Evaluating the Manager
The Great Manager Debate burns on...
Ben (NYC): Rob, Max Kellerman, whom I know you respect, recently said that a great tactical manager like Billy Martin could be worth 10 wins to a team. If the perfect manager came along, a guy who chose the most productive lineup, used his best relievers in high leverage situations, only called for sacrifices when it made sense percentage-wise, etc, how valuable would he truly be?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: (12:51 PM ET ) Well, 10 wins relative to what? An average manager? A bad manager? And I'm not even so sure if tactics was Martin's strength; I think the attitude he brought to his teams was probably even more important. But getting back to the root of your question, I would guess a perfect tactical manager probably is worth 6-8 extra wins, relative to an average manager. With the caveat that there's never been a perfect manager.
I think another appropriate question is just how many average managers there are. One would assume the majority are below average, but the same problem crops up of having no way to calculate these things. You would have to have an impartial judge watch every game and somehow evaluate and score the moves and choices made. How does that happen?
I do think people would tend to agree that in a close race or series with two evenly matched teams, the manager could tip the scales. Also, it is absolutely conceivable that an excellent manager can help a lesser team overcome a bad manager with a better team. I do wonder if anyone has come up with some sort of crude way to actually evaluate managers outside of wins and losses. Can you take a look at the aggregate VORP of the team and try and see who did the most with what? Would the previous three years of VORP be helpful to see if they maybe had a profound effect on a player or team? Could you keep track his bullpen moves made after the inning started and other moves during the inning to see what type of success he had and compare that to the league average of similar situations?
I would tend to think this would be one of the most difficult thing to quantify, but I would love to see someone develop some sort of way to evaluate the effectiveness of managers.
"If we don't have him in that spot we probably don't win that game," said Billy Wagner, who went two innings, striking out three and moving into third place on the all-time strikeout list for lefthanded relievers with 977. "He has pitched above and beyond. He is the best pitcher in that bullpen by far. He goes out there nightly and comes through. He's fun to watch right now."
Feliciano and Wagner have been the two bright spots out of the bullpen out of an up and down season for the pen.
Swellicious. I'm all for looking at Buehrle or another pitcher, but the Mets do not need another pitcher necessarily. It is a luxury and will certainly help bolster the pen by knocking a current starter or two into the pen, but the Mets have leverage in that they are not desperate. Besides, it is tough enough deciding which one pitcher gets moved to the pen much less two.
More on the Buehrle front:
The Mets are tracking Mark Buehrle, according to a person familiar with the situation, but they will only trade for the White Sox lefty if they have a 72-hour window to sign the free agent-to-be.
It certainly looks like Kenny could get a handsome bounty if the Mets can strike a long term deal. However, that would seem to be the problem. While Mark might consider resigning before he hits the market with his current team, it would be a curious move to do it with another team unless they really pay up. The Mets might have to drop 5/$75,000,000 right away and who knows if that will even be enough?
Minaya said he expected Gomez, the youngest player in the NL at 21, to come this far this fast. When Gomez hit his first homer, on June 10, he was batting just .220. Since then, he is hitting .361 with seven RBI, raising his average from .220 to .279.
"The ability is there," Minaya said. "He's still developing. For a kid that young to go out and perform, compete, play in a pressure situation like New York, a first-place team, is very impressive."
Just what the Mets will do with Carlos when Endy and Alou come back is the question. Of course Moises probably has at least a month more to go, but Endy should not factor into the decision. Endy is a fourth outfielder and best used that way while Gomez should be starting everyday. Of course if Willie has anything to say he will probably stick with Ledee since he values grizzled veterans over fresh faced kids that can....you know...actually play.
Will (Lexington, KY): the reds have young talent for sure, but can they become contenders with the management they have right now?
SportsNation Joe Morgan: That's a very good question. I don't think I'm equipped to answer that question. But it's a very good question, because I've been asking myself the same question. I'm not as close to the situation as I have been or should be, but I've talked to the owner and he wants to win. I am disappointed in what I've seen so far.
The Reds stink. When Bruce is up and contributing, Dunn and Griffey will be gone. I don't think they will be good for a while and you can blame them for holding onto Dunn for too long while his stock was highest and trading Kearns for relievers as two large contributing factors. Some teams have just been buried beyond belief by past GMs.
Bob (Brooklyn): What's more important to evaluate a pitcher: Wins or ERA?
SportsNation Joe Morgan: I've always believed that an ERA is like a batting average. It's a personal thing. For instance, a guy could hit .300, but not be as valuable as a guy that hits .270. A guy that makes 7 outs out of 10 with guys on base, he's not that valuable. But if you're clutch, but hit .275, you're more valuable. That's why I think wins are better. It's just as tough to win a game 7-6 as it is 1-0. The only thing that matters at the end of the year is how many games did we win.
Wins Joe? WINS? And they pay this guy...
Kyle (Kansas): What is the most overrated stat in baseball?
SportsNation Joe Morgan: Batting average and earned run average and this OPS stuff they do. OPS doesn't tell you anything except about the individual. The same as the other stats. It doesn't tell you anything about the team. A .300 average doesn't help you win games, run production does.
SportsNation Joe Morgan: I'm not saying those numbers don't mean anything, I'm saying they're overglorified.
Aren't we trying to evaluate the individual?
Chad (Austin, TX): Joe, How come you never got into coaching or managing?
SportsNation Joe Morgan: Well, it's a situation that's never been right for me. There have always been other things going on. It's never been the right situation to pull me in.
The real reason? Just reread the above quotes from the brilliant Joe Morgan.
Billy (Michigan): Hey Joe, Who is your MVP for the AL and NL?
SportsNation Joe Morgan: I think in the NL it's open, but Prince Fielder and JJ Hardy come to mind. Jose Reyes. I think several guys have a chance.
Did he and Brennaman have a quick call before the chat? Hardy is probably not even a top five at this point.
Reyes, Peavy, Holliday, Fielder, and Brad Penny would be my top five choices in no particular order. Then the next tier would be Utley and Cabrera with Wright playing his way into the picture.
Oh, and my seats are always Loge, Section 20, Row A, seats 9 and 10. I'm the good looking guy in 10 and the goofy kid in 9 will be my 'friend'.