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May 20, 2014 6:00 am

Baseball Therapy: Beware the Genius Tag for Coaches

7

Russell A. Carleton

Who are the best hitting and pitching coaches? Or is it impossible to tell?

How do you know whether your team’s hitting coach or pitching coach is doing a good job? Generally, the answer is “Well, how are his hitters/pitchers doing? Are they getting better?” That seems to be the justification given when he gets fired, after all.

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November 20, 2013 8:14 am

Overthinking It: Baseball's New Kind of Coach

3

Ben Lindbergh

On the rise of the defensive coordinator.

A few months ago, in a guest piece for BP, Gabe Kapler made the case for hiring Matt Martin, a coach whose passion and instructional skills had impressed him in the minors. On Monday, the Detroit Tigers took his advice, adding Martin to new manager Brad Ausmus’ staff.

The 44-year-old’s resume looks like that of many major-league coaches: some experience as a professional player, followed by close to two decades of minor-league coaching experience. His title is a lot less typical: “Defensive Coordinator,” a position familiar to football fans (though the NFL's "Quality Control Coach" is a closer equivalent) but almost unknown in baseball.*

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Ben and Sam discuss the new kind of coach being hired by big-league teams this offseason.

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Teams are making a big mistake by passing over skilled instructors in favor of more famous former players.

Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers, and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Gabe Kapler spent parts of 12 years in the major leagues from 1998-2010, playing for the Tigers (1998-99), Rangers (2000-02), Rockies (2002-03), Red Sox (2003-06 – with a brief interlude in Japan), Brewers (2008) and Rays (2009-10). He also spent a year managing the Red Sox’ Single-A affiliate in Greenville. Follow him on Twitter @gabekapler. You can read his earlier articles for BP here and here and listen to his discussion of advanced stats on Effectively Wild with Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller here.



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November 28, 2012 5:00 am

Sobsequy: How to Think Like a Major-League Manager

7

Adam Sobsey

You might recognize the way winning managers think: it's the way we think sometimes, too.

I’ve got a power pitcher who can’t throw enough strikes because his mechanics are unrepeatable and I doubt he’ll ever be able to fix them. I have a DH with prodigious power but chronic and severe plantar fasciitis, so I can’t really use him in the outfield at all, which I had planned to do a few dozen times because I’ve got two guys out there who can’t hit righties. Now I’ve got to hope that they manage to hit them anyway, and also that they don’t break down under a 150-plus-game load since I can’t use my DH to spell them.

We’ve got what appears to be a viable second baseman just up from Triple-A, but you never know how kids will adapt and adjust up here. My solid no. 2 gap hitter has a great compact swing, never gets hurt, and shows up to play every day—but doesn’t get on base enough to take advantage of his speed (and isn’t a good bunter). My no. 1 starter is a superb control artist who’s finicky and will get surly if left alone during practice, which affects his performance. The season gets underway in three days and I still don’t know whether my slow-starting center- and left fielders will be ready for big-league action. They’re just skipping to their lou through spring training. The front office is supposed to be acquiring a lefty groundball specialist for me to use situationally, but I haven’t heard from the GM whether that deal has been green-lighted by ownership, and in any case we’re not even sure if his current club even wants to deal him.

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A testament to the importance of professional coaching from a player who's experienced it first hand.

Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

C.J. Nitkowski has played baseball professionally for 19 years. A former no. 1 (ninth overall) draft pick out of St. John's University (NY) in 1994, he spent parts of 10 seasons in the major leagues with eight different clubs. In 2012 he played in the New York Mets’ minor-league system, where he was attempting to make a comeback as a left-handed sidearm pitcher. C.J. has also played in Japan and South Korea. He has been running his own website, CJBaseball.com, since 1997, and you can follow him on Twitter @CJNitkowskiRecently he played the role of Dutch Leonard in the movie 42, a major motion picture starring Harrison Ford and depicting Jackie Robinson's rookie season. The film is set to be released April 13th, 2013.

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September 8, 2012 12:34 pm

Overthinking It: The Mechanical Flaw Fixers

2

Ben Lindbergh

Your team's struggling star just made a mechanical tweak. Is a rebound just around the corner?

