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   1. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 06, 2006 at 02:22 PM (#2007370)
I've complained about this organization so many times that even I'm tired of myself. I've called for Jim Hendry's ouster (as well as Dusty's), I've stressed the need for OBP, I've complained about the handling of the pitching staff, I've decried the mishandling of the farm system, and I've even moaned about the stadium operations and the handling of tickets.

This franchise is simply un-acceptable.

As for the on-field play, the thing that worries me at this point is that the year will be written off -- with Hendry and Baker getting free passes -- just because of Lee's injury. This is total BS. Hendry's job is to asseble a *team*, with a lineup of 8 hitters, not just one. This offense was lousy with Lee in the lineup; now it would have trouble against the West Tenn team.

It's so bad that Mike Kiley observes:

"The Cubs haven't scored more than two runs in any inning in the last 10 games. The last time they actually had an offensive spurt was an eight-run eighth April 24 against Florida that carried them to a 6-3 win."

Only the Cubs could find a way to do this.
   2. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: May 06, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#2007380)
Once again, this is a lineup that doesn’t walk. What’s amazing about that reality is how many years in a row the same complaint about the offense has been raised.

About 25 years from my viewpoint. The Cubs have never had a team that walked. Aside from Mark Grace and occasional one year wonders (Bellhorn, Sarge), you have to go back to Ron Santo to find a guy who walked regularly.
   3. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 06, 2006 at 03:19 PM (#2007395)
About 25 years from my viewpoint. The Cubs have never had a team that walked. Aside from Mark Grace and occasional one year wonders (Bellhorn, Sarge), you have to go back to Ron Santo to find a guy who walked regularly.

2002 - 5th in NL in team walks
2001 - 5th
2000 - 5th

The last time the Cubs finished higher than 5th in the NL was 1985, when they were 3rd. The led the league in 1984.

Bring back Jim Frey!
   4. Bobby Savoy Posted: May 06, 2006 at 04:24 PM (#2007432)
If anyone had any kind of brass in the Cubs organization, they would've seen the pre-game lineup last night and called Dusty direct, telling him if that's the team he puts on the field, he's done as manager. I can't even put my frustration into words. I looked back through Retrosheet, and the guys on the field last night seemed eerily similar to the lineups in 1980 and 1981. Absolute crap. I guess it could get lower, though. There's still the possiblity of that same lineup, but with Blanco catching. I can't wait.
   5. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 06, 2006 at 04:32 PM (#2007436)
I guess it could get lower, though. There's still the possiblity of that same lineup, but with Blanco catching. I can't wait.

After Bynum's misadventures in LF and Hairston's failure to get down that sac bunt, I don't think we'll be seeing either of them again in the lineup any time soon.

Of course, the downside to that is that the regular players aren't doing much either. I want to see Dusty run 9 pitchers out there and then spend the whole game moving them from position to position and bringing them in to face one batter at a time to maximize the matchups.
   6. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 06, 2006 at 04:43 PM (#2007440)
As for the baserunning and the state of the team, let me offer a few quotes from Jim Hendry in his interview with Mike Murphy on December 2, 2005:

"I can promise everyone that fundamentals are stressed [in spring training] every day. . . . I can promise you there will be a strong emphasis on fundamentals everyday in spring training and we well all be on top of it on a daily basis."

"If you don't win and you win 79 games, we're all accountable. . . . There's no excuse for it and it's certainly not going to be tolerated to win 79 games again. . . . 79 games isn't acceptable. It won't be acceptable again as long as I'm here so we got to do better."
   7. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 06, 2006 at 04:46 PM (#2007443)
And from Dusty, in his interview with Mike North on December 1, 2005:

"It's a huge year for me. It's a huge year for us, a huge year for the Cubs, for Jim Hendry, for my coaching staff, for Cubs fans all over. And, and I know this and I have been through this many, many times. And it seems like the bigger the year, for whatever reason, you know, the better my teams do."
   8. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 06, 2006 at 04:49 PM (#2007446)
>Hairston's failure to get down that sac bunt, I don't think we'll be seeing either of them again in the lineup any time soon.<

Hairston's sac bunt attempt was brutal, but I also question the wisdom of giving up one-third of your outs to get to weak groundball-hitting Neifi Perez. Baker, and others like him, over-use that bunt to a severe fault, of course. When teams are struggling offensively, we often hear that that's even more reason to use the bunt when, in fact, it makes even less sense...especially in a situation such as last night. That doesn't excuse the failure of Hairston to execute. It's just that giving up a precious out so you can leave it up to Neifi Perez to break a scoreless game is a tad suicidal to me.
   9. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 06, 2006 at 04:57 PM (#2007451)
Hairston's sac bunt attempt was brutal, but I also question the wisdom of giving up one-third of your outs to get to weak groundball-hitting Neifi Perez. Baker, and others like him, over-use that bunt to a severe fault, of course. When teams are struggling offensively, we often hear that that's even more reason to use the bunt when, in fact, it makes even less sense...especially in a situation such as last night. That doesn't excuse the failure of Hairston to execute. It's just that giving up a precious out so you can leave it up to Neifi Perez to break a scoreless game is a tad suicidal to me.

Absolutely. But you have to look at it from Dusty's perspective - which is that Neifi is an excellent player and a threat with the bat. So Hairston failed to get the runner into scoring position for Neifi to drive him home, which was (in Dusty's mind) something that could very possibly happen.

Combine that with the situation (tie game late, plus the team's terrible offensive stretch and losing streak), and this will stick in Dusty's mind for awhile.
   10. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 06, 2006 at 05:03 PM (#2007455)
Finally, let’s again shoot another hole into one of the many “myths” that skipper Dusty Baker carried with him from San Francisco. The idea that Baker gets the most from his players

Wow. This is a mind-numbing statement. First, let me bemoan the general lack of attempts in sabermetrics to analyize what impact a manager has on players' performance under him. There's plenty of fantastic sumamries of managerial strategies, but almost no attempts have been done to see how managers effect their players' stats. You could say that there's no evidence of a skipper having an impact on his players for practically any manager in MLB history, and you'd be right -- with only one exception. There has only been one manager** in the 136 year history of MLB where there demonstrably is statistical evidence that he gets more production out of his players. That man is Dusty Baker. The 2003 Prospectus book went over every player who played at least 350 PA in a year under him and had X number of PA in his career, and showed that they, by and large, improved their PRO+ (PRO+ is Pete Palmer's version of OPS+) by 8%.

The idea that Baker gets the most from his players has always been an absurdity easy enough to debunk.

Really? I've never seen anyone even try to debunk it. I've seen assertions made that it isn't true, but I've never seen the study's methodology or evidence or results disputed. And I know I've mentioned this study here (by "here" I mean btf, not just GC) at least 3 times) Oh hell, let me look up the study and give the results . . .

OK, my memory was a little off on the parameters. It compares pre-Dusty PRO+ with PRO+ under Dusty. There's 25 players studied:

Ellis Burks had his PRO+ rise by 27 points.

J. T. Snow had his PRO+ by 20 points.

Jeff Kent went up by 19 points.

Mark Carreon went up by 19 points.

Bobby Estella went up by 19 points.

David Bell went up by 16 points.

Brent Mayne went up by 16 points.

Kenny Lofton went up by 15 points.

Matt Williams went up by 15 points.

Benito Santiago went up by 14 points.

Barry Bonds went up by 14 points.

Darryl Hamilton went up by 13 points.

Mark Lewis went by by 11 points.

Royce Clayton went up by 7 points.

Glenallen Hill went up by 4 points.

Stan Javier went up by 3 points

Charlie Hayes went up by 2 points.

Kirk Manwaring went up by 1 point.

Jose Vizciano went up by 1 point.

Reggie Sanders went up by 1 point.

Darren Lewis held even.

Tsuyoshi Shinjo went down by 4 points.

Willie McGee went down by 5 points.

Robby Thompson went down by 7 points.

Will Clark went down by 12 points.

That's 25 guys -- 20 improve, 1 even, four negative. 13 increase by double digits. As mentioned, it averages to an 8% increase. To put that in perspective, last year the Reds has the best OPS+ in the NL at 107, which of course was 7% better than a league average OPS+.

The article accompanying this chart (actually two charts to make it confusing) states: "Baker is no miracle worker; and not everyone who plays for him explodes like Burks, Kent, and company. But jsut as telling as the long list of overperformers under Baker is the scarcity of underperformers. Even the few guys with minus signs by their names have mitigating stories behind them. Robby Thompson, for instance, had his career year under Baker, but then began an injury-plagued decline."

Now you say that this "myth" has always been "absurdly easy to debunk." Well, have it. I'd love to hear anyone debunk this. Normally when I've brought this up the response I get is either 1) nothing, or 2) "I hadn't heard of this study." Right now the evidence you present that Baker doesn't improve players is based on one month's evidence (and really centering on the last two weeks). Does that constitute sufficient evidence to make this "myth" so "absurdly easy to debunk"? If so, I can only assume you miss reading Skip Bayless's columns in the Trib about how the Big Hurt isn't a real HoF because of a couple times when he didn't bring the runs home. I also find it interesting that you state this "myth" has always been easy to debunk. Go for it -- try to debunk it based on pre-06 info.

I should note I don't fully agree with the study & his tenure as Cubs manager clearly has more negatives than the study shows of his days with the Giants. Let's look at position starters under Dusty in Chicago. . .

Now I don't have a calculater with me, so I won't be able to provide any exact OPS+ numbers for many guys. Let's start with '05 - clearly that was his worst season as a manager with the Cubs by dang near any standard. What about those starters?

Micheal Barrett - A washed out prospect who suddenly emerged as one of the best hitting catchers in NL. I don't know what his OPS+ increse is, but it's possibly 30-40 points up.

Move to the hot corner - Aramis Rameriez. Clearly had the talent, but has put it more together (prior to this year) with the Cubs. OPS+ with Pitt probably under 100. With the Cubs it's over 130.

St. Neifi. Career OPS+ of 65 (bleh). With the Cubs his OPS+ is about 80, so his pre-Cubs OPS+ would be - what? - 62? Still stinks, but we're getting (prior to this year again) far more than anyone would rightfully expect from him (scary thought, huh?). And this is occurring at an age where he should be getting considerably worse as a hitter, too. (My hunch is that this year's sub-.200 average is his whimpering end).

Todd Walker at second. Prior to coming to the Cubs he had only 100 year with an OPS+ over 100. He's had marks of 105 & 115 as a Cub. Not bad for a guy on the wrong side of 30.

Derek Lee. Well, you got me here. There's no evidence whatsoever that he's improved as a hitter since coming to Chicago.

Now let me pause for a second. Yea, saving the dreadful OF for last does make the argument sound better for Baker, but just look at last year's around the horn. Not only did they get better as a whole hitting under Baker, but they ALL got better, and they either got significantly better (Barrett, Lee, Rameriz) or got better in their decline (Walker, St. Neifi). The only guy one could reasonably expect to rise up like he had was Rameriz, who had shown he had the talent in his big year in Pitt. Even the other former prospect (Barrett) had gone through so many dismal campaigns that one wouldn't have expected that. That's not bad. . . . . But I'm sure there's some good reason to decline it all a "myth" that's always been absurdly easy to refute (the fact that no one's ever actually bothered refuting it notwithstanding).

Now the OF:

Holly. If I wanted to be a twerp I could disqualify him because he never had 350 PA under Baker, but . . . in two partial seasons he greatly exceeded expectations like one and hit like a flaming pile of poo in the other. Put them together and he ends up a little below.

Burnitz - At age 36 he had an OPS+ of 96. Career mark of 113. A reverse-Rameriz. While one could've expected Rameriz's upsurge anyway, one should've expected Burnitz to decline. He'd been around 100 for almost every year since his big '99 campaign. He is currently hitting .198 with the Pirates.

Corey Patterson - This is without a doubt and beyond any question, a HUGE regresssion that can definately be aganist Baker. Not an age-expected regression, not a minor one, the kid had some talent.. .. (checks Patterson's OPS+s) . . . Oddly enough, his OPS+ under Baker is in fact higher than his pre-Baker OPS+. He's getting back on track this year in Baltimore.

