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06-27

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The View from the Loge Level: The Evolution of Mike Scioscia
by
Daron Sutton

05-13

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7

Baseball Therapy: Analytical Master or Leader of Men?
by
Russell A. Carleton

12-09

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12

Baseball Therapy: What Happened to the Complete Game?
by
Russell A. Carleton

11-05

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11

Overthinking It: Brad Ausmus and Cementing the New Model for Managers
by
Ben Lindbergh

10-31

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BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 319: Wrapping up the World Series
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

10-07

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5

Overthinking It: Dusty Baker and the Modern Manager's Survival Manual
by
Ben Lindbergh

08-12

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8

Baseball Therapy: Using the Closer to Keep a Deficit Small
by
Russell A. Carleton

07-30

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5

Baseball Therapy: Leave Me In, Coach!
by
Russell A. Carleton

06-20

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4

Skewed Left: Preparing for Baseball's Most Extreme Circumstances
by
Zachary Levine

01-21

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6

Baseball Therapy: Pitchouts and My Underage Gambling Problem
by
Russell A. Carleton

11-28

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7

Sobsequy: How to Think Like a Major-League Manager
by
Adam Sobsey

11-20

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40

Baseball ProGUESTus: The Value of Good Coaching
by
C.J. Nitkowski

11-19

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1

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 85: Manny Acta and the Blue Jays' Managerial Job
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

10-17

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BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 64: Should Joe Girardi Have Pinch-Hit in Game Three?
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

10-17

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7

Sobsequy: Joe Girardi Has Faith
by
Adam Sobsey

09-11

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13

Baseball ProGUESTus: What the Insiders Say Makes a Good Manager
by
C. Trent Rosecrans

01-31

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25

Overthinking It: Managing Expectations: Baseball's Next Big Inefficiency
by
Ben Lindbergh

11-01

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Wezen-Ball: Through the Years: Tony La Russa
by
Larry Granillo

10-03

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7

On the Beat: The Next Managers
by
John Perrotto

08-18

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26

The Lineup Card: 11 Memorable Breakdowns, Antics, and Tirades
by
Baseball Prospectus

06-15

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On the Beat: The New King of Queens
by
John Perrotto

02-09

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5

Purpose Pitches: A Dozen New Skippers
by
Christina Kahrl

01-25

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5

On the Beat: Wedge Issues
by
John Perrotto

12-28

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2

On the Beat: One Last Chance
by
John Perrotto

12-10

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Prospectus Q&A: Mike Quade
by
David Laurila

09-07

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2

Prospectus Q&A: Darold Knowles
by
David Laurila

07-02

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7

Transaction Action: Dealing and Decapitating
by
Christina Kahrl

02-21

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1

Prospectus Q&A: Dave Jauss
by
David Laurila

10-18

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5

Winter League Preview
by
Carlos J. Lugo

10-07

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8

On the Beat: Post-season Notes
by
John Perrotto

08-26

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9

On the Beat: Midweek Update
by
John Perrotto

04-15

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0

You Could Look It Up: Hit Second and Like It
by
Steven Goldman

05-27

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Prospectus Q&A: Jack McKeon
by
David Laurila

05-20

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Prospectus Q&A: Ken Macha
by
David Laurila

03-28

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2006--Setting the Stage
by
Christina Kahrl

07-12

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Prospectus Q&A: Tony La Russa
by
Graham Bensinger

04-11

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Prospectus Q&A: Manny Acta
by
Carlos J. Lugo

04-15

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The Week in Quotes: April 8-14, 2002
by
Derek Zumsteg

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June 27, 2014 6:00 am

The View from the Loge Level: The Evolution of Mike Scioscia

0

Daron Sutton

The Angels skipper reflects on what he's learned in close to 15 full seasons at the helm.

Do you happen to remember the catchy tune "Maria Maria" by Santana and the Product G? Not a bad blast from the past, at least not in my mind. The song was the top dog on Billboard’s Hot 100 the very week Mike Scioscia started his managerial career in April of 2000. Doesn’t quite give you perspective on Scioscia’s tenure? Fair enough…a gallon of gas would have run you about $1.50 based on the national average when the new skipper took the helm (about $0.50 more in California). This past Thursday morning, in the back hallways of the Angels clubhouse, just hours before he won his 1,277th game as a skipper, Mike remembered that 41-year-old rookie manager and compared him to the 55-year-old seated behind his desk today.

“You can’t help but change, I think,” Scioscia said. “It’s easy to say that everything’s the same and that your thought process is the same. I do think the process stays the same, but certainly I think the way information’s gathered has changed. I think the nuts and bolts of this game, as far as I’m concerned, haven’t changed, and haven’t changed in a century as far as the fundamentals and what you need to do. The way players are evaluated keeps evolving daily, and I think to be in tune with that helps you to make some cleaner decisions. So yeah, I would say that there’s been some growth in myself as a manager over that time and I think you’d expect that.”

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An attempt to settle an age-old debate: What's more important for a manager to possess, people skills or tactical savvy?

