Saturday, August 06, 2005

Under new management

When Baltimore fired Lee Mazzilli and replaced him with Sam Perlozzo, it was the first time in MLB history a manager with two "z's" in his name replaced another manager with two "z's" in his name, a piece of trivia which I just pulled out of my ass but which is probably true. The Orioles have gone 2-0 under Perlozzo; while I haven't been paying close attention to the sports media's take on it, if a team does well under a new manager, usually writers and the BBTN guys go off about how the team's trying to impress their new manager, and/or there's a "fresh start" which allows the players to "clear their heads and begin anew". I've always assumed that was BS, but never bothered to look it up. That is, until this morning, when I had some important stuff to do at work which I've been trying to avoid.

Since the 2002 season, managers have been replaced midseason 14 times; three times this year (Mazzilli, Tosca, Pena), twice last year (Brenly and Jimy), twice in 2003 (Torborg, Boone), and seven times in 2002 (Manuel, Garner, Muser, Martinez, Baylor, Bell, Lopes). [I'm not counting the two times KC named an interim manager for less than 20 games.] The 14 new managers went a combined 8-6 in their managerial debut; over the course of their first 5 games (2 in the case of Perlozzo), they went a combined 37-30. Not bad given that all came into teams at or below .500 (the 2004 Astros were 44-44 when Jimy was fired), but my guess is those winning records are statistically insignificant.

In only 3 of those cases are the new managers considered to have "turned the team around": Tony Pena for KC in early 2002, Jack McKeon for the Marlins in early 2003, and Phil Garner for the Astros in mid-2004. Given that that list includes the names "McKeon" and "Garner", I have serious doubts as to whether the new managers had anything to do with the teams' turnarounds, but in any case, those three went a combined 1-2 in their debuts, and 6-9 in their first 5 games.


  1. Well considering Ozzie Guillen is the only manaer with consectuive zz's in his name, it is safe to say that it has never happened before.

    The only other Manager witho tow Zs was Mike Gonzalez in the 30s.

    Excellent research on that fron.

    I do think that the "turn around a club" question begs some further research. The real question is what constitutes a turn around?

    I mean sure the Royals are going nowhere and not even close to even challenging for a .500 season. When Pena left the royals were 8-25 and have gone 30-46 (and that is a bit distorted by an 8 game losing streak and Bell has to be distracted by the death of his nephew). A case could be made for the teams improvement under Bell. Not sure about the others, but this one jumped out at me

  2. Gary Sheffield may be my least favorite ballplayer now. Although he actually may be my favorite it he can tear that clubhouse apart and also maybe get himself a 20 game suspension when he finally explodes at an umpire, reporter, fan or teammate

    Amazing how he can now claim to be misquoted. I may try this sometime at work.

  3. What's awesome about his claim about being misquoted is that NY Magazine claims they "have him on audio tape". Oh man I hope they make that audio public. I keep checking their webpage.

    Good Z research. I'm impressed.

    Yeah, I spent some time thinking about turnarounds, and it's really hard to quantify. When Pujols took over from Garner, the Tigers were off to their worst start in history; of course they'd turn it around somewhat -- I mean, they couldn't get worse.

    The only clear turnaround I can think of is Red Sox, 2001. Jimy Williams was fired with the team 12 above .500, 2.5 back from the Yankees (which still amazes me). Kerrigan managed for just 43 games, and the Sox ended 3 ganes above .500, 13.5 behind NY. Say what you will about Jimy Williams' management technique...he knew how to keep an insanely dysfunctional clubhouse functioning.

  4. that also remids me of when Joe Morgan was fired in 91 - coming in second behind Toronto and on his way out he made a quote like "good Luck. those guys are not nearly as good as everyone thinks."

    And the following year with Hobson at the helm, they came in dead last. Of course that was a new season. but the 92 team had essentially the same personnel - and added Frankt V and had a full season of Mo, although Burks did get hurt.

    Okay, not sure where I'm going with this, but was sort of relevant.

  5. You were going to type "6, 2 and even."