8 players - 5 improve (well, actually 6), only one of those had an improvement one could see coming (and the fifth guy's improvement was so substantial -- 30+ points of OPS+ that I don't know if it should be ignored). One had a minor decline. One was a 36 year-old declining. It really comes down to Patterson as a negative vs. the entire around-the-horn. I gotta figure last year's ultra-disappointing team shows Baker did in fact get more production out of his hitters than one would expect.

Previous two years? I'm getting too tired & this is taknig too long to type to go as in-depth, but quickly . . . .Remember the Hundley for Karros & Grudz trade? If I had Daly's googling skills I'd search this site because I remember some being quite upset that the Cubs got two useless players. Both did pretty good despite being at ages (and having recent performances) which led many a thinking fan to condlude they were rubbish. . . . Ramon Martinez came up with Baker in SF so you're largely comparing him under Baker as a Cub with him under Baker as a Giant. . . . Ol' Pee-Hands? His '04 OPS+ is exactly equal to his career mark. His '03 is below so overall about 7 points under while playing at ages 36-37 for Baker. . . . Sosa of course had the biggest collapse of anyone, but the collapse began before Baker got here and continued after Sosa left. It's really amazing how he got noticably worst at every aspect of hitting so consistently for so many years in a row. Went from historically great to unemployed in a handful of years. .. . A-Gone. Never much a hitter, in his early 30s got a little worse. Weird career. How many guys establish themselves at age 22 and then never improve throughout their 20s? Weird . . . You want the best piece of evidence of Dusty not being able to help guys? With the Cubs, it's Damian Miller. Went from an adequate hitting catcher (OPS+s in the low 90s) for several years. With Baker, it dipped under 80. Since then he's gone back to being the same hitter he's always been. He's actually the best example of a player not achieving as well as he should under Dusty.

On the whole, I'd say his years as a Cub manager do show him helping players more than hurting them. Several increases that are either unexpected and/or quite substantial. Most of the declines come from guys in their mid-to-late 30s (Sosa, Alou, Burnitz) who frankly should be declining. It's not as extreme as the record in San Fran, and I doubt that Baker's no longer got an 8% increase going in his favor. Say maybe down to 6%? Well, last year the 2nd best OPS+ by a team in the NL was 106, to put things in perspective. . . Yea, I think the record of 13 years and over 2000 games managed DOES show hitters producing more from him than one would expect. I don't see how it's a "myth" which has always been absurdly easy to debunk, but I'm willing to learn. What evidence exists showing Baker doesn't get more out of his players.

This month (and especially this last week) can and should be held against him. But is it enough by itself to jettison the evidence of 2042 games managed by Baker before this year? To me, that's a notion which really does sound like a Skip Bayless column on Frank Thomas's Cooperstown qualifications. The longer the hitting drought continues and the worse it gets, the more it should be held against him, but I fail to see how it's the only thing that should be taken into consideration.

Baker has some flaws & they are extreme - inability to construct a line-up, tactical abilities inferior to the general who ordered the charge of the Light Brigade, and his love of playing St. Neifi. But it seems to me he does have one positive. Hitters do better for him than one would expect.


** To be fair, there have been two studies done on Leo Mazzone's impact on pitchers, which does bleed into Bobby Cox, but both studies (J. C. Bradbury's online one, and a presentation at SABR 35 last year) specifically said they were looking at Mazzone, not Cox.
   11. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 06, 2006 at 05:07 PM (#2007458)
Hairston's sac bunt attempt was brutal, but I also question the wisdom of giving up one-third of your outs to get to weak groundball-hitting Neifi Perez.

I agree that the decision to attempt the bunt was bad. But given that he was told to try to bunt, Jerry Hairston's bunt attempts were just awful. With his speed and relative lack of power, you'd think he'd work on bunting, because it could be a valuable addition to his offensive game. Hairston LOOKS like a guy who should be a decent player. He's fast, he's got pretty good OBPs, but he's just such a terrible fundamental player; it's disappointing.
   12. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 06, 2006 at 05:14 PM (#2007464)
Absolutely. But you have to look at it from Dusty's perspective - which is that Neifi is an excellent player and a threat with the bat. So Hairston failed to get the runner into scoring position for Neifi to drive him home, which was (in Dusty's mind) something that could very possibly happen.

There's another factor to keep in mind as well -- to the extent Neifi can be at all effective at the plate, it will be in hitting singles. Neifi's not going to be getting any extra base hits that will score Hairston from 1b, so advancing Hairston to 2b is really the only way that he'll score if Neifi lucks into a hit.

Now do I want to read ooo's latest version of "War and Peace"?
   13. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 06, 2006 at 05:37 PM (#2007505)
It's the same stuff he presented last year (or maybe two years ago). I still don't buy it - the study seems to be without context. Let's put all of these players in the lineup with the greatest hitter of the last 50 years. Hey look, they all got better - it must be Dusty's doing. I think people underestimate the impact of a hitter like that on the rest of the lineup - I said the same thing when Lee went down, that it would have a domino effect up and down the order. If you take Bonds out of those Giants lineups, my guess would be that a lot of those positive numbers drop pretty significantly.

And before you ask, o.o.o., no I can't prove it and no I have no idea how you'd go about doing a study to prove it.

As for the Cubs, Barrett put up a 96 OPS+ playing more or less full-time in 2002, had a bad 2003 where he only got in about 70 games, then put up a 105 OPS+ playing more or less full-time in 2004 at the magical age 27. Not surprisingly, being given a chance to play every day again and hitting his peak age came together to make him a somewhat better player. The difference between his 2004-05 seasons and his 2002 season are about .015-.020 in BA and some additional power (more doubles, more HRs). His walk and K rates stay about the same. Would he have done this not playing for the Cubs? It's at least possible.

Walker came to the Cubs from seasons of 100, 99, and 95 OPS+ and put up a 105 in his first year. You know what the difference is? 5 singles. If you take 5 singles away from Walker in 2004, you get a .793 OPS and an OPS+ in the upper 90s. Not to mention that in the years leading up to coming to the Cubs Walker played every day, while Dusty has platooned him. So Walker's hitting less against his bad side, and his stats look better... shocking.

Ramirez - hitting age 26 and 27. Again, could have been expected (not to mention getting out of Pittsburgh, which must just be a depressing place to play).

Lee actually regressed his first year with the Cubs, putting up his lowest OPS+ in 3 years. Then he had the great season last year - let's see if that holds up as his new level of production, or if he sinks back to his pre-Cub levels before anointing him as this great Dusty victory.

I'll give you Neifi. He never would have put up those numbers playing elsewhere because there's not another manager in the game dumb enough to give him 600 PAs last year (not to mention the better pitches he must have seen hitting ahead of Lee most of the season - that probably had something to do with it as well).

I really don't want to have this debate again, because you're never going to convince me and I'm never going to convince you. So that's all I have to say on the matter.
   14. rr Posted: May 06, 2006 at 05:40 PM (#2007510)
Good points in 10.

The problems, though, as stated 70 trillion times:

1. Baker does not value OBP. Satan's presence in the lineup masked that in SF.
2. Baker does not work well with young players. Sabean's preference for and skill in getting old guys masked that in SF.
3. Baker rides his SPs too hard. Hernandez and Ortiz not showing the strain for awhile masked that in SF (they are not doing so hot now, though--although in fairness to Baker, Hernandez is kind of unique in this regard).

In Chicago, with Lee, Prior and Wood out, and Zambrano inconsistent so far, the only thing masking Baker's weaknesses is his toothpick. Last night's game should, IMO, be the final straw that gets him and Hendry fired and this is from a transplanted Ohioan in SD who pulls for the Reds and Padres.
   15. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 06, 2006 at 05:53 PM (#2007545)
I think the above point by "Veronica Mars" is spot on. I think you can make a case, in fact, that Barry Bonds has had as much impact on the rest of his team as any player in the history of the game.

If the original retort outlining all of the players who have "overperformed" under Dusty is true, then we should be able to see the same kind of results with Cubs verterans from the time Dusty showed up. That hasn't been the case. Baker plays so many mediocre veterans that a few of them end up performing well -- above their statistical norms. What is often forgotten, of course, is that many more that he overplays don't.

We could all put together a good list of Cubs veterans who have laid an egg -- or at least played no better than their mediocre expectations -- under Baker. Just as Baker's managerial accomplishments in SF have been over-rated because of the impact of Barry Bonds, so, too, has this idea that many of the Giants players who performed much better than historic norms did so because of Toothpick Man.

I say just not true.
   16. CFiJ Posted: May 06, 2006 at 07:05 PM (#2007675)
I'm willing to buy a certain degree of Baker's pixie dust. I don't think it's anything you can hang your hat on; somewhat like players' tendency to play better in a contract year. Somewhere between random variation and the Mazzone Effect. Given the studies done that debunk the idea of protection, I find it easier to buy than a huge Barry Bonds effect. His weakpoints (game tactics, line-up construction, young-player-non-playing, and pitcher-handling) probably even things out.

The problem is that Baker's strong point is also a weakness. He plays guys, gives them encouragement and confidence. Any player, if given the at-bats, hits better. They feel more comfortable, they get a sense of the pitchers, and so on. He gets guys at-bats, makes veterans feel comfortable, and they perform better than average. So, if you give Baker a crappy player, like Macias, he's going to play him. Give him Neifi, with whome he seems to have a great relationship with, and of course he's going to play him. He can't make guys perform better if he doesn't play them.

And that's the issue. Give Baker an average team, and he'll do pretty good. Give him really good players and he'll take you to the playoffs. Give him crap and, by God, he'll play that crap come hell or high water. The problem, and it's tough for me to say this, is Hendry. Hendry may be a fantastic scouting director, but he just doesn't have a plan for the team. He doesn't give provide the raw materials for Dusty to work with. This team doesn't walk? That's not Dusty's fault. He may say stupid ####, but I don't think a manager makes a player more patient or less patient.

I don't expect rigorous analysis from Baker, nor do I even expect him to avoid the common psychological pitfalls that befall most people. I expect Baker to be chummy with the players and keep them happy. But I do expect proper analysis from Hendry. I do expect him to be ruthlessly cold toward players. I do hold him to a higher standard in thought process, because that's his job. He is not paid to go by his gut, he is not paid to fix clubhouse chemistry, and he's not paid to rely on his own two eyes to make decisions. He should be gathering as much information as he possibly can, he should be up-to-date on the latest statistical research, and he should be giving Baker the best guys he can get.

Hendry has to go. I was a fan, but before Baker (preferably at the same, of course), Hendry has to go. At this point I'd rather have MacPhail at the helm.
   17. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 06, 2006 at 07:47 PM (#2007777)
We'll have to agree to disagree regarding the Barry Bonds effect. I think there is some correlation between veterans playing above their historic norms when Bonds was hitting around them and was at a level that put him on his own planet. And I think that helped form some kind of myth regarding Baker's ability to get more than expected out of mediocrity.

It's true that there is not a definitive measurement to conclude with certainty how much a manager impacts player performance. So perhaps this is a debate where we can't rely so heaily on numbers. And when we do, they easily can be taken out of context. What we do know is that once Baker came to Chicago, he continued a pattern of relying heaviliy on veterans (until this year) -- some of whom played better than expected and many of whom did not. What we also know is that two of Baker's veteran teams more or less imploded at the most crucial times of the year.

The original retort listed D. Lee and A. Ramirez as examples of players who thrived under Baker. But I have a hard time believing most people think Baker was responsible for two highly-regarded young players just reaching the peak of their careers. Nevertheless, I do think there is this idea that continues to circulate in the baseball world regarding Baker's "magic" when it comes to working with veterans.

The magic dust theory though just doesn't wash with me. I guess he ran out of the special stuff when Antonio Alfonseca, Juan Cruz, Shawn Estes, Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Remlinger, Mark Bellhorn, Alex Gonzalez, Lenny Harris, Tony Womack, Tom Goodwin, Corey Patterson, Nomar Garciaparra, Jose Hernandez, Damian Jackson, Rey Ordonez, Todd Hollandsworth, Jose Macias, Chad Fox, Latroy Hawkins and Enrique Wilson -- just to name a few -- took the field.
   18. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 06, 2006 at 07:51 PM (#2007786)
The magic dust theory though just doesn't wash with me. I guess he ran out of the special stuff when Antonio Alfonseca, Juan Cruz, Shawn Estes, Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Remlinger, Mark Bellhorn, Alex Gonzalez, Lenny Harris, Tony Womack, Tom Goodwin, Corey Patterson, Nomar Garciaparra, Jose Hernandez, Damian Jackson, Rey Ordonez, Todd Hollandsworth, Jose Macias, Chad Fox, Latroy Hawkins and Enrique Wilson -- just to name a few -- took the field.

