There are always surprises in sports…it happens in all sports. Some are really expected but some are surprises, that looking back, could have been expected … this week the focus is in the Surprised.…Really? category.
…Starting with the Cardinals….many seemed very surprised with their sudden departure from the post season. Maybe, their departure had something to do with the manager. I don’t blame Marmol. Heck, if I was him, I’d have accepted the job too. I blame the Cards management for the choice.
…Consider some of these factors…there have been only 108 MLB managers who did not play in the MLB themselves (like Ollie) who became MLB managers out of the 834 men who have become MLB managers. That’s roughly only 12% of the managers who didn’t actually play in the MLB themselves. That’s going all the way back to 1871 when some teams were coached by the owners (Connie Mack is the most famous) and player-coaches.
…Further, Ollie was a Rookie Manager for the Cards. In MLB history since 1871, only 5 rookie managers (who managed the entire season) have won the World Series! Those 5 were Alex Cora-2018, Boston. Cora was a MLB player for 14 years & was Houston’s bench coach the year previously. Bob Brenly-2011, D-Backs—played 9 years as an MLB catcher. Ralph Houk-1961-NYY–managed in minor leagues & was NYY bench coach prior to managing. Eddie Dyer, 1946 Cardinals. Eddie had managed minor leagues for the Cards for 18 years prior to his MLB title. The 5th manager winning in rookie year was Buckie Harris-1924-Senators-he was a player-manager. Ollie’s experience & credentials don’t seem to match up to any of these 5 rookie managers.
….One must consider the current post-season schedule. Forced into the 4th post-season series being added by the owners this year, now 40% of the teams of the MLB qualify for the playoffs(6 of 15 in each league). For decades, there were on 2 post-season participants…the league champions. Clearly, It’s much easier now for ANY manager to reach the playoff plateau.
…Sidebar here….for years, many NHL detractors always point out that 50% of hockey teams make the playoffs. Yet, in the NHL it looks like ALL the teams are actually trying to win. You can’t say that in the MLB, 3 of the teams in the Cards division weren’t even trying to win…they failed to sign any significant free agents or acquiring veterans who could add value to the team for a year or 2. Instead they dumped some of the few quality players that they DID have on the roster. Generally, they acquired younger, always “promising” players. Most of whom will NOT become stars. There were several other teams in the MLB “just along for the ride”…and the money 😉 Surprised..Really?
….While I don’t blame Marmol for being named the manager, I do question his adoration to the altar of analytics. Definitely, that data should be considered but it’s not the ONLY factor. No data indicates a 100% or a 0% chance of happening. The player performs at such & such a level according to his history. But….players are humans..not machines. Sure consider it but use your EYES & EXPERIENCE to evaluate if the player is @ his norm, above it, or below it on a given day. If the Cards, or any other MLB team, want a complete sell-out to analytics, hire an engineer! Looking back, I’m guessing now, that Mike Schildt, who did use analytics to a large degree, would NOT agree to 100% capitulation to the Analytics. He wanted to use his own experiences, his eyes on what he was seeing, to make some decisions.
…So the Cards began their post season with a rookie manager with NO MLB playing experience who followed analytics like a space engineer. Then, the Cardinals lost both games, Surprised.. Really?
…The early removal of Quintana from the game even had Alex Rodriguez (former MLB star & now national announcer) say on the air, “a manager has to use his eyes, Quintana is on”. Quintana, seemingly really pumped up being in the post-season, was terrific. Marmol picked Quintana as his starter for Friday, opting for his hottest pitcher (0.81 E.R.A. since Sept. 1) and he surpassed expectations. He had allowed only 2 hits, made only 75 pitches and yet was removed after striking out a batter in the 6th! The analytics favored a right handed pitcher—Jordan Hicks was brought into the game.
…Hicks faced just 2 batters and retired them quickly but was removed at that point. No One pinch-hit for Hicks, Gallegos was brought in to start the next inning. People may ask why? Did the analytics favor Gallegos over Hicks? I assume—yes. But…was Hicks wasted—using him for only 2 batters?
…Helsley, who has been primary a 1 inning pitcher. Came into the game in the 8th, got out of the inning in his 2 batters. But…in the 9th it was evident that he didn’t have his best “stuff”. After the 1st batter singled, then 2 batters walked followed by a HBP. Now 1 run was already in with bases loaded. Those 3 runners all scored when Pallante entered the game. Helsley had hand issues with the “touch” of the ball. Sooo..why use him into the next inning? He’s usually not a 2 inning guy! Why use him in that role in the Playoffs? This isn’t 2nd guessing, I was very unhappy with Ollie during the game as were many, many other fans and baseball experts (that doesn’t include me)
…I’m sure that many of you have thoughts on both sides of the “Ollie” issue. Please share your thoughts on Facebook (Bob Ryan) or send to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org & I’ll post for you. If you have missed some blogs recently, you can find all 7 years of my blogs on www.bobryansportsblog.com. Thanks for your read …spread the word to your friends, family, sports fans. Have a super week! Bob