Entries Tagged as 'Managers'

Riggleman quits as Nats manager after winning 11 of 12

What an odd year it’s been in baseball. Derek Jeter is in line to get 3,000 hits at Yankee stadium but gets injured to delay the process.  Then Albert Pujols injures his wrist knocking him out for six weeks. 

Now for one of the strangest stories of the year.  Jim Riggleman resigns as manager of the Washington Nationals immediately after their 1-0 win over the Seattle Mariners.  Indeed, under Riggleman, the Nats have won 11 of their last 12 games bringing their winning percentage to .500 for the first time since May 11th. 

Winning got to him?  Well, it was more of an issue of his long term role in organization.  He simply didn’t have one.  He saw the writing on the wall and that writing told him that he was going to be gone by the end of the year.  According to rumors, team management refused to even meet with him on the matter.

“I’m 58,” Riggleman said. “I’m too old to be disrespected.”  Fair enough.  I feel his pain.  But there are other players (pun intended) in this story.  Let’s think of them, too. 

Players like Nats outfielder Layne Nix…  “I don’t even know what to think. I just know we’re playing well, and we have a game tomorrow.”

Baseball pundits are putting Davey Johnson front and center for replacing Riggleman.  Time will tell. 

Putting Jack McKeon’s age in perspective

Eighty year-old Jack McKeon has been put in charge of the Florida Marlins.  I’d say he’s the “new” manager but that just doesn’t sound right.  Just to show that he’s in charge, JMac has already benched Hanley Ramirez for one game because “didn’t like the way that Ramirez was running during Sunday’s game”.

Just how old IS Jack McKeon?  Let’s put it in perspective:

  • Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Lefty Grove were all in their prime when he was born.
  • For that matter, Pete Alexander was still pitching when he was born.
  • McKeon managed now-retired manager Lou Piniella when Lou was with the KC Royals in 1973.
  • Had Bobby Cox returned to manage the Braves, he would still be 10 years younger than McKeon.
  • Finally from Deadspin, of the 671 managers in all of MLB history, over 23% of them started AND finished their managerial tenures during McKeon’s career.

McKeon’s appointment is indeed an interim one but here’s hoping for a lengthy one.   

Meaningless manager streaks

I’m still on this manager kick.  Bear with me. 

Has anyone heard of Jim Clinton or Joe Miller?  Yeah, me either.  They share the distinction of having lost the most games as a manager without a win.  Interestingly, they both did it in 1872 and managed eleven games without taking home a win.  Clinton did it with the Brooklyn Eckfords as a player/manager.  He did go on to have a ten year career after that. 

While Germany-born Miller did technically bat for the Washington Nationals (yeah, haha) in 1872, it was only four times so calling him a player/manager would be a misnomer.  Calling him a ballplayer would almost be a stretch since he only played one more year after 1872.

To look at the other side, you won’t find as extravagant streaks on the winning end.  You only have to go as far as Mel Harder.  Yes, THAT Mel Harder.  The All-Star Cleveland Indian pitcher managed three games and won them all.  And that’s as the most games a anyone has managed without losing a game. 

Harder did this over a period of two years, 1961-62. 

I guess this proves that it’s easier to lose than to win. 

Do as I say…

What do MLB managers Jim Leyland, Manny Acta and Jim Riggleman have in common?

None of these managers have ever played baseball at the major league level.  In fact, of the current 30 managers, seven haven’t ever played in the bigs. 

Here’s the list:

Rk Mgr Yrs G W ? L W-L% Plyof App WSwon PennWon
1 Jim Leyland 19 2944 1461 1481 .497 5 1 2
2 Jim Riggleman 11 1345 596 748 .443 1 0 0
3 Joe Maddon 7 793 392 401 .494 1 0 1
4 Manny Acta 4 505 198 307 .392 0 0 0
5 Fredi Gonzalez 4 555 276 279 .497 0 0 0
6 David Trembley 4 470 187 283 .398 0 0 0
7 Trey Hillman 3 359 152 207 .423 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/22/2010.

Leyland is obviously the most successful with 1461 wins, more than double than the #2 guy, Riggleman.  He’s also seen plenty of postseason time, too.

Lou Piniella, lame duck

Some quick thoughts on Lou Piniella’s retirement and a few questions. 

To start, Rob Neyer examines Lou’s HOF potential and thinks he comes out pretty well.  More on that later.

Piniella came to the Cubs with the rep as hot-tempered, base-throwing skipper.  What we got was a grandfather-type who usually didn’t sweat the details.  Usually.

Many have lauded Piniella for what he’s done as a Cub manager.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve liked him just fine but much of his success came from a team that he inherited and he rode that wagon as long as he could.  It seemed evident when he took over that this would be his “sunset” team considering his age and stage in his career. 

My take on Piniella for the first part of his reign of the Cubs is this:  His managing ability to get the Cubs to the postseason was fine.  Once they got there, they stalled.  Does Piniella share some of the responsibility of not inspiring his team when the going got tough?  Maybe.

My questions…

Was his retirement a surprise?

Not to me.  This is Lou’s last year of his contract.  With grumblings already about his performance, I just didn’t see him re-upping.

Is Piniella really retiring?

