The peaks and valleys of in-game moves have been smoothed out by the friction of the information explosion. Managers call for fewer bunts and hit-and-runs, and are more selective about base stealing, because the statheads have established that those moves were overdone and counterproductive — and because the general managers have backed the figures with their authority. Starting pitchers are used more gingerly because the front offices, having invested heavily in those arms, fear injury.
The new wave of managers were selected not for their acumen in baseball chess, but for their ability to handle personalities. They are there to carry out the wishes of their bosses upstairs. They lack experience in calling for the bunt, but they know their bosses think that’s a low-percentage play anyway.
And they do have years of major league experience as players (Price, a long-time coach, is the exception) to lend them credibility with their charges. The one essential for a manager is the respect of the players.
Edward Thoma (344-6377; email@example.com) maintains his Baseball Outsider blog at fpbaseballoutsider.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter @bboutsider.