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Friday, February 19, 2010

Yahoo! (Big League Stew blog): Is Bobby Cox on the Mount Rushmore of baseball managers?

The onslaught of Bobby Cox retirement stories began on Wednesday with an Associated Press piece penned by Charles Odum. It contained all of the details (28 seasons, 15 division titles, five pennants and one World Series) that we’ll see in each city’s newspaper as the Braves roll into town this year. It also included a number of skeptical “I’ll believe his retirement when I see it” quotes from guys like Tom Glavine(notes) and Chipper Jones(notes). All in all,  a solid article as Cox prepares for his final season as Braves manager.

The part that I found most interesting, though, came from Mike Scioscia in the last graf. 

“If you were going to make a Mount Rushmore of managers. Bobby’s one of them.”

I find this interesting because I really had never thought of Cox in those terms — the one World Series and his ability to stay in the background probably hurt him — and I can’t decide if Scioscia’s statement is a correct one.

Hmm…if only there was a book that could answer a question like this!

JH (in DC) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 03:03 AM | 153 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, history

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   1. JH (in DC) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:44 AM (#3463299)
Damn, the blockquote screwed up. I thought it looked right in preview.

Anyway, only the last paragraph is mine.
   2. Srul Itza Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:48 AM (#3463301)
From the comments:

Put him on the Mt. Rushmore of wife beaters. Birds can poop on him.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:49 AM (#3463302)
McGraw, McKechnie, Stengel and Weaver. McCarthy, Anderson, Cox and Torre can take tickets.
   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:03 AM (#3463314)
sorry Andy, but Joe McCarthy has to be on there
   5. phredbird Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:09 AM (#3463317)
mcgraw, mccarthy, stengel and larussa.

*ducks*
   6. caspian88 Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:09 AM (#3463318)
McGraw, Mack, McCarthy, Stengel?
   7. Lassus Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:13 AM (#3463322)
The last Mount Rushmore thread is one of my all-time favorites.
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:32 AM (#3463330)
how can you not include LaRussa in any manager mt rushmore thread? I mean Cox isn't even close to the equation, the top three are easy.
   9. Mark Armour Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:42 AM (#3463335)
McGraw, McCarthy, Weaver, LaRussa
   10. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:47 AM (#3463338)
1 WS win (tied with 44 others for 23rd place) isn't enough to get you in the conversation. Post # 6 has it right: McGraw, Mack McCarthy & Stengel.
   11. Sweatpants Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:50 AM (#3463339)
how can you not include LaRussa in any manager mt rushmore thread? I mean Cox isn't even close to the equation, the top three are easy.

By what criteria are the two so radically different that LaRussa is in the argument and Cox isn't even close? LaRussa has 2,552 wins and a .535 winning percentage. Cox has 2,413 wins and a .556 winning percentage. LaRussa has 2 World Series wins to Cox's one, but Cox has managed more playoff teams and has a higher average finish. Both have had numerous playoff flops with highly favored teams. Cox has been managing in the majors in 1978, and LaRussa started the year after that. Both have four Manager of the Year awards, and at least one in each league. I could see an argument for LaRussa over Cox or for Cox over LaRussa. I cannot see an argument for one as being one of the best managers of all time and the other as being nowhere near that level.
   12. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 19, 2010 at 06:02 AM (#3463347)
John McGraw, Joe McCarthy, Bill McKechnie, Tony LaRussa.

There you go.
   13. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 06:07 AM (#3463348)
McGraw, McKechnie, Stengel and Weaver. McCarthy, Anderson, Cox and Torre can take tickets.

sorry Andy, but Joe McCarthy has to be on there


But who gets bumped for him? It's an exaggeration to say that McCarthy was a "push button manager," but in fact he had such ridiculous talent on his Yankee teams that it's hard to imagine that they wouldn't have won just as much without him. And in his afterlife with the Red Sox, he lost two straight pennants on the last day of the season, both of which the Red Sox should have won. He was habitually drunk during those years as well, which cost him his job the following year.

McGraw was the premier manager of the dead ball era and "inside baseball." McKechnie won pennants with three different teams, only one of which (the Reds) had talent that was demonstrably superior to his competition. Stengel won five straight World Series, the first four of which were with teams that were decided pre-season underdogs and won in close finishes in large part due to Stengel's handling of the rotation. And Weaver was an absolute master at using his entire roster, as well as being one of the first manager to make extensive use of statistics in player evaluation. I can't see McCarthy bumping any of those four, despite the historical dominance of his Yankee teams. To me McCarthy was an earlier version of Torre, whose genius was in handling his players (and in Torre's case, his owner) more than it was in his field tactics or strategy.

It's not that there haven't been other great managers, including the four I listed as "ticket takers," plus Mack (who was erratic, to say the least), Durocher, Williams, LaRussa, and others I'm too lazy to remember. It's just that IMO the four I listed are the four best.
   14. Lassus Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:19 AM (#3463380)
What #11 said.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:40 AM (#3463386)
Bump McKechnie, because casual fans have never heard of him.
   16. RobertMachemer Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:20 AM (#3463393)
Torre would almost certainly be ahead of Cox at this point, right?
   17. bjhanke Posted: February 19, 2010 at 01:05 PM (#3463412)
Selee, Stallings, McCarthy, Weaver or Cox.

Weaver = Cox > La Russa = Herzog, although the margins are small, the styles aren't always similar (although Weaver and Cox are basically clones), and there are other respectable candidates. They would be the MODERN Rushmore. You can go for Clarke, McGraw, McKechnie, Mack and have a whole extra mountain to carve out of early guys. Harry Wright could get in there. Stengel and Torre worked when they had Yankee money; otherwise, not so much. Torre is nowhere near Cox or any other of the aboves; I got to see him (fail to) manage when the owner would not spend huge money. Billy Southworth might get in the discussion. If you go for really short careers, Chris Jaffe suggests Buck Ewing, which pleases me no end, as I'm a huge Ewing fan. Frank Chance. Williams dropped off the list when he developed the obsession about second basemen.

Question that might be more fun: Who would be the Rushmore of managers who are still active but who have not yet managed 15 seasons?

- Brock Hanke (NOT a suggestion)
   18. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 01:16 PM (#3463414)
Bump McKechnie, because casual fans have never heard of him.

Fair enough: The new Rushmore now features Torre, Sweet Lou, Billy Martin and Tom Hanks.
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 01:32 PM (#3463419)
Stengel and Torre worked when they had Yankee money; otherwise, not so much.

