|What makes a good manager?|
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on March 22, 2009
The ingenious Joe Posnanski uses the recently released Jim Gobble to make a point about what makes a good manager. And if you were thinking it's about time that a statistic is developed for manager quality (like me), Joe reminds you how complex the job really is:
And there's also no agreement behind what "a manager's moves" even means. Managers moves could be pregame moves (setting the lineup, arranging the bullpen, etc.), or it could mean in-game moves (to hit-and-run, to pull a pitcher, to sacrifice, etc.), or it could mean subtle moves (telling a pitcher who is struggling that he has confidence in him, resting a struggling hitter for a day to get his head on straight), or it could mean preemptive moves (having the team work extra on pitchers covering first, instituting a fine for any player who does not run out a ground ball, giving the take sign on 3-0), or it could mean big picture move (naming a player a captain, having a young player's locker set up next to a veteran player's), or it could mean a public relations move (calling out a player in the paper, giving a player a vote of confidence on the radio), or about 12 million other things.
And here I was thinking anyone could manage a big league team. Then Joe gets into more detail on in game moves:
A good manager has an uncanny way of consistently putting his players in positions where they can succeed. There are no perfect players, but more than that, there are very, very few players who do not have serious and easy-to-define weaknesses in their game. Some hit but don't field, some field but don't hit, some cannot catch up to hot fastballs, some cannot lay off the outside slider, some throw too many pitches, some cannot get lefties out, some do not walk, some are not aggressive enough, on and on and on and on forever. Seems to me that the part of managing that matters most -- and maybe this is where Bobby Cox shines -- is setting up game after game after game so that more of your players get to play to their strengths.
There is a lot of truth in what he says (about 100%), but it's much easier said than done. You can't always pinch-hit for your lefty, can't always bring your mop-up guy when the score is 12-0. Still, if you are managing, and if it's your children's little league team, "putting your players in positions where they can succeed" is probably the best guideline you can have - except maybe "have fun".