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Frank Robinson: Special Asst. to the Commissioner

Former Nats Manager Frank Robinson has been appointed Special Assistant to the Commissioner.

"Besides being one of the greatest players to ever play the game, Frank has served the game admirably in many different capacities," said Commissioner Bud Selig in a statement. "He has an incredible wealth of experience and knowledge that I will put to use on a regular basis and on a myriad of baseball issues. Frank is a legendary
baseball figure."

Robinson assembled a Hall of Fame playing career with the Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels and Cleveland Indians, amassing 586 career home runs, seventh on the all-time list, and is the only player in history to win the
Most Valuable Player award in both the American and National Leagues.

Robinson has served as field manager of the Indians, San Francisco Giants, Orioles, Montreal Expos and Nationals. He also was the Orioles' assistant general manager for five years, and served the Commissioner's Office as Vice President of On-Field Operations from 2000 to 2002 and, most recently, as Special Advisor to the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations over the past two years.

(Please don't forget to scroll down and vote in the poll; thanks!)

By Tracee Hamilton  |  April 23, 2009; 4:08 PM ET
 
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Comments

Congrats to Frank. Maybe he can smack some sense into Bud. Oh, sorry.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 23, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Pulling forward my little rant:
----------------
If you're going to throwback why not go ALL the way. NO PA AT ALL. Bring out the megaphone!

:)

Posted by: OldDude | April 23, 2009 4:08 PM
----------------
If you HAVE to prompt the fans (ugh) a talented organist is the best way to go as they can tailor what they are playing (tempo, etc.) to create maximum effect. Something you can't do with a canned clip.

My best of all possible worlds would be no STUFF during innings (except announcements) and a good organ player for the between innings music.

And I want all this stepping out of the box to glove tighten and circling the mound after each pitch to STOP RIGHT NOW! Get sign, pitch, swing (or not), throw back, lean in to get sign, repeat.

Hrmpf.

Posted by: OldDude | April 23, 2009 4:19 PM

Posted by: OldDude | April 23, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Old Dude, do you recall a Saturday Night Live sketch from about 25 years ago, premised on the organ player from Shea Stadium being the substitute organ player at a funeral service - the subdued music would be interrupted from time to time with gallops and rallies? The whole thing was screamingly funny, so much so that a cousin and I were having our own private giggle at our grandmother's funeral, remembering the sketch.

Posted by: Traveler8 | April 23, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

nats basher keith law is at it again...

Ryan (Richmond): Is it possible that Jim Bowden kidnapped Rizzo and is still showing up to work every day in a Rizzo mask? Sending down Milledge, all this uproar over the Dukes thing, giving Zim that huge deal. None of this seems productive to me.

Keith Law: Don't forget the release of Shawn Hill, too. That Zimmerman contract ... wow. They gave him Markakis money and he's maybe half the player Markakis is. They gave him more than Youkilis got (adjusting for the years covered - Alex Speier pointed this out on WEEI.com) and he's not half the player Youkilis is. There should be no "face of the franchise" premium. If that's your face, put some damn makeup on.

Posted by: surly_w | April 23, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Keith. You journalists, uh, I mean bloggers, probably wear makeup when you appear on tv and all but guys like Zimm don't really do that. 'kay?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 23, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Keith Law = D-Bag

Posted by: FloresFan | April 23, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Any chance the Nationals and Frank can make up, now that Jim Bowden is gone? Or was that whole thing botched by the Lerners--my memory is fuzzy.

It may have been time for a managerial change at the end of '06, but Frank's a legend, and deserved a little more respect in how it was done.

Posted by: seamhed | April 23, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't remember the skit, Traveler, but it sounds reminiscent of a Mary Tyler Moore involving the untimely demise of Chuckles the Clown.

And I second the call for some love for Frank.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 23, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

A little song, a little dance... a little seltzer down your pants...

Posted by: OldDude | April 23, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I was, I am, and I will always be a big Frank Robinson fan - as a player, a manager, and league employee he has demonstrated a great understanding for the game that stat masters will never fully comprehend.

