Sunday, October 12, 2014

0 comments Jon Heyman Says People Are Being Really Mean to Ned Yost, Brad Ausmus and Don Mattingly, You Guys

There were some questionable decisions made in the AL Wild Game, NLDS and ALDS this past year. One of the favorite games of Twitter users is second-guessing a manager's decisions, especially when those decisions happen in the playoffs. Jon Heyman has written an article about how the Twitterverse was being super-mean to managers like Ned Yost and Don Mattingly, some of which he understands and other stuff he doesn't understand. Mostly managers need to get out of the way and not actively try to screw something up. Like don't have a "7th inning guy" and refuse to adjust your strategy when faced with circumstances that mean your "7th inning guy" may not be the best guy for the situation. Sometimes managing in the playoffs requires a different strategy than managing in the regular season, which isn't something some managers seem to understand. The truth is great decisions can turn out badly and dumb decisions can work out. Part of being a manager is being second-guessed, but a part of being a manager is making decisions that are the best decision under the circumstances, not being too rigid and hoping the result goes your way.

One thing about the managers this postseason: For good or bad, they can't seem to get out of the spotlight.

One would think since these managers are volunteers who don't draw a salary then the fans would lay off said managers as they actively make decisions that seem to harm their team. But no, fans insist on criticizing managers for making stupid decisions. The game is decided on the field, people. Lay off those who are making the decisions that affect the outcome of baseball games. It's out of line.

Royals manager Ned Yost has been criticized, ridiculed and otherwise made fun of – and he hasn't lost a single game yet.

This was written before the Division Series started, and by the grace of God and with a little luck, the Royals have not lost a game yet.

The Dodgers' Don Mattingly, the Tigers' Brad Ausmus and the Nats' Matt Williams, whose teams are all out now, also found themselves under the microscope, with the criticism overdone in some cases and, perhaps, not so much in others.

I don't know how not playing one of your best hitters in an elimination game, using the same bullpen that blew up the previous game, and having a "7th inning guy" while refusing to change for the playoffs can be overdone, but that's just me. Those are decisions that directly affect the outcome of playoff games.

Meanwhile, a couple other mangers have been lauded, or even almost deified.

How dare the public criticize managers who manage poorly and then laud those managers who make smart decisions! Every manager should be treated the same no matter what decisions he makes!

Don't you hate when Twitter is so mean they over-criticize a manager for his decisions and then compliment another manager for his decisions? The Twitterverse needs to quit being so mean, but then really nice at the same time.

The Cardinals' Mike Matheny also is being universally praised, as he seems to get the most out of a team whose best characteristic may be that it is mentally tough, like him. A Dodgers person lauded him for what that person saw as a stunt to delay the game when Matheny called for the home grounds crew to fix the mound as closer Trevor Rosenthal composed himself following a two-hit Dodgers rally, and a 2-and-0 count. If it was, it worked, as Rosenthal saved Game 3.

That Dodgers person? Probably Yasiel Puig, who only cares about himself and not about the Dodgers team. It's probably why he was benched for Game 4. Let's talk about what an asshole Puig is. Bill Plaschke can't get enough of it.

It's hard to recall a postseason where so much attention has been placed on managers and managerial moves -- for good or bad.

Part of the issue is some of these guys didn't have experience as a manager prior to being hired by their current team. It shows at times.

Some have said over the years, in fact, that managers aren't all that important, or even that the difference between an average one and a good one is pretty close to negligible.

This can be true. Then there are other times when B.J. Upton hits leadoff for a long period of time and Andrelton Simmons hits second for a long period of time and managers do start to make a difference.

But you wouldn't know anyone thinks that managers lack influence if you read Twitter, where complaints (and a couple rare compliments) have piled up against a handful of this year's postseason managers.

The point is that managers lack influence until they start to exert their influence by making pitching and lineup changes during a game. I hope Jon Heyman understands this. It's not that managers don't make a difference, it's that managers don't make a difference until they start making really smart or dumb decisions.

One of them has even inspired a hashtag, #Yosted, which refers to some supposed poor strategy by Yost, who got the ball rolling for second guessing these playoffs by inserting rookie starter Yordano Ventura into a key relief role in the wild card game. (While he was burned when Brandon Moss hit a three-run home run, the Royals escaped with a win and haven't lost since.)

