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Stat Geeks Win! Cardinals Management Is Closing the Door on Old School Thinking

On the surface, it seemed odd for the Cardinals to fire pitching coach Derek Lilliquist.

For the second consecutive season, the Cardinals were grounded. And though they could not lift off and fly into the playoffs, Lilliquist’s aviary appeared to be in solid condition.

Since “Lilly” became the Cardinals pitching coach in 2012, his staffs have performed well above average. Over the last six seasons the Cardinals rank third among the 30 MLB teams in overall earned-run average, third in starting-pitching ERA, second in quality starts, eighth in bullpen ERA, sixth in save percentage, and third in denying inherited runners from scoring.

Run prevention is essential to success. And since 2012, under Lilly’s watch, Cardinals pitchers (with help from the defense) were No. 3 in the majors at preventing runs, giving up only 3.9 per game. Only the Dodgers (3.7) and Nationals (3.8) better.

So why bounce the coach that supervised the strongest and most consistent area of the team between 2012 and 2017?

It came down to this: Lilliquist was too old school. Cardinals management wanted a more advanced approach to pitching strategy. A fresher brain for recognizing the specific danger zone for each individual starting pitcher. A mind that can optimize bullpen performance. A smart planner who can develop a bullpen structure that fits the new template  … a template that has starters working fewer innings, and managers turning to the bullpen earlier and with greater urgency — front-loading relievers into the game to handle emergencies before they blow up and flame into crises.

Yeah.

We’re talking about advanced metrics. And utilizing the pages of data cranked out by the the analytics department.

The Cardinals have a smart analytics staff that generates binders filled with information, delivered to the manager and his coaches. The info, if used consistently and properly, can influence dugout decisions and give the team a tactical edge.

The Cubs are big into this.

The Brewers are big into this.

Their managers have bought in,  gone all-in, to enhance their club’s win probability by tapping into the flow of big data.

Which may or may not explain why the Cardinals had a horrible record of 13-25 combined against the Cubs and Brewers this season.

Which may or may not explain why the Cardinals had a 5-11 record in one-run games against the Cubs and Brewers.  And a 2-7 record against the Cubs and Brewers in contests decided by two runs.

This may or may not explain why the Cardinals won only 83 games in 2017 to be relegated to third place behind the Cubs and Brewers in the NL Central.

If these info-loaded binders were being ignored and valued about as much as the spent sunflower seed shells on the dugout floor…

Then Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and GM Michael Girsch evidently decided to bring in a new pitching coach who is willing and able to take that deep dive into the numbers.

Was this fair to Lilliquist? In many ways, no. But all 30 baseball operations are trying to stay ahead of one another by breaking away from old-time-baseball thinking. Evolving and adapting and finding new ways to gain leverage in competition. It isn’t unfair to ask key baseball men — the manager, the pitching coach, the batting coach — to change and grow.

“When you’re looking at pitch strategy and the modernization of the tools we have available to us, we need somebody that understands it, has interest in it, can communicate it and can teach it,” Mozeliak said at Tuesday’s news conference. Girsch and his group and that (analytics) team upstairs is something we want to be available, accessible, and — candidly — used.”

Mozeliak talked about a process that would lead to “future growth.”

In that context, the pitching-coach move makes sense.

Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. was well ahead of the industry curve in understanding the importance of analytics and the impact of advanced stats as a weapon in competition. DeWitt’s prescient vision was a critical factor in the Cardinals’ sustained run of high-level success.

If the dugout staff won’t go with the plan … then it’s time to go.  As in, bye-bye.

That was the clear messages sent in the latest coaching-staff rearrangement.

(Well, at least the bosses didn’t get really vicious here by terminating Mike Matheny BFF John Mabry, the batting coach.)

I believe the firing was a signal to manager Matheny. The bosses absolutely support their manager, but they’re challenging him to expand his thinking — so he can evolve and improve. And that’s a positive thing. I spoke with DeWitt on Wednesday morning; he politely insisted that his manager is willing to embrace baseball’s new math. I really hope that’s true.

Matheny said all of the right things about that on Tuesday, and that was encouraging.

But if Matheny still needed a nudge to get on board, the poke came early this week with the Lilliquist erasure.