Ahem. Were the Yankees broke when Joe McCarthy managed them? And in fact, weren't the Cubs the NL's cash cow during his reign there, too?

The more generic problem is that you can't disqualify a manager merely because his owners provide him with good players. You have to look at how they performed in close races, and how they performed relative to their talent, and relative to their opponents' talent. No manager in the world could have done any better with the material Torre or Stengel had with their earlier teams, and once they got their opportunity, to say that they made the most of it is putting it mildly.

And I have to assume that Stallings was thrown in as a joke. One semi-flukish pennant doesn't make for a great career, which in Stallings' case was otherwise neither particular long (13 years) or distinguished. Not to mention that he was kind of loopy and erratic in his on-field behavior.

All that said, I guess you could make four Rushmores: 19th century; deadball era; remaining reserve clause era; and free agent era. That way you'd be comparing apples to apples. Or you could just choose the best from each era and combine them.
   20. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: February 19, 2010 at 01:47 PM (#3463422)
Who would be the Rushmore of managers who are still active but who have not yet managed 15 seasons?


This is the kind of question that would likely be pretty funny to look back at a decade from now and see some of the dumb things we said.

Anyway...I think Scoscia and Francona have to be on that list. As I think about it Gardenhire seems almost equally qualified, lack of post-season success notwithstanding. The last spot probably belongs either to Cito or Manuel. I'm not a big fan of either but they've both had success. I'd take Manuel over Gaston personally. I'm probably missing someone obvious but without having finished my first cup of coffee that is the price I will pay.
   21. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 01:48 PM (#3463423)
Question that might be more fun: Who would be the Rushmore of managers who are still active but who have not yet managed 15 seasons?


Scioscia and some other dudes.
   22. Downtown Bookie Posted: February 19, 2010 at 01:50 PM (#3463425)
Surprised Sparky Anderson hasn't received more attention. Surely winning the World Series with two different teams in different leagues must be worth something.

You have to look at how they performed in close races, and how they performed relative to their talent, and relative to their opponents' talent.


McCarthy's record in close races is certainly a black mark; if I'm not mistaken (can't check right now) all his pennant winners were blow outs. Dick Williams made the World Series with three teams; I think he deserves strong consideration. Weaver's failure to win the World Series more than once (while his successor won it all in his first year, and his predecessor was World Champion just a few years before Weaver arrived) certainly doesn't help his case.

Definitely a lot to consider here.

DB
   23. Flynn Posted: February 19, 2010 at 01:51 PM (#3463426)
McCarthy made arguably the dumbest managerial decision in Red Sox history, and that's saying a lot. It's a major black mark on his resume that he started Denny Galehouse over Mel Parnell in the 1948 playoff. It's like taking Paul Byrd over Josh Beckett in a Game 7. The stories of befuddlement and amazement among the Red Sox players and the writers when Galehouse walked out to the mound are many.
   24. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:19 PM (#3463433)
McCarthy made arguably the dumbest managerial decision in Red Sox history, and that's saying a lot. It's a major black mark on his resume that he started Denny Galehouse over Mel Parnell in the 1948 playoff. It's like taking Paul Byrd over Josh Beckett in a Game 7. The stories of befuddlement and amazement among the Red Sox players and the writers when Galehouse walked out to the mound are many.

And on the last day of the 1949 season, putting in Mel Parnell in relief in the 8th inning of a 1-0 game might have been even dumber, considering that he'd been worked into submission down the stretch, and had started and been knocked out in the 5th inning just the day before. The Yankees promptly added 4 insurance runs and put the game (and the pennant) out of reach.
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:24 PM (#3463436)
I'd go McCarthy, McGraw, Mack and Stengel.

Funny that three of the top 4 are "Mc's", Mack being Cornelius McGillicuddy. Just like recently we've had a run of great Italian managers (LaRussa, Torre, Scioscia, Martin (half)), Francona, and Piniella (Half?)).
   26. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:24 PM (#3463437)
McCarthy's record in close races is certainly a black mark; if I'm not mistaken (can't check right now) all his pennant winners were blow outs.

McCarthy won eight pennants with the Yanks and one with the Cubs. His closest victory margin was nine games. No manager in history has ever been dealt a better hand, not even close. He was involved in three close races (1940-48-49) and came up short in all of them.
   27. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:30 PM (#3463439)
Piniella's parents are from Spain.
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:36 PM (#3463441)
Piniella's parents are from Spain.

OK. I though he was half Italian, half Spanish. Must have conflated him with Martin (half Italian, half Portuguese).
   29. tfbg9 Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:40 PM (#3463443)
An anti-Rushmore? Four giant stone as$es, blasted out of the base of the opposite side of the mountain?
My myopic view:

Zimmer, McNamara, Jimy Williams, and Grady Little. As for McCarthy, I'll leave rating him to the eyewitnesses, like Andy.

edit: BTW, it is after enduring the above parade of clowns that I love Tito so much.
   30. tfbg9 Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:42 PM (#3463444)
28-and half loaded?
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:42 PM (#3463445)
No manager in history has ever been dealt a better hand, not even close.

But, at a certain point of success, who cares?

2125 wins. .615 career winning %. Over .575 W% with three separate teams. 8 pennants, 6 World Series. He must have been doing something right.

That's on the mountain, regardless of how much talent he had.

You put Earl Weaver up there. He had some pretty great talent too (5 100+ win teams, 6 more 90+) yet only 3 pennants and one World Series win. Why not ding him for not converting with all that talent?
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:45 PM (#3463447)
28-and half loaded?

Billy? He was WAYYYY more than half-loaded most of the time. Is Piniella a drinker?

Still, Martin was the greatest tactical manager I've ever seen. Give me a team tied for first on Sept. 1, and my life depending on winning the division, I'm taking Billy to manage.
   33. tfbg9 Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:45 PM (#3463448)
Grady Little always seemed to fall short of his pythag, as did Jimy. Torre, on the other hand, exceeded it, IIRC.
   34. tfbg9 Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:47 PM (#3463449)
Give me a team tied for first on Sept. 1, and my life depending on winning the division, I'm taking Billy to manage.


Sure. As long as you don't mind your young starters being 12 to sixed to death :-)
   35. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 02:48 PM (#3463450)
No manager in history has ever been dealt a better hand, not even close.

But, at a certain point of success, who cares?