Several things here that Jon Heyman leaves out in order to show he doesn't understand causation with that idiotic "the Royals won and haven't lost since" comment. 

1. Ventura isn't a relief pitcher. He has only pitched in relief during his career once. It's very different to start all year and then pitch in relief. The Wild Card game isn't the best time to make that transition for the second time in his career.

2. Ventura had thrown 73 pitches on Sunday and only had two days of rest. He may not have been tired, but he wasn't exactly rested when coming into the game during circumstances he isn't used to entering the game under.

3. Heyman is about to defend keeping Kershaw in Game 4 of the NLDS after throwing 93 pitches on three days rest, yet here Shields had thrown 88 pitches on normal rest and he is fine with him being pulled for "the gas" Yost so badly wanted from Ventura. This difference in opinion from Heyman doesn't make sense to me. Both decisions occurred in elimination games.

4. Brandon Moss hit a fucking home run. The decision ended up terribly. The game would not have gone to 12 innings if Yost didn't make this decision and have it backfire. Yet, because Heyman saw the Royals won the game he figures this was a good decision. It's like saying, "I threw gasoline on myself and lit myself on fire today, but it wasn't a bad decision because I got skin grafts and I am still alive. That proves my decision-making was sound."

5. The fact Ned Yost made a dumb decision and it worked simply isn't a reason to think it was a smart decision. I can't emphasize this enough. 

One club executive from the NL, speaking generally about the postseason, referred to some of the managing choices as nothing short of “terrible."

Another executive, from the AL, wailed, “What are these guys doing? They keep taking out their best pitchers for relievers, sometimes middle relievers. Even (Angels manager Mike Scioscia) did it. He took out a guy they're paying $15 million for a middle reliever after two outs.”

Yeah, but it's the Twitterverse that is really the big meanies for criticizing these managers.

I didn't have a huge issue with this decision because I don't think salary should play a part in which pitchers are on the mound, plus in an elimination game like this the manager needs to make sure his team doesn't get down by a lot of runs early. That means if a starter isn't pitching well from the outset then he may not get a chance to recover.

While Scioscia may get the benefit of a doubt, Ausmus and Williams, the rookie managers, seem to have much bigger targets on their backs. And Mattingly, being a big name with a talented team in a big town, well, criticism is par for the course for him.

It's not just making bad decisions, but going out of the way to make bad decisions. It's being stringent in situations where stringency is not required. It's keeping Craig Kimbrel in the bullpen in a tie game because you want to use him for a save situation as opposed to putting him on the mound in a crucial situation with runners on-base.

Ausmus had only the barest of managerial experience (he managed Team Israel in the WBC) when the Tigers hired him to replace the iconic Jim Leyland, and Williams had only served as a coach, not a manager, when the Nats tabbed him to take the place of the legendary veteran Davey Johnson.

I think their inexperience definitely plays a role in their decision-making. They know what worked for them previously and don't have the experience or trust in themselves to go against what was done in the regular season. They know what worked and lack the experience to know when to go against what may have worked previously.

A question could be raised whether inexperienced managers are better off learning with developing or even rebuilding teams. In any case, it's certainly a gamble to entrust a stacked team to a rookie decision-maker.

Not necessarily. A question can be raised whether inexperienced managers learn more quickly when put in difficult situations where they get burnt. After all, failure is a great teacher. Failure on a big stage is a really great teacher. If the point is to make sure inexperienced managers make decisions that are more likely to not hurt his team's chances of winning a World Series then no manager should start off with a stacked or competitive team. But the point should be to find a guy who is the best manager for your team and hope his decisions under pressure are the right decisions. Sometimes experienced managers (Ned Yost) make questionable decisions in situations they have never been in before too. It's not always about the experience of the manager, but the experience of that manager in the given situation.

“When we went to hire a manager, we wanted someone who understood the culture of our organization,” Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said. “We certainly felt Mike was going to have a learning curve. But he understood the culture. Mike worked for us. No, he didn't have managerial experience. But he understood what we were about. I think that helped.”