This does, however, leave me with a few questions that can’t be answered right now:

1. Who’s the new pitching coach? Will Mozeliak and Girsch hire a PC that is fluent in advanced metrics, understands how to implement advanced metrics, and can do it in a way that enhances Cardinals’ pitching? Or will the front office use this opening as a means to reward a loyal organizational coach? The Tampa Bay Rays and their longtime pitching coach Jim Hickey just ended their relationship. Hickey’s history is abundantly clear: he is a true believer in the new way of thinking, and his use of metrics was a key part in his successful development of young pitchers. If the Cardinals go with a buddy-buddy internal promotion instead of hiring an enlightened pitching coach who can implement the desired process — which Mozeliak says he wants — then this is all pretty meaningless. That said, I don’t want to be disrespectful to Triple A Memphis pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd. If he’s a student of the metrics and believes in the Cards’ statistical modernization, then it makes sense to consider him.

2. Was Matheny just playing along here, or is he 100 percent committed to this metrics-driven approach? If Matheny is hesitant to accept advice from the new pitching coach … if Matheny is unwilling to give the PC meaningful authority over the staff … if Matheny tries to neutralize the new coach to protect managerial power … then all of this is pretty meaningless.

3. Will Mozeliak and Girsch be aggressive about reinforcing the bullpen? The Cardinals need to strengthen this area. Even in calm times, Matheny runs through a lot of relievers. (Think: wood chipper.) And if the relievers will be asked to handle a larger innings load, the Cardinals have to add fresh arms, talented arms, sturdy arms. If the Cards journey into the 2018 season with a thin, vulnerable, breakable bullpen … then all of this is pretty meaningless.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

More: Miklasz – The Cardinals’ First Offseason Challenge? Get Smarter.

  • pattywagon – SEELE 01

    Now if only they looked at the stats how hitters performed under John Mabry. How many players with MLB service who regress to the point needing coaching in Jupiter or Memphis to correct things indicates to me how the “stats” under Mabry suck.

  • M W

    Matheny refuses to change. I think that’s clear. So anything he said about embracing metrics is BS. He will ignore it as usual.

    • Big T

      Probably what the people in Pittsburgh thought about Hurdle before he embraced it and brought that team back to respectability.

      • JohnS

        Tho’ the Rats didn’t look too respectable this year. But they did have a lot of uncontrollable stuff happening to them this year.

    • Christopher Toth

      You are 100% correct.

    • JohnS

      Not only that, he will be angry that he is more or less being called out for his non-embrace of metrics and will double down on what he has already been doing, don’t know what you would call that, I guess “old school stupid”…..He’s a stubborn cat you know, each time they try to get him to do anything, he always does exactly the opposite. At this point it looks like some kind of sick game between he and Moe….oddly enough MM seems to be winning it, as he merrily continues to do as he pleases without repercussions…..premature three year extensions tend to abet such behavior, methinks….

  • Scott Warren

    So the PC is being blamed for tasks that clearly fall on the manager. Only the Cardinals.

    • Christopher Toth

      Exactly.

    • maryville

      I don’t see where the PC should be excluded from advanced metrics.

      • Christopher Toth

        He shouldn’t. But you can’t dismiss the mechanics side of a pitching coach.

        E.g., as an economist, I could easily do the sabremetrics side of the PC, but would be utterly clueless when it came to the mechanics side.

        • JDinSTL

          Lilliquist did a damned fine job with the young arms that Matheny hasn’t ruined yet. He will be missed.

    • Mark Steinmann

      First thing I thought. Was the PC responsible for the horrible base running and overall shoddy play in the field? For keeping Pham in AAA to start the season or giving Piscotty 400 plate appearances when he was awful? For continually jerking around Wong? If you had asked 100 fans a week ago to name the top 5 problems with the Cardinals, I doubt Lilliquist comes up on any of them. This is a classic ‘fire the coordinator to save the head coach” move.

  • dan

    Hopefully, this is a forward-leaning move. But I won’t see them as a forward-leaning organization until Matheny and Mabry are gone. Not out of pettiness, but because they’re both proven to be incapable and the organization continues to look the other way for some unknown reason. This process of changing all the scenery (dumping unproductive but overused MM favorites, changing third base coaches and now pitching coaches, etc) and ignoring the main problem is getting old.

