Monday, November 1, 2010

Cocaine's a hell of a drug

By the time this post is finished being written, the Giants very well may be celebrating a World Series victory. However, whatever happens in the next half hour, it is still a relevant topic to discuss Rangers manager and logical Manager of the Year candidate Ron Washington, dissecting his effectiveness both throughout the regular season and the playoffs. Largely, I think the guy has done a good job throughout the regular season and playoffs despite a couple of second-guessable decisions (one of which was discussed yesterday).

By the way, anyone who watched Edgar Renteria in Boston must be shocked about how he turned into Edgar Gone-eria during this postseason. Two clutch home runs? That's like a vineyard: Give me a break. Pete Carroll's performance against the Raiders, on the other hand...

Back to Washington: This guy nailed it during the season. The effectiveness of a field manager much of the time, especially if you don't have the opportunity to watch his day-to-day operations closely (which, let's face it, none of us have), would be to evaluate how the meal was cooked with the groceries he was given. Washington had to cook a meal without Nelson Cruz for a month and without Ian Kinsler for two months. Nevermind the Hamilton injury in September; the team had already run up the score on the field by then.

His young pitching staff included, as we said, a Japanese league alumni and a converted middle reliever. His 22-year-old closer had 20 games of major league experience. By the time they traded for Cliff Lee, they were already a contender. He also got production out of Darren O'Day and Darren Oliver, the latter whom nobody had ever gotten any kind of production out of in his 17-year career. The team, despite a bullpen who was questionable at best and who couldn't find the plate at worst, minimized damage and ran away with the West.

Was it partially because the rest of the West was bad? Sure. Was it because the Mariners were a complete disaster? A little bit, but other teams got to play the Mariners, too. This team just achieved when nobody really expected it to. Other than the Rays and Twins, they performed pretty well against contenders, and they went 14-4 against the NL. Bottom line is that they didn't win the West by going 19-0 against Seattle. (It was 12-7.)

They were also aggressive on the basepaths, as five rangers stole over ten bases. They sometimes got burned on this, as Elvis Andrus got caught stealing fifteen times (almost a third of the time - which, according to sabermetrics, is still efficient). Their bread and butter was power, but that's not managing as much as the executives. Whom should also be commended, but that's a different post scheduled for the Bruins' next devastating loss. And they got something out of Vladimir Guerrero, which was extremely improbable.

The clubhouse thing was also clearly a positive factor for this team. The antler thing and the ginger ale thing are both signs of good chemistry - something that is often set by the manager. It appeared that this team enjoyed coming to work everyday.

Let's move on to the postseason, where he can certainly be criticized. There were definitely way too many Darren innings (the Darrens gave up nine runs in this postseason), and many of the Darren innings were high-leverage Darren innings. He could probably justify it by saying both O'Day and Oliver had good seasons, but as an outsider I considered Darren innings to be like Gagne innings in 2007.

You can also criticize the lack of Cliff Lee in Game 4, though it was not Cliff Lee's fault that the team scored one run in the last two games. Not too much he could do. The offense's approach seemed to be a bit different in the World Series, but when the other team is pounding the strike zone, it's hard to work counts and knock pitchers out of games.

But you have to credit them for knocking pitchers out of the game earlier in the postseason. They drew 24 walks against the Yankees, and while fear of Josh Hamilton accounted for a third of that, it's not often that you're walking David Murphy on purpose (too soon?). Before the World Series, Andy Pettitte was the only opposing pitcher to make it through the seventh against the Rangers.

The lasting impression of the 2010 Rangers, for me though, was Game 5 against Tampa, marked not only by Cliff Lee, but also by Andrus scoring from second on a ground out. That showed balls from the player and balls from the manager.

And though it is now officially over and the Rangers got beaten by a team with Brian Sabean as a general manager and Edgar Gone-eria winning a World Series MVP (feels weird coming off the keyboard), you have to give a lot of credit to their manager.

Enjoy yo day.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

Edgar Renteria is the only person happy that the Sox signed Julio Lugo--it prevented him from being the Sox worst shortstop since 1992.

As PF can attest, few people detested Renteria as much as I did (and consequently, Theo Epstein for not bringing Orlando Cabrera back, even though he was a huge part of the 2004 team, wanted to come back desperately, and was cheaper) and it comes as nothing less than a shock on par with winning a small lottery that Renteria is a World Series MVP. Of course, there's always his career OPS+ of 94 and the fact that he hasn't been above league average in the past three full seasons. As Eck would say, "so...whatever."

But on a more serious note, Congratulations for all those Giants fans out there. 56 years is no joke. That's more than two of my lifetimes. Enjoy it.

--the Gunn

Ross Kaplan said...

Once again the MLB playoffs proves itself to be a total crap shoot. The team that couldn't score all regular season all of a sudden can tee off against the second comings of Don Larsen (Halladay) and Sandy Koufax (Lee), not that I have any problem with that.

Anonymous said...

Ross,

Sandy Koufax was an underachiever. If you look up "quitter" in the dictionary, Sandy Koufax's picture is there.

Patrick said...

darren oliver has had an era in the 2's for the past 3 consecutive seasons. he was in the 3's the two seasons before that. he averaged a 3.07 era and 144 era+ across 288 appearances and 352 innings during those 5 years. perhaps not coincidentally, only one of those 288 appearances was a start. prior to these 5 years as a reliever, he had been between average and bad from 1995-2004 (5.14 era, 94 era+), making 261 appearances and starting 228 of them. his best year before this 5 year run was all the way back in 1994 (3.42 era, 143 era+), the last time before his 2006 resurgence that he was exclusively a reliever. i'm not saying any of this to prove washington didn't do a good job with him or in total. i'm just saying that the statement, "He also got production out of Darren O'Day and Darren Oliver, the latter whom nobody had ever gotten any kind of production out of in his 17-year career," is not accurate. darren oliver has been hugely productive and markedly consistent as a reliever going all the way back to 1994. he's just not a good starter.

regarding washington, i agree he did a very good job. i think your most salient points are regarding the culture he seemed to create on the team/in the clubhouse and the aggressive approach he had them taking offensively. i'm not saying he didn't do a good job with the pitching, but that has more to do with management who brought those guys in and their approach to developing pitching. i'm not saying washington didn't potentially get more out of them then other managers might have, but not to the extent he did with the offense.

related, while washington deserves praise, i would heap even more on the management (i know you said this was a different post, but i'll cover it in less detail here). we've all heard about their approach to pitching and bringing in cliff lee. but they took a chance on hamilton that paid off huge, bought low on vlad guererro knowing he loved hitting in their park, have a big nucleus of impact offensive talent around hamilton in young, cruz, and kinsler, made a very sage pickup of bengie molina mid-season to further help the pitching, and a few years ago got elvis andrus and neftali perez in the mark teixeira trade (funny how these things work out, with salty being the marquee name in that trade initially), as well as two other pitchers. i know that all of these moves weren't the same managment team, but these are a series of outstanding moves that put the rangers in a position to win it all not just this year, but opened up a window for them to win for the foreseeable future. a really good spot by them.

it's never too soon to take a crack at joe girardi's horrendous playoff management.