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Monday, March 11, 2013

Passan: USA overcomes upstart Canada, Joe Torre’s mismanagement in WBC

Despite Joe Torre managing as though the analytical breakthroughs of the last 20 years never happened – bunting three times with a lineup of All-Stars, shrugging off matchup-relief situations, walking a career-long scrub to load the bases with a new reliever coming in and keeping the player who led the major leagues in slugging percentage last year on the bench all game despite struggling for runs over the first seven innings – Team USA turned into Team USA over the final two innings, dropping seven runs and joining Italy, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in Miami.

... One of Torre’s greatest strengths is explaining the rationale behind certain decisions. None of his elucidation Sunday passed muster. Intentionally walking Pete Orr, a lifetime .259/.289/.332 hitter, to load the bases with Cishek then facing his first hitter in the eighth was strategically dreadful. Cishek is far from a control artist, and the possibility of a force at any base wasn’t worth the trade-off of a bases-loaded walk or hit by pitch.

Cishek escaped, ostensibly vindicating Torre like Victorino did in the eighth with a run-scoring single. It didn’t, of course, mitigate his stubborn insistence to small-ball conventions. If Torre is going to be a slave to that style of play, actively stomping on Team USA’s inherent superiority like it’s a smoldering cigarette butt, moving past Miami to San Francisco will take far more than talent.

Unless Torre is trying to make up for lost moves after spending the last two years in Major League Baseball’s front office, he’ll soon understand: Best to let this team play. Beyond questionable starting pitching – the U.S. picks up Gio Gonzalez to start its first game in Miami on Tuesday – this is a deep, strong, dangerous team. Its lineup frightens. Its baserunning is top-notch. Among David Wright, Jones and Phillips, whose diving stop of an Adam Loewen shot in the eighth inning squelched Canada’s rally, the U.S. has flashed elite gloves across the diamond.

Thanks to Brills.

Repoz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 05:40 AM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, wbc

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4386245)
Torre's managerial shortcomings should be no surprise to anyone who watched the Yankees in the mid-2000's. He lost his knack a long time ago.
   2. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4386274)
Torre's also handicapped to some extent (as Passan mentions) by limitations placed on him by the teams supplying the players, who still want this to be treated like spring training.

-- MWE
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4386283)
Torre's also handicapped to some extent (as Passan mentions) by limitations placed on him by the teams supplying the players, who still want this to be treated like spring training.

Definitely true, but that's not the case on any of the moves being criticized here.
   4. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4386285)
Despite Joe Torre managing as though the analytical breakthroughs of the last 20 years never happened – bunting three times with a lineup of All-Stars, shrugging off matchup-relief situations, walking a career-long scrub to load the bases with a new reliever coming in and keeping the player who led the major leagues in slugging percentage last year on the bench all game despite struggling for runs over the first seven innings


What a mess, but, sadly, not surprising.

Torre's best tactical strength as a manager was understanding that the way to succeed in the postseason was to try to win the game you were playing and not worry about future games ("Oh, what if I'll need Rivera tomorrow?" But tomorrow's game could be a blowout, so there's no good reason to worry about that, as Torre correctly understood.).

Beyond that? Meh. Even his vaunted reputation for handling clubhouse issues imploded when Sheffield went off on him. And we had the ARod-Jeter issue, and the larger ARod-team issue, which he handed horribly, culminating with him scapegoating ARod for the team's troubles by batting him 8th in the playoff game.

As near I can tell, Torre's m.o. for dealing with clubhouse issues was to demand that the players keep them in house so that the media wouldn't get wind that Torre had his share of problems in the clubhouse like most managers do.

   5. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4386300)
Definitely true, but that's not the case on any of the moves being criticized here.


Passan says this:

And to face Canada's almost entirely left-handed lineup in the seventh and eighth innings, Torre called on Heath Bell, David Hernandez and Steve Cishek. All are right-handers. All needed to throw. So damn the situation and the matchup – damn that Joey Votto's OPS is 103 points higher against righties than lefties over his career, Justin Morneau's 176 points and Michael Saunders' 43 points, and that Hernandez's is 43 points and Cishek's 181 points while Bell's is even – and go ahead with what their clubs would want instead of what's best for the team.