Don't get me wrong, I love sabermetrics and devour statistical analysis. But, knowing the tendencies and being a slave to them are diffferent things. As a Manager Frank understood the value of going against the stats from time to time. Such a great personality of the game. I miss him.

Frank takes on Fregosi, Frank talks the umpire out of a homerun, Frank cties for LeCroy, Frank forces Soriano into Left Field, Frank tells his cleanup hitter to bunt, Frank benches his best player in the First inning for not running out a grounder, Frank sends Livon up to pinch hit when he still has position players on the bench, Frank leaves Livon in for 150 pitches, Frank kicks pitchers off the team for not showing respect. I like Acta too, but man I miss Frank....

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 23, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Is this a long-overdue reward for helping MLB double the eventual purchase price of the Nationals?

Posted by: Juan-John | April 23, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

The Nats were not going to renew Frank's contract.

Once they decided that, their options were:
- fire him on the spot,
- lie to him and tell him he's coming back,
- or let him finish the season.

What else could/should the Nats have done for him?

Posted by: comish4lif | April 23, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Is this "Beat Up On the Nationals Day" in the electronic media? First Keith Law, and now some dude from SI.com.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/tim_marchman/04/23/washington.nationals/index.html

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 23, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

>What else could/should the Nats have done for him?

Put a statue up in the plaza. But by a different artist than did the other ones.

Frank is god. That is all. 1 bat away from the playoffs in '05.

Posted by: Brue | April 23, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

a formal retiring of No. 20 is overdue. let it happen while frank is around to appreciate the gesture.

Posted by: surly_w | April 23, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

That's the one, OldDude!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 23, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

To apppend to natbiscuits' list of FRobby memories: let us never forget Frank's staring match with umpire Jim Wolf, which is one the funniest things I've ever seen on a baseball field.

Every time I see Wolf umpiring a game (like the past Braves series), I have to stifle an impulse to gather a bunch of friends, don some Frank Robinson masks, and run down to the rail and stare Wolf down for old time's sake.

Posted by: joebleux | April 23, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Uhm, not that I don't love Frank Robinson, but Frank Robinson also cried when he pulled Matt LeCroy from the game because the Astros stole SEVEN bases on him. He didn't activate Schneider from the DL, knowing that he only had LeCroy, since his other catcher was hurt and Fick had not yet become the third catcher. It was after this game that Fick became Mr. Back-up Catcher, thanks to Robinson.

Posted by: Section506 | April 23, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Robinson only had 4 winning seasons in 16 years managing.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/robinfr02.shtml

Posted by: Section506 | April 23, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Frank Robinson was a lousy manager but a titan of the game in every other way, and a first-class guy.

I think the idea of the Nats retiring his number is great. Being the Nats first manager and a top-drawer HOFer is reason enough. It would be a terrific gesture, although I know at least half of us would cynically believe it is just a way to get a few more people through the turnstiles.

A statue? No. He never played here (well, except when visiting with the Orioles).

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 23, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

I have a great non baseball activity that would draw thousands to Nats Park on any given game day. Invite and promote britains Susan Boyle to sing the anthem and God Bless America. You'd have everyone beating down the gates to get in, guaranteed.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 23, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Frank Robinson was old school. He wanted to win badly. The players of today lack his fire.

The should be a place in baseball for someone like Frank. I am glad to hear he is joining MLB.

Now how about doing something for Bob Gibson?

Posted by: jbartelloni | April 23, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

>Frank Robinson was a lousy manager

If Frank had this year's team, they wouldn't be any 3-11. They'd probably end up around .500. Because overall they're a helluva lot more talented than that '05 team was. By a lot. That team had zero power, they got longballs where they could. This team has clout. You can't tell me that there were 4-5 players that could have hit 20 homers on that '05 team.