There are two men in front of you who want to be your team’s manager. One of them is fully up to date on all the latest baseball research. He reads Baseball Prospectus religiously, and that’s not a metaphor. He actually has a shrine to Dan Brooks in his bedroom. (We have a support group that meets on Wednesdays, that’s how I know.) He’s fully on board with the analytical movement, dabbles in his own research, drops the phrase “run expectancy matrix” into sentences, and has pledged that he will make sure that the supercomputer is in the dugout with him every night. He’s also rather boring. Not a jerk, just…boring.

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December 9, 2013 6:00 am

Baseball Therapy: What Happened to the Complete Game?

12

Russell A. Carleton

Should starting pitchers be asked to finish what they started more often?

In 2013, Adam Wainwright led Major League Baseball by pitching five complete games. In 2012, Justin Verlander was much more of an ironman and pitched six. A mere 30 years ago, in 1983, six complete games would have landed Verlander in a tie for 42nd place with such notables as Storm Davis, Bob Forsch, Jim Gott, Ken Schrom, and Bruce Hurst. Even 20 years ago, six complete games would have been good for a tie with David Cone for 15th place in MLB. What happened to finishing what you started?

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No prior major-league managerial jobs, no coaching experience, no problem.

Early in the World Series, my girlfriend wondered aloud why FOX was showing so many reaction shots of the same St. Louis player. “Which player?”, I asked. “That one,” she answered, the next time the broadcast cut to the dugout camera. She meant Mike Matheny.

It was an understandable mistake. Matheny can pass for a player because he’s not that far removed from being one. His playing days were done after 2006, his age-35 season, and he’d been retired officially for only five seasons when he was hired to take over for Tony La Russa. Given 25 years and approximately 20,000 packs of cigarettes, a fresh-faced manager like Matheny could come to look like Jim Leyland. (Okay, maybe not Leyland, who looked like this at Matheny’s age.) But that’s a long way away, and Matheny doesn’t smoke.

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Ben and Sam review the World Series and talk about the 2013 seasons and futures of the Red Sox and Cardinals with Zachary Levine.

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Want to stick as a 21st-century skipper? Don't be like Baker.

Dusty Baker was fired on Friday, and few Twitter tears were shed. When a manager who’s perceived to be anti-analysis gets the axe, sabermetricians celebrate. It's about time, we think. All those bunts by position players, all those illogical lineups, all those refusals to bring in the closer with a tie game on the road. We said they didn’t make sense, and someone finally listened. Maybe Bob Castellini reads blogs! Ding-dong, the Dusty era is dead. We did it!

Well…no, probably not. Most managerial hirings and firings aren’t referendums on the industry’s acceptance of sabermetrics, or the result of what anyone on the internet says. Sure, Baker was known as one of the game’s most first- and second-guessable tactical managers, and sure, he’s now out of a job. Correlation, causation, etc. Maybe Baker was let go because the Reds felt his in-game decisions and reluctance to look at certain stats were costing them wins, but it’s not the only (or even the most likely) explanation.

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Which is the better situation in which to use your closer: with a three-run lead, or a one-run deficit?

Here's a question. Which late-inning situation is more important: When your team is up by three runs, or down by one? In the past, I've argued that closers should come into tie games far more often than they do now and that teams might use their closer for two innings to protect a one-run lead in the eighth, rather than a three-run lead in the ninth. Should a team actually use its closer/best reliever sometimes when it is behind? If a visiting team finds itself behind by a run heading into the bottom of the eighth, it will have one last chance to either tie or go ahead in the top of the ninth, but it has to get through the eighth inning first. A home team trailing going into the top of the ninth might have the same conversation. Should they use the best that they have to keep the score close in the hope of pulling off a comeback?

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July 30, 2013 6:28 am

Baseball Therapy: Leave Me In, Coach!

5

Russell A. Carleton

Is there a downside to trying to protect a pitcher by cutting an excellent outing short?

Last week, we talked about Tim Lincecum's 148 pitch no-hitter and found that while there might be some consequence for a pitcher's next start due to such a long outing, it was relatively small and generally gone by the second start. So there's not much penalty in the short term for leaving a pitcher in to throw a lot of pitches; what about the penalty for taking him out?

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Does it make sense for managers to plan for extremely long games?

Disaster experts—and really, what better analogy is there for a discussion of major league managers—often use terms like “100-year event” or “1000-year event” to discuss the limits of our preparedness.

There are some situations that are so rare that in a cost-benefit analysis it is deemed not worthwhile to disrupt routines or expend resources in order to prevent them. For example, the United States has not stationed a large military force in International Falls because while there is a non-zero chance, there is a very small chance that Canada will attack us in a ground invasion from Ontario. The parlance is more commonly used for things like floods and earthquakes.

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If it doesn't make sense to call for pitchouts, why do major-league managers keep doing it?

Last week, my colleague Sam Miller ran a few numbers on the pointless, yet poignant play that is the pitchout (a billion points to whomever catches that reference) and concluded that pitchouts are actually a net loser: they cost the defense/pitching team more in runs than they gain. Sure, individual pitchouts sometimes nab a would-be base stealer (and that's a good thing), but overall, managers guessed wrong so often that the expected payoff wasn't high enough to justify the strategy. Rule number one of strategic thinking is that just because you got lucky on a stupid bet, it doesn't negate the fact that it was a stupid bet.

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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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