Yeah probably.  Piniella deserves some retirement and I mean that in a nice way.  I just don’t see another team picking him in the future.  Look to see him as an analyst behind an ESPN desk soon.

What’s next for the Cubs?

Fortunately, the Cubs have time to think about this.  I’m not as pro-Sandberg as some might think.  If I had my druthers, I’d like to see them pry Joe Giardi away from the Yankees (yeah, dream on) or give Alan Trammell a shot. 

While we’re changing leadership, is Jim Hendry’s job safe?

Yes.  There are a lot of fans calling for Hendry’s head at any given time.  That said, for any bad move he’s made (and there have been some), he’s made some quiet deals that have kept the team afloat.

Piniella in the Hall of Fame?  Really?

I don’t know.  I haven’t really thought about it.  Between his above average performance as a player plus his seven postseason appearances as a manager, he has a shot.  He ranks 14th all-time in wins which isn’t too shabby.  I wouldn’t count it out.

Interesting addendum:  Gene Mauch is the only non-active manager with more wins than Piniella who is not in the Hall of Fame.  He has 1902 wins. 

Perhaps the fact that Mauch has only two playoff appearances (and no World Series ring) in 26 years has something to with it.  That and his losing record (.483).

Piniella has management support

The Cubs Convention (which sadly I didn’t go to this year) was this past weekend.  Breaking Sports News compiles this list of Ten things learned at the 25th Cubs Convention.

Most important on the list… Piniella has management backing

(Team president Crane) Kenney said the Cubs are satisfied with the job he has done. Kenney also pointed out they have the second-best record among National League teams (behind Philadelphia) in the three years since Piniella was hired.

"We think we have the best manager in baseball," he said, adding: "We like it when he gets a little hot."

Refreshing, I guess. Lou has what it takes to get the Cubs to the playoffs.  He’s already shown that.  My concern and maybe I’m putting the horse before the cart, is how to translate the success during the regular season to success in the postseason. 

But in the end, I support Lou and am encouraged by the management’s backing of him rather than finding a quick fix or worse, pulling a PR move to look as if they are “doing something” to solve the problem.

Ron Gardenhire, the umpires and a red flag

I’ve never been a proponent of instant replay in baseball.  I’ve always felt that deep down, we should stick with the human element.  Like umpire Bill Klem once said, “It ain’t nothin’ till I call it”. 

But dang, some calls the umps are making recently are making it difficult to maintain my case.  There was the incident last Tuesday with Randy Marsh making a questionable call of Bobby Keppel’s pitch.  Did it hit Brandon Inge’s uni or not?  Marsh said no. 

270px-Ron-Gardenhire Now, Minnesota Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire is floating the idea of a “red flag” now in response to an incorrect call of a Joe Mauer ground rule double on Friday night (it’s not the first time he’s brought this idea up.  He suggested it after a bad call in July). 

Gardenhire’s summary of the red flag proposal:

"I’ve said all along that I want a red flag," Gardenhire said in the Star-Tribune after the Cuddyer play. "If you use it and you’re wrong, you don’t get to use it the rest of the game. If you use it and you’re right, you get your red flag back and that would save a lot of money (for ejections)."

The red flag?  Bad idea.  But worse, it’s a only a natural extension of the current implementation of instant replay and one of the reasons I was against it in the first place. We’re just headed down that road now and there’s not a lot to stop us.

I don’t blame Gardenhire.  He’s gotta be pretty pissed.  But there’s one tenet I’ve always held to.  Whether it’s baseball, business, politcs or whatever, you never make policy decisions based on one particular incident.  It might look good now in the heat of the postseason and with the emotionally charged atmosphere of an admitted bad call but it needs to hold up to the test of time.

To his credit, Gardenhire did leave himself an out:

“(the) great thing about baseball is the human element, and we always want to keep it that way. We made enough mistakes ourselves and we missed opportunities to win the game. It just goes that way."

Maybe this red flag idea will just go away. 

Braves’ Cox will re-up then retire after 2010

Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox has agreed to a one-year extension but says he’ll plan to retire after the 2010 season.

"While I have decided that 2010 will be my last season in the dugout, I want to make it clear that we will all be working as hard as ever to win another world championship," Cox said in a statement.

While this statement sounds like the typical PR cliché, there’s no doubt in my mind that Cox really wants a World Championship for the Braves.  Cox ranks fourth all-time and second among active managers in wins.  He also ranks #1 in postseason appearances among all managers with 15.  

Rk Mgr Yrs G W L W-L% Plyof App WSwon PennWon
1 Connie Mack HOF 53 7755 3731 3948 .486 8 5 9
2 John McGraw HOF 33 4769 2763 1948 .586 10 3 11
3 Tony LaRussa 31 4762 2550 2209 .536 12 2 5
4 Bobby Cox 28 4335 2408 1924 .556 15 1 5
5 Joe Torre 28 4156 2242 1908 .540 14 4 6
6 Sparky Anderson HOF 26 4030 2194 1834 .545 7 3 5
7 Bucky Harris HOF 29 4408 2157 2218 .493 3 2 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/23/2009.

Yet among all those postseason appearances, Bad Bobby Cox has only one World Championship to his name (when the Braves won it all in 1995).  I’m sure in the back of his mind, he’d like to shirk the bridesmaid title.