Thanks to Baseball Musings, as good a baseball blog as there is, I found this interesting baseball manager grading list that the WSJ put together. It, apparently, ranks out baseball’s managers using some methodology I didn’t care to read.
The stated goal was to see if Joe Torre is really as good as everyone seems to think he is. The results indicate that he is, of course, not nearly as good as his ESPN-fueled reputation. Torre ranks 17th and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is at the top, followed by Bruce Bochy (Giants), Ned Yost (Brewers) and Charlie Manuel (Phillies). I know Philadelphia just let out a collective, “No freakin way, Manuel?”
But seriously, would the WSJ lie?
All those numbers crunchers at the Journal could have saved a ton of time if they would have called me up and just asked if Torre is really the best manager in baseball. The conversation would have gone something like this:
WSJ: Is this Jake?
JB: Uhh yeah, what the hell time is it?
WSJ: 10 in the morning, sir.
JB: This better be pretty important, you woke me.
WSJ: Do you think Joe Torre is really the best manager in baseball?
JB: Well that’s stupid, of course he isn’t.
WSJ: But the Yankees, they won all those championships.
JB: Quiet. Managers are overrated. They are only as good as their players and their players are only as good as the payroll. Really, all managers need to do is fill out the lineup card and manage the bullpen. That’s their job in a nutshell, especially in the American League.
WSJ: I mean, I guess if you say so. Hey, are you interested in having the Wall Street Journal delivered to your home? For a limited time it’s only–Click…Dial Tone…
See, that would have saved all kinds of time and energy. The plain facts are simple: baseball is a financial game. If you don’t spend money you cannot win consistently.
Last year Cleveland, New York, Boston and Los Angeles were the playoff representatives in the American League. According to USA Today’s list, the Yankees and Red Sox have the two highest payrolls in baseball. The Angels are No. 4 and Cleveland No. 23.
I know what you’re thinking, the Indians are way down there. Correct you are (channeling Yoda). Just remember that after having some really good teams in the late 90s the Indians were BAD. The core of their roster right now is home-grown players. It takes a long time to build farm systems up and it usually goes in cycles. I said win consistently, not cyclically.
In the National League we had the Cubs (8), Phillies (13), Rockies (25) and Diamondbacks (26). Two anomalies. Once again, these teams have been bad and are winning through their farm systems. Once they have to start paying these players salaries commensurate with their actual market value one of two things will happen: Either the players leave for the New Yorks and Bostons of the world or their team salaries start moving up the chart.
Like they said in Bull Durham, it’s a very simple game; you throw the ball, hit the ball and catch the ball. They just forgot to add the part about paying a lot to get players that do all those things very well.
You’d think all those numbers people at WSJ would know the only reason Joe Torre is “the best manager ever to suit up in a saggy uniform” is because George Steinbrenner pays a lot of money for players that are, ya know, good.
I’ll tell you something funny though. Back in the Dark Times when the Yankees were winning more championships than I, as a Cubs fan, can shake a stick at they were doing so with players right out of their farm system like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettite and Jorge Posada. Somewhere along the line it looks like ‘ol “Runs His Mouth Too Much” (Steinbrenner’s Native American name) lost sight of that.
Oh well, you can win games by paying for them too. Just ask Boston. They’re the new Yankees and are just as unbearable. That’s right, I said it.