Furthermore, managers often ask players to do things in spring training games that they don't ask them to do in similar situations in the regular season. You will see guys bunt in situations where during the regular season a bunt would not be called for, or issue intentional walks, or face a lefty hitter when the LOOGY might come on. The idea is to get the players repetitions, not (necessarily) to do the best thing to win the game. And that's the way that I think Torre is managing - like this is just another spring training series.

-- MWE
   6. Shredder Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4386307)
The main problem is that Torre is making in game moves as if he were managing a regular major league team (and really isn't doing a great job of that). It's bad enough that he's sacrificing with two on and none out in the early innings. It's much worse to do it with a line up of all-stars. Just because Jones, Hosmer, and Victorino are batting 7-8-9 does not mean they are traditional 7-8-9 hitters, and you don't have to treat them like it.

And this isn't so much on Torre, because I see other managers do it all the time, but can someone explain to me the rationale of bringing in a reliever and tasking him with intentionally walking the bases loaded immediately upon entering the game? If I'm bringing in a guy who absolutely has to throw strikes, the last thing I want to ask him to do is purposely throw four balls. Why not leave Hernandez in for IBB and bring Cishek in at that point? I mean it was a bad decision to walk Orr in the first place, but I'm leaving that aside for now.
   7. Shredder Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4386320)
The idea is to get the players repetitions, not (necessarily) to do the best thing to win the game.
Sorry, Mike. I'm not buying the idea that Torre is calling for sacrifices from Jones and Zobrist to "get them some repititions". These aren't guys that are going to be asked to sacrifice very often, so I seriously doubt them regular managers asked Torre to make sure they get some bunting in while away from camp. I think you're right perhaps with regard to pitching matchups and lineup decisions, but those decisions were inexcusable.
   8. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4386327)

Furthermore, managers often ask players to do things in spring training games that they don't ask them to do in similar situations in the regular season. You will see guys bunt in situations where during the regular season a bunt would not be called for, or issue intentional walks, or face a lefty hitter when the LOOGY might come on. The idea is to get the players repetitions, not (necessarily) to do the best thing to win the game. And that's the way that I think Torre is managing - like this is just another spring training series.


This defense of Torre seems very far fetched. For one thing, he's not managing a team he will take north with him once the season starts in April. So why would he want to use important ABs in a tournament - even if the tournament is not truly competitive - to get them bunting reps?

The tournament may not be truly competitive, but there's still no point wasting PAs. It's not like he would be having a pitcher go 150 pitches; he would just be asking hitters to swing away.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4386333)
And to face Canada's almost entirely left-handed lineup in the seventh and eighth innings, Torre called on Heath Bell, David Hernandez and Steve Cishek. All are right-handers. All needed to throw. So damn the situation and the matchup – damn that Joey Votto's OPS is 103 points higher against righties than lefties over his career, Justin Morneau's 176 points and Michael Saunders' 43 points, and that Hernandez's is 43 points and Cishek's 181 points while Bell's is even – and go ahead with what their clubs would want instead of what's best for the team.


Have they never heard of getting your work in in the bullpen after the game?

He also could have used them in a different inning. What this situation (Canada's 3-4-5 up in the 8th, up by one) really calls for ditching the "closer" nonsense, and using Kimbrel in the 8th, and the lesser pitchers in the 9th.
   10. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4386337)
Jim Kaat loved it.
   11. JJ1986 Posted: March 11, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4386338)
Cishek wasn't scheduled to pitch; he was brought in after Hernandez was allowed to struggle for a very long time. It made no sense to go to him against lefties.
   12. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4386346)
Jim Kaat loved it.

Joe Torre's in-game tactics should be put "in the trash can."
   13. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 11, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4386366)
So why would he want to use important ABs in a tournament - even if the tournament is not truly competitive - to get them bunting reps?


Maybe because the direction he's been given by his bosses in MLB is to treat the tournament exactly as he would any other early spring training game? Why is that so far-fetched?

-- MWE
   14. depletion Posted: March 11, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4386369)
And this isn't so much on Torre, because I see other managers do it all the time, but can someone explain to me the rationale of bringing in a reliever and tasking him with intentionally walking the bases loaded immediately upon entering the game? If I'm bringing in a guy who absolutely has to throw strikes, the last thing I want to ask him to do is purposely throw four balls.