Joe McCarthy = Phil Jackson

somebody supposedly once said to Earl Weaver "you know, you've never had to manage a BAD team", and Weaver said "that's the POINT, stupid!"
   36. fra paolo Posted: February 19, 2010 at 03:08 PM (#3463458)
Harry Wright, Selee, McGraw and Rube Foster.

I'd prefer Mack over McGraw, but you can't fight New York money.
   37. Howie Menckel Posted: February 19, 2010 at 03:14 PM (#3463460)
If Mark Wohlers could get big outs, people would put Cox on this Mount Rushmore.

Is that how it gets decided? Mark Wohlers?
   38. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: February 19, 2010 at 03:19 PM (#3463462)
I'd go with McGraw, Weaver, Cox, and McCarthy. LaRussa, Stengal, Mack, and Anderson are the next tier.

Cox's second run with the Braves and Weaver's career with the Orioles are freakishly similar. Off the top of my head, I think Weaver had 4 pennants, 1 WS, and 5 100 win seasons, while Cox had 4 pennants, 1 WS, and 6 100 win seasons. The comparison could be an interesting topic for an article (although someone has probably written it already).
   39. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: February 19, 2010 at 03:20 PM (#3463463)
Consistently having great players is the RBI opportunities of managing.
   40. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 03:29 PM (#3463466)
No manager in history has ever been dealt a better hand, not even close.

But, at a certain point of success, who cares?

2125 wins. .615 career winning %. Over .575 W% with three separate teams. 8 pennants, 6 World Series. He must have been doing something right.

That's on the mountain, regardless of how much talent he had.


Look, my knock on McCarthy is only relative to the four I named, all of whom managed in eras or in leagues where there was far greater competition than McCarthy faced. Just looking at McCarthy's W-L percentage out of context is like looking at those 111 wins and saying that the 1954 Indians were one of history's four greatest teams.

During the Depression years, the AL had only one steady competitor to the Yankees, namely Detroit, which itself was hit much harder by the depression than the Yanks, who were backed by a beer baron's profits after prohibition ended. The AL of the 30's was the most topheavy league in 20th century history, and McCarthy had little or nothing to do with any of that. There's not a single manager being discussed here who couldn't have accomplished what he did, given his advantages, and several of them could have won two more pennants with the Red Sox.

You put Earl Weaver up there. He had some pretty great talent too (5 100+ win teams, 6 more 90+) yet only 3 pennants and one World Series win. Why not ding him for not converting with all that talent?

Weaver, unlike McCarthy, wasn't looking down from Mt. Olympus when it came to talent in the World Series. The Mets had three great power pitchers in their prime who'd guided them to 100 wins in a superior league. That wasn't nearly the upset it was seen to be at the time, certainly not in a short series. And in 1971 and 1979, the Orioles' bats simply froze in the final games of the Series. Weaver couldn't have prevented that.

Likewise, in the mid to late 70's, the Orioles were at a big financial disadvantage against the Yankees and all that Steinbrenner money, and yet remained competitive throughout the period. He utilized his bench as well as any manager in history, and during his reign, the Orioles had the best record in baseball, with an even more pronounced advantage in September.

-------------------

Joe McCarthy = Phil Jackson

There's a certain similarity, but the NBA of Jackson's era has never been as lopsided in terms of talent and finances as the American League was when McCarthy was managing the Yankees. And it's hard to imagine that Jackson's handling of Jordan, Pippen and Rodman didn't play a far bigger role in the Bulls' success than McCarthy's "handling" of Ruth, Gehrig and Dimaggio did in all those Yankees' pennants.
   41. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 19, 2010 at 03:54 PM (#3463476)
I don't have the time nor inclination to spend much time in this thread today, but I vehemently disagree with the attack on McCarthy.

First, the Cubs weren't the cash cow of the late 1920s NL. That was always the Giants. Just look at how the Cubs assembled their team: they took a player banished to the AA by the Giants, another riding the bench in Cleveland, and a third guy forced out of Pittsburgh by his manager, and turned that into one of the greatest outfields of all-time in Chicago. That's not a sign of a team flush with cash but a team that knows how to use its resources better than its competitors. (To be fair, Pittsburgh reject Cuyler was already an established star but Hack Wilaon and Riggs Stephenson were anything but.

The improvement of players like Wilson and Cuyler was part of a pattern of players maxing out on their talent under McCarthy. The man had very good players -- AND he knew how to get the most of them. That's why his numerous pennant winners were always able to win without a sweat.

As for the talk about him being dealt the best hands: 1) true, but 2) it's misleading to present him as passively sitting there with no more input to what he received than what a poker player has from his dealer. If anyone has ever read Bill James's Guide to Managers, he has some talk on the evolution of the position. James notes that the position of the GM really didn't emerge until the mid-1920s, but that initially GMs were only supposed to focus on developing new players. Managers had authority over what veterans were on the team. It was a gradual process in which the GM took full control of the roster, and James reckons the tipping point was around mid-century. This doesn't mean McCarthy should be given all credit for the roster as front office figures like George Weiss earned their plaques in Cooperstown, but just saying "he was dealt great hands" misses the role he played. Managers generally had a leading role in moving veterans on/off rosters when McCarthy's teams picked up the likes of Wilson, Stephenson, or Red Ruffing. When he managed, McCarthy had a reputation as someone who could see a problem coming two years in advance, and react accordingly.

Even with the kids, McCarthy was a strong influence. Phil Rizzuto told a story of when he came up, he played everyday for a while, then McCarthy put him on the bench next to the manager for a month and groomed the kid - making him more aware, teaching him little fine points, and making Rizzuto think and mentally alert all the time. Then McCarthy put him back on the field and the kid was readier than ever. Rizzuto claimed this was McCarthy's normal way for handling rookies. Neyer investigated that claim in his book on Baseball Legends, found a handful of other examples of it happened with the Yankees, and then concluded Rizzuto was wrong. This I found the single most peculiar conclusion in Neyer's book. He found evidence McCarthy did it repeatedly! I suppose Neyer felt it didn't happen often enough to qualify as a pattern, but I disagree. You only do that to a player if: 1) you think he has enough talent to not only start, but start for an extended number of years, and 2) isn't so overwhelming talented that you have to start him right away (DiMaggio isn't one of the guys McCarthy pulled for a month in his rookie year, for instance). The fact that McCarthy did it numerous times with the Yanks is a sign this was a standard practice for him, and his player responded very well.

On a related side note, I'll point out that while growing up not too far from Philly, McCarthy worshipped Connie Mack. The Tall Tactician also had a reputation for letting kids sitting next to him on the bench so he could teach and quiz them on the fine points of the game.