Ho ho ho Manny Acta got to go

Posted by: Brue | April 23, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Well continuing my man love for Frank, I will point out that Frank's teams won more games that expected rather than less than expected. Frank's Nats never lost 100 games. Frank had to field teams with an old Baerga at 2B, Wil Cordero at 1B, a lame Castila at 3B, etc .... Not that last year's team wasn't bad. It certainly was. It's just that Frank squeezed the most out of his players. What some call bad or eratic managing, I would call crazy like a fox. His teams were not talented. They did not underperform. The over performed. So is that bad managing? I don't recall him ever having the opportunity to manage a great team.

People thought Torre sucked when he managed the Braves in the 1980's and thought he was brilliant when he managed the Yankees.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 23, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

If Whoopie Goldberg were managing this year's team, they'd be undefeated.

See? You can't disprove either statement.

They're both bs, but you can't prove it.

**************
If Frank had this year's team, they wouldn't be any 3-11. They'd probably end up around .500.
Posted by: Brue | April 23, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 23, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

We're a couple of weeks in. The bullpen has blown, what, six or seven games, outright? Frank, may his legend increase, had no history of improving that, and considerable history of running them into the ground later in the year.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 23, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

This was Kasten's fault two years ago, and it's Kasten's fault today.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 23, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I continue to believe that the overachieving first half was mostly down to those guys be SO DAMM GLAD to be somewhere.

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 23, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

first half of 2005, obviously

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 23, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse


Somehow I can see the Nats beating the Mets but not the Phillies...

Posted by: Juan-John | April 23, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

*******************
me too. except i do think we can win at least one in the phillies series.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 23, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Frank is the man! Just to bring him back and watch the O's fans squirm will be worth bringing him back!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 23, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

From Ladson on Orlando Hudson's physical:

Don't you think the Nationals made a mistake in not signing second baseman Orlando Hudson? He is apparently healthy and certainly hitting and fielding well. I think they blew it big time.
-- Peter R., Vancouver

Response from Ladson: I don't think the Nationals made a mistake in that regard because they have good enough second basemen in Hernandez and Belliard. The reason Washington didn't sign Hudson is because he failed a physical the club gave him before Spring Training started.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 23, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

A long quote from Boz's chat for the Manny haters.

"Tom Boswell: Acta is a good manager. And, in a few years, wherever he's managing then, he will probably be regarded as very good. He is the least of the Nats problems. I've spent my whole life analyzing managerial moves in real team in pennant race or post-season situations, debating them with other writers at the time, then discussing it with managers and players afterward. If there is anything I know how to do, that is it. I spent 9 years arguing game-strategy with Earl Weaver 100 days a year. (Or, more often, shutting my mouth and listening). I'm not going to go through every Acta "move." Every manager trips sometimes. But i promise you that Acta is 10 times as good a manager as his critics are as critics. "

Posted by: joebleux | April 23, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

a formal retiring of No. 20 is overdue. let it happen while frank is around to appreciate the gesture.

Posted by: surly_w | April 23, 2009 6:01 PM
+++++++++++++++++++++++
Great idea!!! The 1st Nationals Manager and an icon! Sure, his personality can rub you the wrong way, but this would be a good move for the fan base and also a few players still around from the 2006 roster!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 23, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I come not to bury Acta, but to praise Frank. Acta is in fact a good tactical manager. He is probably a better manager of pitching than Frank (definately not Frank's strength). It is unclear to me if he (Acta) is a great teacher or a great motivator. I would say that Frank was a great motivator but not a great teacher.

A frequent criticism of Frank was that he expected other players to be as good as he had been - and no one who ever played for him was. He may have had trouble teaching because he did not have to overcome a lack of talent. But players either played hard for Frank or they did not last long.

I believe Manny understands how to handle a pitching staff, but does not have the depth of talent to manage it the way he thinks he should. He tries to define roles, he tries to use matchups. If anything he over manages. (Like removing Mock last night)

Manny manages by Science. Frank managed by force of will.

Neither manager has had great teams.