Other teams hire managers that "understand the culture" of the team that hired them too. Don Mattingly worked under Joe Torre before he got the Dodgers' manager job. It's about making smart, logical decisions in different game situations. There is not always a book, culture or method on how to do this.

Ausmus was criticized especially for going back to struggling Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria in Game 2 after they didn't get many outs in Game 1. That Chamberlain was only in briefly in Game 1, and wasn't hit especially hard in the first game didn't deter the critics.

It doesn't matter if Chamberlain was hit hard or threw a lot of pitches in Game 1. He threw six pitches to two batters and gave up a hit and two runs in that game. He let inherited runners score, which isn't what a team looks for in a relief pitcher. Then Ausmus gave Chamberlain the chance to face four batters in Game 2 and Chamberlain recorded one out, hit a batter and gave up two hits. It's not just that Chamberlain didn't get hit hard in Game 1, but when he was getting hit in Game 2 he stayed out there.

By the way, Chamberlain had pitched two innings against the Orioles on the season. He had an ERA of 9.00 against them while giving up six hits and two runs to the 13 Oriole batters he faced. After Game 1, Ausmus could have easily thought, "Boy, Joba gets hit hard by the Orioles. It's probably not the best matchup for him." He didn't though and trotted Chamberlain back out there the next day. Did Ausmus not have this information handy? It's not the decision that Ausmus made based on Game 1, but the decision based on Chamberlain's performance against the Orioles on the season combined with his performance in Game 1 where I question Ausmus. Therein lies the issue with the decision to trot Chamberlain back out there for Game 2. Ausmus had two separate pieces of information saying it may not turn out well.

One of them isn't Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, who said about Ausmus, “He did a fine job. We don't have any complaints.”

He's not going to throw his first year manager under the bus by stating he didn't agree with some of the decisions that Ausmus made. Dombrowski isn't stupid enough to give the media chum in the water like that.

One competing AL exec even wondered about whether the team and superstar Miguel Cabrera look a little “loose,” meaning undisciplined, but Dombrowski swatted back that criticism, saying Cabrera, for one, is just a guy who likes to have fun.

“He's no different since he's come to Detroit,” Dombrowski said.

I like how Jon Heyman takes quotes from competing AL executives and doesn't treat some of the quotes like they aren't just attempts to start trouble or create disenfranchisement among the Tigers organization. I mean, a competing AL executive would NEVER do that. I'm sure some of this criticism of Ausmus is valid, while some of it is just tweaking the Tigers when given the chance.

Williams, to some, had many more issues. To remove his best pitcher Jordan Zimmermann after 100 pitches one batter after he had retired 20 in a row (and one game removed from a no-hitter) for closer Drew Storen in Game 1 seemed to be a stretch to some (though the AL exec pointed out that Storen has been “great all year.”)

This is a pure judgment call in my mind. Zimmerman had just thrown 100 pitches or more in two straight starts and Storen has been good all year. If Zimmerman was pitching on normal rest (which he was) then I see it as a judgment call. If Zimmerman were on 3 days rest then I probably would have pulled him as well. What's the score in the game, what batters are up? These are factors that Jon Heyman seems to be ignoring here and should not be doing so.

The big issue for Williams though, was the 3-2 loss in Game 4, when he used left Matt Thornton (who'd pitched well for them but had been discarded by the Yankees, who didn't trust him in a big spot) against Buster Posey, relied on nervous rookie Aaron Barrett for too long and used Rafael Soriano, who struggled in the second half, but never called upon their best set-up man Tyler Clippard, Storen or even Strasburg, who was said to be ready to go.

And there we go. This was a judgment call also, but it was a dumb judgment call. Unlike the decision to pull Zimmerman, Williams was following his mandated rule for who his "7th inning guy" was and not making a decision based on the game situation. In a win-and-out game, the best pitchers must be used by a manager. They don't "have" to be used, but it's dumb not use these pitchers if you are a manager who wants to give his team the best chance to win the game. The situation here called for the best pitchers to appear in order to win the game. Who the "7th inning guy" was doesn't matter.

