Thursday, November 01, 2007

D-gers Shakeup: In With the Torre, Out With the Little

It appears to be a done deal now, with reports that Torre has signed a 3 year, $14.6M contract (which, by the way, is less per year than the $5M "insult" that the Yankees offered him) and, of course, Little falling on the grenade with his "it's not them, it's me, it's personal" explanation of why he resigned from the D-gers. "I'm going to enjoy my grandchildren."

Little Worth

I am sad to see Little go. I was happy when the D-gers signed him on.

There has been no public studies on differences between actual record and pythagorean record, but the general theory has been that each team should regress to the mean of zero, which implies that managers should too. I found that a bit hard to believe that a manager wouldn't have some effect, good or bad. So I did what I like to do: check out the data.

I did some null hypothesis testing of managers - obviously affected by the small sample size - where I assumed the null hypothesis of the average difference being 0, and found that while some managers were right there at 0, there were a number of managers who appear to have some significant difference from 0, both positive and negative, though not at the 90-95% level statisticians like, but there were many in the 60-80% range, which is still pretty high. Tommy LaSorda, for example, rated as one of the few managers with a long-term record that was decidedly negative. Baker, Alou, and LaRussa, however, were all positive.

Little had a "-7" differential his first year with the Red Sox, and was near zero (+1) his second year. So he had a "good" start, which made me happy the D-gers tried him out as manager. He was actually right at 0 both years as manager with the D-gers, so he appears to have just had that first bad season, then figured things out and has been at zero, essentially, since then. So that's good: even if he isn't a strongly negative manager, he isn't a particularly good manager either.

Torre, Torre, Torre

Joe Torre is another creature though. Before his Yankees years, he was a "horrible" manager in that he compiled a lot of negative years. Then he became the Yankee manager and suddenly he's a smart manager in that he compiled a lot of positive years. That could imply that the Pythagorean is off (which is it, slightly, in that the exponent isn't 2, it varies with the scoring environment that season, and - pulling from memory - it should be around 1.7 or 1.8; not sure how that affects winning or losing). However, Tommy-boy had a decidedly negative record while winning all those games for LA, so that was not strictly true either.

That led me to start checking out managers who lost a lot and thus didn't get to manage very long - I had started my data collection using managers who were considered good and had a long record of managing. And generally, that was true, the losers were negative and the winners were positive, and there were those who were just at zero. Plus, it was not always just winners who had a positive and losers who had negatives, though I probably should have done some sort of regression on the relationship to see if there was anything to that. Maybe someday.

It could also be that Torre finally figured things out. While with the Cards, he started racking up large positive differentials but then got canned. His stretch with the Yankees did not look that much different from when he was going good with the Cards, with only one negative year early on, else positive all the way through his tenure. Positive, that is, until last season, only his second negative year with the Yankees. So is Torre slipping or was 2007 just a blip?

I wish I knew, so I would know whether to be scared that he's taking over the D-gers or happy. I guess I should be scared, since catchers (Joe Torre was a catcher) seem to be very intelligent and get into management. Look at the Giants, Bob Brenly and Bob Melvin managed and did well at that, and of course Bruce Bochy was a catcher. But Torre is 67 years old, and at some point, age starts to affect your thinking processes, so perhaps he was starting on the downside of his managing career, much like how players reach their downside of their career in their 30's.

A-Rod Not a Given

I disagree with the speculation I've read that getting Torre is the first step to getting A-Rod. For one thing, one can not be sure that A-Rod even wants to work for Torre. They have had issues with each other previously, that came public. I'm willing to dismiss this one because I think A-Rod will play for the highest bidder, even if he has to wear a Jack-in-the-Box head like the actor in the commercials and tap-dance to the macarena. Still, it could be a factor, it is, after all, possibly his last big contract (at least until he opts out of his next contract, that clause will probably be in his new contract somewhere).

There has also been talk that the D-gers owners suddenly wants to make a big splash and spend a wad of money to show up the LA Angels of Disneyland, er, Anaheim. I find that hard to believe because the time to show up the Angels was when they first purchased the D-gers, and at that time, they didn't have enough money to keep the payroll going, resulting in cuts, so why would they suddenly expand things greatly this off-season? Of course, maybe he sold off a lot of property and suddenly is cash rich enough to fuel a D-gers shopping spree. However, such a reason would be obvious, I would think, and reported, and I've seen no such report thus far. So I don't see the D-gers suddenly having enough money to expand their payroll to handle $25-30M for A-Rod.

