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Thread: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

  1. #16
    Member Sea Ray's Avatar
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    This from Ray Ratto:

    On the other hand, Baker always scored high in what numbers-based seamheads call "pitcher abuse" points, because he let his starters go 120 pitches and beyond
    "numbers-based seamheads"? Nah...I'm sure such a character doesn't exist...

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  3. #17
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    So which one of of (a), (b), or (c) is responsible for the significant amount of wear and tear on his on Prior's labrum? Or did that happen solely at USC? Is it not possible that Dusty putting him out there for 130 pitches a dozen times as a 22 year old at least contributed to the injury(ies)? Not according to Ray Ratto; he's saying that those other 3 injuries could very well have been the cause of an injury which is a repetitive use injury by definition. The inference being that because we can't prove Dusty directly and solely caused the injuries suffered by Prior and Wood, we should ignore his use of those two pitchers as examples of pitcher abuse.
    Regardless of the exact correlation between ostensibly 'abusive' pitch counts, and an individual pitcher's propensity for injury, this type of overusage of young arms by Dusty is neither anecdotal, nor isolated. Look at the way Dusty treated Russ Ortiz's prize young arm. In 1999, Ortiz's first full season in the majors, Dusty pushed the 24 year old's arm past the 120 pitch count on 10 different occasions, most of which were closer to 130. As Ortiz approached the close of the year, he finished the season with starts of consecutive pitch counts of 120, 124, 142, 127, 127.

    Perhaps Ortiz survived because of his mechanics, because of genetics, or because he had already passed through the gauntlet of his prime injury years before Dusty got ahold of him at age 24. We'll never know exact cause and effect in these situations, but we can probably agree that pushing an organization's prime young arms to these types of extremes is less than desirable. Given his historical penchants, I can't imagine Dusty's going to change his handling of starters, or is going to suddenly protect a guy like Bailey (unless he's really explicitly given a mandate from above).

  4. #18
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    And that's my point Stormy. While we can't prove that his treatment of his pitchers is the direct and sole cause of their later maladies (and while recognizing that there are pitchers whom he as abused who have not suffered serious arm/shoulder injury), it is ignorant to suggest that the behavior should not cause any alarm.

    Given the choice between a manager who has a history of riding young hard and one who coddles them, I'll prefer the latter. Perhaps some of us have gone overboard with our vitriol, but articles like this which suggest we should ignore everything but the W/L record because we can't prove the direct cause/effect of anything else are similarly unhelpful and misleading.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  5. #19
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    Some interesting research regarding Dusty and pitch counts:

    Dusty Baker and Pitch Counts
    by David Gassko
    May 26, 2006

    Mark Prior and Kerry Wood have combined for two starts this season. They combined for 31 starts last year, 43 the year before that, and 62 the year before that. The pattern is pretty obvious, but here's the question: Is it Dusty Baker's fault?

    Baker has long been known to put little stock in pitch counts. He's had a pitcher finish in the top-eleven in pitches thrown each of the past six years, and he has left the starter out there for 122 or more pitches 88 times this millennium, more than any other manager.

    In Chicago especially, Baker has come under a lot of criticism because he inherited a young staff full of special arms with the Cubs. And he's proceeded to ruin it. Kerry Wood? Got sent to the bullpen last year his arm was in such bad shape. Mark Prior? Hasn't had a full season since 2003. Only Carlos Zambrano is still standing, and even he has shown signs of struggle due to Baker's slow hook. After a start last May in which he threw 136 pitches, Zambrano said that his arm felt like "concrete."

    Baker belongs to the old school of managers. About 10% of his pitchers' starts go over 120 pitches, and he's apt to leave his starter in too long than go to the bullpen too soon. He's among those that believe if pitchers could handle it in back in his day, they can handle it now—PAP scores be damned.

    But entrusted with such a young and talented pitching staff, Baker has been placed under a microscope over the past three years. The Cubs have gone from first to third to fourth in their division, and this year looks even bleaker. And Prior and Wood, who once looked like a Hall of Fame one-two punch ala Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale or Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, have spent more time in the trainer's room than on the mound.

    Now, the call for Baker's head is growing louder and louder, in no small part due to his mishandling of the pitching staff. A website called FireDustyBaker.com has been pulling in traffic for a year now, and making a statement. Cubs fans are sick of Baker's managing style. They're sick of seeing high pitch counts and fatigued starters. Many want Baker gone. But for what? How much further does Baker drive his pitchers than the average manager?

    First, let's look at pitchers who have either left or come to Baker's teams starting in 2000. Did they pitch more with Baker than with their other teams? Over the past six years, there have been 17 such starters, including three different instances of Shawn Estes, which really makes me think that Dusty has an unhealthy obsession with the guy.