The point is, not only did McCarthy have the best talent, but he also made the most of it, and he kept doing this for a loooong time.

Also, if his record in close pennant races is going to be held against him, maybe his record in the World Series should be held in his favor? He managed 43 World Series games and went 30-13. Posting a .698 winning percentage over 43 games is a damn impressive achievement in the regular season, but in the postseason when you're facing off against the very best squads in baseball history? It's almost unfathomable. That's 38 Fib. Win Points in the World Series (if I remember James's Fib. formula correctly), a mark I don't think any manager can ever top.

Yeah, he had the best players. Yeah, he had the best front offices. But, yeah - those players and front offices also had the best manager.

Only two men ever lasted more than six seasons and posted a winning percentage in every season. McCarthy is one, and he managed in 24.
   42. Sheer Tim Foli Posted: February 19, 2010 at 03:54 PM (#3463477)
Disclosure:

1) I haven't read Chris' book yet
2) I evaluate managers the way I did players before I heard of Bill James - by their legend.

Having said all of the above...

Is Pat Moran not even in the discussion? Perhaps he doesn't make final cut but should he not be considered?
   43. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:02 PM (#3463484)
If Mark Wohlers could get big outs, people would put Cox on this Mount Rushmore.

Not me. I don't think 2 WS gets you on the mountain either.

My top four have the following Pennants/World Series
Mack 9/5, McGraw 10/3, McCarthy 8/6, Stengel 10/7

Cox is at 5/1. Put him at 6/2 or even 6/3, and I don't think he can bump one of those guys.
   44. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:12 PM (#3463489)
But Cox is in a league with 2 rounds of playoffs before the WS and a lot more teams.
   45. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:18 PM (#3463493)
Yeah, he had the best players. Yeah, he had the best front offices. But, yeah - those players and front offices also had the best manager.
Only two men ever lasted more than six seasons and posted a winning percentage in every season. McCarthy is one, and he managed in 24.


Tony: Hey, boss! C'mere! Sun-Up is the worst horse on the track!
Dr. Hackenbush: I notice he wins all the time.
Tony: Aw, that's just because he comes in first.
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:20 PM (#3463495)
Dag Nabbit, all of what you say about McCarthy is true, though the Yankees' farm system of the 30's, which stood virtually alone in the American League, made McCarthy's player acquisition opportunities the envy of every other AL manager. And bringing the World Series into it doesn't add much to his credentials, since unlike the 1950's when the NL's best were competitive to the Yanks' talent level, the NL of the McCarthy era never produced any standout until the early 40's.

But again, I'm not really knocking McCarthy other than relative to the four managers I put on my Rushmore: McGraw, McKechnie, Stengel and Weaver. Any one of those could have won at least as many championships as McCarthy, given his available talent. That he made the most of it is true for his Yankee years, but the truth is that until he came to the Red Sox, he was never really asked to do what those other four managers did---compete in a league and an era with real (and sustained) competition. That's why I put him on my backup mountain.

And of course I'm saying all this as a Yankee fan, who would love to move McCarthy up to the top. But I just can't see it.
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:23 PM (#3463499)
But Cox is in a league with 2 rounds of playoffs before the WS and a lot more teams.

True. But it's also a lot easier to make the post-season. You don't have to be best of 8.

I probably went too far. With 6 pennants and 3 WS you could make a good argument. But he's far from that. It's not like he has a crazy high W% to suggest he lost out on numerous title by bad luck.

What separates Cox from Walter Alston (.558 W%, 7 pennants, 4 WS)? or Sparky Anderson (.545 W%, 5/3)?

You could argue that Cox only gets the recognition he does b/c of the advent of division championships, which didn't exist for a lot of these other guys. Take away that streak, even with the same W% and more pennants and WS, and Cox looks far less impressive.
   48. rr Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:23 PM (#3463500)
And in his afterlife with the Red Sox, he lost two straight pennants on the last day of the season, both of which the Red Sox should have won.


You should consider reading The Epic Season by David Kaiser. It is a good book. The '48 Indians were better than the '48 Red Sox, and I am sure you aware of the nuances of the Galehouse decision, as well as the way Bill James examined that when he lit up Halberstam for factual inaccuracies in Halberstam's Summer of '49. You are also omitting the fact EDIT: until post 26 that McCarthy had a pre-Yankee experience as well, with the Cubs, and won with there as well. I don't know if I would go with McKechnie over Weaver and Stengel, or LaRussa over Cox, but I think McCarthy and McGraw need to be on there.
   49. Howie Menckel Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:23 PM (#3463502)
"But Cox is in a league with 2 rounds of playoffs before the WS and a lot more teams."

Bingo.

Let's not get lathered up over how many postseason HRs Bernie Williams has, AND let's also not assume that these early managers would never have lost in the first round (later, first 2 rounds). Plus in some years, you had maybe 2 other teams with a pulse, and if you beat them you had to win the one round.
   50. bjhanke Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:24 PM (#3463504)
Dag summarized my McCarthy argument pretty well. The only thing he missed is Joe's record in finding and dealing with difficult superstars. He could deal with Hack Wilson's drinking, and could see the center fielder beneath that weird body and weirder behavior. Rogers Hornsby settled down while playing for Joe, the only time he was settled down after 1926, and that one ability brought Joe the 1929 pennant, when the team lost Gabby Hartnett for the entire year and Rogers filled in spectacularly, without disrupting anything. That has a lot more to do with the Cubs than money did.

As mentioned above, managers have styles of teams that they like, and the good ones get their upper managements to come up with the players.

Earl Weaver and Bobby Cox, for example, like offense down the lines, defense up the middle, starting pitching. They don't obsess over closers. Earl loved to platoon, and so did Bobby before the money in the game made it impossible to keep that many homer-hitting outfielders. They both, very idiosyncratically, want an All-Star at third base, because it's their linchpin position. Offense because it's down the line, defense because it's in the left side of the infield. So they worked hard to get those people, and kept them when they had them (Weaver's third basemen were, in essence, Robinson and DeCinces; Cox had guys like Bob Horner, Terry Pendelton's good years, and Chipper Jones). RE: Comment #38, they both had the ability to take a good but not great team and win regular pennants, then lose in the postseasons when their talent just got outmatched or their starters finally wore down. How you rank that depends on what you think has more value. As Whitey Herzog said, you can't ever win the Series if you don't make the postseason.