    • Christopher Toth

      Completely agree

    • JDinSTL

      Hey now, Mabes is using the new stuff. Look at the fine work he did with Piscotty and Carpenter on launch angle and exit velocity. Look at those results!

      Orwell would be proud of this doublespeak.

  • Christopher Toth

    Bernie, I watched the entirety of yesterday’s Cardinals news conference and listened to your interview with Mr. DeWitt this morning.

    As always, I have nothing but admiration for Mr. DeWitt’s service and commitment to St. Louis and we are all better off for his repeated above and beyond contributions to our communities and to this region.

    He truly is in a class of his own amongst owners and deserves to be held in the same high esteem as the Steeler’s Rooney family.

    That said – and I say this out of respect for Mr. DeWitt and not some unwarranted clarion call for others to heap criticism upon him – there is an apparent disconnect between the manager and the front office and the front office with the owner.

    It happens.

    Sometimes the hardest conversations for CEOs to have – and I speak from experience – is the ones with ownership or your board of directors if publicly held.

    If I had Mr. DeWitt’s ear (and to be clear, I do not), this is what I believe he could benefit from hearing.

    To begin with, leadership over time tires of the task be it in business, sports or government.

    The late David Halberstam wrote eloquently of this in his history of the Korean War – The Coldest Winter – and warned that unless a watchful eye keeps a constant vigil, even the best of leadership can become blind to the reality surrounding them out of sheer fatigue.

    Contrary to Mr. DeWitt’s demeanor on your radio show which was upbeat and positive, Mo, Mike and Girsch were as solemn and downbeat as though they were speaking at a mass funeral as opposed to a birth of a renewed commitment to sabremetrics.

    Yes, they said all of the right words and used the proper catch phrases, but just like a student cramming for a test, it wasn’t apparent whatsoever that those words held real meaning to them.

    Quite the opposite, the only real passion from either Mike or Mo was when they became peevish in pushing back against what reporters had written about the failed season or opinions they had rendered as to why the Cardinals missed the playoffs.

    Then there was the curious case of Pham.

    Mo couldn’t restrain his sarcastic pronouncement he didn’t want Pham being the team’s spokesman and in doing so completely revealing himself to being utterly tone deaf to many in Cardinal Nation who wish Pham WAS the team’s PR guy because they loved – and love – his hardnosed Tony LaRussa approach to playing the game.

    The other problem I had with yesterday’s snoozer of news conference that could put Ambien out of business if it could be repackaged in pill form, was the utter lack of real excitement from any of its three participants.

    It was almost as if we were back in 1980 and the Cadillac design team was in town touting their redesigned and very much downsized Caddies as being something special while being totally oblivious to the Cubs in their BMW and the Brewers cruising in their Mercedes had passed them by at a rate faster than Stanton’s bat speed and exit velocity.

    In terms of believing in what’s needed going forward, even there I felt their responses were sorely lacking and more akin to trying to justify how they really didn’t do that badly this year be it using injuries as excuses or as though their draft position was something new and as though no other remedies existed such as free agents and international players.

    In effect, they were bandaid excuses designed to do two things:

    1. Hide the wounds so you could sidestep Matheny as the one who had caused those injuries by overusing Rosey, Manness, Lynn, and this year Bowman as examples (gross malpractice really).

    2. Cover up Matheny’s slowest hook of all MLB managers vis a vis pitchers, his propensity to favor veterans over youth no matter the sabremetrics, his inane double switches, incredibly poor bullpen management, and utter failure to grasp how predictable he is as a manager making it super easy for opposing managers to outwit him.

    I want to believe Mo and Mike will change their recent ways and can honestly say I hope that’s the case for Mr. DeWitt’s sake as I believe he more than just me as a lifelong Cardinal fan deserves better from both men.

    IMO, they’ve let him down through their own stubborness the past two seasons and to the extent anyone has paid a price for failure, both Mo and Mike have fobbed it off onto guys who really don’t deserve being held culpable being Lilliquist or others.

    But I can’t believe anything much will change because the man most responsible for veering the Cardinals away from sabremetrics is the man who now is charged with reintroducing same: Mike Matheny.

    Why?

