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What are *Scott Servais'* chances of 5 WAR?


I'm 55, and I never thought 'a this:


Hey Bill, what is your current understanding of the impact of managers on team won/loss records? In other words, how would you currently answer the question, "do some managers consistently move their team's win/loss record away from what would be estimated purely by the individual players?" To me, the question is impossible to separate from discussions about "clutchness" and year-to-year variance, but many fans act like it is obviously true (like clutchness). What do you think?
Asked by: HF

Answered: 1/17/2018
 Not "consistently", no.   No manager CONSISTENTLY has a positive impact on his team.   Some managers have a tremendous impact in some seasons, but it's a question of the match between the manager and the needs of the team.   Everybody has different skills.   Gene Mauch was a wizard at solving bullpen issues, so when his team needed a better bullpen, he would find somebody like Darold Knowles or Mike Marshall or somebody and fix that problem, which would have an impact.   But other times he would have no impact at all.   It's mostly a matter of finding the manager that you NEED right now.  


Isn't that a fascinating thought?

If you've been paying attention you know what Dr. D will do next :- ) which is ask whether Servais and the 2018 Mariners might be such a match.  Well... do you consider Servais good at selecting a 5th-inning pitcher after Marco Gonzales needs to come out?  Is it likely that he can spot a #5 pitcher on the verge of a breakout - and spot it a month early, or is it more likely he'll select the wrong #5 out of Arizona and we'll spend a month losing games with him?  Can Servais come up with two or three "Wolf Pack" decisions that really work out well?

The question isn't about the Mariners overall; it's about SERVAIS.  Can HE add six wins?  It seems to the 'Frame that there's one way he can do it, and that would be to pitch the right middle-inning pitching.

For sure he's got reams of data on his desk before each game.  My opinion, he looked real good in 2017; he got +WAR out of fifteen (15) guys last year, though the M's reliever WAR was only #16.  'course it wasn't like he was working with the Yankees' or Indians' bullpens and could just ride Chapman, Betances, and Robertson.

So, we'll see.  Again, the question is whether SERVAIS can contribute to a pennant run with above-average selection of mediocre pitching.


Dr D



I thought Servais was minus minus minus at in-game pitching tactics last year. He chose roughly the correct pitchers to try to use pregame, but was absolutely HORRENDOUS at knowing when to pull a pitcher and when to stick with him.

With this team, that's a net minus


That is a great question, because it sort of is the difference between M's "expected" performance and the "expected" Wild Card threshhold.  Of course, in any single season it is next to impossible to determine if the manager was responsible for all those good performances that resulted in 6 more wins.

But I'm with Matt here, my general view was that Servais did a lousy job when inserting or leaving BP guys.  Hard fast data?  I have none, so it is purely a 30,000 ft "feely" view.  

I actually think the easy part of the managing gig is the lineup and substitution stuff.  Heck, almost everybody goes by the volumns of numbers they have in that regard, anyway.  Unless their name is Joe Madden, who I see as much more of an old fashioned seat-of-the-pants guy, one with a great feel for the game.  But you can trust your instinct and accept a failure or two when you have a couple of big rings.  For a Scott Servais, any outside the normal, data-driven, decision that fails is fuel for questioning his managing ability.  Madden just says, "So yeah, just how many rings do you have?"

I like guys who manage some by feel.  I think it illustrates being in touch with your lockerroom and your players unique skill set.  

Servais?  Jury is still out.  

But I'm not seeing a 6-win guy.  


So y'all know I'm not bashing Servais overall, I do like many things about his approach.

1) I love that he's open-minded enough to try new things, even in-season, to address problems

2) I like that he doesn't require players to jump through a million hoops to earn playing time and prove they're really good enough...if his bullpen is struggling and then Joe NewKid shows up and mows them down three or four times, he's in there in high leverage situatiosn. WHAM...go get 'em. If he is hunting for innings from the fodder arms like a blind man hunting for his glasses in a landfill, and some nobody comes in and throws 6 quality innings, that dude gets another start. If his starting SS goes down for a month and the benchy hits six dingers, the benchy isn't a benchy when the star comes back...they try to find him playing time until he proves he can't handle it.

3) He is personally accountable, and his players are, too. When half the team is on the DL and the Mariners lose eight in a row, including making five errors in the first inning against the Yankees, he goes on camera looking like he's angry enough to fight Mike Tyson and win...and he tells the press, in no uncertain terms, "My players are better than this. They played like %&$% and there are no excuses. I defend NO ONE who won't get their head in the game." When he makes a bad call on who to bring in from the pen and they lose a crucial game, he isn't out there making excuses. He explains why he chose as he did and says he made a mistake.

4) He doesn't micromanage. He trusts his coaches, he trusts his veterans (so long as they understand that, if they play bad, he'll tell the press they're playing bad), and he even trusts young players as long as they don't look lost.

5) He is open to deploying modern statistical theory in-game and advocates for it with his players (and gets buy-in, for the most part)

So there's a lot to like there. I just don't think it makes him +6 wins as a manager. :)


And I think where he's not been good at picking the right pitching matchup, he has been much better at picking the right hitting matchup.  A part of that is likely the choices he's had to go to on the opposing sides of the ball.  It could also be the voices in his ear.  Considering in the conversation that his coaches are likely to affect his decisions as well.  Some managers listen more than others.

I don't know if he can or can't overall positively affect.  Easy answer is that it's possible *if*...


(Why do most sports have coaches...and baseball has a manager?  More than semantics?)

The game-to-game management stuff is important, and obvious--lineup, pinch-hitting, pitching changes, etc.  It is forever open to second-guessing (BTW, my devout Cub fan friends, who worshiped Maddon through the World Series, turned on him badly last year.)

And even in this game management stuff, the manager and GM have to be on the same page philosophically and tactically.  And in the M's case, I think they absolutely are.

But the coaching thing, in the classic sense of the word--making people better--is where I think Servais has flat-lined so far. (The exceptions, or course, were Edgar and Brosius).  Now that they've added Brower and DeLunas to (in my opinion) do all the things that Stottlemyre can not, I guess there's hope.  If they can make the same steps forward in fixing our abysmal baserunning, all the better.

So what I'm saying is that Servais has to stop giving away WAR in his poor job of managing his coaches (and players) before we can speculate on how much he can add.  

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