Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Duality of Man(agers)

(Disclaimer: I'm ninety percent sure that I'm completely ripping this concept from somebody at Baseball Prospectus or The Hardball Times or Baseball Analysts or Rob Neyer or perhaps Steven Goldman. If you have read this before, let me know where and will give appropriate credit.)

Managing a baseball team involves two distinct and equally important skill sets. First, a manager must be able to strategically manage the game. He must know how to properly handle a bullpen, be able to weigh the benefits of the sacrifice bunt with the opportunity cost, know to properly exploit platoon splits, and optimally construct his lineup.

Second, a manager must be able to maintain a happy and productive work environment for his players. He must be able to settle in-fights, protect his players from media scrutiny, and know when a struggling player needs a kick in the ass or an arm around the shoulder.

A manager must be a master strategist and a leader of men. Perhaps that is too much to ask of one man. Maybe some day, a risk-taking organization will attempt to divide the manager position in two. Why not hire some egghead stratomatic champion to make on field decisions? Then you could hire some scrappy overachieving ex-ballplayer to motivate the players. He could also give the SABR geek the benefit of his experience on the field, advising him when a pitcher has nothing or where to position his fielders.

It would take two flexible men to fill these positions. Each would have to put his ego aside and cooperate. A guy like Lou Piniella would never be able to handle it. But after watching Joe Torre do his best to piss away this season, I would love to see the Yankees give it a chance.

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