    In fact, these 17 pitchers did indeed throw more innings per start with Baker at the helm, though the magnitude of the difference was not as great as might have been expected. In total, Dusty Baker added 3.09 pitches to each start, or about 100 pitches a season. Basically, pitching for Dusty was the equivalent of making an extra start—probably not a killer.

    But while comparing a pitcher's years with Dusty as the manager to the years surrounding helps eliminate a lot of problems, since we're comparing pitchers to themselves, it is not a method without problems. First of all, our sample—only 17 pitchers—is kind of small. Secondly, we don't know what impacted their pitch counts without Dusty. Maybe they were just worse pitchers without the guru of the complete game?

    So let's try another method, just for fun. Let's take every pitcher season beginning in 2000, 394 in total, with six seasons worth of data, and try to predict pitch counts while controlling for everything in the universe that needs to be controlled for. In this case, "everything" means hits, walks, strikeouts, league, and year. Essentially what we're asking is this: "Given that a pitcher allowed this many hits and this many walks, struck out this many batters, played in this season, and in this league, how many pitches per start would we expect him to throw?"

    Why all the controls? We want to avoid biases. For example, while Baker is often accused of making Prior or Wood or Zambrano throw too many pitches, the fact is, they should be throwing more innings than the average pitcher, because they're better than the average pitcher. Perhaps it's not that Baker overuses his pitchers, but that he simply has been blessed with a good starting staff.

    That's actually probably part of the answer. Nevertheless, even after we control for all these variables, Baker's pitchers still throw 3.68 more pitches per start than expected. That's maybe an extra start-and-a-fifth a year. It's about 5-10 extra innings.

    So it seems that to claim that Baker ruins pitchers' careers is hyperbolic at the least. Even if we account for the fact that younger pitchers should probably be throwing less innings, Baker still isn't quite the monster people make him out to be. Nevertheless, if he is worth 5-6 extra pitches per outing for a young pitcher, that may indeed be significant. There's certainly no reason not to be on the cautious side, and Baker's lack of caution with high-pitch outings is certainly disconcerting.

    But Dusty Baker is not a professional arm shredder; he only leaves his starters out there for about three-and-a-half more pitches than expected. Prior and Wood have had injury troubles, but so do many young pitchers. Perhaps it isn't Baker, but just bad luck. Perhaps the Cubs should have never pissed off that Billy Goat.

    References and Resources
    You may be wondering how I arrived at the 3.67 number. I used an ordinary least-squares regression with Pitches/Start as my dependent variable, and Year, Hits/BFP, BB/BFP, K/BFP, NL, and 'Baker' as my independent variables. The Years were there essentially as constants. Hits had a negative relationship with Pitches/Start, as you might expect, so the more hits a pitcher allows per plate appearance, the more likely he is to be pulled early. Walks and Strikeouts both had a positive relationship, though the coefficient for walks was somewhat unexpected. The most likely explanation is a combination of the following three things: (1) Walks have a positive correlation with Ks, and high-K pitchers will generally be the ones who stay in for longest, (2) It takes a lot of pitches to walk a batter, and (3) A walk are not as costly as a hit, so a high-BB pitcher can still be good. The results of my regression are listed below. All estimates were significant at the 1% level.

    Variable Coefficient T-Value Sig
    2005 99.396 17.716 .000
    2004 100.245 17.737 .000
    2003 100.021 17.982 .000
    2002 100.002 18.013 .000
    2001 99.654 17.625 .000
    2000 102.823 17.961 .000
    Hits/BFP -44.966 -2.672 .008
    BB/BFP 40.235 3.189 .002
    K/BFP 44.491 5.438 .000
    Baker 3.677 3.009 .002
    NL -2.243 -4.320 .000

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/ar...-pitch-counts/

  6. #20
    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    Great find, LGJ.

    Why all the controls? We want to avoid biases. For example, while Baker is often accused of making Prior or Wood or Zambrano throw too many pitches, the fact is, they should be throwing more innings than the average pitcher, because they're better than the average pitcher. Perhaps it's not that Baker overuses his pitchers, but that he simply has been blessed with a good starting staff.

    That's actually probably part of the answer. Nevertheless, even after we control for all these variables, Baker's pitchers still throw 3.68 more pitches per start than expected. That's maybe an extra start-and-a-fifth a year. It's about 5-10 extra innings.

    So it seems that to claim that Baker ruins pitchers' careers is hyperbolic at the least. Even if we account for the fact that younger pitchers should probably be throwing less innings, Baker still isn't quite the monster people make him out to be. Nevertheless, if he is worth 5-6 extra pitches per outing for a young pitcher, that may indeed be significant. There's certainly no reason not to be on the cautious side, and Baker's lack of caution with high-pitch outings is certainly disconcerting.