Looking at Whitey Herzog helps here because he was such a fanatic about having a very precise 25-man roster and exerted huge influence on his GMs to get the guys he needed. He was sort of the anti-Weaver (defense and speed everywhere, no need for much power, no big-time starters, huge closers, third base no big deal, HATED to platoon). And yet, he valued defense at catcher so much that he discarded Ted Simmons, and got hold of Darryl Porter as soon as he could, despite Darryl's lack of any kind of speed. When Porter finally cashed out, Whitey traded for Tony Pena, trading Andy Van Slyke because he thought Andy could not hit lefty pitching, and he refused to platoon if he could get out of it. You need catchers like that if your starting pitching ain't that great. All of the really good managers do this: They lean on the upper management until they get the TYPE of team they like. Then they try to get better players for those spots. But it starts with a clear image of what a roster should look like for that manager. You can't, even today, separate the manager from the front office, if the manager is good. If you can separate the two, I consider it a red flag about the manager.

- Brock
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:24 PM (#3463506)
But again, I'm not really knocking McCarthy other than relative to the four managers I put on my Rushmore: McGraw, McKechnie, Stengel and Weaver.

Why Weaver?
   52. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:28 PM (#3463511)
But Cox is in a league with 2 rounds of playoffs before the WS and a lot more teams.


For me Cox gets pushed off the mountain by his contemporary Torre. I'm with you that using WS to judge Cox relative to pre-1995 or even pre-1969 managers is a bit unfair but just compare him to Torre. Not only does Torre have four WS titles but I did a quick BBRef glance and I may not be exact on these numbers but I get Torre as 20-11 in post-season series while I get Cox to being 12-14. Cox is a great manager but when you are picking at this level of accomplishment you have to start picking nits. (if someone has access to the post-season records of Cox/Torre and can confirm or refute my counting I'm all for it).
   53. Babe Adams Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:28 PM (#3463512)
Murtaugh took heavy underdogs into the Series and whipped Stengel and Weaver both.
   54. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:37 PM (#3463519)
You could argue that Cox only gets the recognition he does b/c of the advent of division championships, which didn't exist for a lot of these other guys.

If you get rid of the divisions during Cox's career (and assume the teams keep the same records), his teams win pennants in '85, '92, '93, '95-'99, '02, and '03 (with the caveat that the Giants would have played their 162nd game and may have tied the Braves). That's 10 pennants (or 9.75, depending on how things work out in '03), and in leagues with 12-16 teams rather than 8. Plus, it makes him the second manager to win 5 pennants in a row. I think his reputation would do all right.
   55. God Posted: February 19, 2010 at 04:56 PM (#3463538)
Later in life, Birdie Tebbetts strongly hinted that certain Red Sox pitcher(s) refused to take the mound for that fateful season finale. He didn't name names before he died, but it certainly has to be considered that McCarthy might not have had all the options at his disposal that everyone thinks he had.
   56. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:11 PM (#3463546)
And in his afterlife with the Red Sox, he lost two straight pennants on the last day of the season, both of which the Red Sox should have won.

You should consider reading The Epic Season by David Kaiser. It is a good book. The '48 Indians were better than the '48 Red Sox,


I know of the book and haven't read it, but I was more thinking of 1949 and threw 1948 in there without giving it enough thought, and stand corrected about 1948. In fact you can make a reasonable case for the 1948 Indians as being one of history's better one year wonder** teams, in spite of that close pennant race. IIRC their pitching staff (ERA+ of 126) was one of maybe two or three staffs in history (at least up till about 1985) that had a team ERA more than a full run below the league average.

**Three of their infielders (Boudreau, Gordon and Keltner) had career years in 1948, and all three (and Gene Beardon) fell off the cliff right after that.

--------------------------

Dag summarized my McCarthy argument pretty well. The only thing he missed is Joe's record in finding and dealing with difficult superstars. He could deal with Hack Wilson's drinking, and could see the center fielder beneath that weird body and weirder behavior. Rogers Hornsby settled down while playing for Joe, the only time he was settled down after 1926, and that one ability brought Joe the 1929 pennant, when the team lost Gabby Hartnett for the entire year and Rogers filled in spectacularly, without disrupting anything. That has a lot more to do with the Cubs than money did.

All good points, but McCarthy's magic in Chicago didn't last any more than Billy Martin's magic lasted wherever he went. And don't underestimate the Cubs' financial advantages, not just with the Wrigley money but also from gate receipts: From 1926 through 1932, the Cubs led the league in attendance every year, and in 1930 set a Major League attendance record that was broken only after World War II. And of course the media money factor that gives New York an advantage today was nonexistent in an era when none of the New York teams even had radio broadcasts, unlike the Cubs.

---------------------

But again, I'm not really knocking McCarthy other than relative to the four managers I put on my Rushmore: McGraw, McKechnie, Stengel and Weaver.

Why Weaver?


Because I think you need a representative from the modern era in there, and Weaver thrived in an intensely competitive atmosphere. He won with pitching and power, and he also won with speed (1973-74). He was a pioneer in using statistics in player evalulation. He used his bench better than any manager I can remember, had his teams play at their best down the stretch, and for 14 years had the best record in baseball. I can't think of any serious flaws he had; even his umpire baiting likely worked to his advantage. I can see the argument for Cox on the basis of consistency, but I do think that Weaver rates a slight edge. The truth is that ranking managers is much more of an art than a science---how can you truly measure Torre's ability to function for 13 years under Steinbrenner and the New York media?---and even though I had to go with the four I did, it's not like saying that Ruth, Bonds, Mays and Wagner were the four best overall ML players. (And even there you have a few dissenters.)
   57. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:12 PM (#3463547)
Short of carrying the appelation 'cardsfanboy', Bobby Cox is clearly in the consideration. I do debit him for his postseason performance - not just for how he's done but also because I don't think he managed "differently" enough in the postseason from how he's done things throughout the rest of the year.

McCarthy and McGraw are my big two - beyond that, I dunno.
   58. Chipper Jonestown Massacre Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:20 PM (#3463552)
For me Cox gets pushed off the mountain by his contemporary Torre.


How much of Torre's legacy can be attributed to his having a sugardaddy (albeit a tyrannical one) to buy him all the best toys?

His record isn't all that when he isn't wearing pinstripes.
   59. Downtown Bookie Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:24 PM (#3463557)
The '48 Indians were better than the '48 Red Sox, and I am sure you aware of the nuances of the Galehouse decision, as well as the way Bill James examined that when he lit up Halberstam for factual inaccuracies in Halberstam's Summer of '49.


