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View Full Version : Evaluating Narron-is he really the problem or actually part of the solution?



jojo
05-07-2007, 02:18 PM
There seems like a growing number of anti-Narron posts on the zone recently (especially in the game threads). If you turn on local sports talk radio, the cry ďfire Narron!Ē seems almost like an anthem lately.

In my mind, this raises a couple of questions that probably donít get talked about nearly enough. What exactly are the managerís reasonable responsibilities (i.e. if youíd write a job description, what would it say)? How would you reliably evaluate a manager to see if heís actually living up to his responsibilities? Also, how much influence does the managerís actions have on a teams W-L record (5 games? 15 games?)? Answers to these questions donít seem so cut and dry to me when push comes to shove. I suspect that the manager often gets blamed for things that arenít his fault or that are out of his control and often itís assumed he has more power to screw up/turn around a team than is likely true in reality.

Interestingly, Chris Jaffe recently did a study (http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/primate_studies/discussion/evaluating_managers_part_3/) where he evaluated all managers in mlb over the last several years by comparing the projected record of their team with their teamís actual record at the end of the season. The idea behind his methodology is pretty simple. Preseason projections donít account for the manager so the difference between the projection and the actual record should reflect at least in part, the influence of the manager. This can be a noisy proposition as injuries, player-related things like slumps, and even plain old luck all figure into a W-L record. Also, obviously, the projection systems themselves arenít guaranteed crystal balls. However, Jaffe tries to get around natural variation that could cause the noise by using a huge data set from three different projection systems. While blunt in its approach and providing only rough justice, this is the best attempt at evaluating manager performance that Iíve seen so far.

Hereís what the study says about some names familiar to Reds fans:

Results: 2000-2006:
1. Piniella: +49; (first)
19. Narron: +1;
34. Hargrove: -28; (last)
(B. Boone wasnít scored because there wasnít enough data for him.)

Hereís what Jaffe had to say about Narron and Boone:


Jerry Narron:
I don't know much about him, but I'm pretty impressed with the job he's done in Cincinnati. He's taken a team that hasn't had a winning season since the Clinton administration and gone 126-128 with them. Did you realize the Reds had, adjusted for park, one of the best pitching staffs in the NL last year? Who knew. Let's see, before Narron showed up in mid-2005, the Reds allowed 5.76 runs a game. After he arrived they averaged 5.27 per game. In 2006 it was trimmed still further to 4.94 in one of the best hitters' parks in baseball. Previously, he managed the Rangers, a team hardly known for its good pitching. In 2000, before he got there, they had the worst pitching in the AL, at 6.01 runs a game. Ouch. In early 2001 they averaged 6.86 before he got hired. In his 134 games that season, they held opponents to a slender 5.79 runs per game. Next year it skyrocketed down to 5.44, good for twelfth best in the AL. They dump him for Buck Showlater and balloon back up to 5.98. OK, that's kinda cool. Unlikely as it sounds, a recent manager of the Rangers and Reds has a track record of improving his pitching staffs. He's exceeding projections in three of his four seasons, but was Ė14 in that fourth year, 2002. He's one of the most unsung managers out there right now. I've never even heard anyone talk about this guy. Given what sort of things people usually say when speaking of managers, that's a testament to what he's done. Anyone know anything about this guy?

Bob Boone:
No, he didn't manage enough games to qualify, but he comes close. He scores miserably, at Ė21. Not really that surprising, is it?


Specifically concerning Narron, last season the Reds beat the Pecota projections by 2 games (Pecota: 78-84; actual: 80-82) and this year the Reds are currently on pace to beat the Pecota projections again (projected: 71-91; current pace: 73-89). While this study is blunt to be sure, it raises the question: if Narron is as bad as some think he is, why do teams heís managed seem to consistently beat their projections?

Also, I wonder how much credit goes to Narron or how much credit does Krivsky deserve?

Iíd love to hear everyoneís thoughts on these issues (thatís why this thread is in Reds Live!). So in the spirit of community, please letís stay above just simple venting or bashing (a well-formed argument that propels the discussion is much more likely to get pos rep if youíre inclined to care about those things).

GO REDS!

44Magnum
05-07-2007, 02:26 PM
I will say that Narron sure doesn't help things. He over-manages in every way possible.

Always Red
05-07-2007, 02:35 PM
Of note, that list has Dusty Baker as 6th best manager (+23) during the 2000's.

Interesting study, thanks for posting this. I think Narron takes far too much heat here. Every move he makes that doesn't work out is his fault, not the player who failed. Yes, he does make some moves that I question, but he knows these players far, far better than we do- like who is hurt, who is up or down emotionally, etc. There's way more to it than most of us realize.