There's nothing worse than not knowing why something went wrong. Pinpoint a problem, and it immediately seems more manageable. At some point, you’ve probably caught yourself doing something silly like sitting in a certain position while watching a playoff game, suspecting that the slightest movement could cause your team to stop scoring. Jason Parks displays a signed portrait of Warwick Davis when he wants the Cowboys to win. Only a fool would discount the power of Warwick Davis, but no team triumphs every time, even with Wicket on its side.

We know this, but we perform these little rituals anyway, because they give us the illusion of control. The unsettling alternative is accepting that we can’t do anything to affect the outcome. There’s a famous prayer that starts, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” Sports fans aren’t seeking that serenity. They’re too busy trying to hold their heads at a 45-degree angle to keep the rally alive.

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Exploring a hidden factor in college pitcher performance: coaching quality.

Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Jeff Sackmann is the co-founder of CollegeSplits.com.  He is the creator of TennisAbstract.com and blogs about tennis at HeavyTopspin.com.  He is on twitter at @CollegeSplits and @JeffSackmann
 


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Why the next big step for baseball teams might not be learning something new, but making better use of the information they already have.

“The management and analysis of data, whether it be scouting reports, statistics, medical information or video, is a critical component of our operation. We look forward to developing a customized program that utilizes the most advanced and efficient technology available in the marketplace today to facilitate quicker, easier and more accurate access to all the sources of information we use to make baseball decisions.”—Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, January 2012

“[Statistical analysis] helps but doesn’t tell the whole story of the game. There is a lot of gut feeling you got to make. If you have a stat and see a flashing number and you see that this guy is doing very good against this other guy, you can use that in a game during a key situation. Yes. But we cannot just depend on stats alone. You got to depend on many other things… I don’t like to become a fantasy manager. The goal for a good manager is to have players who are able to manage themselves on the field.”—Unsuccessful Cubs managerial candidate Sandy Alomar Jr., November 2011

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February 10, 2011 1:53 am

Purpose Pitches: Farrell, Mattingly, and Roenicke

6

Christina Kahrl

Baseball's trio of dugout noobs have followed very different paths to their skippering slots, but what does the future hold?

Yesterday's column and my comments about the increasing importance of staff management are my cue to touch on what we do know about the three genuinely new skippers. The first of them is an ex-pitcher with no managerial experience, but someone who will be coming to the job with plenty of management experience.

Blue Jays: John Farrell

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February 21, 2010 12:31 pm

Prospectus Q&A: Dave Jauss

1

David Laurila

The Mets' bench coach talks about the duties of his job and the interesting path he took to the major leagues.

When the Mets hired Dave Jauss to be their bench coach, they brought on board a true baseball man. The 53-year-old Jauss has spent his entire adult life in the game, performing a cornucopia of roles for a multitude of organizations. After getting his feet wet in independent ball and the college ranks, the Amherst College grad spent three years as a minor-league manager in the Expos system before moving on to the Red Sox, for whom he served as a first base coach, minor-league field coordinator, bench coach, director of player development, and major-league advance scout. From Boston he went to Los Angeles, where he was Grady Little's bench coach with the Dodgers in 2006 and 2007. For each of the past two seasons, he performed the same role under Dave Trembley, in Baltimore. Jauss, who was hired by the Mets in November, talked about his time in the game during the final month of the 2009 campaign.

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A conversation with the Angels' bench coach about in-game tactics, baserunning as an Anaheim brand of baseball, and more.

An often overlooked role in baseball is that of the bench coach, and few do the job better than Ron Roenicke. Mike Scioscia's right-hand man for each of the past four seasons, the 53-year-old Roenicke assumed his current duties after having served as the Angels' third-base coach for six years, stepping in when Joe Maddon left to become the manager in Tampa Bay. Roenicke himself is a candidate for a managerial position, as the former minor league skipper is reportedly among those being considered to fill the vacancy in Cleveland. Roenicke talked about his responsibilities as a bench coach and shared some of his philosophies on the game when the Angels visited Fenway Park in mid-September.

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