said the Cards were concerned that even if they paid Pujols' discount and he bombed they'd be hamstrung for a decade and, so, they didn't really pursue him.

I just wondered if this information might not soften St. Louis' feelings toward Pujols?
   25. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: January 13, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4036070)
TLR left because he's been trying to leave for damn near a decade. There was no writing on the wall, he just didn't like it here in St Louis


You're closer to it than I am but I sincerely doubt this. Even if the Cardinal fans didn't like/appreciate him he could have left anytime in the past decade and been out of work for about 45 seconds. I don't know what his contract was like but he could have gotten out at any point that his contract expired in the past decade. Even if he wanted he could have taken a year off, done TV, then snatched up a job if he was that eager to leave.

Oh, and put me down as "Pujols" is the answer to the question at the top. With all due respect to TLR and Duncan who are excellent at their jobs, the superstar first baseman is more important than either one of them.
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 13, 2012 at 10:52 AM (#4036073)
Duncan, easily, You don't have to squeeze out many extra wins to be a net plus on a pitching coach salary, Pujols has to be a great player to just be a break-even proposition at $25M.

That's a different question. You're saying who's got the best ROI.

They'll miss Pujols most because he generated the most total value.
   27. Swedish Chef Posted: January 13, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4036091)
They'll miss Pujols most because he generated the most total value.

He is replaceable if they want to, now they have a quarter billion to spend on other players for the next ten years. The witch king pitching coach is unobtainable. Surely the goods that has no substitute will be missed more even if the substitutable good brings more total value.
   28. asdf1234 Posted: January 13, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4036414)

You're closer to it than I am but I sincerely doubt this. Even if the Cardinal fans didn't like/appreciate him he could have left anytime in the past decade and been out of work for about 45 seconds. I don't know what his contract was like but he could have gotten out at any point that his contract expired in the past decade. Even if he wanted he could have taken a year off, done TV, then snatched up a job if he was that eager to leave.


It's a bit more complicated than that. While the fans generally held him in disdain for not being Whitey Herzog, ownership loved him and gave him more latitude than any other manager in baseball. Despite the poor fit with the fanbase, STL offered LaRussa the chance to run the franchise the way he wanted, to overrule the GM when he wanted, to point to a single player as one to acquire or one to jettison. That kind of freedom counts for a lot when you're weighing jobs.

Most importantly, for all his apparent lack of self-awareness, TLR had to know that his thin-skinned act would never fly in a town with a more prominent or rancorous media, and I don't know that there's an MLB city with gentler sports coverage than St. Louis. Doubtless he wouldn't have lasted six months in Boston or New York, and I'm sure Tony knew that.

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