More on Brundage

DMZ · October 14, 2004 at 11:38 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The Oregonian feauters an article advocating Brundage for manager, which will tell you why I’m way pro-Brundage and also a little anti-Brundage, as Brundage talks about being “aggressive”.

Also funny is this:

He knows that to be successful at Safeco Field, the Mariners must adopt a speed-oriented, National League style. Seattle strayed from that approach this year when it fielded one of the American League’s slowest teams.

Brundage doesn’t actually say that in the piece. But I find this interesting — I am continually baffled why people think this. The Mariner teams that have been successful in Safeco have got on base and hit for power, not stolen bases.

2000 – 91-71, OBP 4th in AL, SLG 8th in AL, SB 4th in SL
2001 – 116-46, OBP 1st in AL, SLG 4th in AL, SB 1st in AL
2002 – 93-69, OBP 2nd in AL, SLG 9th in AL, SB 2nd in AL
2003 – 93-69, OBP 4th in AL, SLG 10th in AL, SB 4th in AL
2004 – 63-99, OBP 10th in AL, SLG 14th in AL, SB 4th in AL

Does anyone really think that the difference between the 2001 Mariners and the 2004 Mariners offenses is that they went from 1st in SB to 4th in SB?


28 Responses to “More on Brundage”

  1. Joey on October 14th, 2004 11:47 am

    You are right on about that. Speed and stolen bases is extremely overrated…yes, speed is a nice thing to have, but if you aren’t getting on base then its useless. Besides, I favor waiting for the double or jack rather then running yourself out of an inning.

  2. Troy on October 14th, 2004 11:54 am

    I find it hilarious that everyone thinks our team was so slow last year to begin with.

    The Oregonian is horrible. Hopefully they are just interjecting their own thoughts, and not paraphrasing something Brundage said.

  3. Adam S on October 14th, 2004 11:56 am

    Well, I think what he MEANS is some degree true, even if what he SAYS is BS.

    If your offense isn’t very good and you have mostly singles hitters, you need to have some team speed so you can make a run out of two or three hits and not need four hits in an inning. And playing in a pitchers park, it makes sense to play more “small ball” than waiting around for a big inning.

    That said, obviously having some players who can get on base and hit for power (2B and HR) would help more than increasing the team speed. With Edgar and Olerud gone, the latter is a done deal.

  4. Dr. Jeff on October 14th, 2004 11:58 am

    Brian Meehan of the Oregonian is the guy who writes all the “isn’t this athlete a wonderful, hard-working guy?” stories. Short on facts and actual knowledge, long on platitudes and satisfyingly heart-warming anecdotes, mixed with tedious stories of his days as a Little League coach.

  5. MoxMox on October 14th, 2004 12:14 pm

    I agree that stolen bases are overrated, but I don’t think you can overrate speed. Last year’s Mariners literally had to have four hits to score – especially earlier in the year. The middle of the lineup was purely station to station, one bag at a time. There were many times we had a runner at second, got a single, but were not able to score. I remember thinking that nearly any other team would have scored in that situation.

  6. Joey on October 14th, 2004 12:23 pm

    Well think about it, you’re saying that we had to have many hits to score, thats because nobody could hit for power. Speed wouldn’t solve that.

  7. Dave on October 14th, 2004 12:24 pm

    They were station to station because they just hit singles all the time. Anyone can go first to third on a double or score from second on a home run.

    If the hitters the M’s acquire happen to run fast, hooray. But building a strategy based around small-ball and speed is stupidity.

  8. Chris Begley on October 14th, 2004 12:27 pm

    I think that Brundage should be interviewed. This provides sort of a “thank you” to him for the last 3 years, makes him feel appreciated, gives him experience in major league job interviews, and the M’s might see something. I cannot see a downside to including him on your short list of candidates, even if it has already been decided that he is not going to be their next manager.