Well, in (ooo)'s defense, he was talking solely about hitters. I don't think anybody's claimed that Dusty Baker has the tiniest clue with respect to pitchers.

I'm also coming around CFiJ's position. This thing needs to be blown up from the top: Hendry, Baker, Rothschild, and everybody else.
   19. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 06, 2006 at 08:36 PM (#2007881)
I still don't buy it - the study seems to be without context. Let's put all of these players in the lineup with the greatest hitter of the last 50 years. Hey look, they all got better - it must be Dusty's doing. I think people underestimate the impact of a hitter like that on the rest of the lineup

So it ain't Dusty dust it's Barry dust? ;)

Actually, I think there's something to that, but not nearly as much as you do. I can see it having an impact on those hitting in immeditately before/after him, but not throughout the entire line-up.

There is a way to check on that I guess. Look at how all the other Giants did on days Barry batted vs. days when he didn't. If you got the inclination to do all that digging -- then God bless you, you're way up on me. Here's the most I can do in that regard:

In 1999, Bonds only played a little over 100 games. He missed all of May, and about half of April & June. He wasn't that good in June either, with an OPS of 704 that month. For context, that's 23 points higher than St. Neifi's OPS last year.

The Giants as a team had their best offensive month of the season in June, scoring 167 runs when Barry hit like a glorified Neifi. In May, they averaged a little under 5 runs a game (I still don't have a calculater so I'm guessing).

Their line-up that year? Well, Brent Mayne had the best OPS+ of his life. J. T. Snow had his 2nd best. Jeff Kent had the 2nd best OPS+ of his career at that point (a level which has since bested many times). Bill Mueller had a slightly down year. Rich Aurilla had his first really good year. Marvin Benard had maybe the best year of his career (2nd best OPS+ but far more playing time in '99). And Ellis Burks, at age 34, had the best season of his career to date. This is the exact opposite of what one would expect if it's a matter of Barry Dust.

If it's "Barry dust" then how come all these guys did so well in a year when Bonds missed two months and wasn't the year's best hitter (let alone the greatest hitter of the entire last half-century) when he played. His OPS+ was 162, far lower than McGwire's that year. Should we expect to see a "McGwire Effect" for all the teams he played for? Chipper Jones had a far better year with the stick. Should we expect the entire Atlanta squad to exceed expectations. Bagwell had a better year, and Larry Walker was as good at the plate.

I agree that Bonds's presence does have an impact on those in the line-up but the questions I have are HOW MUCH impact does he have, and how extensive was this impact at all points in time. What I mean by the second part is that Bonds for most of the time he played under Baker was "only" a great player churing out OPS+ ranging from 160-185. That's fantastic, but it's largely the same as what you got from Frank Thomas. And I've looked at this a little, and you don't see a "Frank Thomas Effect" on White Sox hitters in the '90s.

At the tailend of Baker's days as Giants manager Bonds blossomed into the greatest hitter anyone's seen since at least Ruth & likely ever. Since he had been the best hitter of his generation before then and was so un-freakin-believably after that then it's easy to just lump it altoghether and say Bonds was such a historically great hitter that he has an impact on the line-ups around him that one doesn't find with "routinely great" hitters like Frank Thomas. That just doesn't wash though because for almost all the time Bonds played under Baker he was about 5% better than Thomas. Does that really account for Ellis Burks, J. T. Snow, & gangs of others playing so much better? Does that really explain almost no starters with the Giants underachieving for an entire decade? I find that unlikely.

I'll give Bonds some credit - especially when he became the Clear & Cream Creation -- especially on Kent who hit near him in the order.

If Baker's record as manager doesn't show some ability to get more production out of hitters then what would that evidence look like?

The magic dust theory though just doesn't wash with me. I guess he ran out of the special stuff when Antonio Alfonseca, Juan Cruz, Shawn Estes, Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Remlinger. . . Fox, Latroy Hawkins

Uhhh, where did I bring in pitchers?

And that's the issue. Give Baker an average team, and he'll do pretty good. Give him really good players and he'll take you to the playoffs. Give him crap and, by God, he'll play that crap come hell or high water.

I'd agree with this.

The original retort listed D. Lee and A. Ramirez as examples of players who thrived under Baker. But I have a hard time believing most people think Baker was responsible for two highly-regarded young players just reaching the peak of their careers.

Two things -- please note I mentioned that with Rameriez -- he'd had the talent and shown he could hit before coming here. As for Lee, how highly regarded was he? I remember people being upset the team traded Choi for him. He was a good young-ish player with an established track record. He blew past that track record considerably last year, and judging by the comments people in primerland made when he signed his new contract, the consensus was that it was a career year, but he did establish a new performance level. Also, it can be both A & B - player at an age when he will breakout, and that breakout is amplified by coaching/manager-ing. Actually, Lee was 27 his last year in Florida. While he should've maintained his level, he isn't really a great candidate to suddenly tack on an extra 30-40 points to his OPS+.

Mark Bellhorn, Alex Gonzalez, Lenny Harris, Tony Womack, Tom Goodwin, Corey Patterson, Nomar Garciaparra, Jose Hernandez, Damian Jackson, Rey Ordonez, Todd Hollandsworth, Jose Macias . . . Enrique Wilson -- just to name a few -- took the field.

To name a few? You're scraping down to mentioning guys with 22 ABs (Wilson), and 61 AB (Ordonez). To name a few? For the complete list were you planning on mentioning a temporary assistant groundskeeper?

Main problem with this team - Bill Veeck said it best - it ain't the cost of greatness that's a problem, it's the high cost of mediocrity. Cubs have one of the highest median payrolls in MLB, and they spend it on guys like Glendon Rusch.
   20. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 06, 2006 at 09:19 PM (#2007917)
Cubs have one of the highest median payrolls in MLB, and they spend it on guys like Glendon Rusch.

Amen to that.

As for 1999, looking at a couple of months give me the sample size itch (as much as I hate it when other people play the sample size card with my arguments). Any manager could be made to look like a genius if you took one month or two months out of his career and focused on particular players. Baker had Bonds for 10 seasons, and it would take going through and doing what you suggest - looking at it game to game with him in or out of the lineup - to look for the effect. And even that's going to have problems. You figure when Barry was given a day off it was probably with a tough lefty on the mound (who would sit him against a creampuff RHP?), so that could skew things (or not, I'd have to see if that's actually true). There are plenty of other variables that would have to be controlled for as well, and I'm not the person to do it.

I'm not saying that there aren't times when Dusty doesn't get more out of a player than someone else might, but as CFiJ points out, it's because Dusty's willing to play these guys when no one else would. Who would have installed career pinch hitter Lenny Harris as their starting third baseman at age 38? Or career out machine Neifi Perez as their starting shortstop and #2 hitter? Or career pinch hitter Todd Hollandsworth as their starting LF? Or junked top propsect Choi for rapidly aging Eric Karros?

It should be beyond dispute at this point that players who play every day are going to do better than guys who sit on the bench and get 2 PAs a week. If you have a manager who is willing to put his confidence in you and run you out there when no one else would, that's going to help. But that's not always a good thing, because 90% of the time we're talking about guys who were bench and role players for a reason. If Dusty can make Neifi into a .680 OPS guy instead of a .630 OPS guy by giving him 600 PAs, that's not really a point in his favor as a manager. I'd much rather see him recognize that Neifi has no business on the field. There's the real skill.

The study I'd like to see is what Dusty does with players with unrealized upside, not with guys in their mid-30s who get a late career boost because they find themselves playing for the most veteran loving manager in the world. If Dusty can wring 6 extra hits a year out of a carefully platooned and past his prime Todd Hollandsworth, who cares? So much of this stuff is within the margin of error it's just not that relevant. If you talk about a guy showing a 4 point gain in OPS+ - depending on playing time, that could be the difference of one or two hits over the course of a season. Unless Dusty's out there with the groundskeepers before the game working the field to the team's advantage, that's just too little for me to credit him (and that's assuming he gets the credit in the first place).
   21. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 06, 2006 at 09:33 PM (#2007927)
Good discussion. I can't disagree with some of what you say here, but I'm not sure I'm ready right now to take the discussion into all the ways in which Bonds impacted a lineup -- the next logical progession in the debate. That requires a bit more research. I acknowledge though that your response is well-argued against the idea that Barry Bonds alone has accounted for some Giants players "over-achieving." I'm just not quite sure it makes the case that that over-achieving can be credited to Baker.

I still maintain that if there was really something to this idea, we would have seen better results from the veterans he's used in Chicago.

Which brings me to a bit more clarification. My inclusion of Cubs pitchers who didn't work out was not directly a response to your post but to a general perception I've heard too often that Baker has taken veterans of all kinds and made something special out of them. I recognize that pitchers were not part of your point.

I also acknowledge that my list of Cubs includes some players who did not play here all that much, but I think it's still valid to bring them up. Why? Because some of the justification that I heard for this team acquiring those players in the first place, or for Baker playing them over better younger players, was this "Baker-gets-so-much-out-of-veterans" nonsense. I simply have not seen evidence in Chicago that Baker has gotten any more out of veterans -- those who have played a lot and those who have not -- than any other manager would.

I wonder though whether you think that's the case. Is it your belief, for example, that Dusty Baker has been a significant contributing factor for Michael Barrett and Derek Lee advancing to their current playing levels?

In response to comments about Lee, I was one of those people who at least questioned the acquisition of Lee -- not because I didn't think Lee would become a very good player over time but because I was concerned over whether this was the best way to allocate the dollars the Cubs had available that off-season. That's a very different discussion.

More to the point: Lee's ceiling was high long before he came to Dusty and the Cubs. In 1999, long before anyone knew that the paths of Baker and Lee would cross, John Sickels wrote that Lee had an "erratic rookie season." "Expect continued inconsistency until a big breakout at age 27 or so," he said.

I think Lee also benefitted from the change in home ball parks. But I'm a little off-topic now.

Finally...

>it's the high cost of mediocrity. Cubs have one of the highest median payrolls in MLB, and they spend it on guys like Glendon Rusch.<

Couldn't agree more...
   22. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 06, 2006 at 09:40 PM (#2007929)
Hoping to avoid drawing the Union in here, I wonder: How much of the "Dusty" effect or "Barry" effect in San Fran was really a Balco effect?
   23. Oh Weh Mir Posted: May 06, 2006 at 09:43 PM (#2007931)
The problem with o.o.o's argument isn't with the claims about the players performances under Dusty. I take the central claim of his argument to be this:

"There has only been one manager** in the 136 year history of MLB where there demonstrably is statistical evidence that he gets more production out of his players"

It's the "gets more" that gets me. Does Dusty *cause* other players to perform better? I'm not quite sure what it would mean to say that Dusty got more out of DLee last season because Dusty wasn't the guy at the plate in those run-producing situations. Why could we not attribute these better performances to other in-game contingencies (Player X getting to the plate with Players Y and Z on base)? Remember from your Intro to Philosophy/Critical thinking/Logic classes that correlation is not causation. Just becaues these players may have performed better under Dusty, doesn't mean that he caused them to perform better. As a result, the claim that he *made* them or "got more" out of them is not justified--o.o.o has given us merely a correlation. That's probably why there haven't been a whole lot of studies about managers' effects on players performances in the SABRmetric world, and why the studies that have been conducted have been limited to specific situations, such as calling on a batter to bunt, pinch hit, double switches, or how the manager filled out the line-up card. Managers--because of their calls on field--usually win or lose a handful of games. I would think that the a study on a team's performance as a result of the manager could only take these factors into account (though I'm amenable to hearing other factors that directly impact the game's outcome). The rest is up to the players' performances, and thus not directly attributable to the manager.
   24. Neil M Posted: May 06, 2006 at 10:05 PM (#2007940)
WRT Derrek Lee -

At the start of last season, he changed his batting stance at the suggestion of Gene Clines, the hitting coach. Clines had been the 1B coach, with Sarge Matthews being Dusty's guy but, post-2004 he was switched at Hendry's behest. So credit to a member of Dusty's staff - but not his choice for the particular job.

Lee also credited his hot start and continuing excellence to having taken a more intense approach in Spring Training than he ever had before. Credit there to Lee himself.