I've heard of this essay but I've never read it: in which book/annual/Abstract did James detail the errors in Halberstam's book? Any help is appreciated.

DB
   60. Downtown Bookie Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:27 PM (#3463560)
How much of Torre's legacy can be attributed to his having a sugardaddy (albeit a tyrannical one) to buy him all the best toys?

His record isn't all that when he isn't wearing pinstripes.


Very true; but Torre has made the post season with teams other than the Yankees; something Casey never did.

DB
   61. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:28 PM (#3463561)
How much of Torre's legacy can be attributed to his having a sugardaddy (albeit a tyrannical one) to buy him all the best toys?

How many other managers did Steinbrenner wear out in the 23 years before Torre's arrival? And how many big name free agents did the Yankees run through in those years without producing the same results? That's what I mean when I said that ranking managers can't be reduced to mainstream quantifiable factors.
   62. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:31 PM (#3463564)
Plus, it makes him the second manager to win 5 pennants in a row.

Actually, on further thought, if you use the same accounting rules under which Cox won 14 straight division titles (ignoring 1994), the no-divisions Braves win SEVEN pennants in a row. Which is... decent.
   63. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:32 PM (#3463567)
Very true; but Torre has made the post season with teams other than the Yankees; something Casey never did.

Of course you could combine the best talents and insights of every manager under discussion here, and still never smell a pennant with the talent that Casey had in Brooklyn and Boston. Managers can only do so much, and when Stengel was given talent that was at best roughly on a par with three or four other teams in baseball (whose identity varied), he won the World Series every year.
   64. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:37 PM (#3463569)
Actually, on further thought, if you use the same accounting rules under which Cox won 14 straight division titles (ignoring 1994), the no-divisions Braves win SEVEN pennants in a row. Which is... decent.

But then he'd really get hammered if he only had 1 WS to show for it.
   65. PreservedFish Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:38 PM (#3463570)
These debates about how much talent each manager had to work with will never be resolved.
   66. bads85 Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:41 PM (#3463574)
Walter Alston should receive serious consideration.
   67. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:46 PM (#3463578)
But then he'd really get hammered if he only had 1 WS to show for it.

Considering the only Series matchups that are preserved by eliminating divisions are 1999 and possibly 1992 (if the Jays win the playoff with Oakland), I don't see any reason to assume Cox's results would be the same. Which would again suggest that his reputation at least remain very good without divisional play.
   68. God Posted: February 19, 2010 at 05:56 PM (#3463586)
Yeah, Alston had 7 pennants and 4 world titles in 23 years, which deserves serious consideration. He won when he had lots of talent ('55) and also when he had no talent whatsoever ('59).
   69. rr Posted: February 19, 2010 at 06:05 PM (#3463592)
I've heard of this essay but I've never read it: in which book/annual/Abstract did James detail the errors in Halberstam's book? Any help is appreciated


It is in one of The Baseball Book annuals. 1990, I think.
   70. yo la tengo Posted: February 19, 2010 at 06:11 PM (#3463598)
Does the short-term impact of someone like Billy Martin give him a chance at the modern-day conversation?
   71. bads85 Posted: February 19, 2010 at 06:16 PM (#3463600)
in which book/annual/Abstract did James detail the errors in Halberstam's book?


James' "detailing of the errors" was not much more than a hatchet job that was a pretty inaccurate itself. The valid errors in Halberstam's book were in the prologue, which reads as if it was written hastily after the "real" book was written. The errors were a result of Halberstam only relying on eye witness accounts.

James went through a very annoying stage when he played the "Gotcha! Let's Correct The Historian!". He grew out of that when people started playing the role with his Abstracts.
   72. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: February 19, 2010 at 06:37 PM (#3463615)
Does the short-term impact of someone like Billy Martin give him a chance at the modern-day conversation?
Depends on the question, I guess. If I needed someone to take over my team, with my life literally dependent on their winning the pennant that year - I'd strongly consider Billy. But, that's not exactly the job they actually have...
   73. Downtown Bookie Posted: February 19, 2010 at 06:57 PM (#3463626)
Thank you to robinred and bads85. Much appreciated.

DB
   74. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:02 PM (#3463630)
It is in one of The Baseball Book annuals. 1990, I think.


Thank you to robinred and bads85. Much appreciated.

DB


Me too. Now if one of you could kindly come on over and shovel a 50 yard path through about a foot and a half of snow, to the shed where I have those James annuals stored, I'd be doubly appreciative.
   75. Hack Wilson Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:11 PM (#3463637)
The thing about Stengel is that he was manager for more games in the National League where his record was
756-1146.
   76. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:23 PM (#3463655)
1) I haven't read Chris' book yet
2) I evaluate managers the way I did players before I heard of Bill James - by their legend.

Having said all of the above...

Is Pat Moran not even in the discussion?


Pat Moran was a fantastic manager, but he only lasted nine years. For similar reasons, I'm not considering Charles Comiskey or Frank Chance. Actually, career length is also why I left Weaver off my Mt. Rushmore.

Someone not mentioned at all in the thread so far (unless I missed it): Al Lopez. If you look at his career winning percentage and number of games managed, he's eerily close to Weaver.
   77. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:25 PM (#3463660)
The thing about Stengel is that he was manager for more games in the National League where his record was
756-1146.


And what do you think that any other manager might have done with the material that Stengel had with those teams? That National League record was precisely what caused all the ridicule in the MSM when Stengel was named the Yankee manager for 1949, and all he did was to win five straight World Series, the first four of which came with teams that were picked to be runner-up or worse, and in these first four cases, they came in pennant races where the Yankees' victory margins were 1, 3, 5 and 2 games.
   78. Sheer Tim Foli Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:29 PM (#3463662)
#76 - Thanks Dag - an important point I missed. I know he died young.
   79. Sheer Tim Foli Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:30 PM (#3463665)
And what do you think that any other manager might have done with the material that Stengel had with those teams?

Agreed. The man should get "war credit" for agreeing to manage the Mets in '62.
   80. rr Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:33 PM (#3463668)
James' "detailing of the errors" was not much more than a hatchet job that was a pretty inaccurate itself. The valid errors in Halberstam's book were in the prologue, which reads as if it was written hastily after the "real" book was written. The errors were a result of Halberstam only relying on eye witness accounts
.