Overmanaging, I believe, was Bob Boone's specialty!

Ravenlord
05-07-2007, 02:51 PM
i've said it before, i'll say it again:

Narron's GREAT at managing the club house and personalities.

Narron's weird in his EdE persecution, but until the last two weeks, EdE hasn't done much to dissuade this.

Narron is a decent offensive game manager.

Narron is a HORRIBLE bullpen manager.

Screwball
05-07-2007, 02:55 PM
I find it very interesting that whenever I talk or discuss Narron outside of Cincinnati, people almost invariably speak highly of him. They say he's gotten a bunch of undertalented players to over-achieve. Hop on RZ's game thread or take a look at Cincinnati.com or Reds.com message boards(NOTE: I do not encourage these last two activities), and you'd think Narron was running the entire organization into the ground. Is it the case that Reds fans know their manager/players far better than unbiased outsiders, or is it that Reds fans simply place all of the blame on Narron for bad play yet give no credit for good play?

I've quoted it before and I'll quote it again, "Players make the manager, it's never the other way around." -Sparky Anderson

Ltlabner
05-07-2007, 02:58 PM
i've said it before, i'll say it again:

Narron's GREAT at managing the club house and personalities.

Narron's weird in his EdE persecution, but until the last two weeks, EdE hasn't done much to dissuade this.

Narron is a decent offensive game manager.

Narron is a HORRIBLE bullpen manager.

Argee 100%.

Falls City Beer
05-07-2007, 03:00 PM
I actually think Narron's bullpen deployment has improved over last season. He typically brings in either the "strikeout guy" Coffey first (I can hardly blame Narron for the bottom falling out on Coffey's effectiveness) or if he has to go to the pen early, he brings in a guy who can go a few innings presumably (Saarloos, Santos).

Other than his recent obsession with Stanton, I have next to no problems with Narron's bullpen deployment. I think he's pretty well optimized their usage. The pitchers themselves just suck.

Now that he has a hardthrower up (Salmon), I'd be interested to see how he works him in with greater regularity (provided he remains effective, of course).

Ravenlord
05-07-2007, 03:01 PM
i'll also reiterate, that i don't think there's a better manager around for Josh Hamilton than Jerry Narron.

Will M
05-07-2007, 03:06 PM
i've said it before, i'll say it again:

Narron's GREAT at managing the club house and personalities.

Narron's weird in his EdE persecution, but until the last two weeks, EdE hasn't done much to dissuade this.

Narron is a decent offensive game manager.

Narron is a HORRIBLE bullpen manager.

i also agree.

one question is: why doesn't Krisky get Narron a better bench coach to help with the Xs and Os? why can't the pitching coach help with the bullpen decisions?

flyer85
05-07-2007, 03:07 PM
Actually Coffey has two bad outings where he allowed 7 of his 10 ERs. In the one 3 ER outing Cormier came in with 2 outs and allowed all of Coffeys runs to score. If Cormier had gotten and allowed no runs his ERA would be 4.02.

Coffey is missing a lot of bats and I don't worry about him other than overuse.

The Sunshine Boys just don't have an upside ... and that is the real problem.

jojo
05-07-2007, 03:13 PM
i also agree.

one question is: why doesn't Krisky get Narron a better bench coach to help with the Xs and Os? why can't the pitching coach help with the bullpen decisions?

Interestingly, Piniella tops the list according to the study and alot of that is due to a few years with the Ms. When he was with the Ms, especially during the early 2000's, Pinella essentially turned the whole pitching staff over to pitching coach Bryan Price. I doub't Piniella made very many decisions about the bullpen usage/pitch counts etc during that period. It worked great.

Ltlabner
05-07-2007, 03:31 PM
one question is: why doesn't Krisky get Narron a better bench coach to help with the Xs and Os? why can't the pitching coach help with the bullpen decisions?

I've asked that same question Will. When Jerry is about to pull some hairbrained manuver where is Dent or Pole to say, "Uhhh...Jerry. I wouldn't do that because......". Either they don't say it, or he doesn't listen. Either way is a problem.

Always Red
05-07-2007, 03:36 PM
I've asked that same question Will. When Jerry is about to pull some hairbrained manuver where is Dent or Pole to say, "Uhhh...Jerry. I wouldn't do that because......". Either they don't say it, or he doesn't listen. Either way is a problem.

or, just maybe, it's their suggestion in the first place? Those are things that are always going to stay in house.

Ltlabner
05-07-2007, 03:48 PM
or, just maybe, it's their suggestion in the first place? Those are things that are always going to stay in house.

That is another option. But I'd hope that (1) the bench coaches would be better than that (2) Jerry would learn to sift through the good and bad advice a little better.