I think that Baker had little to do with Lee's surge and would say that he singularly failed to capitalise on what he had by his bad choices for the 2 and 3 holes.

I'd make the same criticism of his continued usage of Barrett in the 8 spot, where a lot of Barrett's effort went for nothing.
   25. Neil M Posted: May 06, 2006 at 10:07 PM (#2007942)
the 2 and 3 holes.

Should be 1 and 2. I shouldn't try to type in the dark.
   26. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 06, 2006 at 10:09 PM (#2007944)
Hoping to avoid drawing the Union in here, I wonder: How much of the "Dusty" effect or "Barry" effect in San Fran was really a Balco effect?

If we believe that Bonds didn't start juicing until 2001 (isn't that the latest info?), then it wouldn't be much. It would mean only 2 out of Dusty's 10 years in SF were "tainted" by steroids.

And I think Oh Weh Mir says nicely what I've been trying to say - there's too much other stuff going on to say that the manager causes much of anything. Does Ramirez do better because he's playing for Dusty, or because he gets out of Pittsburgh, into a better lineup, and reaches the age at which he is expected to have his offensive peak seasons? Does Walker do better because Dusty makes him a better hitter, or because he's being platooned and avoiding tough lefties that brought down his stats when he played elsewhere? If you really sat down and studied the box scores and game logs for Dusty's 10 years in SF (plus all of the other years of those players' careers), you could probably come up with reasonable hypotheses for 90% of them that have nothing to do with Dusty's abilities as a manager.
   27. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 06, 2006 at 10:18 PM (#2007949)
Post #7500!

it's because Dusty's willing to play these guys when no one else would.

That's actually true for a minority of his players. For every St. Neifi who gets better you can find a few Jeff Kents or Todd Walkers or Ellis Burkses.

The study I'd like to see is what Dusty does with players with unrealized upside, not with guys in their mid-30s who get a late career boost because they find themselves playing for the most veteran loving manager in the world.

You mean like Micheal Barrett?

If Dusty can make Neifi into a .680 OPS guy instead of a .630 OPS guy by giving him 600 PAs, that's not really a point in his favor as a manager. I'd much rather see him recognize that Neifi has no business on the field. There's the real skill.

I'd agree that benching Neifi is preferable to getting a little extra out of him.
My inclusion of Cubs pitchers who didn't work out was not directly a response to your post but to a general perception I've heard too often that Baker has taken veterans of all kinds and made something special out of them.


Fair enough.

In response to comments about Lee, I was one of those people who at least questioned the acquisition of Lee -- not because I didn't think Lee would become a very good player over time but because I was concerned over whether this was the best way to allocate the dollars the Cubs had available that off-season. That's a very different discussion.

Yeah, I questioned him too. Though Lee's increased production has made that a mute point, and I believe Baker does likely play some sort of role in that increased production.

I think Lee also benefitted from the change in home ball parks. But I'm a little off-topic now.

Lee's Home OPS in 2004: 1075
Lee's Road OPS in 2005: 1074

I do worry that both Pierre & Jones will suffer from their change in parks this year. Both are speedy groundball hitters, and that can't possibly be a good thing coming to Wrigley. I think Jones is toast it general, but I do hold out hope for Pierre.

I take the central claim of his argument to be this:

"There has only been one manager** in the 136 year history of MLB where there demonstrably is statistical evidence that he gets more production out of his players"


There's numerous problems with this statement. My main point with it wasn't to point out how great Dusty was, but to bemoan the almost complete lack of statisitical exploration of manager's impact on their players.

Just becaues these players may have performed better under Dusty, doesn't mean that he caused them to perform better. As a result, the claim that he *made* them or "got more" out of them is not justified--o.o.o has given us merely a correlation.

You're absolutely right, and from a point of view of rigourously statistical analysis my statements can be justifiably blasted for conflating correlation with causation. I stand by it though. I believe in coaching as a matter of faith, and this predates any BP article on Baker and the Giants or studies on Leo Mazzone. If you have a manager who apparently has guys hit better for him over a period of years, I'll claim that to be coaching even though my assumption is outpacing sturdy mathmaetical proof of anything other than correlation.

That's probably why there haven't been a whole lot of studies about managers' effects on players performances in the SABRmetric world, and why the studies that have been conducted have been limited to specific situations, such as calling on a batter to bunt, pinch hit, double switches, or how the manager filled out the line-up card. Managers--because of their calls on field--usually win or lose a handful of games. I would think that the a study on a team's performance as a result of the manager could only take these factors into account (though I'm amenable to hearing other factors that directly impact the game's outcome). The rest is up to the players' performances, and thus not directly attributable to the manager.

Disagree. For every serious statistical mind doing sabermetric studies (mgl or tangotiger) you get a dozen twerps like me presenting findings at SABR conventions. I've done/am still doing a study on managers & the only reason I can do it with my own limited math knowledge is because I'm piggybacking on some work done by Phil Birnbaum.

I did find some evidence which, to me, indicates there is a coaching component. Take every game played from 1960-2001 (the years from Birnbaum that I currently have) and divide them into four categories: 1) Decisions where the skipper piloted at least 2000 games, 2) games where the manager lasted 1000-1999 games, 3) 500-999 games, 4) 1-499 games. What I can show is that teams managed by the first group had their hitters do better than teams managed by the second group. And the second group did better than the third group. And the fourth group was by the far worst. I can show this for individual hitters, for individual pitchers, and surprisingly for pythag records.

There is another assumption at play here -- longer managers tend to be better ones. That's an assumption with no sound mathmetical proof. But I gotta tell ya, the fact that Bruce Kimm didn't last as long as Bobby Cox, or that Terry Bevington did survive for as many years as Earl Weaver doesn't strike me as random happenstance. If the categories were just luck, I'd expect to see the last group still do worst (bad luck equalling firing) but the other groups flattened out together as luck evens out over 1500 games. Instead, the gap between the 2000+s and the 1000-1999 is one of the bigger ones.

And Dusty Baker comes off as one of the best managers of hitters over the last half-century. At worst, he's eighth best. Depending on how I tweak the numbers his second best.

FREE DAVEY JOHNSON!
   28. CFiJ Posted: May 06, 2006 at 10:28 PM (#2007954)
I've really come to the conclusion that the current management situation in baseball can't stand. It's not that I think we need Harvard-educated outsiders to come in and be GMs or, God forbid, managers. But there's a ghastly lack of professional expertise, some of which may be made up on the job, some of which may be handled by assistants, but which really needs to be addressed.

Ideally, I'd like to have an MLB run sports management school that everyone would have to go through to get coaching, managing, or GM (assistant or otherwise) jobs. I say, take that man's years of playing experience and add to that: game theory, tactics and strategy, statistics, psychology, systems theory. A six-month course that would give these guys the tools to be better coaches, better managers, better GMs.
   29. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 06, 2006 at 10:35 PM (#2007957)
At the start of last season, he changed his batting stance at the suggestion of Gene Clines, the hitting coach. Clines had been the 1B coach, with Sarge Matthews being Dusty's guy but, post-2004 he was switched at Hendry's behest. So credit to a member of Dusty's staff - but not his choice for the particular job.

Lee also credited his hot start and continuing excellence to having taken a more intense approach in Spring Training than he ever had before. Credit there to Lee himself.


Interesting. Hadn't heard that before.

One thing I should clarify (though it may just make the entire thing much more confusing). When I talk about the impact of the manager, coaching is only a portion (IMHO a small portion) of what I'm getting at.

One of the big inspirations I've had in how I think about managers was a column written by Rob Neyer back in the Glory Days of Flanneldom. He asked some GMs what they ask managerial candidates. He found out that they rarely deal with coaching or in-game tactics, but the real meat of their interviews centers on communication -- how well they're able to handle with and motivate their players to get them playing the best. One GM said that many/most ex-players they speak to say they're satisfied with all that they did to physically get themselves in condition and ready to play, but mentally they often weren't in the best condition.

It's not just a matter of effort, as too much effort will lead to pressing, not better results (which is exactly what's happened to the Cubs lately). It's the notion of saying and doing things behind the scenes that allow players to - without necessarily even being aware of any behind the scenes maniupation - excel on the field. The best example of this coaching aspect would be Knute Rockne's "Win one for the Gipper" speech. The ability to get players emotions and mental states properly handed is possibly the most important element of being a manager. Based on that Neyer column, that's apparently what MLB GMs think.

I could make a comparison to movie directors. From 1945-55, one-fourth of actors who won Academy Awards were those who appeared in Elia Kazan directed movies. Sure he had some great actors getting some of the awards (Brando, Vivian Leigh) but he also had people like Jo Van Fleet win. And even Brando gave his best performances under Kazan. I read a book of interviews with Kazan, and a lot of what you read in the previous paragraph was me ham-handled rephrasing Kazan's thoughts on how to get production out of actors. Its different with MLB players, because emotions are actors stock & trade, but it plays a role in athletics as well (again, the Gipper speech is a classic example of this). Milos Foreman's another director who gets great work out of his actors. A manager who can get his players in the best mental state is worth far more than a great in-game tactician, in my opinion.

Heck, if all we're looking at is a manager's coaching ability, that right there's a reason to ignore all of post #10. Immediately before becoming manager Baker was the Giants' hitting coach. If all we're looking at was coaching, there shouldn't have been an uptick when he took over the entire team.
   30. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 07, 2006 at 12:49 AM (#2008089)
Ideally, I'd like to have an MLB run sports management school that everyone would have to go through to get coaching, managing, or GM (assistant or otherwise) jobs. I say, take that man's years of playing experience and add to that: game theory, tactics and strategy, statistics, psychology, systems theory. A six-month course that would give these guys the tools to be better coaches, better managers, better GMs.

Great in theory. But then you get someone like Joe Morgan - very well respected in the baseball community - saying things like he'll never learn anything from someone who didn't play the game. So you've got to beat through the old way of thinking, which is doubly hard when the new way of thinking could well mean that many of the people you're trying to change will be harmed by it (because they'll start being passed over for jobs by the new better-trained class of managerial graduates).

Who is the last baseball manager who never played baseball at any professional level? Aside from Ted Turner, who managed 1 game for the Braves more as a stunt than anything else, has there ever been anyone else? I know you're not advocating that we go to a system of non-players as managers, but that's what baseball people will see. You know that secretly they don't want to see front office jobs going to stathead geeks like Theo Epstein. Those jobs should be reserved for ex-managers and ex-players, guys who understand what it's like on the field.

I agree it would be wonderful if the Cubs put a manager out there who understood strategy and risk management and optimizing a situation. But we're just going to have to hope that those are skills that he brings to the table already.
   31. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: May 07, 2006 at 01:05 AM (#2008112)
Who is the last baseball manager who never played baseball at any professional level? Aside from Ted Turner, who managed 1 game for the Braves more as a stunt than anything else, has there ever been anyone else?

John Boles, but he was hounded out of town by the players precisely because he never played.

Ideally, I'd like to have an MLB run sports management school that everyone would have to go through to get coaching, managing, or GM (assistant or otherwise) jobs. I say, take that man's years of playing experience and add to that: game theory, tactics and strategy, statistics, psychology, systems theory. A six-month course that would give these guys the tools to be better coaches, better managers, better GMs.

I remember Bill James proposed something similar almost 20 yars ago. Something to the effect that managerial candidates should have to play a few thousand games of APBA, if for nothing else, to have the percentages burned into their brains. He dismissed it as ever becoming a reality for precisely the reasons UCCF mentioned.
   32. Dr. Nick Posted: May 07, 2006 at 02:27 AM (#2008232)
Great in theory. But then you get someone like Joe Morgan - very well respected in the baseball community - saying things like he'll never learn anything from someone who didn't play the game. So you've got to beat through the old way of thinking

What you'd need is to change the culture of the sport -- which can be done. Steve Boros lost his job as a manager in part because he was seen as too computer-friendly. Things have changed there. What you'd need aren't non-ex-players, but ex-players who buy into the program.

I will say something positive about "Barry Dust" -- while taking a walk earlier tonight I remembered an argument on its behalf that makes a lot of sense. Looking at Baker's teams in Chicago and one obvious and striking feature is what a bunch of petulent whiners they act like. Many players on the teams the last few years have been so busy going into hissyfits because the of some stupid non-baseball matter that they end up very distrated from the game and it appears to cost them on the field. Late '04 is of course the best example of this. You never saw this with SFG, though. Why not? Well . . .

