As Baseball Changes to a New Way of Managing, Will Bill DeWitt’s Experiment Pay Off?

You say you want a revolution?

Major League Baseball is having one.

Just look at most of the managers that are being hired now. Younger. Fluent in analytics. Their minds have been liberated from old-school fallacies that don’t help their teams win games.

These new managers fit baseball’s new paradigm: Alex Cora (Red Sox), Mickey Callaway (Mets), Gabe Kapler (Phillies), Dave Martinez (Nationals). And actually this movement took hold with many of the pre-2016, or pre-2017 hirings. Dave Roberts (Dodgers), Andy Green (Padres), Torey Luvollo (Diamondbacks), Bud Black (Rockies) … and, in late 2015, Craig Counsell (Brewers.)

These gentlemen don’t fear the future. They don’t fear knowledge. They don’t close their minds to new theories. They aren’t insecure. They aren’t paranoid. They don’t fear data. They aren’t offended by the presence of nerds in the analytics department who are paid to dish information that can provide a tactical advantage. The new managers aren’t stuck in the past, or resistant to change, just because they were trained in the game at a different time … before all of these fancy numbers and ideas surfaced in big-league front offices. These new managers tell the analytics nerds to come downstairs to the skipper’s office to share their findings.

Hold on….

What about THE HUMAN BEINGS, the anti-progress grumps holler.


FLESH AND BLOOD human beings.


REAL MEN play baseball out that diamond. They have a heartbeat. You can’t ever forget about the heartbeat. The HUMAN side.  Can a COMPUTER tell you that it’s a good idea to give the second baseman a day off because he just broke up with his fiancée and needs to clear his head? Does a damn COMPUTER let you know that the eighth-inning setup reliever is too hungover to pitch in a day game?

Never forget … this game is PLAYED BY MEN!

Relax, Sparky.

Not only do the new-breed managers understand that this is a game played by men who have hearts and brains and emotions and moods and real-life emergencies at home … but because the managers are younger, they can better communicate with the wave of young players that are being rushed to the big leagues … and the younger players can relate to the younger manager.

And Sparky, you need to understand something.

You don’t have to make a choice here.

It isn’t one or the other.

You can have a manager who comes to the job with excellent communication skills, who can build good relationships with his players … and believe it or not, he can tend to the human element and also understand that the analytics department is part of the team … the nerds are his friends, not his enemies.

The enlightened managers know that it is possible to have the best of both worlds.

A manager can bond with his team.

A manager can make his team better by utilizing meaningful, relevant information.

A manager can love his players, respect his players,  show empathy and concern for his players. A manager can know what his players are going through, and when it’s best to give them a day off.

A manager can also do the right thing for his players by maximizing their chances to succeed — and make more money — by putting them in favorable matchup situations rather than do something stupid by deploying the player in a way that gives the advantage to the other team. And yes, Sparky, the nerds in the analytics department can make sure the manager has all of the necessary information to make the right decision … as opposed to, well, you know, being a blockhead manager that will put his players in a position to fail.

Sparky, it is possible for a manager to embrace his players … and embrace the advanced statistics.

Just ask Dave Roberts about this. The Dodgers manager won 104 games this season, won two postseason rounds, and reached Game 7 of the World Series before losing to the  Astros. Or ask A.J. Hinch, the Astros’ manager who was participating in a championship parade Friday.

Their players love Roberts and Hinch.

And the analytics guys love the managers too.

“The job has changed,” said Astros team president Reid Ryan, in comments made to the Washington Post . “Now you have to be able to manage up, to ownership and the GM, and manage down, to the players. The manager becomes the link between what an advanced analytical front office is doing and making sure the players are able to be themselves, not be overwhelmed by the information, and at the same time relay those messages.”

It really isn’t all that complicated, Sparky.

Numbers can help human beings improve  their baseball performance.

That’s why the Astros rely on their “Nerd Cave” for guidance.

The Astros team that just won the World Series. And the Nerd Cave residents will definitely be receiving World Series rings.

It’s called teamwork, Sparky.