    Because the last two weeks of the season prove MM had learned zip no matter how much lip service he tried to pay yesterday.

    In must win games he dithered in removing starters until 6 or 7 earned runs were tallied and he ignored Wacha’s third time through stats and had no one ready in the pen as just two examples.

    Matheny didn’t get it last week nor will he next Spring unless the Cards sign a couple of Stantons to win games he surely will otherwise lose because his in game tactics are so inferior to the Cubs and Brewers managers.

    One last ciriticsm.

    The press failed yesterday too.

    They owed it to their readers to ask Matheny the hard questions like why do you wait too long as compared to every other MLB manager to pull putchers. Or why did you ignore sabremetrics so often in deciding your lineups.

    And on and on.

    I wish I could be optimistic but I fear an ivory tower syndrome is at play here (and again, I speak from personal experience, I’ve been caught offguard by the very same blindspot) wherein Mr. DeWitt is not being well-served by Mo or Mike and that as such, nothing will change unless MM goes.

    Time to shift gears and focus on the Blues. Sad in a way, but this is the first offseason I could care less what the Cards do in terms of trades or free agent signings because I’ve reached the conclusion nothing will change for the better until there is a TLR or Terry Francona as manager.

    • Sandra Stauder

      Bernie, please see that Mr. DeWitt sees this. This man is absolutely right. Until MM is gone and John Mabry is gone nothing will change. All they need to do is look at how many times guys were strugglying with hitting, only to be sent down, and came back hitting like Stanton……then after 3 weeks poor hitting again. PLEASE HELP US GET RID OF THE REST OF THE COACHES AND MANAGER BY SHOWING DEWITT WE MEAN BUSINESS!!!!

      • Christopher Toth

        Thank you. Too kind. I agree, nothing will change until they start with a clean set of coaches headed by a new manager.

    • David

      Chris – very good insight. Really, really good thoughts. I know Bernie had to tow the line with DeWitt somewhat but I don’t think he pushed enough on why Matheny? If you asked MM to define WAR, I’m willing to wager he can’t. I’m additionally concerned about the team’s ability to even land a free agent not because of money but because of Matheny. Word gets around the league quickly. Aside from playing favorites with veterans there appears to be a “worship with me or chance not playing.” He may be a great leader of men but perhaps his best place is as Team Chaplain and not Manager.

      • Christopher Toth

        Thanks. Agree entirely re: free agent market. Especially if I am a pitcher. Didn’t help either when Girsch proclaimed you don’t want to pay retail for a closer. While that may be true, why advertise it? Madness.

        • Robert Richman

          They are however, taking a serious look at Japanese closer Yoshihisha Hirano, as per Derrick Goold of St. Louis Post-Dispatch: https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/10/cardinals-rumor-japanese-closer-yoshihisa-hirano.html

          • Christopher Toth

            Thanks. Appreciate the info.

        • JohnS

          That (they don’t want to pay retail for a closer) does not hurt to be said because they won’t pay retail for a closer. They will come up with their usual cheap trick of going to the Orient or converting a catcher to a closer, blah, blah, blah, anything to keep from spending the moolah….

      • JohnS

        MM says “WAR! What is it good for, absolutely nothin’!! Say it again oh ahhh”.

    • Robert Richman

      Indeed, Terry Francona interviewed and was considered for the Cardinals manager position before they ultimately decided to go with Matheny, following Tony Larissa’s departure after the 2011 season. I for one, was dumbfounded.

      • Christopher Toth

        I was too. His stint in Cleveland has poven just how big if a mistake it was not to hire him.

        • JohnS

          His stint in Boston proved how big a mistake it was not to hire him. Umm, chicken…..ummm….beer! Let’s drink up and chow down to another WS championship this year “Tito Jr.”…..

          • Christopher Toth

            I will go to my grave believing the hiring of Matheny cost the Cards a World Series Championship in 2013.

            As an aside, the sad irony re: MM is he frequently proclaimed the majors are not where rookies come to learn their trade as a justification for favoring veterans over young players, sabremetrics notwithstanding.

            If only he applied that same standard to himself, Cards fans would have been spared the misery of the Matheny years.