This must be the most stupifying managerial move. I would rather have the shortstop come in and walk the guy. Buy another 30 seconds of warm-up pitches and neither of your pitchers gets a walk charged to their record.
   15. TDF, situational idiot Posted: March 11, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4386383)
MWE:

There are 2 passages from the article that run completely against your arguements:
In the first two WBCs, the U.S. parlayed its talent into a pair of disappointing finishes. It still hasn't made a final, let alone won the tournament, which from the first moment Torre met with the Americans was the stated goal. Not just Miami. Not just San Francisco for the semifinals and finals. The whole damn thing.
and
No other manager is taking such precautions.
   16. JJ1986 Posted: March 11, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4386384)
Maybe because the direction he's been given by his bosses in MLB is to treat the tournament exactly as he would any other early spring training game? Why is that so far-fetched?


"Bunt with your 7th hitter" is probably how he would play an early spring training game, but "Bunt with Adam Jones" probably isn't. Jones doesn't really need the bunting reps.
   17. dr. scott Posted: March 11, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4386399)
Before the game (I think it was before the game) Torre stated that he benched Stanton as they other guy needed to play, and that he had to go with three righty relievers even though its a lefty dominated lineup. Bunting... not so sure about that one.

He talked about the fine line between managing to win and making sure everyone gets to play.
   18. Shredder Posted: March 11, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4386407)
Maybe because the direction he's been given by his bosses in MLB is to treat the tournament exactly as he would any other early spring training game? Why is that so far-fetched?
Because it doesn't make any sense. The only way it makes sense is if he's been given the direction to manage that way by the clubs whose players he's using, and I doubt the Orioles told him "make sure Jones gets in his sacrifice bunts". And quite frankly, if I were told by the Orioles that I could use Adam Jones, but only if I made sure to ask him to bunt at inappropriate times, I'd probably say "you go ahead and keep him". Jones get about one SH per year. Zobrist about two. I highly doubt those guys were sent to the USNT with instructions to work on their bunting.
   19. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4386417)
He talked about the fine line between managing to win and making sure everyone gets to play.


That is ####### stupid. Don't sign up for the WBC is you expect to treat it like a regular spring training game. And certainly don't hire a manager that is going to treat it that way.

The US Olympic basketball team figured that out pretty quickly after a bronze medal. Either play to win or don't play.
   20. Chris Needham Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4386420)
On the 'why have the new guy throw the IBB' question... I heard Tony LaRussa explain that he liked to do that because then that's a "batter faced" for purposes of being able to yank a pitcher if the opposing manager pinch-hits. Of course, TLR's about the only SOB who'd have the 5 relievers warming necessary to pull that gambit off...
   21. TDF, situational idiot Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4386422)
I'd also add that if MLB wants to guarantee the WBC dies a quick death, it'll dictate (through the team orders) that players getting their bunting reps takes precedence over winning.
   22. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4386477)
MLB, please make like F1 and get rid of team orders.
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4386520)
This must be the most stupifying managerial move. I would rather have the shortstop come in and walk the guy.


I would easily bet we would see an increase in wild pitches if the SS is doing the intentional walking.

It should be the current pitcher, not the new one, but I also think people are overreacting to this. There's no indication that it affects the new pitcher.
   24. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4386521)
He talked about the fine line between managing to win and making sure everyone gets to play.


As if he learned anything from the All Star Game fiasco.
   25. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 11, 2013 at 10:20 PM (#4386667)
MLB, please make like F1 and get rid of team orders.


Oh yeah, that'd be awesome. Who would end up being MLB's Bernie Ecclestone?
   26. Karl from NY Posted: March 11, 2013 at 11:12 PM (#4386695)
This must be the most stupifying managerial move. I would rather have the shortstop come in and walk the guy.

You lose the DH if you do this. Could be done in a NL regular season game, though.
   27. Ryan Lind Posted: March 11, 2013 at 11:25 PM (#4386700)
During the game, Rick Sutcliffe, on the International broadcast, (which, by the way, was as rah-rah-USA! USA! As the domestic one I'm sure, so I'm not sure what the point is....) was NON-STOP fellating Torre for every second of his managing. Called him an absolute genius on probably 4 occasions. He didn't give any examples of course. It's all Yankee M&A and rings.

No other manager is taking such precautions.


I don't think this is true.

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