The best player - by far - on those teams was also the most villified and criticized player in the clubhouse. And he didn't care. He never let it bother him, never let it get to him, just stayed above it and went out and played. That's all. Can you imagine on a team led by a Barry Bonds a journeymen relief pitcher going into some preschool crying jag because the team's TV color commentator was a big bad meany-weany who said dark bad things about him? It could happen, but it would be far less likely. Having Bonds as a teammate would help everyone focus more on the matter at hand and cut down on the superfluous bullcrap that's dominated the Cubs under Capt Toothpick, Ol' PeeHands, and the rest of the jolly gang of whining ingrates. That's your Barry dust -- it has nothing to do with the line-up or the batting order or anything on-field at all. But I think it goes a long way to explaining the difference of SF and Chi for Baker.

I will modify what I said earlier -- I just hazily/lazily assume that any unknown and inexplainalbe improvement get attributed to the manager. I think he always played some role, but it's just nuts of me to give him all the kudos or complaints. Others play roles, whether it be coaches, stars, teammates, or hell, even batboys like Darren Baker. . . . .That last bit sounds ridiculous, but I stand by it. Since I'm already in a long-winded mood I'll even defend it.

Going from a highly imperfect memory here . . . I once read an argument on behalf of the preschool batboys in SFG and it made some sense. I can't do as good a job restating it as what I read, so please bare with me. Having the player's children in the dugout supposedly could create a better atmosphere for the players by calming them done, and keeping them a bit looser and happier. It also helped them put things in better perspective so they could play a little harder on the field. In some ways that goes against some popular stereotypes -- if you want to win you got to try your hardest and go all out all the time like Lenny Dyskstra or someone. But unless your a neo-sociopath like Dysksta, that approach will really wear out after a while. It's six months and 162 games, and something that keeps a fellow refreshed - like being able to play with his children in the dugout - can go a long way towards keeping an old, creaking player a little livlier than he should in the dog days of summer. And the better spirit can also help keep the players from getting bogged down in the stupid p1ssing wars that have typified the Baker-era Cubs. They need to get a bunch of 3-year-olds in the dugout if they want to improve the maturity on the Cubs bench. I phrased that sentence in a joking matter, but I'm serious about the sentiment being expressed.

Lastly (?), I just want to again minimize some of my previous comments. It's fine if someone doesn't think Baker his players play better, or if he isn't as good at it as the media thinks, or anything like that. It's a thorny issue that's tough to figure out one way or the other. What set me off is the line that his impact on players is a myth that's absurdly easy to debunk. That's what caused me to spend this Saturday on a one-man mission to blow out Furtado's bandwith. Proving Baker has such an impact is tricky, but debunking it is at least as tricky and far from absurdly easy.
   33. Walt Davis Posted: May 07, 2006 at 06:01 AM (#2008396)
6 runs in 8 games ...

I'm ready to give Darren Baker a chance.

As manager.

Or right fielder.
   34. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 07, 2006 at 11:58 AM (#2008446)
I miss the days when every team hit like the Cubs.
   35. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 07, 2006 at 01:40 PM (#2008466)
I miss the days when every team hit like the Cubs.

I don't think there actually were days like that. 6 runs in 8 games would be about 121 runs in a full season.

You keep thinking it can't get worse, and then it does.
   36. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 07, 2006 at 02:11 PM (#2008475)
As for 1999, looking at a couple of months give me the sample size itch (as much as I hate it when other people play the sample size card with my arguments). Any manager could be made to look like a genius if you took one month or two months out of his career and focused on particular players.

While this is a good point, I think there is something else that's missing here. Isn't it entirely possible -- likely -- that Dusty isn't the same manager as he was in the '90s? Even if ooo was correct and, in fact, Dusty did have a positive effect on the Giants teams of the '90s, what does that have to say about his management of the Cubs?

Put another way, if players like Lenny Harris and Todd Hollandsworth can peak years before wearing a Cubs uniform, why can't Dusty?
   37. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 07, 2006 at 03:13 PM (#2008501)
What set me off is the line that his impact on players is a myth that's absurdly easy to debunk. That's what caused me to spend this Saturday on a one-man mission to blow out Furtado's bandwith. Proving Baker has such an impact is tricky, but debunking it is at least as tricky and far from absurdly easy.

Fair enough. I can see how you would take these words as too strong and too definitive, but let me try to briefly explain my reason for using them once again. What we seem to now agree on is that it's very difficult to assess exactly why some players over-achieve at certain times. And it's true that in SF, several players playing under Baker had better years or stretches than what their history would suggest. Why that has occurred has been the subject of what I think has been an interesting and good debate here.

In the mainstream baseball world though, many "pundits" seem to firmly believe -- and almost state as fact -- that Baker gets the most out of veteran players. It's been represented as "a given."; I've heard it not once, but many times, and that drives me a tad nuts.

Can we point to some measurement or some statistical analysis and prove that Dusty Baker's contribution to J.T. Snow's good year, for example, was minimal or non-existent? No. But we can see -- in very unscientific terms -- that many of the veterans Baker has chosen to overplay in Chicago have played as poorly as one would expect just as some have played better. But as another poster noted, some veterans will succeed beyond expectations because Baker is a manager more willing to give so many of them playing time.

We can also note that some of the veteran teams that Baker has relied on in Chicago have imploded more than once.

I certainly didn't mean to raise your blood pressure and get you going, although I'm glad for the interesting and insightful contributions to this debate that you made. But in the end, I still believe -- in admittedly unmeasurable terms -- that Baker's reputation with veterans is more myth than reality.

You have reached a conclusion here -- one we all agree on now, I think -- that proving Baker has "had such an impact" on veterans who have over-achieved is "tricky." Since the "myth" I refer to says otherwise, doesn't your post refute it, too? In other words: If one of the definitions of debunk is "to expose or ridicule...exaggerated claims," doesn't your post here do exactly that?

Well, I'm not sure the two sides will ever come together on this, but it's been a lot of fun airing it out.
   38. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 07, 2006 at 03:34 PM (#2008513)
You have reached a conclusion here -- one we all agree on now, I think -- that proving Baker has "had such an impact" on veterans who have over-achieved is "tricky." Since the "myth" I refer to says otherwise, doesn't your post refute it, too? In other words: If one of the definitions of debunk is "to expose or ridicule...exaggerated claims," doesn't your post here do exactly that?

Yea - that's one reason I've been hemming back a bit with some of my later points. I still stand by my original statement but I do acknowledge it's open to different interpretations.

While this is a good point, I think there is something else that's missing here. Isn't it entirely possible -- likely -- that Dusty isn't the same manager as he was in the '90s? Even if ooo was correct and, in fact, Dusty did have a positive effect on the Giants teams of the '90s, what does that have to say about his management of the Cubs?

This is a really good point. Leo Durocher should've never come out of retirement. John McGraw lost his pennant winning touch. Earl Weaver should've never returned to Baltimore. Could the same be true of Baker? Yea, and even way back in post #10 I state somewhere in that unending mess that his impact on hitters has gone down.

I remember when Baker was first hired by the Cubs. I was cautionsly optimistic because I thought he was a good manager for all the reasons given. But I had some concerns -- was he the right fit for this team? He did his best with veteran hitters, and the Cubs' strength was its young pitching. Baker tended to run up high pitch counts (Tangent - I don't mind high pitch counts if I think the manager knows what he's doing handling pitchers. Such a manager - see Guillen, Ozzie - can build up his starter's arm strength while not grievously exposing them to injury. Baker of course has always appeared clueless with pitchers).

The Cubs have spent the last 20 years trying to solve their problem by finding a few Name Players (Candy Maldanado Mania!) and signing them, or making an occassional big splash for someone like George Bell. Signing Baker seemed like a variation on this old theme. Get someone with a Name And Reputation, pay a little more than is necessary and give them a multiyear deal without really looking to see if he's the right fit. Hell, they don't even have a notion of what a right fit is -- just through random parts together and see if the team moves.
   39. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 07, 2006 at 03:54 PM (#2008529)
Oh c'mon, the pixie dust theory is absurdly easy to put into doubt, if not debunk. Take 2003. Troy O'Leary, Damian Miller, Mark Bellhorn, Ramon Martinez, Alex Gonzalez, Sammy Sosa, Doug Glanville, Tom goodwin, Lenny Harris, Randall Simon, Paul Bako, Jose Hernandez and Tony Womack all failed to improve their OPS+ as Cubs over 2002 or their performance with other teams that season. Moises Alou improved a touch in 2003 and 2004 over 2002, but he did even better in 2005.

Balance those against relatively minor improvements from Karros and Ramirez (over his Pitts. numbers) and huge improvements from Patterson, Grudz and Lofton.

Some of the good results may be attributable to Dusty. Dusty is the one who churned through the roster looking for the right solution. Also, Dusty is willing to take old everyday players and platoon them, as he did with Karros. But, most of the players who declined would not show up in the BPRO test because they had too few ABs. However, the number of PAs they consumed was substantial. Furthermore, Bellhorn, Choi, Patterson had their worst seasons as a professional under Dusty's tutelage.

I think Dusty's willingness to play the hot hand and his willingness to cut bait quickly make him appear especially adept studied the way BPro did using a high PA cutoff. A better study would take PECOTA run scored projections (or whatever system you prefer) for his team as a whole and compare those to the actual performance. There very likely is a cost to those "overperformances" that doesn't show up because it happens across a lot of smaller samples.
   40. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 07, 2006 at 04:47 PM (#2008562)
Take 2003. Troy O'Leary, Damian Miller, Mark Bellhorn, Ramon Martinez, Alex Gonzalez, Sammy Sosa, Doug Glanville, Tom goodwin, Lenny Harris, Randall Simon, Paul Bako, Jose Hernandez and Tony Womack all failed to improve their OPS+

Hmm. Prior to 2003, Ramon Martinez played for Dusty Baker with the Giants. Not really sure how that advances any kind of argument either way.

I think the real question here is what's meant by Dusty's pixie dust. I'll again quote BP's 2003 article:

Baker is no miracle worker; and not everyone who plays for him explodes like Burks, Kent, and company. But jsut as telling as the long list of overperformers under Baker is the scarcity of underperformers. Even the few guys with minus signs by their names have mitigating stories behind them. Robby Thompson, for instance, had his career year under Baker, but then began an injury-plagued decline.

The argument isn't that Baker's abilities are greater than father time or that ALL do better, but on the whole you're going to get more unexpected good hitting performances than unexpected bad hitting performances, and the effect of the former will notably outweigh the latter.

Looking at the other guys you mention from the '03 Cubs. . . Randall Simon hit far better with the Cubs than he'd hit with Pitt the first four-plus months of the year. . . .

Paul Bako - well, you just plain are factually incorrect to say he didn't raise his OPS+. He was from 68 in 2002 to 69 in 2003. See, huge pixie dust! Seriously, his OPS+ are freakishly similar from 2002-3 (69, 68, 69) and then he wasn't good enough to play in the majors after that. Not too surpring that a non-hitting catcher would collapse in his early 30s.

Also looking at your list, Tom Goodwin didn't decline either. He posted an OPS+ of 81 at age 34. This is a man whose career OPS+ is 73. He did post an 82 the year before as well -- in San Fransisco, under Baker again. In his 14 year career he had only 2 seasons with better OPS+s and at least 20 PA. This guy's an example of Dusty not getting things out of his vets?

Glanville was also toast. Ditto Troy O'Leary.

Womack had all of 52 PA. And he did about the same for the Cubs as he'd done the first four-plus months of the season. Between his previous production and the sample size I don't Womack's performance as unexpectedly bad.

Several guys I already mentioned and went over. Damian Miller's the best example of no-Dusty dust of all the players in Chicago. Sosa declined, but had already started a historic decline before Baker and continued on it after Baker. Baker doesn't seem to have had any impact on Sosa's fall one way or the other. Gonzalez I also mentioned. The real slam there would be '04, not '03. The surprise in his line is his unlikely good performance last year.

So of your 13 hitters, one had played his entire career under Dusty at that time (Martinez), two improved from the year before (Goodwin, Bako), two were toast (Glanville, O'Leary), one came in a late-season trade and improved his production (Simon), another from a similar trade maintained his production (Womack), one was in the midst of an historic decline that Baker didn't effect either way (Sosa), one I've acknowledge as a major problem for Baker (Miller), another less of a problem (Gonzalez). .