“Our game has evolved to the point to where everyone has to choose to what extent they apply analytics,” Hinch said. “We all have them — really smart people who are working behind the scenes to provide that kind of information. How you use them is going to be the competitive advantage. If we think we have different ways to maximize performance, we’re going to use them.”

Hey! What about the HUMAN ELEMENT?

“My job is to tie it all together and make it work,” Hinch said. “We believe in people. We believe in scouting. We also are forward-thinking in gathering and using information. But we do understand and appreciate the human element.”

In a story relayed by the Washington Post, Astros pitcher Charlie Morton is a perfect example of how an analytics staff makes a difference.

The Phillies gave up on Morton at the end of the 2016 season. He didn’t pitch much because of injuries, and this looked like the end of the line for a 33-year-old pitcher who had endured multiple surgeries to get repaired and keep playing. But the Nerd Cave took a look and noticed a slight increase in Morton’s velocity in 2016. Their research turned up something interesting: for all of his pitching problems, Morton’s curve ball had one of the highest spin rates in the majors.

As Hinch told the Washington Post: “The more you dug into him, the more you realized that the weapons were there.”

The Astros deemed Morton worthy of a gamble. He signed a two-year contract for $14 million and got to work on refining his mechanics to add velocity … and he welcomed the Astros’ advice to use his curve more frequently.

Were the Astros nuts?

Apparently not. Morton was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series. And the winning pitcher of World Series Game 7. Even though Morton got hit hard and allowed seven runs in an ALCS loss to the Yankees, he went on to work 15.1 innings and give up only two runs in his final three postseason appearances.

The Astros were put together by GM Jeff Luhnow, who holds two degrees from Penn (economics and engineering) and an MBA  from Northwestern in business administration.

We know the Luhnow story in St. Louis.

Visionary Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. recruited Luhnow out of the business sector to set up a new model for player procurement and development. A model that was heavy on analytics and forecasts and value assessments. This was in the early aughts, and a lot of people thought DeWitt was crazy?

What was DeWitt thinking, hiring some braniac from corporate America who had an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern? All of the Sparky types were aghast. What does this Luhnow guy know about hitting a curveball? He isn’t a BASEBALL MAN!

Sparky may have noticed that Luhnow’s model paid off in a big way, with sustained success for the Cardinals including two World Series titles (2006, 2011.) Astros owner Jim Crane, a native St. Louisan, hired Luhnow to come to Houston to oversee the Astros’ massive rebuild. And other Cardinals’ analytics staffers joined Luhnow in Houston.

DeWitt’s enlightened initiative on drafting, development and roster construction brought Luhnow into major-league baseball. Luhnow played a role in the Cardinals’ two World Series championships, and under his leadership the Astros won their first World Series in their 55-season history.

DeWitt indirectly helped make the Astros’ championship possible.

It’s interesting to see the Cardinals restructure their coaching staff in an effort to have a more analytics-friendly dugout. A dugout staff that would enthusiastic about working with the analytics department. A new set of coaches that could be a positive influence on manager Mike Matheny by helping him see the value of analytics. If Matheny is sincerely open-minded about all of this, he definitely can become a better manager.

Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to find a new and more progressive-minded manager instead of hiring a team of progressive-minded coaches to help the current manager become more fluent and knowledgeable about analytics?

Good question. But I think I know the answer.

DeWitt, baseball president John Mozeliak and GM Michael Girsch strongly believe in Matheny’s leadership skills. But their hope is that Matheny will grow, evolve expand his thinking and become a fully developed manager. And Cardinals management wanted to help Matheny reach that higher level by surrounding him with coaches who will work to get him there.

DeWitt doesn’t overlook the human-element part of baseball. He thinks it’s important. But the chairman also knows his team has lost ground by clinging to old-school bromides that lead to poor strategy decisions during games.

This is quite the experiment.

Matheny opens his heart to his players. He is a leader of men.

Now Matheny must open his mind to data and lead his men to more victories.

Thanks for reading …

And have an awesome weekend.