  9. Coach on October 14th, 2004 12:35 pm

    Although I’ve never seen Brundage manage a game, the earlier assessment by DMZ, if accurate, would make him a great candidate in my mind. This link does nothing to change that perception. The indication is that Brundage has used base running as one tool to take advantage of another team’s weakness. That doesn’t indicate to me that he would construct a lineup that ignores the advantage of getting on base and driving the ball. What I take away is that he is adept at analyzing the opponent’s weakness and that he will aggressively try to exploit that weakness.
    Some negatives do occur to me. First, were we to elevate Brundage, there is a good chance Dan Rohn might feel “passed over” and move to another organization. We need good teachers in the farm system as much or more so than at the Major League level, so that might leave a big hole.
    Second, would Brundage receive a fair evaluation? It seems that some of the after-the-fact evaluation of Melvin points to his lack of experience at the Major League level as having doomed his chances. Would the same sentiment surface with Brundage at the first rough spot in the road?
    Even if Brundage is the guy we want eventually, we don’t have enough of a feel for the eventual 2005 roster to know if we want him to start out with THIS team. I guess I’m inclined to see someone hired pretty quickly and get on with the re-tooling of the roster. We can upgrade the Field Manager later.

  10. Grant on October 14th, 2004 12:44 pm

    I have read the lived in Portland and read the Oregonian for years, and Meehan is an idiot, I know that’s not really the point of this thread, but I am sure that Moneyball would be the last book he would ever read, and I wish the Oregonian could get a journalist that actually knows something about baseball.

  11. Mark on October 14th, 2004 12:47 pm

    And playing in a pitchers park, it makes sense to play more “small ball” than waiting around for a big inning.

    There’s a cost in developing a team that’s specifically tailored to its own stadium. Yes, it will have a good home field advantage, but you can also expect that team to lose a lot of road games. The Astros in the old Astrodome and the Rockies at Mile High often dominated at home, but how many championships have those teams won?

    As for speed — you guys are aware that speed comes into play on defense, right? Going from first to third is only half the equation. The other half is covering the gaps and turning hits into outs.

  12. J on October 14th, 2004 12:58 pm

    Dr. Jeff’s right, he also wrote a similarly themed story on Leone in late winter/early spring. As for the story itself, well, I don’t know if we’re reading Brundage’s thoughts there on what would work in Safeco, or Meehan’s thoughts based on how Brunadge plays his game. It’s true that the 2002 San Antonio Missions eked a championship with no one hitting more than nine home runs and only three players with twenty or more doubles, but the 2003 Missions flat-out destroyed the Texas League and with guys like Jose Lopez, Justin Leone, and A.J. Zapp, there was a good amount of power in that lineup. No one’s going to tell you that the 66-71 2002 team was better than the 85-51 2003 team, but I think that he has been able to win even a minor league championship with that 2002 team says something about his abilities.

    I’m in the pro-Brundage camp, but I’m willing to concede the manager’s spot to a somewhat temporary guy if it means that Brundage moves up at least to Triple-A and gets some strong consideration in the future for a job with the big club.

  13. Dave on October 14th, 2004 12:59 pm

    Speed is an overrated part of defense. Mike Cameron isn’t much faster than Randy Winn, footspeed wise. The huge difference between the two is reactions and routes.

    Besides, the context of the quote had nothing to do with defense. Brundage favors a manager-driven offense that relies upon his signals to create runs at the expense of outs. It’s an aggressive philosophy that simply is inferior to fielding a lineup full of good hitters and letting them do their thing. It will marginally increase run scoring for teams who can’t hit and drastically reduce it for those that can. Either way, it’s a trap that managers who feel the need to be proactive often fall into, which leads to overvaluing players who lend themselves to that type of game. Eventually you end up with Willie Bloomquist and Jolbert Cabrera starting at first base.

    None of this is to say that Brundage can’t be a good manager. His people skills and motivation could overwhelm the deficiencies in strategy. But they might not. In the end, my main point stands; we just don’t have any idea.

