rick-renteria-cubsNew Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria did a mini interview circuit shortly after he was hired, speaking with MLB Network and MLBN Radio.

In the MLBN Radio interview – from which you can hear a snippet here – we got our first taste of some of RR’s managerial philosophies, and he started off strong by emphasizing that a hitter’s job is to get on base. He also mentioned the old tried and true belief that you’d like to have on-base guys at the top of the order, and mashers to drive them in at the 4/5/6 spots. All fine. But then he terrified me slightly by following that up with, “You want guys to be able to move guys over when necessary. I think productive outs are a key element to everybody throughout the lineup.”

Eek. As we’ve learned over the last decade, except for extraordinarily limited circumstances (for me, at least when it comes to sac bunting, it’s pretty much 8th or 9th inning, down a run or tied, runner on second base (or first and second) and no outs – that’s it), there is no such thing as a “productive” out. Outs are, by their very nature, unproductive. You’ve got just 27 of ’em with which to work, and if a batter is up there trying to make a productive out, then he’s not up there doing the one thing that should be his job: getting on base.

That said, I’m not going to jump all over RR for a throwaway line in one of his first interviews. Hell, for all we know, he wasn’t talking about sac bunts, but instead about the happy accident of an out that moves a runner along, even though the batter was simply trying to get on base (because outs are going to happen when you put the ball in play – that’s part of the game – might as well move a runner along in the process). And the Padres were third from the bottom in sacrifice bunts last year in the NL, so it’s not like RR is coming from an org that was all about the sac bunt. (Aside: the Cubs were dead last. That could be the product of a proper philosophy … or few guys on base to begin with.) (Aside Number Two: The Padres sure did steal a lot of bases last year – 118, second in the NL – and they did it at the best clip in the league, 78%. They had seven guys with at least six steals.)

I’m not too worried about an impending reliance on giving outs away. It’s not like this front office is going to be interested in “productive outs,” and the games – not a sound byte – will be the judge.

Among his comments on MLB Network, RR indicated that he understands his role as part of the rebuilding process.

“I have to take [the front office’s] vision, make it my vision and put it forward between the lines,” Renteria said. “We see a club that will go out there, hopefully, and fight and scratch and claw their way through everything. I might be naive, and people think I might be nuts about me believing this club can go out and do certain things, but I feel that way, and I truly believe it, and we’re going to find out. In having some of the conversations I had with some of these kids yesterday, it might be a pretty fun season for us.”

That’s pretty much how it has to be for the manager of a rebuilding team. Your focus has to be the future, and the day-to-day implementation of the player plans, all the while trying to win (because, hey, that should be part of development, too).

Renteria also spoke to MLBN about his conversation with Starlin Castro and about why he goes by “Rick” after once being called “Rich.” Both interviews are worth checking out.

  • ETS

    I understand the cringe at “productive outs”, and the context he used it in isn’t promising, but I don’t think productive outs and sabremetrics are completely compatible ideas. A 12 pitch at bat that ends in a line out I would call a productive out and I think the sabremetric community would say that good hitters have such at bats.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      That’s not what people mean by “productive outs”: they mean advancing runners.

      Moreover, that good hitters have more deep counts than bad hitters is like saying that good teams have more loses in close games than do bad teams. Neither the outs nor the loses are “productive”: it’s just that it’s tougher to get a good hitter out on few pitches and tougher to beat a good team by a lot of runs than it is to do the same to do the same to bad hitters/teams: but the out is an out and the loss is a loss.

      (I suppose building up the pitch count of the opposing pitcher is nice: but getting guys on base does the same!)

      • Patrick W.

        I always get hung up on this. It seems to me that there are two different things:

        Intentional “productive outs” where the hitter intentionally does something intentionally that will most likely result in his being out, and “Unintentional” productive outs, where the hitter attempted to do the best possible things (hit a home run, get on base, etc) – instead made an out, but in that process something better happened than a base runner being also out or staying where he was.

        It may be that all RR was attempting to relate is that guys shouldn’t strike out so much with guys on base, and instead look to get on base by hitting the strikes hard, because that’s more productive than striking out. I doubt it, but it may be.

  • oswego chris

    Man I hope Brett can find another picture of Renteria…for multiple reasons I really don’t think that one does him any favors…I had somebody over the weekend say “I bet he’s like Zimmer”…and why would that be? the cherubic face? cuz he was a bench coach? his “stocky” build?

    please no Zimmers

    • Johnnie A

      He could use this one instead


    • CubChymyst

      Does he have any teeth? He is smiling and all you see are lips and gums.