Plus, if one might recall, it was the D-gers who had egg on their face when JD Drew, whose agent is Scott Boras, opted out of his contract and signed with the Red Sox (who found out why he's no bargain when he can't play a full season regularly). It would seem kind of, well, humiliating if they signed A-Rod and again have an opt-out where he could take off again. Still, A-Rod is the type of player who some team might just turn the other cheek, so perhaps the D-gers might do that and hope for the best.

I think a factor that will affect A-Rod's decision is that D-ger Stadium is clearly a pitcher's park. He would want to go somewhere where he can compile his stats and set all sort of records, not only homers, but hits, runs, RBI, and D-ger Stadium will drag him down for runs and RBI. AT&T has been a neutral park for a few years now, though still a HR deflater, so that could be a negative for him there as well, for coming to SF. Overall, I just don't think the D-gers can or are willing to do what it takes to get A-Rod.

Not Coming to SF Either

Speaking of which, I still doubt he will come to SF. I can see the Giants offering a pretty good contract for him, perhaps even meeting Boras's 10 year demand, but the Angels seem too much of a good fit for him: owner has a lot of cash to burn, likes to make a big splash, likes Latino stars, and did I mention that the owner has a lot of cash to spend?

He might not meet the 10 year demand, but, despite the worries I've read that they fear pissing Vlad off by ruining the payroll structure, frankly, A-Rod is a bigger catch than Vlad and A-Rod has no back injury history like Vlad does, so how much longer can Vlad play anyhow, at his peak? A-Rod would seem a better bet.

And I can see A-Rod taking less money than the $27M per season he was getting before. One, he was willing to take less to get traded to Boston. Two, I think he's more worried about the overall guaranteed money than he is about the average per year. A 8-10 year contract would pretty much guarantee he will be well paid, no matter what, for the rest of his career. Plus, he has deferred before, so he could defer again, if necessary. Plus accept some sort of backloading so that it is lower now, then escalate greatly, say, when Vlad's contract ends and takes that money off the payroll.


  1. OK, I appear to have jumped the gun, the news reports that he has a deal appear to be premature.

    I probably should have held off, thinking in retrospect. The D-gers, as noted in some accounts of the story, is required or pressured (don't recall which) by MLB to interview minority candidates for the managerial job before they can hire.

    So, given this, Torre probably would not be hired immediately. It would take some time to announce the "candidates", go through some nice rounds of interviews, get some nice media-opps for the minority candidates to state their qualifications and desire to manage, go through another round of second "interviews", some more media-opps, then announce to the shock of the world that Joe Torre would be manager after all.

    My bad.

  2. I guess I should read the news first before I post. :^D

    According to the official account on, the D-gers have been given a waiver of the minority hiring requirement because of their exemplary record of minority hirings.

    Though I must note here that I don't believe they've ever had a minority manager before, or minority GM, the two most well-known management figures of any baseball team outside of the owner (or managing partner, eh, Peter?).

    So Torre could be a signature away from becoming the D-gers manager.

  3. Your title seems to suggest the Dodgers are booting Logan White. But nowhere in your post do you mention him and I haven't seen that from other sources. If it's true, where do we sign him up!?

  4. Sorry, brain dead moment, I meant Grady Little. Perhaps wishful thinking? :^) Thanks for catching it and letting me know! I'll fix it right up.

    Actually, we might already have the guy who set up some of the D-gers good drafts of the past few years. The Giants recently signed John Barr (the headlines just said Barr so I thought maybe we signed ex-Giants Jim Barr for special assistant), who, in the article, was said to be responsible for the D-gers signing Russell Martin, Jon Broxton, and Scott Proctor. Also, while with the Orioles, he "was instrumental with selecting Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald" and picking Paul Wilson, A.J. Burnett, Jay Payton, and Terrence Long with the Mets. I think we can use major leaguers like those guys, easily.

    The info is here:



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