June 1, 2008 (Acta)
Lopez 2B
Guzman SS
Boone 3B
Young 1B
Milledge CF
Flores C
Dukes RF
Pena LF

June 1, 2005 (Robinson)
Wilkerson CF
Carroll 2B
Guillen RF
Johnson 1B
Castilla 3B
Church LF
Schneider C
Guzman SS

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 23, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Frank Robinson is a legend. Frank Robinson managed the Nats for 2 years, reaching .500 in one of them. Frank Robinson also had a great career as a player (and a decent one as a manager) with the O's, for whom his number is retired. If the Nats retire Frank Robinson's number it will reek of desperation and will set a ridiculously low precedent for what being an "all-time great" Nat means. It will induce even more guffaws around the majors. I'm sure the Lerners are considering it.

Posted by: MoMonroe | April 23, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Acta is not a good tactical manager. What makes him a good tactical manager? Because Boswell says so?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, gosh, tough one. Who do I think has more credibility? Tom Boswell, one of the most respected baseball writers ever, or, CiL, random poster in NJ?

Wow, tough one there. I'll have to sleep on it.

Posted by: joebleux | April 23, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Joebleux, I'd love to see some examples of moves Manny has made that you think show he is a good tactical manager. Many people here and in other forums--hardly just me--over the past several days have dissected his recent moves in an effort to explain why they think he is a *bad* tactical manager. I'm not purporting to continue that debate here.

But if you have some examples of why you think he is actually a *good* tactical manager, I'd love to hear what they are. Let's hear about some in-game moves Manny has made that have really impressed you.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Frank Robinson is a legend. Frank Robinson managed the Nats for 2 years, reaching .500 in one of them. Frank Robinson also had a great career as a player (and a decent one as a manager) with the O's, for whom his number is retired. If the Nats retire Frank Robinson's number it will reek of desperation and will set a ridiculously low precedent for what being an "all-time great" Nat means. It will induce even more guffaws around the majors. I'm sure the Lerners are considering it.

Posted by: MoMonroe | April 23, 2009 9:04 PM
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

You don't have to retire his jersey number rather have a special day for him. All the players can wear his #20 to honor him. The man did make a contribution in DC and on baseball.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 23, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

CiL, I guess you're reading different posts than I am. I read people criticizing Acta for taking out a slow moving slugger for defensive replacement (outrageous!), leaving lefties in to face lefties (who would do such a thing?), bringing a reliever when "clearly, you could tell in the bullpen he didn't have his stuff", assigning his relievers roles (7th inning guy, setup man, closer -- how radical!), etc, etc.

As far as people dissecting Manny's moves to try to justify their dislike of him, I don't doubt that one bit. Every team has a dedicated band of Monday morning quarterbacks who think that everything is the manager's fault.

Posted by: joebleux | April 23, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Be glad we didn't waste $30M on this CF stiff, who's having a worse year than Thrilledge:

¶ CHICAGO (AP) _ After playing one game at far less than full speed, Milton Bradley is back on the Chicago Cubs' bench, nursing a lingering groin injury.
¶ "When he's 100 percent, I'll put him out there," manager Lou Piniella said Thursday, one day after Bradley played right field for the first time in more than a week. "I don't play people unless they're totally healthy."
He had only one hit in the season's first week before sustaining the groin injury April 12.
¶ A career .280 hitter, Bradley is batting .043 this season. He's 1-for-23 and has struck out seven times.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 23, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Well I was really reaching my own conclusions regarding Acta as a good tactical manager not relying on someone else, but to answer your question I considered the following in reaching that conclusion:

Acta generally relies on statistical probability for his overall management philospohy. His tactics seem to include role based pitching (a 7th inning guyt, an 8th inning guy, a closer, etc....) He appropriatately uses matchups when available (left/right), he tends away from the sacrifice bunt unless the pitcher is batting, he prefers not to attempt steals at inappropriate times (his players sometimes run on their own), and he generally positions his infielders and outfielders based on the situation appropriately.