More: There’s a Huge Gap Between the Cardinals and Baseball’s Best Teams

  • Jody Wassmer

    IF – and that’s big IF – Matheny can turn the tide and use advanced analytics to the team’s advantage, I’ll give Dewitt and Mo all the credit in the world. I don’t believe it will happen though. We’ll see.

    • JohnS

      MM is not bright enough to use the info. Not his fault, I think he has suffered too many concussions…..too bad!

      • J Walls

        What an obnoxious and despicable comment.

        • JDinSTL

          While the comment may have been a bit rugged, there are serious concerns that Mike doesn’t let what he clearly sees on the field affect his thinking. Always 1-2 hitters too late to pull pitchers and he “leans” on guys until he blows them up.

          • J Walls

            A bit rugged??? How about…..disgusting????

          • JDinSTL

            You can be disgusted, but we can point to the fact that Randy Choate set an all-time major league record for games pitched without recording an out. How does one explain that?

            Can we explain why Randy Choate appeared in 2 of the 3 losses to the Giants that did not include one appearance by Trevor Rosenthal? Is this “learning on the job”, or is it simply “botching the job”?

          • JDinSTL

            Did Mr. Giles appear in the last 3 games of THIS World Series? THAT is “learning on the job”

          • J Walls

            You are ignoring the reason for my disgust….I have no objection to criticizing…even if I don’t agree. What I do resent is garbage and personal attacks. You really think the concussion cheap shot is appropriate? If so you should be ashamed.

          • JDinSTL

            Would you rather have someone simply speulate that Matheny is stupid?

          • JohnS

            I truly don’t see anything wrong with pointing out Matheny’s concussive issues. It is well known and widely discussed. It is amusing though that it upsets you so. Are you related to Mr. Matheny perhaps?

          • JohnS

            Matheny stated himself that he has a six month period of his life that he cannot recall due to concussive issue, so wake up and smell the coffee Walls. Too bad….

  • Mark Steinmann

    I agree with the general idea of what Bernie’s getting at here, but in the end, it mostly comes down to having better players. Until we get that, it really doesn’t matter who is managing the team. Matheny could turn a corner, listen to the the appropriate people (really, listen to anyone), fire Mabry, let Oquendo & Mcgee do their thing, and what, we are an 88 win team next year? You could give us Maddon or Francona next year and we aren’t going anywhere. Unless we get some impact position players, either through the minors/draft, or trade/free agency, we are going to be stuck in a cycle of mediocrity that could easily last 5-10 years.

    • LawrenceKScardsfan

      I wonder if Oquendo has been brought back into the dugout as a potential MM replacement should the Cards falter….

      • JohnS

        Oquendo does not fit the “profile” to be the Cards’ manager regardless of how eminently qualified he may be… must resemble the lineage of Little Lord Fauntleroy in order to be considered….

    • JohnS

      We have had some teams with very good players (granted not the last couple of years or so) and Matheny has not delivered the ultimate goal, a World Series championship. So lets stop pushing this silly narrative…..Likely most mediocre managers can win with very talented players….however, it usually takes a very talented manager to win a World Series….that Matheny has proven he is not.

  • Greg Gibson

    Analytics is not just about numbers. It’s also about diet and nutrition. How can you make 5′-6″ Jose Altuve an impact player. He’s never going to be a bulked up player but there is weight training designed specifically for HIS body type. The are foods that will optimize his size and speed. Relax old guys, you can still use the human element you just need to augment that with analytics.

  • M W

    The narrative that Matheny is a leader just keeps being pushed. What is the evidence for this?

    Also, we can stop calling DeWitt “visionary”. Those days are long gone.

    And does anyone know what Girsch does? Seems like Mo is still in charge of everything.

    • J Walls

      Ever examine what Matheny did with that 2015 team? That team was devastated with injuries. They never felt sorry for themselves and won 100 games. That is what a leader does. Some teams have been better than others but I have always seen Mike’s team play hard. That was also characteristic of Tony Larussa.

      • Jody Wassmer

        Two things about the 2015 team: Mo should have added a bat at the deadline and sat on his hands and Matheny giving the regulars off that last weekend and losing all three to the Braves was a big mistake. Letting off the gas rarely works in sports.