That leaves Bellhorn, Harris, & Hernandez. Good catch on Bellhorn. He's about as bad for Baker as Miller. Lenny Harris - normally I'd ignore really small sample sizes, but that's pretty frickin' bad. He was better in Florida later that year (in 20ish PA), but almost as bad the next year. Jose Hernandez - something was horribly wrong with him that year. After a hot start he hit .196 in May, 160 in June before the Rockies traded him. He went 1-for-16 with the Cubs in June before rebounding in July. He went 30-for-173 in the summer, and only the last 10% of that was with the Cubs. Small sample size, but that's Lenny F. Harris bad.

So I hold Harris, Bellhorn, Miller, and Gonzalez against him. Does that make up for Grudz adding over 20 points to his OPS+ at age 33 after he'd been decling for four years? Add to that a 35-year-old Eric Karros having his best season in 3 years. And keep in mind most of the guys you pulled out had about 200 PA (and many had far less than that) - these two combined for almost 900. Add to that Kenny Lofton playing over his head -- the second time he'd improved in mid-season after being traded to a Dusty Baker team. Not bad for a 36-year-old. And Alou rose up by 13 points in his mid-30s. And Rameriz largely maintained his production, but did in fact pick it up a hair upon arrival (though given his age that really doesn't mean much for Baker). I think it evens out. Without running all the numbers I do think Alou, Karros, Lofton, & Grudz outweigh Miller, Bellhorn, Harris, & Gonzalez. They four with unexpected upticks combined for 1770 PA. The four inexplicable underachievers had 1249 PA. It ain't huge, and it's a letdown from what he'd done in 'frisco, but I don't think the pixie dust theory is so absurdly easy to put down.

Oh - I forgot Patterson as a positive. Partially age-related increase, and partially I just can't wrap my brain around giving Baker credit for Corey, though technically Patterson's Baker-era OPS+ are better than what came before. Depending on how it works out for him now, Patterson may end up a wash for Baker. Far worse in '05 than he should've been, but '03 may stand out as a fluke year as well.

And I've already done a breakdown of the '05 Cubs in post 10, and BP already did a breakdown of the decade in SF.
   41. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 07, 2006 at 10:12 PM (#2009369)
I'm not going to give up on O'Leary that quick. He put up a 98 OPS+ in 2002. And Glanville wasn't playing too far off his expected performance before plummeting with the Cubs. Randall Simon had an OPS+ of 111 in 2002. It was 107 with the Cubs in 2003. And you can't really say, they were toast. When Prospectus ran the study, they "showed" that Baker could make lemonade out of toast. O'Leary, Sosa and Glanville should count against Dusty.

Beyond those three, Dusty had two guys go pretty heavily on the negative side of the ledger right away: Miller and Gonzalez. Dusty didn't do too well for the 2003 Cubs: Sammy, Miller and Gonzalez vs. Lofton, Ramirez (although his improvement wasn't all that great), Grudz and Karros (which the platoon advantage might explain by itself). All in all, it seems to me that his players' performances don't too far outside what one would expect. That's before contemplating the selection bias at work here: players who underperdorm are less likely to have enough PAs to qualify. I'd bet under Prospectus' criteria, Bellhorn and Harris didn't have enough PAs to count against Dusty.

Ultimately, the point I'm making isn't that Dusty ruins veterans (he's too busy ruining rookies and pitchers for that). The point is that Dusty's performance with the Cubs hasn't fallen too far outside of expectations. But it's not as if there aren't reasons to doubt some of BPro's conclusions where the Giants are concerned.

* Why did it take Jeff Kent a year with Dusty to become the monster he's become? Why didn't he revert back when Dusty went away?
* Why did Barry Bonds have that lull from 1994 through 2000 in which he couldn't match his OPS+ from 1992 with the Pirates?
* Should Glenallen Hill count in favor of Dusty? He only beat his prior OPS+ once in his three years with the Giants. He bettered any OPS+ he achieveed wth SF the year after he left and hit his career high in 2000.


In fact, with the Giants, the only really significant outlier is Ellis Burks. Guys like Williams, Kent, Bonds and Snow all were acquired by the Giants in their prime and took the leaps forward that players in their prime tend to make. Guys like Santiago, Kent, Hamilton, Mayne took at least a season for the Baker effect to work its magic. Many of the players listed performed better earlier or later in their career. For instance, Carreon had a 150 OPS+ in 1989 in just a few feweer PAs as his 146 OPS+ under Baker. David Bell performed better with the Phils in 2004 than he did with the Giants. Maybe the Dusty effect sticks. Maybe the pixie dust returns players to their past glories. Maybe it takes a year to kick in. But what seems more probable to me is that the pixie dust is an artifact of some career seasons, good fortune, platooning, selection bias and career curves.

In the end, due to sample size issues and the lack of an age adjustment, the BPro article isn't enough for one to hang one's hat on. For many players there are issues that make one question why the Dusty effect is so unreliable. For many there are other plausible explanations for their improvement. There's enough doubtful in Dusty's Cubs tenure to suggest that if any effect existed, it vanished when he arrived in Chicago.

And 2005 doesn't really advance the Dusty effect, either. Walker, Ramirez and Lee are balanced by Patterson, Hollandsworth, Gerut, Lawton, Hairston, Burnitz and Nomar (in 2004 and 2005). Walker's improvement could be explained by his new role as a platoon player. Barrett's could be explained by his age 27 and 28 seasons and becoming injury free. And why did Lee have to regress a season under Baker before the Dusty effect kicked in?

In the end, I think how Prospectus sliced and aggregated their data wound up being a bigger factor in the existence of the effect than anything to do with Dusty.
   42. Meatwad Posted: May 08, 2006 at 02:35 AM (#2009598)
i was very glad i wasnt around to watch this weekend. they ####### suck ass, FIRE DUSTY ####### BAKER RIGHT ####### NOW GOD DAMNIT
   43. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 08, 2006 at 04:42 AM (#2009688)
. . . . just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in .. . .

Randomly responding to different points:

But what seems more probable to me is that the pixie dust is an artifact of some career seasons, good fortune, platooning, selection bias and career curves.

In the end, I think how Prospectus sliced and aggregated their data wound up being a bigger factor in the existence of the effect than anything to do with Dusty.


Well, the problem with that the BP study isn't the only one. Last year Phil Birnbaum did a study on teams that over/underachieve. Part of it was looking at players who over/underacheive in a given season. Say you want to find out if Damian Miller underachieved in 2003. In this system, you take his Runs Created per 27 outs in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, and adjust them all for league & park. Next you use them to estimate how good an offensive player he should've been in 2003 by weighting the 2002 & 2004 campaigns twice as much as '01 & '05 and figuring it out that way. This, to my mind, is a heckuva lot better than the BP article because it compares how a guy should've done to the surrounding seasons, and thus adjusts to where he is in the aging cycle. Birnbaum constructed a database that ran these numbers for every season for every player from 1960-2001.

Result: The Giants' hitters did far better than they should've. It's all publicly available at Phil's website if you're curious.

And you can't really say, they were toast. When Prospectus ran the study, they "showed" that Baker could make lemonade out of toast.

Not really. I'll quote their article for the third time this thread (and second time in a directly reply to you):

Baker is no miracle worker; and not everyone who plays for him explodes like Burks, Kent, and company. But jsut as telling as the long list of overperformers under Baker is the scarcity of underperformers. Even the few guys with minus signs by their names have mitigating stories behind them. Robby Thompson, for instance, had his career year under Baker, but then began an injury-plagued decline.

He's no miracle worker - he can't turn water into wine and doesn't turn guys who can't hit MLB pitching anymore into good players. He can get good players to play better than than one would expect more often than one would expect. Sample size? Every player. And it takes aging into effect. Birnbaum didn't tie managers into it, but I downloaded it and did that. Baker comes off as one of the best of all-time. It's very hard for me to look at the results and denounce any impact on hitters without denouncing the notion of coaching.

* Why did it take Jeff Kent a year with Dusty to become the monster he's become? Why didn't he revert back when Dusty went away?
* Why did Barry Bonds have that lull from 1994 through 2000 in which he couldn't match his OPS+ from 1992 with the Pirates?

. . .

Guys like Williams, Kent, Bonds and Snow all were acquired by the Giants in their prime and took the leaps forward that players in their prime tend to make.


Bonds played for Baker from ages 28-37. That's not a player's prime. The first three years are, then there's the next seven which are normally his decline. Doing quick'n'dirty calcuations, his OPS+ for Baker PRIOR to his '02 breakout was 181. He only had one year that good with Pitt. How many guys can say that about their mid-30s production? In this "lull" you claim existed, Bonds had three of the best five OPS+s of his career before '02. Nice lull. And the best OPS+ was his first season under Baker. Does every single season a player has under Baker have to be better than every single season he isn't under Baker to mean anything?

Kent played for Dusty from ages 29-34. That's almost entirely a decline. You say it took a year before any impact kicked in. So it's a point against Dusty that Kent exceeded expectations only five times in six years? What?

Snow played for Dusty from ages 29-34. That ain't a player's primer. Williams did play for Dusty in his primer. Congrats - you got one out of four right.

You keep making a big to-do about the fact that "Player X didn't do better than expecting in his first year under Baker, merely every ensuing season!" . . . .. Well, that's an insanely high standard.

Guys like Santiago, Kent, Hamilton, Mayne took at least a season for the Baker effect to work its magic.

Santiago had one year he maintained previous production, and two years above. Kent had one years maintaining and five years above. Mayne had one maintaining, and one above. Hamilton had one year of a modest increase and another with a greater increase. And most of these guys were on the wrong side of 30 when they pulled it off, too.

This is your evidence that there's no Dusty Baker Effect? WOW! Are you actually serious? Four players combine for 13 years under Baker, have 9-10 improved campaigns, and not a single bad one and that's held up to ridicule the notion that Dusty Baker gets more out of his hitters? Well, when I came to this thread, I was afraid that I'd hear bullcrap like that.

Many of the players listed performed better earlier or later in their career.

You're right, Darryl Hamilton's age 33 season under Baker was merely as good as his age 27 season elsewhere. Sure Santiago's age 37 campaign was the best he'd had in a half-dozen years, but it was only the third best full season of his career! Kent & Mayne had their best years under Dusty.

For instance, Carreon had a 150 OPS+ in 1989 in just a few feweer PAs as his 146 OPS+ under Baker.

A few fewer, 16% fewer, po-tay-to, po-tah-to. Also, he had probably the best year of his career two years later under Baker.

David Bell performed better with the Phils in 2004 than he did with the Giants.

So now you're holding up David Bell as an argument against Baker's pixie dust? He's been in MLB for 11 years, and only had two good seasons at the plate. One of those was his only year under Baker. The incredible thing is that these are the guys you're holding up as example to refute any Baker effect. . . . At any rate, 4% more PA for Bell under Baker vs. 2% more OPS+ for the Phils. I'd still say his year with Baker was his best.

Walker's improvement could be explained by his new role as a platoon player.

He his over .350 against lefties though.

I'm too tired to go on, and I'm just getting sick of this crap.
   44. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 09, 2006 at 02:49 AM (#2010604)
I'm going to take the last word on this because I think the topic is interesting.

My point is that a guy with all ups and no downs is a miracle worker. No he doesn't turn Brent Mayne into Johnny Bench, but the point seems to be that he can help everyone who walks through his door....well until his average drops to 50/50 (at best) with the Cubs. As soon as talk turns to the Cubs, Ooo tries to come up with explanations for declines and focuses on the magnitude of the positive changes. This ignores that Dusty has as many (if not more) misses than hits with the Cubs. What's impressive about the Dusty's record prior to the Cubs is that there's only four names in the red.

RE: Sample Size

Just because a study is comprehensive does not mean that there aren't sample size issues. When HOF talent in their primes like Kent and Bonds make up over 1/8 or so of the ABs in a sample, it's enough to make one worry a bit about the aggregate 8% improvement Baker seems to cause.

And it's not as if there are a lot of managers with long tenures to compare Dusty with in this regard.

