added 8/4/2007 by Scott Barzilla
Maxim magazine tried their hand at sports in their last issue. Apparently, they rated the best and worst managers in MLB. Ken Macha will be glad to know he is still among the ten worst managers in baseball nearly a year after being canned. The whole incident is reminiscent of a King of the Hill episode where Dale Gribble took over as a vice president in charge of firing people for "Stick Tech." Initially, he thought the job entailed him firing one person over and over.
The magazine did make some good points even if they were somewhat misguided on the facts. They mentioned Garner's crazy platoons and his mismanagement of Brad Lidge. Still, attributing this year's pain to Garner is a bit overstated. Managers rarely make that much of a difference. When you are looking at a ten game deficit or more you can safely say there is more going on then bad in game management.
Naturally, the article didn't use any sytematic criteria for picking managers. Team record is rarely the best place to start. In point of fact, there are only a couple of concrete areas we can look. The first is what we would call Pythagorean record. Essentially, it takes the number of runs a team scores and allows and comes up with an expected record. Ideally, a team should be at or above their expected record.
Runs Scored: 493 Runs Allowed: 565 Pythagorean Record: 47-63 Actual Record: 48-62 Difference: +1
So, this indicates that the Astros are where they should be. Of course, many experts and casual fans would beg to differ. I must admit that many of Garner's moves have left me scratching my head, yelling at the television, or screaming in my car. That being said, how many times have we done that with Jimy Williams, Larry Dierker, and Terry Collins? Admittedly, I've done it a little more often than I did with Dierker, but Williams and Collins were blithering idiots in comparison with Garner.
The problem we have is in the assumption that the team should be scoring more runs and allowing fewer runs than they have already. This assumes that Garner and his staff are responsible for Lance Berkman's down year, Jason Jennings and Woody Williams' struggles, or anyone else's bad performance.
The only other tangible evidence we can look at would be the record during one run games. Again, there are multiple explanations for a good or bad records in close games. Most people naturally assume the good teams win the close ones. In point of fact, most teams play .500 ball in one run games. Managers have more of an effect on close games, but there are so many factors that go into it. We could look at the Astros record in one run games.
The Astros are 12-15 so far in one run games. Let's assume that Garner is a below average manager. Let's assume an average manage would have won two more one run games (giving the Astros a 14-13 record). That would give them a 50-60 record. They would still be in fourth place and a mere nine games out of first. So much for managers having a grand effect.
We all know that if someone is going to take the fall for this disaster of a season it will be Garner. The sad thing is that when you look at the two primary parties involved (Garner and Purpura), Purpura has the most culpability. Furthermore, Garner had more to do with the 2005 World Series appearance than Purpura did. Heck, Purpura did virtually nothing that year. It was Purpura that put this roster together. It was Purpura that decided Woody Williams and Jason Jennings were suitable replacements for Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.
Who knows, maybe both men will get a reprieve. Here's saying that if Maxim doesn't come out with another article lambasting Tim Purpura then they really don't know much about baseball. It would be okay if they didn't. Pictures of starlets will do just fine.