maddon and epsteinAs I type these Bullets awaiting my aircraft this morning (I’m headed to Spring Training), it is my understanding that there will be WI-FI on the plane. Assuming that’s the case – and assuming my seatmates afford me the space necessary to type without excessive frustration – you should see fairly normal posting throughout the morning and early afternoon. Once I land in the early afternoon, I’ll be heading to the hotel (not the new hotel right at the park, but very close to the park), and then heading out to the ballpark. At that point, you might see a lull here at the site while I’m out and about, but do follow along on Twitter and Facebook, since that’s where my quick shots will go. No worries: for those of you not into social media, I’ll have updates here at the site from my time in Mesa.

  • Having previously looked at the gory math behind which managers are best, statistically, at staving off the inevitable production decline that positional players face as the long baseball season goes on, Russell Carleton performs a similar exercise with pitchers (but in reverse: how good are the managers at getting the most out of the pitchers as the season goes along?). And, as it was on the positional side, new Cubs manager Joe Maddon features prominently near the top of the list. You’ll have to read the piece to understand the methodology, but, for what it’s worth, Maddon shows up as very good at getting the best out of starting pitchers, and as the very top manager at getting the best out of relievers.
  • An interesting aside you can take away from Carleton’s piece: the data suggests a very good manager is worth about 15 runs per season solely in terms of his ability to prevent positional player decline as the season goes on, plus his ability to get the most out of pitchers as those position players decline. A very bad manager, by contrast, is down near -15 runs per season. It takes about 10 runs to equal win*, so we’re talking about a potential swing of as much as 3 wins based solely on this specific ability. We’re not talking about a manager’s ability to maximize player performance, generally, nor his in-game managerial decision-making ability. In other words, believing that a manager’s total value could approach 5 or 6 wins is not out of the question.
  • *(I actually think that number is getting closer to 9 in the depressed run environment, but we’ll just stay at 10 for now, since that’s what most of the literature says.)
  • Jake Arrieta had some control trouble yesterday, which you might expect as normal this time of year. But Arrieta’s response wasn’t to brush it off – he flagellated by making himself run as punishment (Tribune). He says he and Jon Lester make up one of the best duos in the league (Sun-Times), so he’s clearly going to do his part to back that up.
  • If you’ve noticed the Cubs being extra aggressive on the basepaths so far, that’s by design, according to Joe Maddon (ESPN). He wants the guys to be aggressive right now on the bases so the aggression in the rest of their game doesn’t slip. I imagine that will sharpen up a bit as we get closer to the season, but, for now, seems fine to me.
  • More on Arrieta here at CSN – he’s been studying Lester’s routine, looking for things he can take away.
  • A USA Today piece on, hey, the Cubs might be good.
  • As you may recall, Tsuyoshi Wada was slowed early in camp by some hamstring tightness, and his debut yesterday was just one inning. Carrie Muskat says he was feeling some discomfort, though it is not serious.
  • If you missed anything from a busy weekend, here’s your catch-up.

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