  14. The Ancient Mariner on October 14th, 2004 1:30 pm

    “And playing in a pitchers park, it makes sense to play more ‘small ball’ than waiting around for a big inning.”

    Not true, actually. That sort of approach depends heavily on hitting for average, and that’s where Safeco is death on teams–it’s much harder on singles than it is on HR. As such, if we were to consciously build an offense for Safeco, we might still look for speed (to maximize the value of comparatively scarce singles), but we would concentrate on minimizing Safeco’s effects by building a lineup which depended less on singles and more on doubles, HR and walks.

    And yeah, I know about Ichiro. Go look at his home/road splits.

  15. Xteve X on October 14th, 2004 1:45 pm

    Steals are overrated; speed isn’t IMO. Speed on the basepaths + power at the plate is a potent roster combination. The M’s problem last year was not that they didn’t have guys who were threats to steal bases; it’s that guys like Ole and Gar couldn’t score from 2nd on a double. They were station to station players. There’s also some value in having a guy at first than can screw with the pitcher’s mind and timing just because he is a threat. That value isn’t something that can be quantified easily, if at all, but it’s still an important part of the game.

  16. Evan on October 14th, 2004 1:47 pm

    Watching Cameron play CF was a treat. While Boone is on record saying that Mike Cameron would beat Ichiro in a race, Cameron’s spectacular play on defense was a function of his seemingly always knowing exactly where the ball was going, without even looking at it. Winn is almost the same speed as Cammy, but watching him play CF with his winding routes and constantly looking at the ball was painful after years of Cammy’s defensive poetry.

  17. Matt S. on October 14th, 2004 1:49 pm

    I have no actual data to back this up (okay, you can stop reading if you wish), but the correlation between the Mariners’ rank in stolen bases in 2003-04 and their W-L records is not a perfect indicator of the importance of speed in Safeco.

    You can have guys with pretty decent speed who nonetheless do not steal bases; off the top of my head, Tejada comes to mind. On the other hand, you can have someone like Olerud or Edgar who can barely make it to first on a liner to the wall in right. A huge, although unquantified here, advantage would go to a lineup in which the slowest guys can nonetheless go first to third sometimes, score from second on single or first on a double (particularly since Safeco limits the long ball, especially to RHB).

    That said, I certainly agree the Mariners need to focus on putting guys on base and improving both gap and home run power, not “speed” merely for the sake of such. If we can get some pop with speed as well (Beltran, Drew, etc., particularly the former), all the better.

  18. Bruce Lennon-Jones on October 14th, 2004 2:02 pm

    #15: If the M’s offensive deficiencies last year were due to lack of speed on the basepaths (thus preventing them from scoring runs that they otherwise would have with faster players), that effect would show up as underperforming their expected runs. Pick your favorite measure, Runs Created, whatever — it would overestimate the number of runs that the team was expected to score.

    Instead, the data DMZ provides above shows that the problem is a significant decline in the team’s overall ability to get on base and hit for power.

  19. eponymous coward on October 14th, 2004 2:10 pm

    SB’s =! team speed. We were also 5th in MLB in GIDP, 11th in 3B. (Here’s a little tidbit for you- Randy Winn grounded into SIXTEEN double plays, spending most of the year batting behind Ichiro. Ouch.)

    Our SB totals are sort of colored by having 2 of the top 10 (Ichiro and Winn) accounting for over half the team total (Willie Bloomquist bloats that to 2/3rds). We also don’t compare well on a team speed basis with Tampa or Anaheim on some of the other stats in addition to raw SB’s.

    That being said, focusing on team speed would be like getting chrome-plated wheels for your car and ignoring the black smoke coming from under the hood. Yeah, players like Beltran and Beltre would help- but worry about getting on base and being dead last in the AL in HR first.