To the extent that I question his management it is that he did not get his team ready to play their best last year; his teams do not execute the fundamentals consistently, and he has not always seemed to hold his players accountable.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 23, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I've really got to start hitting refresh more often as I see others have already defended the tactical skills of Acta quite adequately.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 23, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Again, joebleux, if you can give some examples of moves Manny makes that establish him as a *good* tactical manager, I'd love to hear them. Even if you disagree with the criticisms of Manny that you've listed, that doesn't mean he is good, it just means that in your view he is not bad. There is a difference. Why don't you put some of your own views out there explaining how good a skipper Manny is, rather than just offering cursory rebuttals of the views of others?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

"Acta is not a good tactical manager. What makes him a good tactical manager? Because Boswell says so?"

No, because I say so. And aren't you surprised, all you people who think I never have anything good to say about Boswell.

Another point I've made frequently over the last few days that Boswell backed up for me in his chat today: Davey Johnson is retired. He ain't coming back to manage for the Nats or anyone else, no matter how much money gets thrown at him.

And to think I didn't even have to spoonfeed Boz any questions to get those answers out of him today. Thank you, whoever else did my dirty work for me.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I can get behind Robby day - staring contests between innings, anyone who lines a pitch right back at the pitcher's head wins a '66 Chevy, seniors run the bases. Don't know if he'll come back, though. Man seems to know how to wear a chip.

But come on, while a lot of us have nice feelings about Frank from his short stint here, he's not a Nat. He's an Oriole. Then a Red. Then, maybe, an Expo/Nat. I'm all for honoring DC's baseball history (more in-house nods to Mickey Vernon, Cecil Travis, Goose Goslin, Bucky Harris, Sam Rice, Jud Wilson, Ray Brown and Cum Posey please) but as far as this franchise's current iteration, let's have a little patience and wait for our own legends to emerge.

Posted by: MoMonroe | April 23, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

BTW, for myself I am defining tactical management as the in-game decisions such as positioning, baserunning, pitching changes, pinch hitting, etc.... I do not include roster selection (which is traditionally a GM decision), pre-game preparation, motivation, and rule-keeping.

If you accept this definition, I guess I would have to ask, what makes him a bad tactical manager? Which tactics (not outcomes) are incorrect?

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 23, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

natbiscuits, if those generalizations are all you've got to support Manny's supposed skills, then I think you've actually proven the opposite. Especially since your generalizations are contradicted by the decisions Manny actually makes.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

I agree Frank is not likely to come back for a day or any other ceremony. I agree he should be honored by the Orioles for his playing days. But I would like to see some sort of Frank Robinson memorial in the stadium somewhere. I don't believe there is one now. Not a statue, but maybe a poster, or plaque, or banner, or collage. There are plenty of locations for such a thing.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 23, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

natbiscuits, re your 10:42 post, go back and read this blog for the past 10 days, just for starters. Read SoCH's blog. This has been discussed extensively. And it isn't just this season, it goes back beyond that, though the bad decisions have become more apparent as the talent level of his players has gotten better.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 23, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

But you are still offering nothing. Not a single thing.... Where are your examples of incorrect tactics? You ask me for examples and dismiss them as not adequate, but you offer none yourself.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 23, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Well I believe your 9:09 post was in response to my 9:03. Maybe I'm wrong. But in any event I'm content to disagree. I don't have to re-read days worth of posts to know that there has been criticism of Acta. I don't agree with all his decisions and have said so (go back and read the posts) but I have explained my position and wish you well.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 23, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

"But I would like to see some sort of Frank Robinson memorial in the stadium somewhere. I don't believe there is one now. Not a statue, but maybe a poster, or plaque, or banner, or collage."

How about something abstract, like a fountain symbolizing his shedding of tears for poor Matt LeCroy, a good man forced to take upon himself a job for which he was inadequately equipped? A metaphor for all of us as Nats fans. Frank wept for poor underequipped Matt LeCroy, we weep for an entire team of poor, underequipped LeCroys.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

A statue of Frank in uniform and on a cell phone might be cool.

Posted by: mike8 | April 23, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

How about a statue of Frank napping in the dugout?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

How about inviting Frank to the baseball game. And giving him a free seat behind home plate. And put him on the jumbotron and let people clap for him.

