Wednesday, February 25, 2009

National League Managers - A List and Who's Vulnerable

The 2009 season lies before us (this blog is inspired by Obama oratory skills) as a blank canvas ready for the grand splashing of paint. Like some overpaid and overemphasized modern painter or the preschooler who does the same kind of work in exactly the same way, there will be a randomness of events that fill the season with some unexpected turns and twists which even the most gifted mathematician cannot predict, that will splash colors on this blank canvas which won't be completed until the final out of the World Series (top THAT sentence, Mr. President!). Along the way, some of these unexpected (and expected) events could spell the end of a major league manager's current tenure (or two or three). Here is a complete National League list and a non-mathematical gut judgement on who will make it to the end of the season and who won't.

Bob Melvin - Arizona Diamondbacks
Melvin is in his fifth year of managing the Diamondbacks. After an amazing run in 2007, the Diamondbacks opened a big lead in 2008 only to fall back hard to finish 82-80 last year.
PECOTA predicts a first place finish with 92 wins. It seems a lot will have to go right to get to that win total. If the team finishes ten wins less than that prediction, Melvin could be vulnerable. Finishes the year - 95%

Bobby Cox - Atlanta Braves
Cox, now sixty-eight, is an institution in Atlanta and one of the most beloved of all managers. Though the Braves are retooling, Cox won't be going anywhere. The Braves struggled to a 90 loss season last year. PECOTA predicts a third place finish with 87 Wins. That seems high and 82 Wins would seem to be where this team ends up in a strong division.
Finishes the year - 100%

Lou Piniella - Chicago Cubs
Piniella has won two straight Central Division titles but lost both division series. They are the strongest team in a pretty flat division, so a third title seems like a good bet. The Cubs won 97 games last year and PECOTA gives them 96 this year and a ten game cushion over the Brewers. That win total totally depends on starting pitching which seems to be their biggest question mark. If the Cubs fall behind any other team in the division, the new owners of the Cubs could get testy.
Finishes the year - 99%

Dusty Baker - Cincinnati Reds
This one is interesting. Baker brought a weak team to 74 Wins last year which seemed higher than expected. The team has placed much of its future in its young arms of which Baker has a serious history of abusing (Kerry Wood comes to mind). PECOTA predicts the team will improve five Wins to 79 this year. If the team starts off much worse and the young pitchers struggle, Baker could be on the chopping block.
Finishes the year - 65%

Clint Hurdle - Colorado Rockies
The Rockies regressed last year after making the World Series the year before after a fantastic run at the end. Much was expected and the team lost 88 games last year. Hurdle seems to know this is a do or die year and PECOTA isn't promising with only a two game improvement predicted. If the Rockies fall behind early in the division, Hurdle could find himself out after seven up and down years.
Finishes the year - 50%

Fredi Gonzalez - Florida Marlins
Every year we hear the same thing: The Marlins have the scariest young talent. While they do have some great young arms, a lot has to go right (on a pretty low budget) to make this all work. Gonzalez, in his second year with the team last year improved the teams Win totals by 13 games to 84 Wins. PECOTA predicts a big regression this coming year and predicts the team will lose 91 games and come in last place. While it's hard to think this team is going to finish behind the Nationals (what's up with that??), they need much to go right to play with the Phillies and the Mets. A bad start could leave Fredi vulnerable.
Finishes the year - 90%

Cecil Cooper - Houston Astros
The Astros looked dead at the beginning of last year and had a strong finish to end with 84 Wins, a 17 Win improvement on 2007. PECOTA predicts that will disintegrate this year due to pitching and only predicts the team to win 66 games. Not a good thing for Cooper. If things get real ugly there early, Cooper could be in trouble. If they hang in there a while, he'll finish the year.
Finishes the year - 75%