        • JohnS

          Bat wouldn’t have helped, the starting pitching was injured/gassed by the playoffs. Popgun attack was finally exposed though, but we still have not corrected either problem really. Starting pitching and offense for this team remain woefully thin, likely to continue, Cards motto seems to be “Get By With Less Than You Need to be Successful”…..

      • JohnS

        And LaRussa could also actually manage too! Unlike Mikey….

        • J Walls

          Did Tony make the postseason every year? In the years he didn’t was it because he was a lousy manager?

          • Mark Lee Arbogast

            No but his running Brandon Moss out there day after day in that 5 for 90 slump he was in was inexcusable.

          • J Walls

            You ignored the gist of the question….when Tony didn’t make the postseason did that mean he was a lousy manager? It is so a amazing the double standard on this site. There is one standard for Matheny and one for every other manager.

          • Mark Lee Arbogast

            I never thought or said MM was a bad manager. He’s just not a real good one either.

          • J Walls

            It is a simple question….was Tony, not Mike, a bad manager when he didn’t make the postseason? As I said before there is a double standard on this site. One for Mike and one for every other manager.

          • JohnS

            There is a double standard for Mike, he apparently gets to keep his job forever, regardless of results. Meanwhile much better managers are getting bounced from their jobs….but I guess if you did no WS championships, Mikie is your man….

          • JohnS

            No, it is alright that LaRussa didn’t make post-season appearances because he occasionally won WS championships, something that Mikie has not and will never do with the Cardinals…

          • Joe Sheehan (a renowned national baseball writer) ranked Matheny 30th in MLB managers. He has no axe to grind and no ties to the Cardinals (or their rivals). Sporting news ranked him 15th (before they missed the playoffs twice in two years).

            Take off the rose-colored glasses, it isn’t just Bernie and Cardinals fans who think he isn’t very good.

          • JohnS

            Who said LaRussa made the post-season each year, your straw man arguments are silly….

    • JohnS

      It is a disgrace the team didn’t go out and hire a real GM. Girsch has been with the team for several years and worked closely with Moe and statements have been made publicly by the team that Moe is still going to be training him. WTH?? I really get tired of the Cardinals’ propensity for doing on the job training for their most important positions. When they hired LaRussa they went out and got likely the best experienced candidate available for the job. How odd they did entirely the opposite with Mikey….

      • J Walls

        A disgrace? Really? Lunhow had no gm experience when Houston hired him…was that a disgrace too? The hyperbole in this site is amazing.

        • JohnS

          I wasn’t pitching for a Luhnow hire for the Cards, but yes, it is very poor that the Cards keep doing this OJT bit and it is showing up in the standings now….but keep defending the status quo, Walls, and I know you will….

    • Mark Lee Arbogast

      Girsch is the “ Coffee Boy”

      • Patricia

        Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.
        On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
        ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleCashZoneCareerPartTimeJobs/get/hourly ★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫:::::!da70uuuud

    • flood21

      Girsch is there for when they have to fire the GM which gets MO off the hook

  • J Walls

    This is really getting old. Get a bunch of better players and it will be amazing how much better Matheny’s record will be. Sheesh…talk about beating a dead horse. Analytics is not magic. The Astros tanked for years, repeatedly lost over 100 games and were rewarded with bunch of great players and Hinch is a genius manager loved by his players. If Bochy and Hinch switched teams this years would the Giants have won the Series? This manager obsession is ridiculous.

    • JohnS

      That’s right, the manager is unimportant. Let the bat boy manage the team!

      • J Walls

        So…are you arguing managers are more important than talent? You did not answer my question above….if Bochy and Hinch switched rosters do you think the Giants would be World Champions? No one said that managers had no significance….but their importance pales in comparison to talent on the team.

        • JohnS

          Well that would seem to be exactly the opposite of what I just stated.

    • Mark Lee Arbogast

      I never thought MM was a particularly bad manager. He is just not a really good one though.