Hatchet job, yeah. Inaccurate itself? Not sure. James mostly got on Halberstam's ass about inaccurate counterfactual characterizations, one being that Halberstam said McCarthy was "wary of rookies", which, James said, was sort of like saying Whitey Herzog was wary of the running game.
   81. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:33 PM (#3463669)
Agreed. The man should get "war credit" for agreeing to manage the Mets in '62.

Well, he did emerge from that three year experience a bit shell shocked....
   82. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:38 PM (#3463672)
So Andy, your main criteria for managerial greatness is performance in tight pennant races? Someone, I forget who, used records in one run games to evaluate skippers. This sounds similar, but writ larger.
   83. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:45 PM (#3463682)
And what do you think that any other manager might have done with the material that Stengel had with those teams?

He did a fantastic job with Brooklyn and Boston. And he stunk with the Mets.
   84. GregD Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:53 PM (#3463687)
Would a Weaver partisan make the case for Weaver over Whitey Herzog? I don't immediately see the logic for backing Weaver over Herzog if one is open to 1-WS managers with very particular and successful management strategies. I loved Weaver's persona and his ideas about baseball, but it never really occurred to me that he was a better manager than Herzog (though perhaps this speaks to the moment I came of age as a baseball fan.)
   85. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 07:55 PM (#3463690)
SO, Andy, your main criteria for managerial greatness is performance in tight pennant races?

Not really, but it can be a tie breaker in some cases. And when you've got over a dozen managers with legitimate (and varying) claims to make the final cut, I don't see why you'd leave it out as a factor.

Think about it: What ARE your criteria?

Winning percentage alone? That's silly, given the vast differences in what different managers have had to work with.

Number of pennants or rings? That's certainly a point to consider, but what was the context, and how strong was the competition within the league, and within baseball as a whole, at the time they were managing?

Innovations? Definitely has be be strongly considered?

Ability to regroup a team for the stretch run? I don't see why that shouldn't be taken into account.

Career length? Another tie breaker, but I'm not prepared to put Connie Mack on Mt. Rushmore just because he didn't have the sense to fire himself until he was in his 80's.

Ability to use your entire roster to maximum benefit? That's a prime skill, along with picking the right role players to fill out the bench.

Ability to manage men, both players and owners? Absolutely. If Steinbrenner hadn't been certifiably insane, I wouldn't give Torre as much credit as I do, even if he's not in my top four.

Ability to succeed with different teams, not necessarily the world's most talented? Of course, but not if you burn out after a year or two and leave your team worse off than when you arrived. (Billy Martin doesn't make my mountain.)

Now how in the hell do you reduce all that into four easy choices? You can't. My four (McGraw, McKechnie, Stengel, Weaver) could just as easily be replaced entirely by four others, and would be almost as defensible. This is really another one of those questions that will never, ever be resolved, nor can it. We all give differing weight to different factors.
   86. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:04 PM (#3463703)
Would a Weaver partisan make the case for Weaver over Whitey Herzog? I don't immediately see the logic for backing Weaver over Herzog if one is open to 1-WS managers with very particular and successful management strategies. I loved Weaver's persona and his ideas about baseball, but it never really occurred to me that he was a better manager than Herzog (though perhaps this speaks to the moment I came of age as a baseball fan.)

That's a very good example of the near impossibility of ranking managers. In truth it's very hard to separate those two, and maybe like you (only in reverse), it's just a matter of having followed Weaver throughout his career, and not having followed Herzog quite as much other than in the postseason. Plus, I absolutely loathed those Cardinals teams of his** (Astroturf ball always repelled me), and so a certain amount of irrational prejudice may be at work here.

**nothing against the Cardinals in general, just the Whiteyball version
   87. God Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:08 PM (#3463711)
The thing about Stengel is that he was manager for more games in the National League where his record was
756-1146.


If only Tommy Tutone had been a Casey Stengel fan...
   88. bjhanke Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:14 PM (#3463716)
The big reason that I don't warm up to Stengel more is that he managed the Yankees during their cheater period. Here's what I mean by that: When I was a kid growing up in St. Louis in the 1950s, I was told that the American League, suffering from attendance problems, allowed the Yankees to pick up valuable veterans in the second half of the season, even though it meant that every competitor in the league would have to pass on them for waivers. They were also allowed to use the Kansas City Athletics as a farm team, sending Grade-B prospects for whatever stars the A's came up with. The league did this because then they could make enough money on the sellouts that they would get when the ever-so-famous Yankees came into town to keep them afloat as something more than a AAAA league. This was also one of the reasons that the AL integrated late. They were afraid to do anything that might cost them any fans. Bill Veeck and eventually the Yankees had to blaze the trail for the rest of the AL.

Importantly, the only three teams to actually beat the Yanks out for a pennant between 1948 and 1964, if I remember right, were owned by Veeck, who was a maverick, all but despised by the other AL owners (he kept buying teams as they headed for bankruptcy or because the previous owner had died and his heirs didn't want a ballclub).

For decades, I thought this was an urban legend caused by Yankee haters in STL. In the 1980s, I started to find out that this was actually true. Bill James mentions it in a couple of his books, and I was able to get info out of the old STL sportswriter Bob Broeg, who was there and an adult when it was happening.

This changes the assessment of what talent Stengel had on hand. In 1949, he needed an extra bat, so the team came up with Johnny Mize. In 1951, it was an arm, so they got Johnny Sain. In 1954, it was Enos Slaughter, who they actually shuttled between NY and KC in 1955-56. These were all mid-season acquisitions who should never have gotten to the Yanks, but who plugged the biggest hole that the Yanks had at the time. So when the preseason touts had them down for second place, that was not allowing for the possibility that the Yanks would be able to fill their greatest hole with a strength by means of what Bill called "miracles of barter." As for using the As as a farm club, check under "Maris, Roger."

There are a lot of managers here who could win with a real good team whose biggest hole could be guaranteed to be plugged in August or September with a Hall of Famer or something close (Sain, Maris). Especially if they knew it.

Essentially, Stengel had better managing skills than Joe Torre (he platooned well), but also had Torre's two big ones: Joe can keep a crazy owner reasonably sane, and he can keep the NY media from driving the players crazy. These are real skills with the Steinbrenner Yanks. They were of no use in Atlanta or St. Louis. These are serious managing skills, but they have a limited pool of teams that need them. Torre was exceptionally lucky to end up with the Boss Yanks, where both his skills were desperately needed, and where player talent wasn't going to be a problem. Just like Stengel.