Joe Torre - Los Angeles Dodgers
Much is expected in the land of Blue this year after a first place finish last year, Torre's first with the club. A lot of what happens will be in the hands (or not) of Manny Ramirez. PECOTA, probably basing a projection without Manny(?) has them at 87 Wins in 2009 and well behind the Diamondbacks. This is the year's biggest question mark. Either way, Torre will finish the year.
Finishes the year - 100%

Ken Macha - Milwaukee Brewers

Macha hasn't been given a golden ticket here. The Brewers overcame some turmoil and rode the arms of Ben Sheets and C. C. Sabathia to the wild card last year with 90 victories. Macha won 93 games as a manager of the A's a few years back but was still let go after whispers of some serious club house conflict among his players. Sheets and Sabathia are gone and PECOTA only predicts 86 Wins for the team in 2009. The team can hit but will they pitch enough to compete? It seems unlikely. If the team falls back early and Macha loses the team, it won't be pretty.

Finishes the year - 50%

Jerry Manuel - New York Mets

There is a lot of pressure on Manual to produce a winner this year. The team has a new stadium and a high priced closer and set up man to close the gap on what has gone wrong the last two years. PECOTA expects them to win the division with 91 Wins. Anything less will be deemed unacceptable. But his hopes are pinned on Pelfrey, Maine and Oliver Perez, which seems a bit scary to the Fan. Any kind of bad start and there will be troubled waters here.

Finishes the year - 90%

Charlie Manuel - Philadelphia Phillies

Manual is certainly riding high with two first place finishes and a World Series title to his resume the last two years. Manual won't be going anywhere despite how the unpredictable team goes. PECOTA only gives them 89 Wins this year. Either way, Manual is one of the biggest locks to keep his job.

Finishes the year - 100%

John Russell - Pittsburgh Pirates

Nothing is expected of the Pirates this year and PECOTA lists the 2009 projection at 98 Losses, or four more than last year. There isn't any reason to think the team will be any better than that. Russell is the guy this team wanted to help them rebuild and it is doubtful that he will be going anywhere.

Finishes the year - 98%

Tony LaRussa - St. Louis Cardinals

LaRussa has taken a hit on his power base in the last couple of years and he is being forced to play younger players and yet keep the team competitive. He always seems to find a way to do that, but if the Cardinals start badly and stay bad, this situation could get explosive. This is definitely one to watch.

Finishes the year - 85%

Bud Black - San Diego Padres

Black has some serious problems with a team that is not suited for competing any time soon. The team lost 25 games more last year than the year before and though PECOTA predicts a ten game improvement this year, it seems unlikely. The question is whether or not the new owners of the team will have patience with Black or clean house out there.

Finishes the year - 40%

Bruce Bochy - San Francisco Giants

Everyone predicted the Giants would lose 100 games last year but they only lost 90, so that is an accomplishment of sorts for Bochy. An interesting story popped up today where Omar Vizquel rapped his former manager for a lack of aggressiveness as a manager. Interesting. Anyway, the PECOTA projections list the Giants for a five game improvement this coming year. But they have an extremely talented trio of starting pitchers who, if they catch fire, could make this a surprising team this year in an unstable division. It seems somewhat unfathomable, but then so did the Rays seem that way last year.

Finishes the year - 100%

Manny Acta - Washington Nationals

Woe is the Nationals who lost 102 games last year. Amazingly, PECOTA gives them 80 Wins this year. Whuh? The team seems in total disarray, with a general manager under siege, scouts under scrutiny and a whole lot of frayed ends. When Zimmerman is considered its best player, that's a scary thought. If the team opens stagnant, it could be the final Acta for Manny.

Finishes the year - 50%

We'll run through the American League tomorrow. Apologies for the funky formatting of this post. Blogger seems to get funky when you save a post as a draft. Will attempt to fix it after a save.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

It does get funky. Really annoying.

No way will the Nationals win 80 games this year. Won't happen. Zimmerman may be their best player, but personally I think Lastings Milledge could turn out to be a great all-around player. And Elijah Dukes has talent, but is a bit of a head case. Not unlike Milton Bradley.