MLB Handicapping: New Managers Having An Impact
by Trevor Whenham - 4/20/2012
The start of this Major League Baseball season saw five teams start the year with different managers than they had last time they played a regular season game. Miami and St. Louis made changes due to retirement, the Red Sox and Cubs fired their former bosses, and Ozzie Guillen left the White Sox before he was fired. It’s too early to get a meaningful sense of how well the new guys are going to do with their new teams in the long term. It’s a good time, though, to check in and see what kind of start they have gotten off to:
Ozzie Guillen, Miami Marlins
You can accuse Ozzie of being a lot of things, but boring certainly isn’t one of them. He’s more than lived up to that reputation in his short time in Miami. In an interesting interview he admitted that the only thing he does on the road when not playing games is drink alone. That pales in comparison to his poorly considered love affair with Fidel Castro — something that got him a five game suspension from the Marlins. Given the fact that his suspension makes up nearly half of the season so far Guillen can’t be blamed entirely for the lousy start his new team is off to. The new additions don’t looked settled, young players don’t look comfortable, and the pitching isn’t what it should be. In short, this team just isn’t very good yet. Guillen shakes things up, though — even beyond the holes his big mouth digs — so it’s no surprise that things have looked unsettled. Things aren’t a disaster, yet, though — they are flirting with .500, the Nationals’ hot start isn’t sustainable at this pace, and Philadelphia is off to just as rough of a start. It’s been rough for bettors who bought into the bright future f this team early on, but things can still get better.
Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals
Matheny has to qualify as the biggest positive surprise in the league right now — with the possible exception of the Dodgers. Dealing with the three-headed dragon of the World Series hangover, the loss of Albert Pujols, and the retirement of Tony La Russa would have made a rough start understandable and defensible. Instead, they are sitting at 8-3, producing real value for bettors, and are sitting on a three game lead in a weaker division. Matheny has done a very nice job of settling this team down and not letting them feel sorry for themselves.
Bobby Valentine, Boston Red Sox
Valentine has his share of critics, and those critics are feeling pretty good about themselves right now. The pitching has been lousy, and no team has allowed more runs. There are issues in the outfield, and chemistry problems in the locker room. They have only won one road game in six tries. Valentine has tried to implement his no nonsense ways, and the transition certainly hasn’t been smooth. To be fair, he took over a team with a lot of problems. He hasn’t made those problems any better, though.
Dale Sveum, Chicago Cubs
The bad news is that the Cubs under Sveum just aren’t very good. They are at 3-8, they have been just as bad at home as on the road, they can’t score, and they are already five games out of first place in their division. The good news for Sveum, though, is that he’s doing about as well as most people outside of Chicago expected him to do. The great franchise at Wrigley has hit hard times, and they just aren’t any good right now. They don’t have enough talent, and have done a lousy job of addressing their issues in recent years. If Sveum were able to get good results out of this mess of a team that would be truly remarkable. In the longer term this year Sveum needs to be a bit better than where he’s at now, but there is no way this team is a viable contender.
Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox
I think Ventura was a great hire for the White Sox. His attitude will be a big help to a team that needed a change — much like Kirk Gibson’s was such a good fit in Arizona. That’s a longer-term thing, though. In the shorter term this team has many of the same issues as their cross-town rivals — though they aren’t in quite as bad shape. They aren’t good enough to be serious contenders, and they haven’t done a good enough job staying competitive. Ventura sits a 5-5 at this point. 82-82 would be a very nice accomplishment in his first year, so he’s off to a sold if not overwhelming start.
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