"Manager Of The Year" -- Not For Whom To Vote, But How?

There are two things we could do today that we won't do -- three if you include doing the dishes -- and they are to debate whether managers are important, i.e., impactful enough to be worth analyzing, and to debate who should win the coveted "The votes for these awards are always made by the wrong people for the wrong reasons" award for 2009.

If you find yourself venturing into either of these two conversations, then you have to do the dishes and make it a trifecta. Today we're going to look at the "how" -- if intelligent people voted intelligently (sorry, Rafael Palmeiro: NO GOLD GLOVE FOR YOU!), what would form the basis for assessing the Manager of the Year?

The dilemma, conundrum if you will (dilemma if you won't), starts with the fact that managing involves several distinct aspects, most of which are not subject to much concrete or tangible assessment. One is "leadership," another "getting the most out of the team you have," a third "tactical decisions." Managers also communicate with players and the media, convey expectations and enforce limits on and off the field, oversee a group of coaches who serve as important instructors and mentors, and occasionally help the team balance baseball with real life distractions such as sudden tragedy, ill-timed drug suspension, or Milton Bradley.

So in 2009, the Angels were projected to win around 86-88 games, endured a shocking tragedy 3 days into the season, had 1/2 their rotation on the DL for two months, and won 97 games. The Dodgers lost Manny Ramirez for 1/3 of a season but didn't miss a beat. Those two teams also had a heck of a lot more talent than the Giants or Rangers could muster as competition.

The Rockies went from terrible to terrific right as Clint Hurdle became Jim Tracy. Correlation is not causation, and yet the contrast is also stunning.

Ron Gardenhire's Twins seemed to overachieve, winning a weak but not putrid AL Central with a rotation anchored by Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn, and occasionally something called a "Manship," while Francisco Liriano flopped, Glen Perkins and Kevin Slowey were sloweyed down by injury, and then Morneau went down for the stretch drive while even more troublingly, Nick Punto and Brendan Harris didn't.

So how would you take all the teams, with all their given talent and lack thereof and all the unexpected bumps along the way, look at 30 managers and all that goes into being the captain of a ship with a supporting cast roughly as diverse as the crew on The Love Boat, and pick out your Managers of the Year? A job where what you get out of a team is often mistaken for what you put into it?

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   {credit: The New Yorker Magazine}


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