- Brock
   89. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:23 PM (#3463728)
For me Cox gets pushed off the mountain by his contemporary Torre. I'm with you that using WS to judge Cox relative to pre-1995 or even pre-1969 managers is a bit unfair but just compare him to Torre. Not only does Torre have four WS titles but I did a quick BBRef glance and I may not be exact on these numbers but I get Torre as 20-11 in post-season series while I get Cox to being 12-14.


Which brings the conversation full circle back around to Howie's point. The difference in WS wins for Torre vs. Cox can be summed up as follows: Mariano Riveria was a lot better than Mark Wohlers.
   90. Lassus Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:29 PM (#3463732)
The difference in WS wins for Torre vs. Cox can be summed up as follows: Mariano Riveria was a lot better than Mark Wohlers.

Wellllllllll I'm not sure that one can agree with that sound bite entirely. It wasn't Buckner who lost the '86 series, etc.. No one player holds that much responsibility for an entire team's - or manager's - success or failure, I don't think.
   91. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:34 PM (#3463735)
The difference in WS wins for Torre vs. Cox can be summed up as follows: Mariano Riveria was a lot better than Mark Wohlers.
No, it can't. Cox certainly has an argument to be on Mount Skipmore, but the notion that Wholers vs. Rivera is the difference is daft. If you want to argue bullpens in general, that's one thing (I have no idea off the top of my head the relative performance of the Braves' bullpen in October) but that circles back to how the manager runs his team.
   92. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:34 PM (#3463736)
Importantly, the only three teams to actually beat the Yanks out for a pennant between 1948 and 1964, if I remember right, were owned by Veeck

You remember wrong (he owned the '59 White Sox, but had sold the Indians several years before '54). Al Lopez managed both those teams, though.

And he had little to do with the success of the '59 White Sox - he bought the team in early '59, and proceeded to trade away its young stars (Johnny Callison, Norm Cash, John Romano, Earl Battey) in a futile attempt to repeat in 1960. He then sold the team in 1961.

Veeck was very good at publicity stunts. He wasn't very good at running a championship franchise.
   93. bads85 Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:39 PM (#3463741)
James mostly got on Halberstam's ass about inaccurate counterfactual characterizations, one being that Halberstam said McCarthy was "wary of rookies", which, James said, was sort of like saying Whitey Herzog was wary of the running game.


I'm in transit, so I don't have my files, but if my memory is correct, James had five "large" criticisms (and a few very silly "piling on" nitpicks) of the book, and two of his criticisms weren't accurate. I believe James blasted Halberstam for stating that Parnell was a rookie in 1948. However, James was using rookie qualification from current times that did not apply to 1948 (qualifications to determine what constituted rookies weren't set until the late 1950's). I can't recall the other one of the top of my head -- it might have had to do with Berra and Robinson.

As for "wary of the rookies"; I believe the quote was "weary of using rookies", which could have very well been true. Many managers who play rookies eventually grow weary of suing them (even if they still put them in the lineup).
   94. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:44 PM (#3463748)
No, it can't. Cox certainly has an argument to be on Mount Skipmore, but the notion that Wholers vs. Rivera is the difference is daft.


Not really. Here's the thing. If Cox had Rivera in 1996, the Braves win and the Yankees lose. I don't present this as a case of theoretical bullpen usage. I present as a counterfactual so obvious that no one with any knowledge of that series would dispute it. If Cox had Rivera in 1996, the Braves win, the Yankees lose. At which point you have Cox winning back to back WS titles at the peak of his team's first success cycle (and prior to having his knees taken out by penny pinching in the front offices.) You then have Torre riding his dynasty in for the 98-00 run, with a better payroll to sustain his team.

At that point, the two managers are dead even by any rational measure. One reliever. One series. On sequence of pitches to J*m L*yr*tz. I don't even consider this point to be debateable, to be perfectly honest. Swap Rivera and Wohlers and the Braves win in 1996. Get into more debateable counterfactuals and extend a dominant Rivera back to 1991-93 and Cox has a third WS title as well.

I stand by the point completely. The difference in Cox and Torre's WS records are as simple as that. Torre had the greatest reliever of all time. Cox did not.
   95. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:49 PM (#3463752)
Suing rookies is fruitless. They don't have much money.

Too, Sain was traded by the NL Boston Braves.
   96. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:49 PM (#3463753)
I don't think Herzog's record is nearly as impressive as Weaver's going by postseason appearances, 100 win seasons, etc. And I don't think Herzog has enough extra credit from other stuff (e.g., innovative strategy) to bring him into the conversation.
   97. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:50 PM (#3463755)
Get into more debateable counterfactuals and extend a dominant Rivera back to 1991-93 and Cox has a third WS title as well.

I stand by the point completely. The difference in Cox and Torre's WS records are as simple as that. Torre had the greatest reliever of all time. Cox did not.
1991-93 Rivera isn't a debatable counterfactual, he signed in 1990 and had elbow surgery in 1992. That's just fantasyland, you can make just as good a counterfactual that the Braves would have won all three titles if they just had zombie Walter Johnson pitching for them.

I stanby by my statement that it is a vast oversimplification of events. Torre had a great reliever, Cox did not. That is a big factor, it might even be the factor, but it isn't the only factor.
   98. Lassus Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:52 PM (#3463759)
If Cox had Rivera in 1996, the Braves win, the Yankees lose.

Except Wetteland closed all those games. How exactly does Rivera help the Braves score more runs?
   99. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:53 PM (#3463762)
1991-93 Rivera isn't a debatable counterfactual


Which is why I brought it up only in passing. Swap out Rivera and Wohlers and Atlanta wins the '96 World Series. Period. End of story. Cox +1, Torre -1. Even stevens.
   100. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 19, 2010 at 08:53 PM (#3463763)
Brock, those are good points about Stengel, but in Sain's case the acquisition was largely symbolic; he didn't contribute materially to that 1951 pennant. Mize was an outright $40,000 purchase from the Giants in 1949, a price that Tom Yawkey could have just as easily afforded if he'd been so inclined. No question that the Yankees had advantages, but Stengel still had to win over some very good teams in his early years, all of which (especially Cleveland and Boston) had ample financial resources---and not to mention beat the Boys of Summmer three times out of three during that run.

If his entire Yankees career had been like the late 50's, I wouldn't be given him nearly as much credit, but even then, he won five more pennants with what was essentially a no-name pitching staff (with one or two year wonders like Tom Sturdivant, Johnny Kucks, and Art Ditmar), which he got maximum value out of. Again, though, the difference I see between him and his competitors is very small; it's not like Bonds vs Griffey.
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