      • JohnS

        Francona’s “interview’ with the Cards was both laughable and disgraceful. Terry said upon the exit from the ”interview”, “I don’t know what you would call that, but it wasn’t a job interview”. It is a rotten thing they wasted his time when they knew they were going to hire the sad sack anyhow….

    • badgerboy23

      Perfectly said. In the PD today I commented as well that as long as Derrick, Hochman, BenFred and Hummel continue to only imply between the lines that MM refuses to listen to almost anyone–and that includes Mo causing Mo to get rid of players simply to remove them from MM–then we are going to get fed the same solemn sad eyed plate of bull crap about wanting to “push the needle forward” that we got fed at that rediculous presser on Tuesday.

      • Christopher Toth

        Thank you. Agree. When you in effect have to rebuild the entire staff around a manager because he himself won’t embrace sabremetrics is proof enough Matheny’s the problem. Basically that’s an admission the emperor has no clothes.

    • BradW

      Best post I’ve read on one of Bernie’s articles.
      I see it the same as you. MM doesn’t play the stats is so obvious. So many other deficiencies, too. It is inconceivable Lilly was let go to get someone who would follow advanced stats, yet MM is the poster child for that condition. I also fear there may be some ivory tower going on. However, it will resolve itself in a few years. Dewitt may have a bromance for MM, but he will smell the coffee after about 5 years of missing the playoffs.
      A tough-nosed manager is needed who can also play the stats, both of which would be improvements over MM’s style. Players tend to take on the demeanor of the manager, and it becomes ingrained in the team culture, I suspect. We saw this with TLR, with Vermeil / Martz, possibly Jockety / Luhnow / Mo, and now MM. It takes a while to change a culture once established, which is why a predecessor can get by for a while and still succeed. But, the performance slowly but surely settles to a new equilibrium.
      Sports is about toughness, outsmarting your opponent, and getting every edge you can. What does MM probably cost us in wins every year? I’d guess 8-10 wins, and much collateral damage to players (e.g. Siegrist, Oh, Bowman, Rosey). The bromance must be blinding.
      Great post, thanks for writing it.

      • Christopher Toth

        Thanks, appreciate it. My since is 5 to 10 wins a year too. I’ve seen others persuasively argue it is as high as 15 not counting playoffs.

        It isn’t my place to talk for Mr. DeWitt, but clearly he views his ownership and stewardship of the Cardinals as a public trust or guardian of sorts.

        In that light, I can see how there are many attributes that appeal to him vis a vis Matheny.

        To be clear, I think MM is a good guy, believes in and demands integrity, and tries to mentor players versus compelling them to that next level but unfortunately for the Cardinals – and us – simply is in way over his head in a sabremetrics era.

        Lilliquist has been here since 2012.

        Does Mo really believe we buy the argument that it took 5 years for Matheny to realize he was failing to provide him with in game sabremetric info?

        Just another example of why their story/list of excuses doesn’t add up.

        Thanks again. Best.

  • Tom L

    This makes sense, but only if Mo and his staff have been in negotiations with someone specific to be the new pitching coach. If they fired Lilliquist and then started looking for his replacement they are in uncharted territory, as most of the new-style coaches will hesitate to come work for Matheny. He claims to be on board, but his history is that of a resolutely old-style manager who ignores advanced metrics in favor of his instincts. That would be like an airline hiring a 21st century navigator to work with a pilot who only flies by the seat of his pants.

    • Christopher Toth

      I completely agree with your assessment.

    • JohnS

      I think the sabermetrics thing was largely bs and they will go inside and hire Eversgard regardless of his outlook on using modern data. Lilliquist likely got sideways with MM and has to walk the plank….

  • rightthinker4

    It took 6 seasons for the Cardinals to figure out Lilliquist was old school. They still haven’t figured out that the manager is old school too. And in the unlikely event the manager embraces sabermetrics, and I don’t think he will, he still won’t know how to manage the bullpen.

    I guess when it comes to analytics, the stats on Lilliquist’s tenure as pitching coach, didn’t impress Cardinals management.

    • James R. Norvell

      Lilliquist’s problem wasn’t that he is old school. His problem was that he was unsuccessful in his job. He absolutely sucked.

      • ken

        odd how bernie completely missed the way lilliquist “absolutely sucks.”