RE: Player's peak

Ooo blithely dismiss the possibility that a player would peak at 29. But players peak at 29 all of the time. Twenty-seven or 28 is the median peak age across players. But peaks ages are pretty equally distributed among ages from 26 to 29. And the climb to the peak is steep while the drop off is gradual until 33 or so. The drop off remains gradual longer for many HOF calibre players. So, yes, Williams, Kent, Bonds and Snow played for Baker during their peak.

Up until 2000 or so, Bonds career curve is exactly what it should be with peaks at ages 27 & 28 and slow dropoff through 34 or so. His age 35+ peak is unprecedented.


Ooo never explained why the Effect takes time to kick in for some guys. Instead he notes that many players had their best years under Dusty. Ooo never explains why the Dusty effect wears off so quickly for some others, causing just a one year blip. He never answers why some players have better years after they leave Dusty (Alou, Snow). If the effect actually exists, it seems to me the improvement would be more predictable, not taking time to kick in nor wearing off while Dusty's at the helm. It would also be more sticky, it wouldn't come and go or only exist for one year then vanish.

Also, Ooo never answered the extent to which selection bias skews the results. He never explained why it stopped working with the Cubs. In 2003 there are as many guys on the bad side of the ledger as the good. In 2005, although Ooo did try to show that Dusty was responsible for Todd Walker becoming better, he never addressed the declines by Patterson, Hollandsworth, Gerut, Lawton, Hairston, Burnitz and Nomar.

The real question is, is the Dusty Effect the most plausible reason that these players improved? If we can explain the improvement in another way, wouldn't that be preferable? I think the answer to the latter question is yes because I think it's actually a mark against the existence of the Dusty Effect that he's the only one with this skill. It is more likely that the combination of factors that cause most players performance to improve along with some contribution by Bonds is responsible for the Dusty Effect. It is rational not to believe in the Dusty Effect. To say that and to express doubt in the existence of the effect is not to "ridicule" the notion at all.
   45. 185/456(GGC) Posted: May 09, 2006 at 03:26 AM (#2010631)
Who is the last baseball manager who never played baseball at any professional level? Aside from Ted Turner, who managed 1 game for the Braves more as a stunt than anything else, has there ever been anyone else?

Carlos Tosca? Hugh Bezdek?

It is with mixed emotions that I stumbled across this thread. I found Dag Nabbit's posts intriguing, but I should be getting ready for bed. In any case, it earns the coveted GGC bookmark. Dag, if you're looking for threads on those deals, check the site archives for the apporopriate months.
   46. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 09, 2006 at 07:13 AM (#2010722)
I actually enjoyed the first 40 posts of this thread . . . .

[My point is that a guy with all ups and no downs is a miracle worker.

Then you're debating against a strawman. No one's arguing on behalf of a miracle worker. One need not be a miracle worker to get better production out of players. Being a good coach does not mean you automatically get more out of every player every season you have them. Life is never that simple. There are always other factors -- aging, injuries, the player's own mental status, the other coaches, the influence of other players, environment, etc. Most (all?) of
these have been acknowledged by me at various points in this thread.

As soon as talk turns to the Cubs, Ooo tries to come up with explanations for declines and focuses on the magnitude of the positive changes.

All throughout this thread I've tried to compare what a player should do in a given season versus what he actually did in a given season. Often this works in Baker's favor because he's had a greatly disproportionate percentage of players somehow increase their level of play in what should be their decline years or at least maintain their level of play. If a player in his 30s has a modest decline, I don't give Baker any credit for that, but I don't hold it against him. Again, he's not a miracle worker. If he runs out the same starting nine everyday for 50 years straight, he won't have a bunch of pennant winning geriatrics.

I try to come up with explanations for declines when there are reasoanble explations. I don't always focus on the magnitude of positive changes. Look at what I've written about Baker & Rameriz. There's a definate ambivalnce there -- it's such a big change from his Pitt days I think there might be some pixie dust, but he had the talent before coming there. Ultimately I split the difference but I've never given him full credit. The Giants had, by every account I've ever seen, a really wretched farm system when Baker managed there so there were very few players under him who have been Rameriz's age under Baker. Thus there are very few major improvements which can be attributed to age under Baker's career. There are numerous players who had notable improvements under Baker while in their 30s. I've been trying to account for age in this thread. SHould I apologize? That's something worth taking note of, IMHO, when trying to figure out if a player is underachieving or overachieving.

Anyone know what years Charlie Lau served as hitting coach with the ChiSox and other teams? Be interesting to see how those hitters compare.

but the point seems to be that he can help everyone who walks through his door....well until his average drops to 50/50 (at best) with the Cubs.

If you want to debate me, fine. Quit with this strawman crap. I never said he can help everyone who walks through the door. At various points in this thread I've presented info, agreed with, or personally argued that Will Clark, Willie McGee, Shinjo, Robby Thompson, Damian Miller, Alex Gonzalez, Corey Patterson, Mark Bellhorn, and Lenny Harris declined under Baker. His record is worse with the Cubs. His track record with the Giants is amazing. IMHO, post #41 inadvertently provides great evidence of his track record with the Giants.

This ignores that Dusty has as many (if not more) misses than hits with the Cubs.

And many of those misses have about 100 PA. Do 3 misses at 100 PA a crack cancel out one 500 PA hit?

What's impressive about the Dusty's record prior to the Cubs is that there's only four names in the red.

Yes. That is impressive. Only four full-time players in the red over an entire decade is extremely impressive.

Just because a study is comprehensive does not mean that there aren't sample size issues. When HOF talent in their primes like Kent and Bonds make up over 1/8 or so of the ABs in a sample, it's enough to make one worry a bit about the aggregate 8% improvement Baker seems to cause.

I'll deal with your definition of "primes" later . . For now, I addressed what you're talking about here, when I brought up the Birnbaum study. That covers every season by every player Baker ever had in San Fran and, by comparing a player's production with its four surrounding seasons, does have an internal age adjustment. And it says that Baker was historically great at getting production out of hitters while with the Giants.

And it's not as if there are a lot of managers with long tenures to compare Dusty with in this regard.

I have compared him to other managers using the Birnbaum database. In the last half-century, Davey Johnson comes off better, Gene Mauch comes off better, and if you play with the numbers maybe a few others. Baker comes off great if you compare him to other managers.

RE: Player's peak

Ooo blithely dismiss the possibility that a player would peak at 29.


Bullcrap. I blithely dismiss that the ages 29-34 are a players peak. I read back in one of the old Abstracts that's its 27-30, with 27 being the main one (though it might now be 28). It's funny, Baker was recently (rightly) blasted by the Wrigleyville faithful in another thread here (I believe here at Gonfalon) for saying that a player's peak was ages 32-36. Here's Kent, Snow, & Bonds playing for Baker in those years and being held up as examples of guys who played for Baker in their peaks.

But players peak at 29 all of the time. Twenty-seven or 28 is the median peak age across players. But peaks ages are pretty equally distributed among ages from 26 to 29.

So far, OK.

And the climb to the peak is steep while the drop off is gradual until 33 or so.

Hmmmm . . gradual drop off until age 33. Guess that depends on how you define gradual. The impression I was under was that it was about a 10-15% decline after age 30.

The drop off remains gradual longer for many HOF calibre players. So, yes, Williams, Kent, Bonds and Snow played for Baker during their peak.

I'm sure J. T. Snow will be thrilled to here you support his induction into Cooperstown. I already agreed with Williams. Let's look a little closer at the other three and compare their aging under Dusty to what you've talked about. Let's start with Future Hall of Famer J. T. Snow. He played for Dusty from ages 29-34.

24..69
25..94
26..63
27..111
28..81
29..135
30..101
31..117
32..115
33..103
34..94
35..112
36..144
37..88

First of, it's a weird aging pattern. Almost a hitting Saberhagen. But, in his age 26-28 seasons - which you identify as a player's peak - he had an aggragate OPS+ of 90. He did better than that in each season under Baker.

Kent misses your aging pattern entirely. There's no steep climb. He's the same player for the first six seasons of his career. Then he puts together a five-year stretch of greatness at ages 30-34. Overall, he did far better than anyone would expect under Baker based on his age and previous track record.

Up until 2000 or so, Bonds career curve is exactly what it should be with peaks at ages 27 & 28 and slow dropoff through 34 or so. His age 35+ peak is unprecedented.

Exactly what it should be? At the end of his first peak, his OPS+ was 155. From ages 29-34 it was 175. If I change it to 31-34, it's still around 175. Is that exactly what should be expected? Let's compare to other great hitters . . . Godfather Mays - hard to find a peak there, but you said 26-29, so let's go with age 29, 158 by end of 29, and 171 afterwards. Not as steep as Bonds, but simliar. Interesting. Hank Aaron - his peak seems to end around age 29. An OPS+ of 158 up to that point. From age 30-34 it's 156. No, that's not what Bonds did - Bonds got considerably better. Eyeballing it, Stan Musial clearly got worse in his early 30s. Only one OPS+ over 170 after age 30, but 4 over 180 before. That ain't Bonds. Mantle also was far better in his 20s, but there's injury issues with him so I don't know if he counts. Frank Thomas - sadly a considerable decline at the same ages Bonds ramped it up. Ted F. Williams was also much better in his 20s than ages 30-34 (his gaudy OPS+s at ages 33-4 are caused by his having very fe PA). So only one of the best hitters of the last half-century had an aging pattern that resembles Bonds's pre-age-35 pattern. I don't see that as being exactly the aging pattern one should expect.

To be continued .. . .
   47. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 09, 2006 at 07:16 AM (#2010724)
Ooo never explained why the Effect takes time to kick in for some guys.

Flip it around, you never explain why a bunch of players have an unexpected increase under Baker when they play for him. It's like if they don't get considerably better right away the rest of the years don't exist. But in reality they count. If it was just one guy suddenly getting better under Baker, that would be meaningless, but it ain't. Ten stinkin' years in 'frisco and it's hard to find many guys doing worse than expected in any seasons under Baker given their respective ages, and it's easy to find many guys doing better than expected given their track record and age. Even in post #41 you couldn't find anyone doing worse and the best you can do is point to some guys who weren't better every year.

Can I use Paul Byrd' 1997 as evidence that there's no Leo Mazzone effect? Or Terry Mullholland's 2000? Jason Marquis has been beter overall in St. Louis. Odalis Perez became much bettter as soon as he left Atlanta. Tim Hudson was considerably better in Oakland. Kevin Millwood won an ERA title in Cleveland. If you want to deny the existance of any coaching skills to anyone who has ever had a player NOT exceed expectations in any seasons under him, then you're denying the existance of coaching. ALL coaches have times when a player doesn't take off. ALL have coaches have guys who merely live up to expectations at times. If a person is managers of a team for 10 years and there's far more pluses than minuses on the ledger book, I think you'd have to be an insanely dense dunderfuck to say the existance of some negatives or some neutrals to mean there's nothing there.

Instead he notes that many players had their best years under Dusty.

Should I apologize? Shouldn't that be a sign that he has an impact? Would you argue that he helped hitters if only a few guys had their best years under him?

Ooo never explains why the Dusty effect wears off so quickly for some others, causing just a one year blip.

Oy. Yea, I said Benito Santiago maintained two years and improved the other one. Guess what? A 35+ year old cathcer maintaining is pretty damn impressive. Want some proof? You yourself said that players undergo a steep decline after age 33.

Looking over what you've said in this thread, I'm astonished about what your concept of coaching seems to be. It's so reductionist and simplisic. Gusy don't always play better, so it means there's no impact. Yea, he had some blips in his decade in the Bay Area, and if he had a remotely sizable corresponding number of dives, I'd assume those blips were flukes. When I dont' see that happen over 1500+ games, I find myself thinking maybe there's something going on here.

I said at the outset of this post coaching is just A factor, not the only factor. If it isn't always an upward march of progress for all players, that does't mean there's no impact. Over te ecourse of enough years and games, I think a trend does mark some sort of imprint by the manager. If the SFG offensive performance under Baker from 1993-2002 doesn't qualify as such an imprint, than thre's no such thing as offensive coaching.

He never answers why some players have better years after they leave Dusty (Alou, Snow). If the effect actually exists, it seems to me the improvement would be more predictable, not taking time to kick in nor wearing off while Dusty's at the helm. It would also be more sticky, it wouldn't come and go or only exist for one year then vanish.

He never answers why some players have better years after they leave Dusty (Alou, Snow).