    • miggy80

      Fun fact about Don Zimmer. He was the 3rd base coach for the Boston Red Sox when Carlton Fisk hit the homer down the line in the bottom of the 12th in Game Six of the 1975 World Series.

    • ryanissamson

      Alright, I wasn’t going to bring it up, but RR does look like a stooge in this picture. This one is the same pose, but doesn’t make him look like a toothless, happy-go-lucky guy who can’t keep his tongue in his mouth.


      • ryanissamson

        Oops. And now the image.


      • ryanissamson

        Apparently, I’m a fool. One last try.


        • dumbledoresacubsfan

          That is literally the same exact picture…

          • ryanissamson

            Not my most stellar moment.

            See below for the right one.[img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-N1C0YOnHvPk/UMAGf2PcCiI/AAAAAAAAFjI/DdsdOEs0XFk/s320/Annoyed-facepalm-picard-l.png[/img]

            • dumbledoresacubsfan

              You’re good, man. You’re good. lol.

              I still vote the one I posted earlier (a little further below) to take the place until we get photos of him in Chicago regalia.

              • DarthHater

                No, I think we have to go with a pic of RR in his Team Mexico uniform, because that highlights his most important qualification for managing the Cubs. ::duck and cover::

      • ryanissamson

        Alright it worked, but wrong image. Forgive me everyone.


        • ssckelley

          He does have teeth!

  • jt


  • Jon

    Attention Tom Rickets. this is how you handle a stadium deal


    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yup. Exact same situations at play. I remember my days at historic Turner Field in that beautiful neighborhood of highways …

      • Jimmy james


    • Rcleven

      “Team officials confirmed the stadium would be built with some percentage of public funds.”

      Not in Illinois. No way.

      • Jon

        Well, not after Daddy Ricketts decided to go on his Anti-Obama tirade anyways…not too bright.

        • Jon

          btw, (I think this was a couple weeks ago) did you guys see in one of the Chicago papers that little Todd was getting involved in that Super-Pac nonsense?

  • Kramden


    That would be a great picture for a laxative ad.

    Relief is just a swallow away!

  • jayrig5

    I wish there was a “sacrifice attempts” sortable stat. If there is, I haven’t found it yet. More indicative of philosophy.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      For position players, yes, it would. However, for NL teams, most attempts are by pitchers and they are automatic with less than 2 outs. So, SH attempts really reflects the OBP of the #7 and #8 hitters.

      (An amusing rebuttal to the claim that the DH takes away tactics from AL baseball is that the opposite is true: nearly all AL SH attempts are tactical ones by batters, whereas the vast majority of NL SH bunts are obligatory ones by non-batters.)

      • BT

        That’s only one tactic though, and in many cases, a NL manager has to decide whether or not to leave his pitcher in the game to even perform that “obligatory” bunt.

  • Jono

    I’m sure brett will use a photo of Ricki in a Cubs uni when he finally gets one on. There is a weird sense of a lack of closure on this managerial search due to RR not getting a formal press conference (unless I simply missed it?)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haven’t been able to do it yet because of RR’s hip surgery. And yes, I can’t wait to have a better picture.

    • ColoCubFan

      I don’t know how to do it, but surely somebody on here could “PhotoShop” a Cubs uniform on RR.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        There. Fixed.

        • Jono

          HAHAHA, I love this website.

  • Leo L

    im all about productive outs. if it is sac fly with a man on third late in the game to take the lead ill take it. and if we are lucky that ball could fall in for a hit. I just hate strkeouts with a man on third and less than two outs. drives me nuts. got to get the ball on the bat. if you get a weak hit..cool… but hopefully atleast it is a “productive out”. I generally agree about bunting. only certain rare situations.

  • macpete22
    • Rizzovoir Dog

      What kind of realistic prospect package can we expect from the Nats? Giolito?

      • On The Farm

        Maybe throw in Purke who has had some injury issues, but is a lefty and I have always liked him since his days at TCU.

  • dumbledoresacubsfan


    This image showcases his, apparent, winning personality.

    • Oswego Chris

      Dude, he’s only 51 right?

  • Scott

    I like a team that can play small ball and manufacture a run when it needs to, but I sure don’t want to see sac bunts all over the place in exchange for making an attempt to put the crooked numbers on the scoreboard here and there.

