Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 17, 2006
BASEBALL: Macha Macha Macha

Blez looks at the firing of Ken Macha, which seems unfair to me, but it is true that the one thing the Beane-era A's have never had is a manager who could be an emotional leader. Even within the parameters of selecting a guy who will go along with the Beane program, you would like to see them hire someone who is a little more Captain Kirk and a little less Mr. Spock. In fact, on a team where roster management and strategy are largely decided above the manager's pay grade, you would think the emphasis on getting a good leader of men would be greater.

Meanwhile, the Cubs hope Lou Piniella can recreate the success he has had in Tampa. Or was that the postseason success he had in Seattle? I do think, though, that the Cubs would be well-served by trying to acquire A-Rod to replace Ronny Cedeno at shortstop, and the hiring of Piniella could help that. But the Cubs, in sharp contrast to the A's, also need to shake a two-decade-long aversion to patience at the plate; adding another guy who hits solo homers won't help that. Even a middle of the order with two patient hitters (Lee and A-Rod) needs tablesetters.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Crank, the Cubs' aversion to taking pitches can easily be traced to Dusty Baker, who made one of the stupidest comments in the history of baseball when he said he didn't like walks since it clogs the bases.

I wouldn't be shocked if Lou signed if the owners agreed to try and get ARod.

BTW, when I made the Edmonds/O'Neill comment (being similar kinds of players), two more come to mind: Roy White and Lou--Lou Piniella being one of the great examples of finding ways to get your team to win.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at October 17, 2006 12:47 PM

Daryl, the problem dates back to about 1986-87, long before Dusty arrived. The Cubs finished 10th in the league in walks those two years, ninth once since then, and otherwise higher than twelfth in walks only four times from 1989-2006. And those few years they were as high as fifth or sixth, mainly 2000-02, was largely Sosa's doing, albeit with some help from McGriff, Grace and Bellhorn. But it's a longstanding issue.

Posted by: The Crank at October 17, 2006 1:06 PM

I think the Cubbies tradition of losing, which started under the Wrigleys, has been prolonged by the Tribune Co. Why should the Cubs' ownership attempt to field a winning team? They virtually sell out most of the season. They're already double-dipping on ticket sales through their own ticket brokers. They own their stadium so all revenues generated within come back to them. Merchandise sales are always brisk and they have a good TV contract. Winning teams would only add complications to the mix. You'd have to pay a higher salaries, possibly even bonuses, etc...

If Cubs fans want to change the culture of losing, they'll have to stop going to games first!

Posted by: Mark D at October 17, 2006 2:04 PM

Mark - I've been saying that about Cubs fans for five years.

Posted by: The Crank at October 17, 2006 2:07 PM

Crank beat me to it re Daryl's comment. As long as been a stathead (anout 20 years now), the Cubs always had a high home run/high batting average offense . . . which never seemed to finish near the top of the league in runs scored.

A few years ago, Bill James spoke of the Fenway Factor, basically the phenomenon of teams in good hitters parks actually having poor offenses (in full context). He explained it by noting that a bad hitter in an average park (or pitcher-friendly park) will lose his job, since neither fans, press, nor management will tolerate the lame-looking 235/285/350 numbers he puts up.

But put him in a good hitter's park, you'll see him keep his job with better looking, but equally lame numbers like 255/305/370, etc.

I wonder if a Wrigley Factor exists: whe the wind's blowing out, one skill is disproportionally rewarded -- the ability to put bat to ball & loft fly balls. If the wind's blowing out, it's almost worth it to swing at bad pitches, assuming you can get any kind of wood on the ball. Of course, though, as any Little League Coach can tell you, this tactic is sure to lead to low BA (and therefore, low OBP). Which is exactly what happens to Cubbie batter away from the friendly confines, and on any ball that doesn't go into, or over, the bleachers.

In other words, Player X (Andre Dawson, Steve Buechele, Glennalen Hill, Derrick May, Rick Wilkins, the list is endless) is able to avoid too many strikeouts. Despite having no speed, plate discipline, or line drive hitting skill, Player X keeps his job because of his 25-30 HRs. His 270/310/460 numbers aren't really very good, especially in Wrigley, and his defensive ability and speed also may be non-existent. But what manager is gonna bench that guy, especially with the press & fans -- obsessed with superficial, triple crown numbers?

Just my two cents, for whatever its worth.

Posted by: Mike at October 17, 2006 2:54 PM
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