Mattingly took plenty of hits, too, as he tried to navigate through a cold bullpen. The call to start Clayton Kershaw on three days rest and keep him in Game 4 after 93 pitches through six one-hit innings was logical

I mean, yes, and no. It's bad enough the Dodgers wanted Kershaw to pitch on three days rest, but Mattingly should have had a very short hook with Kershaw. Once he saw a runner get on-base, or even two runners, that was probably the time to pull him. I know the statistics said that Adams didn't hit lefties well and Kershaw pitches well to lefties, but having Kershaw go too far over 100 pitches was an error and I would have pulled him. 

(“no one would have removed Kershaw after six,” one exec said).

I would have pulled him. After Holliday's infield single I would have pulled Kershaw. Then after Peralta's single I would have pulled Kershaw. Simply put, he was working on three days rest and was nearing 100 pitches. He was pitching well, but pitching well on three days rest. Of course if Mattingly had pulled Kershaw and the Dodgers lost the game then there would have been calls to keep Kershaw in the game. He pitched six innings on three days rest. He did his job. 

And even the surprise call to bench Yasiel Puig, then use him as a pinch runner, not a pinch hitter, is highly defensible, as Puig conjured his 2013 NLCS and second-half 2014 slumps with a seven-strikeout streak in the Cardinals series.

Actually, I consider this to be less defensible. Puig was striking out a lot, but he still had three hits and a walk on 14 plate appearances. He is a guy who can change the game with one swing of the bat and causes teams to pitch carefully to him. He strikes out, but he also gets on-base. 

Justin Turner had a big year, and the Dodgers don't have another guy on their bench who can score from first on a double down the line like Puig can.

Typical Jon Heyman. He doesn't think it all through. Who cares if a guy can score from first on a double down the line? First someone has to hit a double down the line to score Puig. And yes, Turner had a big year in a limited role. He had one at-bat in the NLDS at that point and didn't get a hit. If Puig isn't going to bat because he'll strike out, that's fine, but Turner had close to the same strikeout per plate appearance ratio that Puig had on the season. To defend Puig as a pinch-runner because no other player on the bench could score on a double down the line? It's ridiculous to me. Someone has to hit a double before Puig can score.

The one highly questionable move was calling upon Scott Elbert, who'd only thrown 4 1/3 innings in the majors this year. While there were mostly lefties coming up and he'd obviously lost faith in the others, that move seemed like a bit of a risk.

Well, Elbert did strikeout the only two batters he faced in Game 1. That's something, isn't it? It seems Heyman only pays attention to what happened in the NLDS when it fits his motives. He wants to say it was fine to bench Puig because of what happened in the NLDS, but then questions the decision to put Elbert in the game while ignoring his Game 1 performance.

Mattingly could have brought J.P. Howell to pitch here in Game 3. He brought in Howell earlier in the series and he had gotten hit hard, but then Mattingly played him late in Game 3 anyway to pitch less than an inning. So it's all confusing and I didn't have a huge issue with Elbert being in the game.

But that his status is even a question after he improved the Dodgers' win total four straight years -- from 79 with Joe Torre to 82, 86, 92 and 94 -- suggests how much focus is on these managers. Such is life these days in the twitter world.

As Jon Heyman blames Twitter for this while quoting MLB executives who agree with idiots on Twitter. I'm sure it's all Twitter's fault that these executives agree with people on Twitter. It's hilarious that Heyman blames Twitter while providing quotes from those not on Twitter who agree with the Twitter users.

Yost has been hit hardest of all, and some of his moves seem wacky. However, the Royals don't have him for strategy but for his persona.

Sure, he can't manage very well, but he's a great guy to be around and he's the type of manager the Royals want...absent the whole "Not sure he's good at strategy" part that is so crucial in the playoffs. 

"He's very intense and highly competitive," Royals GM Dayton Moore said. "He brings a competitive spirit every single day. He's created an attitude of resilience and toughness."

And nothing says toughness and resilience like "bringing the gas" and then bunting as much as possible. 

The way Yost getting hammered publicly, he had better be tough.

Well, if he weren't so poor at strategy then he wouldn't get hammered publicly by those mean people on the Twitter machine. It's all their fault for pointing out the stupid moves that Yost made in the playoffs through the Wild Card game and ALDS. How dare the fans have a forum to express their opinion when a manager does something they believe to be stupid! It's so mean to criticize these volunteer managers like this.