  • geoff

    This World Series had two managers who use analytics to their advantage. Roberts blew his bull pen up by the end of the third game. Hinch stuck with his starters a bit longer. I guess the analytics were a bit different for the two staffs. Morton was a find for the “Cave Nerds”, Liriano, not so much, but then we only want to mention the successes for the purpose of this article. I can remember when the Cardinals without the advanced metrics would pick up pitchers that were seemingly due for the scrap heap and Dave Duncan turned them around and got more out of them. Truth be told Matheny did not do a good job of using the advanced metrics but, he did not do a good job of going old school either. Mike did have a modicum of success when he had the players but there is no one in their right mind who would sit down and try to tell you that the Cardinals’ 40 man roster could match up to the roster of the playoff teams. As to the coaches that are being brought in…they are all old school types when it comes to playing the game. I don’t think Jose Oquendo needs a computer printout to decide whether or not to send a runner, and if told how they are going to pitch a guy , he doesn’t need to refer to a spread sheet to position the infield. We see all of the shifts because hitters aren’t smart enough , or talented enough to learn to hit the ball the other way. I do not disagree with using metrics to gain an edge. I have been paying enough attention to see that analytics have evolved as well. A year ago strike outs were totally acceptable , now all of a sudden , putting the ball in play is a good idea. I just love how all of us old farts think we know everything about the game, and all of the new age people know everything about the game. I guess if Bernie is right, then Bill DeWitt is a fool not to just fire Matheny and hire him to manage the team. After all he has a much better grasp of advanced metrics, and at least he doesn’t subscribe to that servant leader hokum that Matheny believes in. And according to Bernie, he certainly has more integrity than Matheny. I guess we’ll see what happens with the Cardinals this year like we do every year. I know this for sure, Mo better figure out how to use the 10 day DL and he can’t afford to carry two career reserve infielders on the 40 man roster, and no one can disagree that he can’t stick with players who aren’t producing. There is no room to carry guys who can’t beat the shift by going the other way , or guys who strike out 100 times, or guys who can’t go first to third on a base hit deep to right field, or who throw to the wrong base, or who continually miss the cut-off man, or who get picked off first base because no one was paying attention. I say Mo because I am not sure that anything happens with any aspect of the Cardinals without Mo putting his stamp of approval of it.

    • J Walls

      Servant leader hokum…..what?????? Matheny lacks integrity……really? Bill DeWitt is a fool….hahaha! Wow…the Matheny derangement syndrome has gone viral!!!!

      • geoff

        You evidently don’t read Bernie very often, and you certainly don’t recognize sarcasm when you see it. Maybe try rereading what I wrote…then comment.

        • J Walls

          A little thin skinned, aren’t you?

          • geoff

            Not really. I just don’t suffer fools lightly.

          • J Walls

            Lolol…wow what a witty response! You make outlandish comments and then fall back on personal insults when challenged. Very weak. Very immature.

      • W Mahan

        When you stiff people out of million of dollars because you were trying to get rich quick (and your greedy plan didn’t work), then, yes, you lack integrity. When Magic Mike decided to say FU to his creditors, then his so-called Christianity and his integrity flew out the window.

        When Matheny pays back over 4 million that he owes his creditors, then he can re-establish whatever integrity you think he had. You can look up the details of his bankrupty if you are so certain of his integrity. And, by the way, he wasn’t just stiffing his creditors. Who do you think banks go to to make up for their losses? Yeah, average Joe in the form of higher interest rates.

  • LawrenceKScardsfan

    Great column as usual Bernie. But again – the same management you praise (DeWitt et. al.) is the same management that let Luhnow go and hired MM. Approaches only work if they’re consistently applied. DeWitt et. al. appeared to adopt the practice of quantitative analysis when it came to players but NOT to management. And can we now admit that losing Luhnow was a mistake – a BIG mistake.

    I like the idea of mixing quant with qual – you need both – quantitative analysis and qualitative judgement. You can have both. It’s not an either or choice.

    I do wonder about the future of baseball. Can you envision a time where 30 years from now, the manager is an AI android that, like Data on Star Trek, can access probability scenarios on the fly?

