The Royals

They’re in the World Series, and the usually critical Joe Posnanski does a good job of rolling back the years, and finding a sliver of possible evidence that Ned Yost is responsible for some of the Royals’ post season run.

For me, the evidence is that when player’s play good things can happen. The bad possible thing is if a manager gets in the way.

The Ned Yost story seems to bear that out. His basic impulse is good. Empower the players so they do their best. Which is powerful, since his in game sense is weak. But maybe that isn’t as important, especially when you’re on a run.

At this point we really have no idea. Joe’s anecdotal piece makes a strong anecdotal argument that the manager is happenstance, mostly. But we don’t really know, as Joe’s history of Royals managers, a part of the story, seems to lay out quite vividly.

 

One time, Nate Silver was wrong!

About politics, anyway, in 2004: “Here, too, there is a useful political analogy. The Democrats in particular have been reluctant to throw their resources behind candidates with appealing skills but unproven track records, which in turn prevents these politicians from gaining the exposure they need (or are perceived to need) to run for higher office. It’s a self-perpetuating problem. So we’re going to get Hillary Clinton running for the White House in 2008. And we’re going to lose again, just as surely as if the Diamondbacks had tabbed Jimy Williams for their managerial vacancy.”

Read the whole story about recycled baseball managers and recycled politicians at Baseball Prospectus.

Yost addresses dismissal on Tuesday

MLB.com: News

Yost plays the fool a bit and–as ably pointed out by Joe Sheehan yesterday–isn’t a tactical genius, but in this story he shows his passion and his belief in himself, and it’s hard not to feel bad for him not being allowed to finish the job, one way or the other. In the absence of scandal it’s hard to see the fairness of the firing, the team did rock in August, but looking at a team that responeded in May when challenged (another time Yost seemed likely to lose his job) it’s hard not to see Doug Melvin’s rationale for putting the spurs to them now, when it might do some good.

Still, one of the problems with baseball analysis is that we don’t really know what works or doesn’t work. Yost, in this story, talks about the self examination he’ll be doing since his teams crumbled two years in a row in September. It’s worth looking at, but just because it happened two years in a row doesn’t prove it’s a trend. It might be. Or might not.

It’s difficult to imagine being in Dale Sveum’s position. With a rebound comes glory, and with continued decline comes frustration. The hitters have been sucking wind the last two weeks, but it seems like the pitching that’s falling apart. And isn’t that the place teams usually fail?

If Ned Yost messed up the pitching staff, it’s too late to fix it.

How Did A-Rod Get So Good?

Freakonomics – Opinion – New York Times Blog

You have to read the Tyler Kepner story linked to within to get the whole story, but Dubner is right to point out Bobby Meacham’s quote. Learning to do something better than everybody, everything I’ve read says, is the result of practice, practice, smart coaching and more practice.

I didn’t work hard enough at the piano, to mention one thing.

Corey Patterson Signs with Reds

2005 Chicago Cubs Statistics and Roster – Baseball-Reference.com

The story I remember from 2005 involved Patterson slumping, the Cubs messing with his swing and approach (which has always been free swinging), some disagreement between Patterson and his manager (but nice words from management about his professionalism), and then he was gone to Baltimore.

Now he’s reunited with that 2005 manager, Dusty Baker, in Cincinnati. Though he signed a minor league deal, this has to be an indication that Jay Bruce will (unsurprisingly) be beginning the year in Triple-A. More interestingly, it could be a reunion of two guys who like to the bat to be put on the ball and so seem both made for each other and oddly paired. Risky personal dynamics, advancing age, and Patterson’s speed and defense make him a strong sleeper choice at this point.

Joe Torre Haiku

City Room – Metro – New York Times Blog

I have a hard time resisting the invitation to write bad poetry. Reading through the submissions for a Joe Torre haiku you can’t help (I don’t think) be struck by the nuance and twists the language makes available for a wide swath of ideas. I

I have to admit that my haiku in the comments is based more on my love of the pun than an expression of my feelings about Torre’s departure. For that, I’ll post exclusively here:

Morning’s easy stillness
A clubhouse full of calm
The runner is out at home.

Viva El Birdos

A St. Louis Cardinals Blog

Excellent if rambling post about Chris Carpenter—who I suggest might be back this year in this week’s column, filed mere hours before the bad news surfaced—and Tony La Russa, who has been a bit grumpy.

Athletic Supporters

More On Milton Bradley

I haven’t seen anything new on this story, but this well-reasoned analysis and a comment indicating that Bradley and Bob Geren had words (at least), all seem to make more sense than the A’s original story.

Why would the A’s keep the story quiet? To keep Bradley’s trade value up, a move that seemed to pay off when they dealt him to Kansas City. But Bradley, who must be steamed (and who has been on the DL three times already this year), told the Royals he was hurt and the savvy Royals backed out of the deal.

For a Bradley owner who will lose him if he ends up in the NL this was a particularly cruel and troublesome turn of events.

Baseball Musings

A Fresh Wash

The real work here is in the original post, but David Pinto’s take on Buck Showalter seems exactly right to me. He’s able to get a team close, but it is his departure that is the catalyst for actual success.

Not that it looks like the Rangers are that close. But in these days of parity it won’t take much to move them atop the AL West.

LaRussa on Mark McGwire

So, what I’m wondering is this:

Tony LaRussa says Mark McGwire took no steroids. But Mark McGwire says he took andro, which helps promote the growth of the body’s own hormones at steroidal levels. The two years or so McGwire took andro his injury wracked body become suddenly quite resilient and he broke Roger Maris’ record.

McGwire stopped taking andro because of the hue and cry about it and soon had to retire because his andro-less body was unable to sustain the strain.

I know that doesn’t in any causal way prove anything, but shouldn’t it be talked about as much or more than the goofy anecdote about Brady Anderson’s 50 homer year? Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear McGwire’s take on this, or La Russa’s?

BTW, while I personally wouldn’t take anything that made my testicle shrink to the size of peas, especially if it made me prone to rages and zit-faced self-hatred (hey, been there and done that naturally a long time ago), it’s hard for me to see how the lines between allowed and disallowed performance enhancing techniques aren’t always going to be blurred. Banning the drugs seems like a simple thing, but it isn’t going to make the problem go away.

As Malcom Gladwell said to Rob Neyer last week, the reason Barry Bonds can say unequivocably that he doesn’t take steroids is because he doesn’t. Steroids are last year’s or last generations performance enhancer. If Bonds is taking something it’s something newer, something harder to detect, something that may be found naturally in the body. And no doubt when the testers figure out how to figure out what and how much of it there are, Bonds (or whomever is actually taking performance enhancing drugs, because we don’t really know) will have moved onto something else.

I’m not saying that everything should be mindlessly allowed, but there are a deep philosophical and practical issues that are begging for resolution. Banning whatever isn’t going to much difference at all without that.