        • James R. Norvell

          Please quote me accurately, ken. I didn’t say “sucks”, I said sucked. He may do better in his next job and I wish him the best. I don’t see it as a lifelong problem, necessarily.

      • Jody Wassmer

        Bernie stated several stats (facts) that show Lilliquist didn’t “suck.” Can you read?

        • James R. Norvell

          I’m just learning to read and resent the aspersion on my limited knowledge. I think, if you READ carefully, you will see that this is an opinion. My Sabermetrics machine broke down.

          • Jody Wassmer

            “Over the last six seasons the Cardinals rank third among the 30 MLB teams in overall earned-run average, third in starting-pitching ERA, second in quality starts, eighth in bullpen ERA, sixth in save percentage, and third in denying inherited runners from scoring.”

            Those are stats/numbers otherwise known as facts. It’s not opinion. I realize in this day and age of a constantly lying “president” people are confused, but stats are indeed FACTS.

          • James R. Norvell

            Have no idea what your opinion of the President has to do with my opinion on baseball, but I clearly see your reality. I am more interested in results than statistics.

          • Big T

            Amen. It always comes back to W’s and L’s. The game creates the stats not the other way around.

          • W Mahan

            Hey Jody, your lying, criminal candidate lost. Get over it. If she couldn’t beat a guy like Trump (who almost any other DEM would have beaten easily), she had to be pretty awful. You definitely are confused if you can’t see that.

          • Big T

            That’s funny!!

  • maryville

    What managers are adhering to the suggestions/dictates of advanced metrics? Maddon (Cubs), Counsell (Brewers), Hurdle (Pirates), Hinch (Astros), Francona (Indians) ?

    • JohnS

      Hurdle, really? Don’t doubt your word, just never heard that, and their results this year in Pittsburg aren’t exactly a glaring endorsement of sabermetrics!

  • Anti ruling class

    A few short weeks ago I proclaimed in a text that I loved sports. I still do, but since that time I’ve been painfully subjected to the reality of what sports is in today’s world. Sadly, what I feel at this moment is I hate what the Cardinals have become, and their plans for the future (“moving forward” in pop organizational speak) totally turn me off.

    • JohnS

      I have heard others, long time fans, state that they are actually starting to hate the Cardinals because of their ownership and management. I too am getting there. Their constant bad decisions, cronyism, cheapness and double talk have been a gigantic turn off. I have quit attending games and no longer purchase anything of their branded merchandise. I do occasionally go to Springfield Cardinals games, I know, I should not even do that but I just have to see some pro baseball each year….hopefully they do not profit too much from my $13 tickets!

  • James R. Norvell

    There seems to be some ingrained wisdom that Mozeliak and his bad judgment is a fixture. Scary crap.

    • JohnS

      Moe has clearly been with the Cardinals for too long. This front office needs a big refresh, and no, I’m not talking about Moe Jr. either….

  • LawrenceKScardsfan

    All the sabemetrics and stats don’t mean squat if you don’t use them. And it appears that MM doesn’t use them. So why then does Lilliquist get the shaft???? Is Lilliquist responsible for defensive shifts? Is Lilliquist responsible for base running gaffes? Is Lilliquist responsible for playing Fowler in CF every game that he was available?

    And if it’s necessary to access predictive tools in the clubhouse, isn’t it DeWitt’s responsibility to supply them along with a guru to offer interpretations as necessary?

    And even though an equation predicts a probable outcome, such as player value that can be matched to salary requests, it is important to note that weights on the variables in the equation can be modified to predict a range of outcomes. And as Bernie points out, there is still the random element involved. In the end, the question is whether the organization has been too conservative in determining value based on the variable selected and the weights assigned (note that even historical weights are not completely fool proof).

    This organization has simply been too conservative in evaluating value. And even if the equation points north to value, it is still a matter of whether DeWitt will spend the money. We know he is naturally inclined not to spend.

    I wonder if Bernie would actually prefer a game managed by supercomputers. No need for coaches. Just let the computer using artificial intelligence match wits against the opponent’s computer by computing every possible outcome and the range of probable outcomes several moves in advance, pitch by pitch, plate appearance by plate appearance. At the end of the day the players could hoist the supercomputer up on their shoulders and celebrate a WS victory, just as it predicted. And it could win trophies – supercomputer of the year for example.

