During yesterday's game thread we were talking about batting orders, coming off of Torgen's post on Lineup Optimization, and Torgen made the commend about Cito not reading The Book, where a lot of the ideas for optimizing the lineup came from. That, of course, got me on to one of my big complaint's about baseball; why is ignorance a badge of honor?
If I'm owner of the Blue Jays, I'm insisting that my manager read that book. I'm not insisting that he follow everything it says but I would insist he read it. But if you tried to get him to read it, he'd likely say 'I have 50 years of experience in baseball, I know everything I need to know to manage a team'. Paraphrasing of course, he'd likely have some colorful language in there. What I'd say is 'do you really have 50 years experience or do you have one year's experience 50 times'. Have your opinions changed over the years or do you still think the same things you did when you started in baseball. The world changes, a manager's view of how the game works should change too. Earl Weaver was an amazing manager in his day, if you dropped him into a team now, unless he changed some of his philosophies he wouldn't do well.
Baseball has to be one of the few professions where the professionals don't have to keep up with new ideas. Can you imagine a doctor saying he had 50 years experience so he didn't have to keep up with new ideas in medicine. Now this isn't to say that all baseball people don't follow new ideas, a good number of the General Managers and Managers in the league now are people that grew up on reading Bill James. But some of them....
Do you think Cito has read anything by Bill James or Rob Neyer or any of the people finding new ways of looking at baseball? Now I'm not saying that Cito doesn't know things about baseball that they don't know. He is a terrific batting coach. He has ways of dealing with players that seem to work for him. But in game management, line ups and pitcher usage, well he could learn things from people that study the sport.
I don't mean to just pick on Cito, Joe Morgan has made a cottage industry on dissing Moneyball and, well, anything Bill James has written while being extremely proud that he hasn't read any of it. And he is an 'expert'. Odds are that he hasn't read any book on any subject.
Now like I say, if I'm team owner I wouldn't expect him to agree with everything in it but I would insist that Cito read The Book and I'd likely ask him to explain to me why he disagrees. Because if he said 'it's wrong' I'd fired him but if he had intelligent theories as to why his way is better, great. I'd just like him to know the ideas in the book and where he disagrees to have reasons behind why, not just 'I do it this way'.
The other thing I'd expect a manager to do is to play a few hundred games of a baseball simulator like Diamond Mind Baseball or Out of the Park Baseball. I know baseball people would say it's not the real thing or it is a toy or what ever. But pilots log hours and hours in a flight simulator, if it works for them, why not baseball managers? Sure there is a lot of things it can't teach but the games can teach a lot about what works with putting together a line up and what doesn't.
Of course, the other thing I'd do is fire my manager the first time he sacrifice bunts with the number two hitter in the first inning. Do that once you are gone....