  20. PositivePaul on October 14th, 2004 2:11 pm

    Well, actually, looking at the 2001 team (and constantly reminding myself of it by watching “Sweet 116”), that team was quite balanced. You had Edgar jacking it and slamming doubles. Yet, Ichiro with his 242 hits stole 50+ bases and scored a lot. Olerud, too, had more of his career OPS closer to .900 than .700. Boone had arguably one of the best offensive performances of any 2B in history, period. So, the team had A LOT of power (Boone, Olerud, Edgar) AND A LOT of speed (Ichiro, MacLemore, Cameron).

    Unfortunately, I figured he’d have closer to 100 than he actually did.
    That’s the type of team they need to build — 3+ guys around or over .900 in the OPS category, and Ichiro stealing 50 again. We DON’T need a team full of guys who leave people on base constantly. Obviously, Edgar and Olerud were two guys who could stretch a sure-fire double into a single. The guys hitting behind them had to have curvy-numbered base hits in order for those guys to score. As we well know, there were A LOT of rally-killing double-plays.

    That’s why, as realistic as it may not be to actually get him, I see Beltran as a HUGE target for the M’s. He’d be a perfect #3 hitter, balancing speed and power, in our lineup. Then go after another guy — an RBI machine — (Glaus, Sexson, Delgado, Beltre?) who can clean the plate. That’s what we sorely missed this season — someone to tally up the RBIs rather than hitting into rally-killing DPs or striking out.

    BTW — I predicted that the M’s would win exactly as many games as Edgar would have RBIs (like in 2001). Indeed, I was correct.

  21. PositivePaul on October 14th, 2004 2:16 pm

    Uh, the stray line syndrome. My last paragraph should be:

    BTW — I predicted that the M’s would win exactly as many games as Edgar would have RBIs (like in 2001). Indeed, I was correct. Unfortunately, I figured he’d have closer to 100 than he actually did.

  22. Pat on October 14th, 2004 3:55 pm

    If Terry Collins becomes the next Mariners manager – as is suggested in Meehan’s piece – I’m going to stick a pencil in my eye. Collins is a lunatic!

  23. Steve on October 14th, 2004 6:35 pm

    For someone who prides himself on using statistical anlysis you must realize that saying that the M’s SB ranking went from 1st to 4th is really poor quality information. Useful information would be the actual number of stolen bases each year.

  24. DMZ on October 14th, 2004 7:24 pm

    It’s not poor quality information any more than their relative OBP and SLG are. As a rough measure of what the team’s been doing compared to the league and what their resulting record was, it works just fine.

  25. MoxMox on October 14th, 2004 8:06 pm

    Total number of stolen bases is a poor indicator of overall team speed. One or two guys can rack up a disproportionate number of the total. Team speed is hard to quantify but we know it when we see it. Speed benefits a team in many ways beside steals: avoiding GIDP, 1st to 3rd on a single, scoring from 2nd on a single, infield base hits, making the defense rush and forcing errors, ability to cut off hits in the gaps, etc. Team speed is a tremendous advantage but you still have to hit the ball.

  26. Dave on October 14th, 2004 8:10 pm

    I would venture to say that New York, Boston, St. Louis, and Houston are four of the slowest teams in baseball. Speed is just not a “tremendous advantage”, no matter how many times the announcers tell you it is. They’re wrong.

  27. MoxMox on October 14th, 2004 8:59 pm

    I was going to argue my point about the value of speed further, but after watching St. Louis mash the ball, I have to admit you may just be right… They are going to be tough to beat.

  28. eponymous coward on October 14th, 2004 11:09 pm

    Look, is speed good? Sure.

    But speed at the expense of things like power and strike zone judgment (neither of which the Mariners had like they did in 2001 or 2000, or even 2002/2003)? Dumb decision.

    That’s one of the things that worries me about the Bavasi regime’s New Order- that toolsy guys who have excellent speed, physiques and arms and who swing at anything, the Vince Faisons of the world, will be our targets in the draft and will get the love in the minor league system. Yeah, this works for Garrett Anderson…but not for a lot of players. Overall athletic ability and hitting a baseball are SOMEWHAT related, but it’s not perfect, and you’ll miss out on a lot of talented hitters that way.