    • JohnS

      Heck, do away with the players while you are at it, just let the computers run the simulations and we won’t need to fool with the real game at all! Maybe put holograms on the field??

      • BradW

        That’s a really interesting idea. That is, make a computer program using AI that predicts what the best action is for every situation in a ball game. I’m taking a class on AI right now, ANN with back propagation. Basically, my understanding is that AI is modelling a hidden equation that can predict the outcome for a situation based on a known set of inputs. I think that would be applicable to baseball, on the surface.

  • LawrenceKScardsfan

    So we’re all asked to believe that the smart men at the top are ok but the manager is a buffoon. Ortiz reported this today:

    “A year ago, the Cardinals erroneously believed they were merely a center fielder away from returning to the postseason. Now that they’ve missed the postseason for two years in a row, though, they realize they’re not just one or even two pieces away from the playoffs.”

    So even though the front office and the organization’s owner had advanced sabemetrics at their side, they still failed to put the pieces together to make a post-season appearance possible. And why? Good old dollars and cents.

    • JohnS

      Yep, sabermetrics seems to genuflect to the mighty dollar with the Cardinals almost in every instance….so why do they pretend to worship it? I think they just drag it out when someone has gotten crossways with them…..Moe doesn’t even understand sabermetrics and Luhnow understood it very well and all that got Luhnow was being run out of town….I think that is what is called being logically inconsistent?

  • ken

    why not “if the cards keep matheny as manager, then all of this is pretty meaningless”?

  • Jody Wassmer

    Maybe if the FBI ever finds Jimmy Hoffa’s body, there will be a note beneath it explaining why Dewitt and Mo are so enthralled by Matheny. All the shuffling they’ve done around him is MEANINGLESS with this guy in charge. As someone wrote elsewhere, don’t forget to fire the ball boys too, Mo.

  • Robert Richman

    None of this means anything unless the Cardinals cut ties with Matheny who has impeded the progress of this team for far too long, with any successes during his tenure coming largely in spite of him. And as long as the subject of metrics is being addressed, here’s one worth considering: WAM or “Wins above Matheny”. Why StL didn’t fire him immediately following the 2014 NLCS is both disturbing and puzzling to me.

    • JDinSTL

      Matheny will bring down all of them. The direction is clear. He’s their man and they sink or swim with him. The rest of us get to help those that don’t drown in the process.

  • Marc Charon

    How does someone who doesn’t necessarily accept science in their personal life turn around and fully accept science and promote science on the job as a manager?

  • JohnS

    It would have been nice if Matheny could have been “signaled” about the need for him to use more sabermetrics without firing the PC. Seems both could have simply been told, you need to use sabermetrics more and yes, we are watching you and do expect this to be done. The problem as I see it is that MM tries to keep his starters in too long “so that they can get the win”. He has stated that publicly. I don’t see how this was Liiliquist’s problem. I really don’t get all the mumbo jumbo about it being “Lillys” responsibility to implement pitching changes. If Matheny wants to start pulling pitchers earlier he can do so….it appears he didn’t wish to do so, and apparently that was insubordination to the team’s desire and naturally, did not cost Matheny his job but cost Lilliquist his instead. You gotta love it….not.

  • Greg Gibson

    It seems as though Mo is not enamored of T. Pham’s brashness at times. Note to Mo, Mo since you can’t hit, run or throw and T. Pham can hit, run and throw, and you are in the business of acquiring players who can hit, run, and throw, why don’t you zip the lip on T. Pham.