    But Dusty Baker is not a professional arm shredder; he only leaves his starters out there for about three-and-a-half more pitches than expected. Prior and Wood have had injury troubles, but so do many young pitchers. Perhaps it isn't Baker, but just bad luck. Perhaps the Cubs should have never pissed off that Billy Goat.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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  7. #21
    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    I'm on record as not liking the Baker hire and I think it's based upon a fair and balanced assessment of Dusty's history and where I think the Reds should be going as they stand in front of a crossroads for their organization. IMHO, there's no "black or white* here:

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo
    Give him a good team and he'll probably get them to play like a good team. Give him garbage and they'll play like garbage.
    Quote Originally Posted by jojo
    As you suggest, Dusty claims to value pitching (though he doesn't seem to know how to manage a staff) and defense. We know he favors experience and tends to avoid platoons. He doesn't seem to value walks and it's pretty clear he's not a tactician. This off season should be pretty interesting from a roster standpoint. I have no idea what his hiring portends for Dunn and Jr (defense!), Bruce (youth), or Hatteberg (platoon) and Votto (youth/platoon).
    Quote Originally Posted by jojo
    Being serious though, obviously Dusty will do what he thinks gives his team the best chance of winning so I think it's unfair to say Dusty won't play youngsters. It's just that he tends to overvalue experience and will give veterans long leashes even when slumping badly.

    Here's some questions in answer to your question-what youngsters has Dusty managed to greatness? Also, what's a FO that just signed Dusty more likely to do (especially if his opinion about the roster are considered), funnel him youngsters or find a way to get him what he historically has preferred the most?
    Quote Originally Posted by jojo
    Baker's reputation as a "butcher" of the staff goes beyond injuries to Woods and Prior. I think everyone hangs onto that because of Bailey and Cueto. I think Baker's ability to manage a staff is a legit concern. Based upon reputation, Baker could be like watching Narron on steroids.
    Quote Originally Posted by jojo
    Really, I think these two post's sum up the thread:

    1. Cyclone's

    Dusty has a history of allowing high pitch counts.

    2. RMR's

    It's not only a reckless thing to do because you wont know if a pitcher can't handle it until you find out the hard way, but frankly, it's also not a sign of a superior tactician.

    It would also be interesting to see a break down of high pitch innings as well (i.e. how often has hit let a pitcher throw 30-40 pitches in an inning).

    And as an aside, some have dismissed Dusty's role in Wood and Prior because of their mechanics/history. But shouldn't we wonder if Dusty could've prevented their injuries by modifying his approach to their workloads given their histories and mechanics? On one hand you've got Dusty riding a pony with a history of leg injuries into the ground so he can try and win a pennant race and on the other this year you have Boston acutely managing Papelbon's workload (a reliever no less) during a pennant race because of his injury history so that they can also have him for future pennant races.

    It seems to me that an enlightened organization could maximize both a pitcher's impact and health.
    Basically I don't favor the Baker hire because in order to feed the beast's tendencies the Reds will potentially move in a direction that I think isn't the most likely to lead to sustainable winning. Rather, philosophically they'll just fall farther behind where the best run franchises in the majors are going making it just that much harder to catch up. The Baker years might produce some winning baseball but in the grand scheme they may look like lost years in hindsight.
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

  8. #22
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    A lot of people, including myself, have jumped to conclusions about Baker. But to suggest that we have no reason for concern is just ignorant. In fact, he'd have us use the standings as our primary judgment tool of managers, and frankly I think that's a really naive way to approach manager evaluation.
    I agree wholeheartedly with that last part (though a good record after 14 years of managing certainly will catch my notice).

    People have plenty of reasons to be concerned about Baker, but that's not really point. Seems to me, Ratto's found a cage to rattle in Baker bashers and he's having a blast writing lines such as:

    "In other words, shut up about Aaron Harang and Homer Bailey."

    "He was one Alex Gonzalez error from being the manager when the Cubs got to their first World Series since 1945. Yeah, that sucks. He's brutal. Chase him with sticks."

    That's a man with tongue firmly planted in cheek, an anarchist who's found a frenzy to stir.

    Ratto, correctly I'd say, has decided to put a boot into folks who've made Baker's hire a religious debate. There's been this instant over-the-top reaction to his hire by the Reds that's more than a little bizarre. I'm generally a new school digithead, but I'm not a zealot and the very mention of Dusty Baker's name doesn't make me hyperventilate.