    Actually, God forbid, should the world suddenly face a nuclear war, while humans will start the war with the press of a button, machines will be dictating the scenarios and assessing the odds and costs of making moves – all of it at the speed of light. The stock market employs its own set of AI rule-making. So it’s perfectly natural for baseball to evolve along these lines.

    It’s important to note that a probability based game can be just as exciting as one that is “human-based.” Why? Because probabilities are odds – nothing more. And with odds, you can never be sure if you’re going to make a winning move or find that you have made a losing move, even though the probability of this move being a losing move was small. Play ball!!!

  • ken

    you’re right, it IS quite the experiment. still, sparky anderson wouldn’t be choice as someone to hold up as an example of an MLB manager who failed miserably at his job because he was too stubborn to adapt to new methods.

  • ken

    it’s official. “impact player” has now edged out “impact bat” as the baseball flavorword of the week.

  • Mark Lee Arbogast

    Bernie has been in rare form the last few days displaying his “imaginary demonic fan voices” to mock and ridicule anybody that dares differ from his thinking. I believe he is channeling his inner Rush Limbaugh. Dude….I have never heard anybody talk that except, well, except you dude. Myself and many other now change the channel when he does. It’s too painful to listen to for very long. The guy has a major insecure chip on his shoulder for some reason and it’s a shame because he is really great otherwise.

    • JohnS

      Nah, I’d say his inner Stephen Colbert or Rachel Maddow…..

    • Bernie’s biggest problem in both print and on his show the last few years is knocking down imaginary straw men. He’s constantly saying “Fans say…” or “I know you will be mad for me at saying this…” and then making fun of them. Once you hear it, you can’t stop noticing it.

  • Harry

    Gosh, with all the available talent here, I think he should clean house start over. Shoot, just being a fan is not enough anymore.

  • Christopher Toth

    Based on my experience of running companies – I have multiple economic degrees from Wash U and London – people do not easily change in terms of how they analyze data.

    I’m not saying it can’t be done or can’t be taught, however typically once a line manager is in place, he or she is fairly set in their ways.

    IMO, expecting or asking Matheny to change after six year as manager would be akin to asking Picasso to paint like Monet.

    As is, Matheny is slow to take decisive action in real time and that’s just him battling whatever is going on between his own two ears.

    I highly suspect – but obviously can’t know – that too many cooks in an effort to help Matheny do his thinking for him is only going to compound the deer in the headlights managing. As is, he can’t make decisions quickly enough and I see no reason to believe that he’ll be able to process and then make in-game decisions any quicker given that he will most likely struggle to incorporate their views with his own and come to a quick, decisive conclusion before the game in progress speeds by him.

    Matheny really is a chess player who needs extended time to decide how he wants to move forward.

    That’s not a knock on Matheny as there are plenty of jobs that require and value a chess player’s approach.

    Unfortunately for Matheny, baseball isn’t one of them. You have to think on the fly much as a fighter pilot does in the heat of battle.

    • Kkkkathmandubirdsview

      I think that I am qualified to respond here since I also have two economics degrees and an MBA (just joking, not about the degrees)! In fact, it is about change management. In the Cardinals case, the field CEO (manager) is being given new department heads as part of the change management strategy. The manager presumably knows that he has to embrace the changed approach. His public comments indicate that he does. It remains to be seen whether he does in practice. 2018 should be a fun season, with a revamped team and coaching staff for the manager to work with! Let us see if we have a “new” style manager next year, or something else. But the bottom line, as some have commented here, will still fundamentally be determined by the talent on the field!

      • Christopher Toth

        Understand and respect your points but in effect, Matheny already has struck out once before when it comes to managing given his initial hiring was a classic change management approach. The Cards were very clear as to their new model, Matheny’s role in making that model work at the MLB level and how the front office and minor league operations were geared to support same.

        The result – in my view – was the organization changed but Matheny did not and over the last six years has been out of sync with the change he was charged with making happen.

        I’d argue that a Sixth Sigma approach is what’s needed going forward wherein minimizing wastage takes front and center.

        To do that, you need a manager who not only is a numbers guy, but is comfortable being a number cruncher and candidly I just don’t see that as a strength of Matheny’s.

