Saturday, April 15, 2006


A while ago I wrote about dumb managers and smart managers (in the archives Sep. 24 2005). Stories about dumb managers abound. Some years ago a new man was brought in to manage an unpromising Houston team. At his first press conference the conversation went something like this:

How do you intend to improve the team?

By executing correctly. We will practice fundamentals until everyone knows their job and does their job.

Executing what?

Pickoff plays, hitting the cut-off man, bunting, hit & runs, stuff like that.

Last year’s team bunted pretty good. Look where it got them.

They didn’t bunt good enough. We will do better. I won’t accept failure.

You mean you expect to succeed every time you signal for a bunt?

That’s right.

At that, some of the reporters started snickering and everything went downhill. The reporters knew more about statistical probability than the manager. They went on to hold each other in mutual contempt.

I was looking at baseball stats this morning. The Los Angeles Angels have played 11 games. In those 11 games they have drawn 17 walks. (Just for comparison, one player, Todd Helton of Colorado, has drawn 15 walks.) They are doomed. The team on-base-percentage is barely over .300, the worst in the majors. Mickey Hatcher, their hitting coach will be fired, but that will make no difference. The general manager has been collecting a bunch of guys who have no patience at the plate.

To compound the problem, Mike Scoscia insists on batting Adam Kennedy 9th. Kennedy had the second highest on-base-percentage on the team last year and is a natural first or second hole hitter. I can hear Scoscia’s logic because I heard it on the sandlots as a kid and from novice managers in little league later: “The number 9 hitter gives me a second leadoff man when he comes up in the 3rd inning.”

Scoscia is an excellent handler of pitchers but he will never be able get the most out a lineup. There are a bunch of computer freaks who could help him out and would work for nothing. I doubt that the Angels would ever go that way.


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