That said, I agree with FCB that Jerry seems to be doing better this year. His line ups are a little more consistant (maybe not exactly the same night to night, but there doesn't seem to be the wild shifting of last year). And overall I think he's made the right call msot of the time.

Could that be because Jerry is learning? Or because he has different/better coaches (Pole and Jacoby) giving him advice? Or both? Or neither? :laugh:

Marc D
05-07-2007, 03:55 PM
I personally look at the attention to detail any organization displays, listen to what it tells me and then see if that matches the words the organization puts forth.

I see the same thing from these Reds as I have seen under Boone and Miley. Poor fundamentals, numerous mental mistakes that are often repeated and no trend toward improvement in these areas.

A manager can't pitch, hit or run for the players but how the players play is squarely on the managers shoulders. All of these guys have talked a good game about playing the right way, hustle etc. I have yet to watch a Reds team since 1999 that I thought was playing to the best of its ability.

I don't expect anything from Narron but his team to play hard, smart baseball. IMO, they do not.

jimbo
05-07-2007, 03:58 PM
That is another option. But I'd hope that (1) the bench coaches would be better than that (2) Jerry would learn to sift through the good and bad advice a little better.


Or (3) maybe posters on RedsZone who say Narron is a horrible bullpen coach are wrong. :shocked:

jimbo
05-07-2007, 04:03 PM
I don't expect anything from Narron but his team to play hard, smart baseball. IMO, they do not.

But you can only coach and preach players on those things so much, it's ultimately the responsiblity of the players to execute. There's a good chance that no manager could get this group of players to play smarter baseball.

Now I will agree that some of the problems this team has may come from a lack of focus, which is something that the manager can be ultimately responsible for. Every manager needs to be able to keep his players focused on the field.

Always Red
05-07-2007, 04:07 PM
Or (3) maybe posters on RedsZone who say Narron is a horrible bullpen coach are wrong. :shocked:

That could very well be, since this Reds bullpen, bad as it is, is the best one he's had to work with in his short time here.

When you don't have much to choose from, it's hard to make a good selection.

jojo
05-07-2007, 09:26 PM
i've said it before, i'll say it again:

Narron's GREAT at managing the club house and personalities.

Narron's weird in his EdE persecution, but until the last two weeks, EdE hasn't done much to dissuade this.

Narron is a decent offensive game manager.

Narron is a HORRIBLE bullpen manager.

I think this is a fair, accurate assessment except I don't have as dim a view of how he handles the pen with in game decisions relative o most managers.

I'd add this though, in general, I think he suffers from the same tendency as most managers-he overvalues veteran presence. This has hurt him with the pen IMHO. I'm sure Krivsky gets Narron's opinion when building the pen and when managing the Louisville shuttle.

IslandRed
05-07-2007, 10:22 PM
My general rule of thumb on managers or coaches at the pro level is that at least 80% of them are Just Guys. Not saying they're totally interchangeable -- they have different areas of strength and weakness -- but by and large, they'll bring in a club at about the record you'd expect given the talent on hand and the circumstances beyond their control. Only a few guys are good enough to consistently raise their teams' level of play. (There are a lot more guys who can move the needle in the negative direction, but they usually don't get jobs, or keep them for long.)

I think Narron falls within that category. He's neither the problem nor the solution. That will make it seem unfair if he gets fired, but it also means he'd be no huge loss. That's how it goes for Just Guys.

D-Man
05-08-2007, 01:34 PM
I doubt Narron will continue to outperform pythag projections, given the way this year is headed.

One area in which Narron has excelled is pinch hitting, and not many give him credit for it. The Reds PHers are currently OPSing .916, and this year is not the exception. In 2006, they OPSed .816, which was (by far) the best in the league, despite a so-so bench.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/Statistics/Team/playerstats?team=cin&seasonYear=2007&split=87&seasonType=2&type=reg&pagetype=batting

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/stats/aggregate?statType=batting&group=8&seasonType=2&type=reg&sort=runs&split=87&season=2006

His defensive replacements are sensible, so I think he knows how and when to use the bench effectively.

He has done a good job of inspiring faith in several members of the team. Narron has gotten great/outstanding performances out of Hamilton (so far), Phillips, Arroyo, Ross, Lohse, etc.

I see lots of reasons to flame Narron about how he manages pitchers:

1.) The Reds have had multiple 120-pitch blown quality starts because he leaves the starters in too long.

2.) Some days his bullpen overmanagement makes LaRussa look like Cito Gaston, in comparison. Coffey and Stanton are #1 and #5 in terms of appearances, despite a great rotation. This bullpen can't continue to churn at that rate.

3.) He has had at least some interesting material to work with in the bullpen the last few years, and notta one has come up roses.