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Bill James on Dave Trembley


DrungoHazewood

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From his website's Ask Bill feature:

Hey Bill, I have two related questions. If you were running your own team and a genie offered you your choice of any manager ever to run your team as a gift, who would you pick? Also who is/was your favorite manager? Any particular reasons? My answers are Weaver and Davey Johnson respectively. Thanks.

Asked by: Henry F.

Answered: May 12, 2009

You know, I really don't have an answer for you. I try to discipline myself not to judge managers, because I don't have any rational criteria to make judgments except in marginal cases. But I would say I have been very impressed with Dave Trembley in Baltimore.

And the follow-up:

OK, what impresses you about Dave Tremblay(sic)? Usually, it's hard to be impressed with a .425 manager. (For readers: Tremblay never played baseball professionally. He started as a high school coach, eventually became a MLB scout and finally a manager.)

Asked by: Trailbzr

Answered: May 12, 2009

It's also hard to manage a .425 team without looking like a loser, but he does it. I don't know what I like about him, honestly; I try not to judge managers. But it seems like he stays in the game really well. He's had a lot of young pitchers who struggle with the strike zone, so he's always in danger of letting the game get away from him, but it seems like it doesn't.

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I think Dave does a fine job. And he has had to work with a less than stellar pitching staff for the entirety of his stay. I haven't always loved his decisions with the bullpen, but I'm a believer. Let's get the pitching staff up to snuff and then pass judgement if he can't make them a winner.

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Could this be a case of James seeing the names Weaver and Johnson and giving the reader what he wants to hear? I would have to assume Henry F is an O's fan.

Then again it seems James is more impressed with his demeanor then his actual skills. I will agree that DT has a great demeanor.

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Could this be a case of James seeing the names Weaver and Johnson and giving the reader what he wants to hear? I would have to assume Henry F is an O's fan.

Then again it seems James is more impressed with his demeanor then his actual skills. I will agree that DT has a great demeanor.

Ehhh Bill James isn't a butt kisser. If he says it, he believes it.

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With all the flak Trembley has been taking, it's nice to hear. I do think DT does a very good job of staying positive and even keeled, and shows a lot of patience. Those are very good attributes, and should be remembered even when we are blaming him for the latest baserunning blunder or bullpen meltdown.

Trembley gets all of 2009 to show if he can get this team to improve as the season goes along and the younger players start arriving. I'm not wedded to him being our manager in 2010, but I'm not ruling it out, either.

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This team does fight...i like that.

But DT is a very bad in game manager.

Maybe it's because I was not a conscious baseball fan when Davey was around but I don't even know what a good in game manager looks like. Who are some guys around the league you think do a good job?

By the way I wonder how people feel about this comment, "I try to discipline myself not to judge managers, because I don't have any rational criteria to make judgments except in marginal cases."

If Bill James can't think of objective metrics to measure manager success then, I dunno...

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Maybe it's because I was not a conscious baseball fan when Davey was around but I don't even know what a good in game manager looks like. Who are some guys around the league you think do a good job?

I don't pay enough attention to other team's managers to give you a good answer here...I just know what ours is....And we have a manager who uses his bench and BP very poorly. He needs to rest his regulars more and just won't do it.

Now, i like his attitude...I like the way he handles the media...I like that the team plays hard for him...All those things are as good as it gets IMO.

But in terms of "x's and o's", he isn't good at all.

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By the way I wonder how people feel about this comment, "I try to discipline myself not to judge managers, because I don't have any rational criteria to make judgments except in marginal cases."

If Bill James can't think of objective metrics to measure manager success then, I dunno...

I basically agree. Especially if you include his comment about there being cases around the margins where you certainly can judge a guy. For example, Sam Perlozzo was a very poor manager in any number of aspects of his job, and he lost the clubhouse, so it's not hard to call him a poor major league manager.

There aren't any objective measures for what a manager does. Everything you can judge him on objectively is more the responsibility of the players than the manager. Most things that fans complain about in a manager are either subjective (I don't think he's fired up enough!) or way down in the noise (His teams bunted 20 times more than the average! That may have cost us as many as 9 runs last year!).

This just popped into my head - I propose that we define a kind of replacement level for managers: nobody. What would the team have done, or the outcome have been, if no one was managing this team? I think anything above that probably has some value, and anything below that is obviously a negative.

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This team does fight...i like that.

But DT is a very bad in game manager.

That may be the case, but in-game management is something you can learn. Baseball really isn't that hard of a game to manage - game wise. And MLB is different than the minor leagues. He's probably a little behind because he never played in the big leagues.

What's hard about being a Major League manager is the managing of personalities, expectations, and making sure the team believes in the path you are taking them. One heartbeat if you will. That's the kind of stuff that has to be innate, you can't go back and review that. Yes, bad in game decisions can wear on a team, but I think he Dave does the managing part as well as most.

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Was DJ to credit for this, or did he inherit better players that made him look like a better manager? He had 3 pitchers in each of 1996 and 1997 pitch more than 200 IP. In 1997 Kamenicki pitched 175 innings. That right there is going to keep your BP rested. Geez.

However, looking over those rosters, I see that in 1996 there were 13 saves by pitchers other than Myers, the closer, and in 1997, there were 14 saves by pitchers other than the closer. In the 2008, there were only 4 saves made by pitchers other than Sherrill... and he was hurt for a big chunk of that season.

It sounds like DJ knew when to give a BP pitcher the night off, especially the closer. He also had a BP where he trusted most of his pitchers in tight spots. DT seems to have a BP he uses when winning and then while losing.

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This team does fight...i like that.

But DT is a very bad in game manager.

Let's not overstate things. He's an average in-game manager. He's got his faults, but overall, I doubt he's much worse at the Xs and Os than all other big-league managers. It's just that he's the only manager we watch on an everyday basis, so his mistakes get magnified.

Ask any fan of any team, and they probably think their manager is poor at in-game strategy, too. When you're following a manager every day, it's natural to second-guess them. In reality, there's not a lot of difference between managers in terms of in-game strategy, except in the rare cases of an Earl Weaver type.

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This just popped into my head - I propose that we define a kind of replacement level for managers: nobody. What would the team have done, or the outcome have been, if no one was managing this team? I think anything above that probably has some value, and anything below that is obviously a negative.

Eh, I don't know about that. In the absence of a manager decisions still have to be made unless the team chooses to do nothing, AKA forfeit. So if the manager's not making the decisions than someone is, most likely the players on the team. Of course what and how decisions are made will then depend on who the players are and their own philosophies and abilities to compromise and lead.

So given an identical situation, two teams of players will come to different decisions, therefore your replacement level of nobody is not a set value.

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I don't pay enough attention to other team's managers to give you a good answer here...I just know what ours is....And we have a manager who uses his bench and BP very poorly. He needs to rest his regulars more and just won't do it.

Now, i like his attitude...I like the way he handles the media...I like that the team plays hard for him...All those things are as good as it gets IMO.

But in terms of "x's and o's", he isn't good at all.

From what I've seen the media throws questions to him underhanded.

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