        Decades ago when I was responsible for asset/liability management for a commercial banking group I came to the realization that as we delved deeper into the use of permissable derivatives that we needed a different mindset than my own economics based background. In examining the best of our competition, I learned they were hiring engineers who could better understand the construct of highly structured financial instruments. We followed suit and it was the right call.

        In that instance, I swallowed my own ego and acknowledged they’d be far superior to managing our combined off balance sheet financial instruments on a day to day basis than myself.

        I do agree with you that talent at the end of the day is paramount but am also mindful managers can and do waste talent in many different ways (unnecessary injuries due to overuse, match-ups that do not make statistical sense, as well as illogical in game decisions, etc.).

        To be clear, I know Matheny isn’t going anywhere soon and I respect Mr. DeWitt’s right as the owner to make that decision. That said, I remain highly skeptical that Matheny is capable skills-wise of making the kind of changes necessary of him in today’s sabremetrics driven game.

        Appreciate your thoughtful response. I hope you are right because I’d rather see the Cards back in the playoffs than seeing myself proven right.

        • Kkkkathmandubirdsview

          Thanks Christopher. I previously referred to the following article (file:///E:/Documents/BDF%20folders/Baseball/Sabrmetrics%20articles/Analyzing%20Managerial%20Efficiency%20in%20Major%20League%20Baseball-%20A%20Saber.pdf) in responses to a few of Bernie’s articles attacking Mike. It is one of the foundations for some of my comments somewhat defending Mike. The author uses a sabermetric approach using stochastic frontier analysis to estimate a Cobb-Douglas production function, and then calculates managerial efficiency scores for the period sampled, 2008-15, Mike Matheny was the most efficient manager during that period, and was also the most consistent. I need to update the sample to 2017 (stay tuned), I just need to acquire the STATA statistical package. Another article examined statistically managerial use of bullpens, and the oft-criticized Mike was not one of the ten worst managers in terms of bullpen management ( These are objective sabermetric analyses of managerial performance, which do not provide any evidence that Mike is as bad as Bernie and others claim, and of course do not make attacks on his personality. I would be interested to see your comments on these articles. Thanks.

          • JohnS

            There is another widely shared statistical study of late which shows that Matheny is the worst in baseball at bullpen management. It seems highly unlikely that you are not aware of this study also but I duly note that you chose not to mention THIS study.

          • Kkkkathmandubirdsview

            If you want to engage in a discussion with me John, it will be based on mutual respect, not an aggressive negative approach. You immediately begin by accusing me of cherry picking evidence. Not acceptable. Please cite the study, so that I can tell you whether I have seen it or not. Or do you mean the Baseball Prospectus article? Unfortunately I have not seen it, as I don’t have access to newstands with the latest publications, I have to rely on what I find on internet. I will try to access the Baseball Prospectus article. There was a 21 Sept. 2017 article by Tyler Kinzy at the Viva el Birdos website claiming that MM is too slow to replace starting pitchers. I did not mention it as I don’t think that the conclusions that Tyler derives from the data in the tables that he presented are valid. This is because he has not demonstrated any statistical correlation between starting pitcher wOBA and relief pitcher wOBA, since he didn’t use a regression. There are also problems of collinearity in the two data sets, since a relief pitcher can affect the wOBA of the starting pitcher that he relieves. I tweeted my email address to Tyler to initiate an extended discussion with him on the methodology, but he did not respond. All the best. Brian

          • Kkkkathmandubirdsview

            That is why I cited the article by Rob Arthur and Rian Watt, which used a more robust statistical approach than that used by Tyler.

    • geoff

      What companies have you run? Your implication is that you are world renowned yet I can’t find you on the google.