Snow was moved up in the batting order. Under Alou, he's hit before Bonds fairly often, and done very well in that slot. He almost never hit in that slot under Baker. I already acknowledged when conversing with UCCF that I believe Bonds does have some impact, and that impact is especially likely to be felt in the Clear & Cream years & most especially likely to be felt on those who hit right around him in the batting order. Snow's exactly the sort of person who should get some Barry dust based on what I've already said in this thread.

I can't explain Alou. My own reaction would be to give both Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou credit. They both had an aging players unexpectedly improve on them.

If the effect actually exists, it seems to me the improvement would be more predictable, not taking time to kick in nor wearing off while Dusty's at the helm. It would also be more sticky, it wouldn't come and go or only exist for one year then vanish.

Try finding any manager in the history of bseball who meets your criteria for aiding hitters. Ever. Why would it be automatically sticky?

Also, Ooo never answered the extent to which selection bias skews the results.

Yes I did. The Birnbaum stuff. It covers every hitter for every year and subtley adjusts for age. Please read what I wrote before clucking your tongue at me.

He never explained why it stopped working with the Cubs.

I covered my interpretation of all position players listed as starters at b-ref in post #10.

In 2003 there are as many guys on the bad side of the ledger as the good.

Again, covered in #10. Also, in the thread I acknowledge he hasn't had as much success with teh Cubs, and I pointed out that deJesus freak makes a good point in stating that Baker may not be the same manager he was before.

In 2005, although Ooo did try to show that Dusty was responsible for Todd Walker becoming better, he never addressed the declines by Patterson, Hollandsworth, Gerut, Lawton, Hairston, Burnitz and Nomar.

I addressed the deline by Patterson way before you showed up -- it's a huge negative on Baker. I go over Holly in post #10. Nomah's been increasingly bothered by injuries over the years. He's been declining for years. If he rises up and returns to glory I'll hold him against Baker, but I ain't holding my breath. Jody Gerut had 16 [bleeping] plate appearances under Baker. That ain't worth a dead rat's tail. Congrats -- that's the award for the smallest sample size of any sort mentioned here. Lawton - he did poorly, but I generally don't pay much attention to guys with that few PA. Burnitz - oh I know I'm goig to get accused of twisting info here - he's been having an unsteady decline for years. He'll have an occasional bounceback year, but in general he's falling off. I'm frankly surprised how well he's hung on over the years. You're the one who said players generally have a steep decline around age 33. At age 35 he was only a little worse than at age 31. I don't hold '05 Burnitz against Baker. It ain't a point in his favor, but it's not a demerit. He's currently hitting .191 with a 603 OPS. Hairston's a disappointment -- good catch there.

The real question is, is the Dusty Effect the most plausible reason that these players improved?

I genuinely can't reconcile acknowleding the existance of coaching with the notion that Baker had no impact in SFG. I can understand that argument for his Chicago years based on waht dJF said -- he might have lost some edge as a coach, but I don't think there's a more plausible reason for explaining what happened on the coast.

If we can explain the improvement in another way, wouldn't that be preferable?

Prefering to deny Baker's impact in SanFran is the only reason I can think one would do it.

I think the answer to the latter question is yes because I think it's actually a mark against the existence of the Dusty Effect that he's the only one with this skill.

[24 font]HE ISN'T![/24 font] No one ever said that. I say the opposite in post #27. His experience in San Fran is one of the most extreme example of effect on hitters that I know of, but it isn't the only one.

It is more likely that the combination of factors that cause most players performance to improve along with some contribution by Bonds is responsible for the Dusty Effect. It is rational not to believe in the Dusty Effect. To say that and to express doubt in the existence of the effect is not to "ridicule" the notion at all.

I disagree.

Who is the last baseball manager who never played baseball at any professional level? Aside from Ted Turner, who managed 1 game for the Braves more as a stunt than anything else, has there ever been anyone else?

Carlos Tosca? Hugh Bezdek?


Ed Barrow?
   48. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 09, 2006 at 01:11 PM (#2010800)
I can understand that argument for his Chicago years based on waht dJF said -- he might have lost some edge as a coach, but I don't think there's a more plausible reason for explaining what happened on the coast.

That isn't exactly what I meant. What I meant was that even if it was the case that hitters improved under Baker during his Giant days -- a point which I won't argue about, but don't concede either -- there is no reason to think that this is a repeatable occurrence. Put another way, even if one ascribes this to managerial performance, it is entirely possible that managerial performance fluctuates as much or more than anything else.

Similarly, and I believe ooo agreed with this point, the fact that Baker may (or may not) have been an effective manager for the Giants has no bearing at all on whether he's a good manager for the 2006 Cubs.
   49. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 09, 2006 at 02:45 PM (#2010886)
Hmmmm . . gradual drop off until age 33. Guess that depends on how you define gradual. The impression I was under was that it was about a 10-15% decline after age 30.


There's some confusion as to where a player's peak lies here. Some players peak as early as 25 or 26. Some players peak as late as 31. The climb to the peak is fairly steep, the dropoff is gradual until age 33. This does not mean that a player's peak seasons all fall from 26-30. What it means is that players' four or so best seasons fall somewhere between 25 and 33. If a player peaks at 26, they'll probably be 25-29. If a player's peak is 29 they'll be 28-30. Since the dropoff is gradual until age 33, a player's six best seasons will fall somewhere within the 26-34 range. (In theory. For players with long careers this rarely happens due to variance, injuries, etc.)

This seems to be the main point of contention here. You seem to adhere to the BPro wrong side of 30 rule. This is wrong. Tangotiger found that while 28 is the most common peak age, 31 is the second most common peak age. If I could have any five years of a player's career, I'd want ages 27-32. I suspect you'd want 25-30?

The reason I said Dusty was a miracle worker wasn't to set up a strawman. Dusty had 17 ups and 4 downs with SF. That's what made him impressive. When Dusty goes away to Chicago, his results aren't particularly impressive anymore. Whether the players' declines are due to injury, aging or Dusty losing his touch, Dusty would look average in a study of players' performance since he's been with the Cubs.

Prior to Chicago Dusty didn't need his failures explained away by age, injury or premature decline. The concept of the effect is that it works 81% of the time. If every manager could throw out underperformers who had plausible explanations, every manager would have a Dusty Effect.

And the reason I single out Dusty as having a unique skill is because of its magnitude. I don't deny that managers could make players better, though I think there are measurement problems that make it an unfruitful area of study.



Also, I tried to find the Birnbaum article and got sick of clicking through to Acrobat files. If it's in By the Numbers, could you point me to which year and month? Even if you don't want to argue over this anymore, (fine by me) this is something I'm interested in, so I'd like to see it.
   50. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: May 09, 2006 at 02:49 PM (#2010890)
Is the difference between Dusty and Joe Torre mostly in the ringzz?

I think that Torre has mismanaged the bullpen, Torre (or Mel) have abused the starters, and Torre undervalues OBP (although he seems to care more about it than Dusty).

Did Torre's teams win those championships more or less in spite of him - in other words, if you put Dusty at the helm of the 1996-2000 Yankees, how would that team perform?
   51. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: May 09, 2006 at 03:01 PM (#2010903)
in other words, if you put Dusty at the helm of the 1996-2000 Yankees, how would that team perform?

Depends. Would Dusty play Jeter in 1996, or talk the Yankees into re-signing Tony Fernandez? Does he give Posada a shot or keep playing Joe Girardi?
   52. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 09, 2006 at 03:14 PM (#2010910)
OK, this will be my last comment on this thread -- no really, this time I mean it. I think. I'm spending far too much time here.

That isn't exactly what I meant. What I meant was that even if it was the case that hitters improved under Baker during his Giant days -- a point which I won't argue about, but don't concede either

If you don't want to concede Baker's a reason for their improvement that's one thing. If you don't concede they improved . . . huh?

-- there is no reason to think that this is a repeatable occurrence.

Fair enough. It was repeated for about 10 years there.

Put another way, even if one ascribes this to managerial performance, it is entirely possible that managerial performance fluctuates as much or more than anything else.

This I could easily believe. I also think that with a handful of exceptions, managers are rarely that good after 20 years.

Similarly, and I believe ooo agreed with this point, the fact that Baker may (or may not) have been an effective manager for the Giants has no bearing at all on whether he's a good manager for the 2006 Cubs.

I'm far more skitish on my claims about Baker with the Cubs than with the Giants. I have no solid numbers for him here, and there clearly are far more negatives for him in 3 years in Chicago than in 10 years with the Giants. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in some cases because of his prior track record and because to me at least the positives (Grudz, Karros, Barrett, etc) have stuck out in my mind (and that's always been true of his time here).

I do think that SFG was an ideal environment for him and Chicago is a horrible place for him. That was a team with a dead farm system and no big young hurlers. Plus the Bonds-in-the-clubhouse issue I already went over 10-15 posts ago. Plus an exceedingly non-confrontation local media. Exact opposite here and that could combine with his obvious hypersensitivity to ruin his previous positives.

I apologize if I've been obnoxious and dismissive in this thread (and God knows I've been both). One thing in the back of my mind that's rankled me throughout . . . I've shared some of my findings or at least the concept of what I'm doing with somsome fie other people and they've all thought I was on to something. Then I come here, and mention to the Gonfalon crowd how it says something supportive of Baker, and I meet a lot more resistance. I don't want to pretend like my stuff is perfect, because it ain't and I never thought so. Good criticism can - and has in this thread - be made of it (though I was already aware of them. I didn't really deal with it initially here because the Baker evidene is extreme enough to pace my smell test). As is, the only time I've had anyone think that this may not mean anything are when I tell a bunch of primates who've changed their screen names to "I Would Publicly Celebrate if Dusty Was Brutally Murdered in Front of His Children" that this study shows Dusty Baker his strengths. I'd be a bit more willing to consider the criticisms and doubts if there was another context my argument on manager's impact on players had been criticized in.

Maybe I've done a lousy job explaining myself. I dunno. If so I apologize.
   53. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 09, 2006 at 03:17 PM (#2010913)
OK, one last thing - very very briefly --

Also, I tried to find the Birnbaum article and got sick of clicking through to Acrobat files. If it's in By the Numbers, could you point me to which year and month? Even if you don't want to argue over this anymore, (fine by me) this is something I'm interested in, so I'd like to see it.

It's the zipfile near the top of his site. First his the powerpoint presentation to his SABR36 presentation on team luck. The zipfile's his info for it.

Oh - and thanx for the tango info. I hadn't seen that before. Much obliged.

Now I really really am out. No, really.
   54. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 09, 2006 at 03:50 PM (#2010953)
In all fairness, if Dusty was brutally murdered in front of his children, we'd probably have a low-key private celebration. Out of respect.

Seriously, I do understand your qualms about coming into someplace where Baker isn't loved or really even respected as a manager. But I'm more than willing to put those feelings aside if the evidence convinces me otherwise (I'd still hate him with a white-hot passion, but I'd add "helping his hitters" to the very short list of things he does well). I just think that there are enough other possible (even plausible) explanations for some of what happened that pinning it mostly on the manager just doesn't fly. And you've done an excellent job explaining yourself, so no need to apologize.

The obvious parallel here is with the Jeter fielding threads. You'd have people say they've seen Jeter in the field and he's great and wonderful and dives into the stands to catch balls and deliver babies and make out with Mariah, and then the stats guys would show up and say Jeter was awful, the worst SS in the game. And the fight is on (and continues to this day). We see Dusty mismanage and run crappy hitters out there who just seem to keep getting crappier, and then the stats guy shows up and says no, actually Dusty is one of the best managers in history in making his hitters do better. And we laugh and laugh and the absurdity of that statement.

When perception and statistics are that different, there's going to be a lot of resistance to the stats, particularly in an area where the stats are nowhere near refined enough to inspire a lot of confidence. I'm not questioning your work, or your belief in your results. But there's too much else going on, too many other ways to explain this or that, for me to be comfortable accepting these results as gospel. The confounding variables are overwhelming, and they make the results seem spurious.

(And I have no idea how you'd go about fixing that, other than trying to identify every possible cause for a batter to do better or worse and then eliminate all of those causes for each player you're looking at - or at least eliminate some percentage of the overall change based on how you weight the different causes. The remainder would be the Dusty Effect, that part of the change caused solely by having Dusty as the manager. I don't think it would be nearly as significant as it looks right now.)

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