  • geoff

    I truly believe that baseball is changing enough in St Louis to turn me into a casual fan. I think the team advertised as totally buying into the statistic driven way of playing the game would be the Pirates. The bigger the buy-in, the less fun they have become to watch. Firing Liliquist makes total sense. The one area of the team that experienced anything approaching a successful season was the pitching. When you consider just how bad the bullpen was coming out of spring training, I was pleasantly shocked at just how well they ended up. Their hitting and offensive approach during MM’s tenure has been directed by Mabry who buys in and preaches the new-era metrics driven swing for the fences at a 35 degree angle and strike outs are OK because you might hit a home run. They have Marmol putting virtual reality glasses on infielders…NEW AGE (it didn’t make them any more than average)… while letting what had to be a record number of runners get picked off of first base.I guess things will just be better with the input from a bunch of people who tuck their T-shirts into their underpants and have never played the game at any level other than being the last mandatory pick in the recess softball game in grade school. As to Mo’s comment about Pham, it pretty much parallels his commentary about Oquendo before he was pushed out. Pham does not portray the image the “NEW and IMPROVED” saber-metric driven Cardinals are trying to present. If the Cardinals want to win games they need to find a whole bunch of Tommy Phams and whole lot less of everything else they have. You all can blow your metrics out your collective butts. You give me a lineup with eight regulars with Pham’s stat lines and I will win more than my share of games. The only time I saw Pham use that vaunted 35 degree launch angle, he was swinging at a pitch in the dirt. Saber metrics have a lot of value and it would be stupid to not use information, but it would be even more fool-hearty to manage or play to the stats like the Pirates have done. The Cardinals need better players, You are not going to be terribly successful when your lead-off man is slow afoot and shows almost no base-running acumen. I am still shaking my head at the idea that an outfield of Grichuk, Fowler, and Piscotty, would be good enough to win in the major leagues. I truly thought that Piscotty had a chance to be a heck of a hitter, but he spent the winter working on his swing trying to increase his launch angle…we saw the result. As few times as he got on base this year, it seemed like he figured out a way to run himself into an out….or just didn’t run at all. Bad base running is an indication of bad and lax coaching. Piscotty had options left and sending him to Peoria where he had success did not warrant bringing him back up after three games then installing him in right field made no sense at all. If the Cards were to have a chance of squeaking in, that chance was diminished by playing Piscotty every day when anyone else was available. Piscotty was this year’s Brandon Moss. If Piscotty and Grichuk, and Cecil, are considered to be a big part of your core…you could have the computer sitting in the dugout and you won’t win. Hey wait a minute…why not just have those analytics guys come down from upstairs, put them in the dugout at a desk and let them manage the game. Or better yet hire Bernie, he certainly knows more about baseball and leading a group of men than Mike Matheny does. If you don’t believe me….just read his columns.

    • Big T

      Geoff, I always enjoy your posts. A True die hard baseball and Cardinal fan!! For that I thank you.

      What do you think Bernie would be saying in Chicago if Matheny had done what Maddon did the other night, and gave game 2 away to the Nat’s? You know the metrics say Edwards does ok against lefties. Problem is metrics don’t say enough about elite lefties just total of lefties faced. They also say that Montgomery does good against righty’s? Metrics don’t say Zimmerman is having accomplished year and established veteran who hits lefties. Listening to metrics cost them game and probably series.

      Or how about when Dusty blew game 1 pitching to Rizzo with a righty or at all with the base open just before his double? If I were dusty Bryzzo would not get a pitch to hit the rest of the way.
      Or in new York when Girardi gave one away by not challenging the hit by pitch call?

      Truth is hindsight is always 2020. Easier to point out the mistakes when your team loses. Hang in there with our Cards. Hopefully we get an accomplished bat. I believe they will get Hosmer from KC and another bat elsewhere. Then they can get one more reliever to go with signing Nicasio. Be great if Lynn would fit into the budget but I fear that won’t happen and I don’t see where they get all the innings in starting pitching they are losing.
      If you get a chance to go to spring training do so. Can’t wait. Go CARDS

      • geoff

        Thanks T…right back at you. I am holding back on whether or not to go to Jupiter this year. If they truly go all metric and away from good baseball, I will probably lose interest. I don’t understand all of the talk about Hosmer. He is not at all a saber metrics player. He is not an all or nothing walk/homer/strikeout guy. He is a hitter. He also plays first base. The Cards have a saber metrics poster boy playing there, and he truth is Carpenter is just terrible in the field. With a lot of work he could become adequate at first base but, he will never make it to adequate anywhere else on the field and they will not get rid of him. It is not bad to have a power guy or two in your lineup but the rest of it has to be filled with people who can hit. All of the talk about getting Donaldson makes sense if the cost is not too high but keep in mind that he is not a guy who can put a team on his back and carry them over the line…he is not the Pujols of old or the Rizzo of today. He would be a marked improvement over what the team currently has at third base.