This is all silly speculation, though, because it's the Lerners and Kasten that Frank holds a grudge against, not Bowden. They were the ones who didn't re-hire him.

Posted by: Section506 | April 23, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

"How about inviting Frank to the baseball game. And giving him a free seat behind home plate"

How in the world are they ever going to find an empty seat behind home plate to put him in?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 23, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Is wanting to honor Robinson perceived as a knock on Acta for some reason? IMO, it's possible to appreciate both for different reasons. I'm an Acta fan and I'd like to see Robinson get some recognition as well. Not sure why Acta love/hate needs to enter into this thread but it seems to have done so.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 24, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of FJB (which CiL did), I don't read the blog in question but do I win a prize for predicting it would turn into the Fire Manny blog after Jimbo left?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 24, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

NatsFan - touche. FJB (which I read infrequently, since it's taken on its author's tone of insufferability) and the Manny hate here has the same issue - it judges a decision solely on whether or not the move ultimately worked - that is, if Manny brings in a lefty, and the lefty walks two lefties and walks in a run, then Manny's an idiot. If Manny brings in a lefty and the lefty gets the lefty batter to bounce into a harmless groundball, then Manny got lucky.

Managerial calls are much more art than science (though I am a huge fan of statistical analysis) - and frankly sometimes, your guy, put in the position to succeed by every statistical measure, fails anyway. I don't always agree with Manny's calls - in fact, I often might do things a little differently, but unlike others, I'm not quite arrogant enough to think that the fact that Manny does it differently from me means he's a bad in-game manager.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 24, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

If I may add on to 295's excellent point, statistical probability just means that there is the probability he will succeed (which, recall, for a great pinch hitter would be around 32% chance of success). No one would even dream of getting on an airplane for any amount of money with the probability of success that is considered quite excellent in baseball.

In addition, players are not static over time. You wouldn't take a survey for Presidential preferences over a two week period of time and expect it to be accurate. In the same way, the stats we have are fairly poor predictors of the future, because someone can always figure something out, get hurt, or just lose it, negating a lifetime of statistics.

With all that said, all evidence points to statistics as the most accurate way to inaccurately predict the future in baseball, lightyears more accurate than this mysterious thing called "gut."

Posted by: Section506 | April 24, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I thought the SI article "bashing" the Nats was actually fairly accurate, unfortunately. It says we're better than our record but that we have managed to lose in spectacular fashion several times in this young season. We did fire our GM amidst a scandal, we did let Shawn Hill go in order to save a few bucks when that might have been the wrong move, we did insist that Lastings was our leadoff hitter and starting CF and then demote him after a week, we do have too many corner OFs and not enough talent elsewhere, and we did bring the wrong bullpen north to start the season and then blow it up a few days later. Oh, and we did send two of our star players out onto the field with typos on their jerseys. In fairness, we haven't exactly been running a tight ship on an even keel.

Posted by: BobLHead | April 24, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

295, it seems to me that there has been plenty of first-guessing recently, and not just criticizing Manny's moves when they turn out not to work. For example, putting in Rivera to pitch to Philly's heart-of-the-order lefties on Opening Day, and pinch-hitting Cintron in late innings back-to-back nights against Florida, while Willingham is on the bench. Those moves were criticized by many at the time when they were made, and not just when they didn't work. Of course you can't base your criticism of a manager simply on hindsight because, as 506 points out, the percentages are often against you even when you make the "right" move. I think many of the critiques, however, are more nuanced and sophisticated than you are letting on.