  • Jon

    We fired Dale to get Giradi and now are saddled with RR, so Thoyer better get RR’s head immediately and tell him to table this nonsense.

    • Eric

      “We fired Dale to get Giradi and now are saddled with RR”


      • MichiganGoat

        I’m guessing here:

        • Eric

          Ha! That poor horse looks down-right uncomfortable…

  • Bob Johnson

    I’d rather see a productive out once in awhile than an unproductive double play which seems to happen more times than not!

  • LoneStarCub

  • LoneStarCub


    Apparently I am not smart enough to figure out how to actually post the image.

  • cubmig

    My only expressed hope is that any new photo used is one that nixes the “smile”. “It” just doesn’t do it for him.

  • pfk

    I don’t put sac bunts in the “productive out” category. Sac bunts are a designed play, knowing that you are only moving a runner along but don’t expect to get on base. I look at a “productive out” as being when someone is REALLY trying to get a hit (non bunting) and, at the same time, if he flies out or grounds out, at least it was in the right manner. By that I mean, if there is a runner on second and you try to hit to right field, so if you do get a hit the runner can easily score or get to third. However, if you hit one on the ground or to deep right in the air, you also move the runner along. In no way were you trying to sacrifice. Too often, we see a right handed hitter try and pull the ball and thus a grounder doesn’t move the runner along nor does a fly ball. I’m in favor of trying to always get a hit and if you don’t at least a runner can move up.

    • wvcubsfan

      Absolutely all of this right here.


    I love you Brett (and everyone else), but I really think we are getting too cute with the concept of “value” in baseball. Of course there is such thing as a productive out. Let’s say the lead off hitter doubles. Then the next batter, if he plays for the St. Louis Cardinals, will hit a ground ball on the right side of the infield that advances the runner to third. (If it’s Darwin Barney, he will strike out or hit a worthless lazy fly ball to center). Point is, the Cardinal batter has moved the runner to third, leaving two cracks to get that run home, be it on a wild pitch, a sac fly, a single, etc. Of course, you would rather have the second batter in the inning get on base. But if he doesn’t, shortening his swing to be sure the runner advances will pay off far more often than not advancing the runner. And in fact, according to stats that people smarter than me have tabulated, you stand a slightly higher chance of scoring a run with a runner on third and one out than a runner on second with none out. So, yes, hooray for advanced stats and metrics, but productive outs exist, and so does clutch hitting (but let’s save that old fight for another day). Some things — not everything, of course — can be explained with common sense and the eye.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You are confusing accidental “productive” outs (which I said were fine) with intentional “productive” outs (which I said are almost never a good idea). That groundball to second, it’s not the best possible outcome of the at bat, but it’s not the worst, either. But you don’t go up there TRYING to do that. You shouldn’t. As much as you may have been taught over the years that it’s a good thing, we were all taught wrong.

      I think we mostly agree.

  • sven-erik312

    Getting on base, moving the runners forward. That’s neither old school or new school. That’s just baseball. This phobia concerningt bunting or “productive outs” I just don’t get. It’s the complexion of the game which determines what needs to be done. If I get a baserunner on with no outs in a pitchers duel type game, I wouldn’t at all rule out a bunt. It all depends on that game, that inning and that situation. Never say never is what I believe.

  • cubsin

    To me, a “productive out” means a sac fly or sac bunt that scores a run or a ground ball to the right side of the infield that advances a runner from second to third with only one out in the inning. The batter is attempting to get a hit when he hits a sac fly or hits the ball to the right side of the infield. Even when the hitter is attempting a sac bunt, he has a chance to reach safely on a well-placed bunt or an error.

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    Brett, or any other stathead out there with the gumption, it’d be interesting to flesh out the comment that the Cubs’ sac bunt totals could be a product of few guys getting on base. To that end, it’d be interesting to see team rankings based on sac bunts with

    0 out, runner on 1st
    0 out runners on 1st and 2nd
    1 out runner on 1st
    1 out runners on 1st and 2nd

    (we could get into 1st-3rd situations where the intention is just to go 2nd-3rd, but I’d guess the sample size is too low)

    It’d also be interesting to see these stats only in cases in which the batter is NOT a pitcher as–sabermetrically–a low-hitting pitcher MIGHT be a candidate for a sac bunt sometimes.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      I left out one important phrase. Ranked BY PERCENTAGE.

      It’d be good to know, e.g., if with 0 out and a man on 1st, that the Cubs bunted 10% of the time but other clubs bunted 8% of the time. (Totally made up numbers.)