    • JohnS

      As Will Leitch stated in his piece on Matheny in the 2017 Baseball Prospectus, it is very hard to change human nature. Matheny is not likely to change as he is in his forties, and has shown no propensity to make adjustments during his managerial tenure. He really has not even seemed to recognize a need to change and you know the old line, if you don’t know you have a problem, you really can’t solve it. He is rigid and insecure. For some reason, DeWitt digs this….Most owners would have canned him by now, but the Cards have an owner who places a premium on “stability”, apparently even when said stability results in a lack of World Series championships. But the owner has different priorities than the fans, such as making bundles and bundles of money. Nothing wrong with that, if I were in his position I might forgo WS championships for bundles of cash also! We just need, as fans, to be very aware that his motives are apparently not in line with those of the fans…..

      • Christopher Toth

        I agree the likelihood of Matheny changing is very low. Not impossible, but I wouldn’t bet my farm on it.

        As for Mr. DeWitt, while no doubt he has the right to cash in on his investment – not to mention the legal fiduciary obligation of maximizing his partners’ investments in the team – I think too often the media overlooks the Art Rooney type generation of owners he is part of. They believe in as little turnover as possible. E.g., look at how fee head coaches the Steelers have had compared to other NFL teams. Just my opinion, but it is that type of old school loyalty that sees DeWitt giving Matheny perhaps one last chance versus greed or stubborness.


  • JeremyR

    Gee, another column praising DeWitt for no real reason.

    Most of the success the Cardinals had under him was them lucking into Pujols to build around. Once that’s gone the teams suspiciously resemble the pre-Pujols teams, occasionally competitive but that’s it.

    • JohnS

      Oh I do give him credit for hiring Luhnow, but yes, they did luck into Pujols who was virtually in theirs’ and KCs’ back yard up in Independence MO. How sad especially for the Royals that they had this once in a generation talent playing within a few miles of their home park and did not have the sense to “waste” a 12th round draft pick on the local boy….

    • Big T

      How about his decision not to sign Pujols but be able to keep Berkman, Beltran, and Holiday in the middle of his 2011 line up? I would say that was a great decision although admittedly I wanted him to keep Pujols at the time. Sometime your best decisions are not popular ones

  • Kkkkathmandubirdsview

    Finally a less strident article on the subject of managers; I prefer the imaginary fan narrative to the direct attacks. Three comments:
    1. Another important departure from past approaches by leading teams is the new emphasis on going after young hitters, as evidenced by the Cubs, Astros, and Dodgers, and getting veteran pitchers, rather than emphasizing pitchers in the draft, something for the Cardinals to consider next June
    2. It isn’t just about managers, obviously the Cardinals and other teams view coaches and the manager as part of a decision making team – the manager may make the final decisions, but the analytics from the front office are also in the hands of the coaches, to provide input to the manager.
    3. The interview with Dave Martinez, the new Phillies manager at was interesting, and confirms the multipronged approach of the new managers, combining analytics with people management skills.

    • Kkkkathmandubirdsview

      Sorry, Martinez signed with Washington of course.

  • J Walls

    On the topic of censorship. Bernie has apparently deleted by past 2 points. Very interesting because he always claims that he is not at all affected by opinions of others. I did not use any offensive language. What I did was to use a direct quote from Bernie that he made in a reply to a comment in which he said Matheny fans think Mike is Jesus Christ. I pointed out that comments like that are insulting to Mike and Christians. I also pointed out that he would never say to fans of a Muslim manager that the manager was Muhammad. Christians it seems are easy targets. If Bernie doesn’t like people pointing out his repeated character assassinations and cheap shots related to Matheny’s beliefs, there is a simple solution. Stop making them, Bernie. N0w let’s see how long it takes for him to delete this post also.

  • JohnS

    We all know how this picture ends, at some point, even the Cardinals will have had enough of Matheny and fire him…..

  • Big T

    I realize all sabermetric people want to run off and give Luhnow sole credit for turning the Houston Astros around, but that is not totally the case. Is he the GM when they won. Yes. But he took over after they had already acquired Altuve, Springer, Keuchel and others. He then missed on Bryant and drafted Apel as well as another pitcher with a first round top five pick that never panned out. You never hear about those misses especially if the author of this article wants to praise someone, or use them to support his argument. Coupled this with the tank process in Houston allowing them numerous high and overall #1 picks and I don’t believe there is anything that special in Luhnow.