Again, though, I'm not looking to start another debate to establish that Manny is a bad tactical manager. Instead, I initially responded to some comments asserting that Manny is in fact a good one. I am genuinely interested to know what the factual foundation is for people who think that, so I asked. All I got in response were generalities like "he plays percentages" or "he has a seventh-inning guy and an eighth-inning guy" and "he doesn't bunt very often." I don't think those generalities are very helpful, in part because I think they are often not consistent with the specific decisions Manny actually makes. Anyway, if generalities like that are all that people have to support their belief that Manny is a good in-game manager, so be it. If there are more specific moves that people can point to though, I'd still love to hear them. Tell me some moves Manny has made that have caused you to marvel at his tactical skills. Surely there must be some if Manny is a good manager?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 24, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

CiL,

You may have misunderstood my point - the point is not "find a single tactical move that cause you to marvel at his skills," because I disagree with the notion that you judge the overall tactical skill of the manager on the basis of one or a few decisions that didn't work. I don't want to re-litigate all the various decisions, but none of the ones you listed, imo, are so egregious as to prove, ipso facto, that Manny's a lousy in-game manager. The randomness of baseball is extreme enough that you can't really say "Manny's a good manager because he went (or didn't go) for the lefty against those lefties there." You have to look over time at whether or not people are put routinely in positions where they should succeed - on the whole, I think Manny does pretty well at that.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not arguing that I think Manny is GREAT tactician - there are things he does that I wouldn't, were I a big-league manager. One of my annoyances you mentioned - Manny tends to save his "power" pinch-hitters (like Willingham this year, DY in years past) for high-leverage, late-game situations that may or may not arise in any given game. So when the pitcher comes out for a PH to leadoff the bottom of the 6th, you're likely to see the backup MI guy (Cintron, or Guzman, or Bonifacio last year) because Manny's thinking of him like a "speedy" leadoff guy. I see why he does that, since you don't want to have only Cintron on your bench when you've got two-on, one-out, bottom-9, but in the aggregate, what that means is that the weaker PHs are going to get more ABs than the stronger PHs, and over time, I think that may cost you games. Does it make Manny a bad tactician? I don't think so - but it's just a different philosophy than what I'd have. You could make a similar argument for the 7th inning-8thinning-9thinning guys - that's not how I'd do it, but Manny's sure not the only guy who sees value in that stability.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 24, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

re Manny's mistakes:

1) His teams ALWAYS start the year very poorly. Last year it was 2-11, this year it's 3-11, I think in '07 it was 0-7 (I didn't look this one up, it might be wrong). This tells me he doesn't know how to prepare a team for the season.

2) He shows preferential treatment to certain players. See: Lastings Millege v. Elijah Dukes; Austin Kearns v. Willingham; Alex Cintron pinch hitting instead of Willingham two games in a row for no reason, etc. I don't know how the players see this, but I would HATE to work under a boss that was so blunt about supporting his/her favorites, regardless of performance.

3) He consistantly puts batters with poor OBP in the leadoff spot. Lastings Millege is not, never has been, and never will be a lead-off hitter. He swings at too many bad pitches and does not know how to draw a walk. Cintron leading off the other night? Really? Even Christian Guzman is a bad leadoff man because he doesn't draw walks, so his OBP is relatively low despite his high batting average. Anderson Hernandez has the same problem as a leadoff man, except he is less likely to even hold a high batting average. The most important thing a lead-off man can do is get on base, and Manny does not put batters in the 1 spot who are capable of doing that.

4)He doesn't understand when to use the double switch. Take the home-opening day phillies game: If he had double switched when he brought Hinkley in for the last out of the 6th, he could have kept a lefty "specialist" to pitch against Victorino (a switch hitter who hits righties better than lefties), Utley (L), and Howard (L who hits very poorly against LHP). Instead he used Hinkly for 1 out, pinch hit for him (wasting a bench bat), and then sent Saul Rivera (RHP) to get eaten by the lefty-hitting heart of the Phillies lineup. This decision cost us the game.

This Nationals team might not be the most talented in the division, but they are not nearly as bad as their 3-11 record. Acta has cost them wins and continues to put us in poor positions to win games.