    It's nice that on this board we've gotten at least to a point where we can have some sort of constructive back and forth on his relative strengths and weaknesses without every post being offered and treated as an oath, but from my vantage point (that of a guy who neither loves nor hates Baker) I've got to tell you that ALL of the absolutism I've seen on this subject to date has been coming from one direction.
    Last edited by M2; 10-17-2007 at 06:55 PM.
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  9. #23
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    Fair enough, M2. Taken as a counter-point specifically meant to combat the instant and venomous overreaction, it strikes an appropriate note.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  10. #24
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    The Baker years might produce some winning baseball but in the grand scheme they may look like lost years in hindsight.
    I'm not trying to be pejorative here, but how many winning Reds seasons have you actually followed? I'm going to guess the answer is precious few.

    As a guy who got to grow up taking them for granted I find that the winning seasons are what helps to get me through seven skull-crushingly bad years in a row. I can recall the pain of listening to the old 1930s radio in the dark of my grandmother's guest room as the 1974 Reds got eliminated. I can remember the joy the next year when Joe Morgan singled off of Jim Burton. I've got the late season rally in 1979 in the memory banks. I've got 4,192 and the franchise rebirth in 1985. I've got Eric Davis sending a message to the 1990 A's that they were in for a war. I've got Barry Larkin putting the team on his back for the entire 1995 season and making me feel like the '94 strike never happened. I've got that incredible September run in 1999.

    There's no such thing as a lost winning year. It's those winning seasons that make baseball fandom worth it. You only get so many before you die, don't forget to cherish them.

    If Baker produces a few winning seasons and that turns out to be an oasis, then at least you got to see the oasis and maybe that will be enough to sustain you on the next long trek through the desert.
    Last edited by M2; 10-17-2007 at 06:56 PM.
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  11. #25
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    I'm generally a new school digithead, but I'm not a zealot and the very mention of Dusty Baker's name doesn't make me hyperventilate.
    Exactly, it's not as though they hired Don Zimmer.

  12. #26
    Member The Baumer's Avatar
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    This Baker should do use all a favor and stick to pies!

  13. #27
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    Unless I read the original article incorrectly (too lazy to go back and check), both Wood and Prior had problems prior to pitching for Dusty's Cubs. IMHO, that's even more reason to take it a bit easy on them... and he didn't. In fact, he did quite the opposite.

    Perhaps his "abuse" didn't exactly cause their injuries, his indifference certainly played a role in aggravating what was already done... didn't it?
    "Enjoy this Reds fans, you are watching a legend grow up before your very eyes" ... DoogMinAmo on Adam Dunn

  14. #28
    Member Eric_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    I have a problem with Giants "fans". I remember too well the many days where they wouldn't have 1000 people in attendance, sometimes as low as 500 people....families and friends wouldn't even show up.

    Giants' fans have always been band-wagon jumpers, fickle as ever a fan can be. Their knowledge of the game is on par with Robin Williams. Dusty Baker is their perfect Manager, all glitz.

    The writers that work for the City Newspapers, such as the Chronicle as the writers that work for some of the surrounding Bay Area Newspapers, such as the Conta-Costa Times. I'd like to hear what the writers of the Contra-Costa Times have to say about Baker.
    Rob Neyer: "Any writer who says he'd be a better manager than the worst manager is either 1) lying (i.e. 'using poetic license') or 2) patently delusional. Which isn't to say managers don't do stupid things that you or I wouldn't."

  15. #29
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    Re: Is Dusty Baker able to fool the media...do they really like him?

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    I can recall the pain of listening to the old 1930s radio in the dark of my grandmother's guest room as the 1974 Reds got eliminated.
    That is so strange. Until 1974, the closest I ever got to listening to a REDS' game on the radio was when I could get a Giants or a Dodgers game bounce off of the stratosphere and into Portland, but I would have to wait until after 9:00 p.m. for the other stations to shut off. I'd have to take a transistor and go outside and find a good spot to stand, preferably an open field, in order to get a taste of live REDS' radio.

    Then in 1974, I went to Minnesota, where I had never traveled out of the Northwest except for a couple of weeks when I was 5 years old. My grandmother had an old radio in her basement, and I started going through the dials. I was in HEAVEN. Not only was there one baseball game, the Twins, that you could get, but you could get the Cubs, the White Sox, and I think another game or two, I don't remember who. You don't know how special it was for those of you around Cincinnati to be able to listen to your favorite team, or any team for that matter, day in and day out, whether it was Big Klu and Johnny Van Dermeer, Robinson and Pinson, the Big Red Machine, or the wire-to-wire '90 season. Like a Jets' fan hating on the Patriots, I love to hate Dodgers, though unlike Jets' fans, I always had a respect for their organization, though not any more.
    Rob Neyer: "Any writer who says he'd be a better manager than the worst manager is either 1) lying (i.e. 'using poetic license') or 2) patently delusional. Which isn't to say managers don't do stupid things that you or I wouldn't."


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