Finally, Joebleaux, Boz is not one of the most respected baseball writers ever. He's well liked in DC by fans who don't really know anything about baseball. Anybody willing to do a little fact checking on his articles will find he's full of crap most of the time. Boz is great for channeling the feeling of the fanbase about baseball, but he is not good at writing about the baseball itself.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | April 24, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Congrats to Frank Robinson on his new position. A tribute in Washington would be fitting given so many feel we knew him here and of course the time he was close by in his playing days in Bal'more and luckily he was never associated with Angelo$.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 24, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

295, the point you made that I was responding to was this: "the Manny hate here has the same issue - it judges a decision solely on whether or not the move ultimately worked" As I stated, I disagree with that point, as I think a lot of people have been judging and discusing the underlying moves that Manny made, and not just whether it worked. In your parlance, people are questioning whether Manny actually is putting guys in situations where they should succeed, and looking at specific moves from that perspective.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 24, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

cheeseburger53, you're a perfect illustration of 295's point about Manny's detractors presenting opinion as fact.

Microanalyzing whether he pinch hits one guy or another guy two weeks into the season is just silly. Cintron is perfectly respectable career hitter, and Manny likes to get guys into action soon after they're brought up. You can certainly say "I would have pinch hit Willingham there", but to present it as some sort of damning fact about Manny's managerial ability is nuts.

As far as who leads off, please show me who is Ricky Henderson on this team.

And the stuff about preferring one guy over the other; again, just your opinion -- you hate Milledge; you hate Kearns; therefore, if Manny plays them more than you think he should, he's a bad manager.

The way you evaluate a manager is whether he wins more or less than he should with the talent he's given. Manny got 73 wins out of a lousy 2007 team that many predicted would be the worst of all time. Last year, with its insane run injuries, is pretty much impossible to draw any conclusions from. We're less than a tenth of the way through this season. How about if you wait and see what Manny does when he has reasonably talented players for half a season or so before you draw any conclusions.

Posted by: joebleux | April 24, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

ESPN 2 rebroadcasted an episode of Spotrs Century featuring F.Robby.Frank Robinson was as all of us know one hell of a player, Frank put up with unbelievable bigotry in the minors and in Cincinnati until Bill Dewitt used the excuse that Frank was washed up to trade him to Balt. for Milt Pappas in one of the most lopsisded trades in baseball history.Return with me now fellow bloggers to 2005, a west coast trip where Angel manager Mike Scioscia goes nose to nose with Robinson and Frank looks like he's gonna give Scioscia the DC beatdown with help from Jose Guillen who had to be physically restrained while defending Frank, who I don't think would have needed any help.Frank was old school to be sure and yes he expected maximum effort which is why I have a problem with Acta his style is too laid back and he doesn't hold players accountable,anyway 2005 was great and i probably attended 25 games that year yes Frank deserves a day in his honor and yes Stan Katsen and the Lerners need to be on board with this and one more thing Katsen was responsible for Frank leaving because Frank has forgotten more baseball then "Stan the Plan" will ever know.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 24, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Well, CiL, not to continue a discussion long since the thread has moved on, but I'm not sure "people are questioning whether Manny actually is putting guys in situations where they should succeed, and looking at specific moves from that perspective" is what they're doing - the way I perceive it is they're backing into a judgment of "they weren't in a position to succeed" based on the outcome, i.e. if they didn't succeed, then they weren't in position to succeed. Of course, the two aren't the same thing.

One quick example. Hinckley, who has a career OPS against (admittedly in a small sample - couldn't find his MiLB splits in the 10 seconds I have) of .472 against lefties, was put in a position to succeed Wednesday night in the 9th inning facing two consecutive lefties. That he didn't succeed doesn't make it a bad decision - it just makes it an unfortunate outcome. The criticism that I saw suggests that Manny should have mystically known that Hinckley didn't have "it" after one walk and taken him out. If we took all our relievers out after one walk because they didn't have "it," we'd have Adam Dunn pitching the 9th inning far more regularly than we'd care to see.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 24, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I loved that Frank moment, darg (not sure how to shorten that one)! I also recall that Frank was wearing what looked to be those optimist-issued dark glasses because he'd recently had some sort of eye surgery. He still could have handled Scioscia, I'll bet.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 24, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

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