MILWAUKEE _ You’re going to be hard pressed to find any major-league manager who is a sabermetrician. Most don’t speak that language but all are trying to get to the same destination by speaking their own. During today’s scrum with the manager, we talked some numbers. First, the lineup:
Here is Q on how he uses numbers: “If you’ve got a sample size of 40 or 50 at-bats like you would have with a veteran like a Ramirez or Byrd or Sori or whatever, you feel pretty good about that sample size as far as what you can and can’t expect. The numbers don’t rule completely. If someone hits a game-winning home run that has not had success against a guy, that’s the nature of the game.
“Then you get a smaller sample size where you start looking at, ‘OK, the guy has had some success or not against a guy.’ But also, you might look at a pitcher or a hitter’s general tendencies. You just weigh that against who’s swinging the bat well and who fits in the lineup that particular day.
“I go round and round about this. I’m not a sabermetrics guy. But I’m smart enough to know the numbers do matter, and I do pay a lot of attention to them.”
For example, Q knows that Jeff Baker has a hitting line of .359/.397/.565 against left-handed pitching and a line of .066/.136/.066 against righties. So he’s had Baker lead off against left-handed pitching of late, with success.
Quade spent time with Oakland, which is known for its use of numbers. He said he didn’t feel threatened by that.
“Huge, huge number organization,” he said. “But ‘jamming it down my throat’ is probably not accurate because I’m a skeptic in a lot of ways. But OK, let me see your numbers and let me look inside them. I love that. I’ve always been a guy who likes to do that. I learned a lot, things I agreed with and things I didn’t. Being exposed to that was huge for me. I think anybody who aspires to do this benefits from paying attention to stats and those kinds of things.
“But then you can look at a situation like, a guy’s got like a 12 percent chance of scoring if you bunt the guy. I’m like, wait a minute. The guy that’s hitting right now is hitting like .090 against the guy so why not?”
Another interesting comparison arose out of last night’s game, when Quade had Ryan Dempster throw 105 pitches through 7 innings. He talked with Dempster about the eighth before deciding on a reliever. In Washington during Quade’s first series as manager, he removed Dempster without discussion after 7 innings and only 79 pitches. He said last night’s decision was more difficult.
“Well, we had the lead,” he said of last night’s game. “There were a variety of things. We were in the eighth inning in Washington. Here we had the lead. We didn’t have the lead in Washington. It’s always difficult when a guy’s throwing well. In Washington, he had 80 pitches. To me, in the eighth inning of a tie game, you’ve got to. The way the lineup was set up with the eighth hole, it’s just something you have to do. You know the guy doesn’t want to come out.
“Last night was a little different. He was throwing great. We kind of had 112-110 target. That’s kind of what I’m looking for down the stretch. We went beyond that with Z, who was dominant the other night. I really want to stay away from that late in the year. If you can go to the bullpen with confidence, that makes it a little easier. It was a situation where I talked to him. In Washington, I didn’t talk to him. I had to make a decision, and that’s it. He was throwing the ball so well, and I explained to him what my thoughts were, and we came to the agreement to go to the bullpen. But I didn’t feel it would have been a bad decision to let him hit and run him out. If I would have left him in the game in Washington, I would have felt, no matter what happened, that I made the wrong decision.”
This guy is proving to be a fascinating study as manager.
Tennessee can close out its Southern League playoff series today against West Tenn. Last night, the Smokies beat West Tenn 9-2 to take a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-five series. Trey McNutt, a 32nd round draft choice of last year who tore up A-ball this year, got the win, pitching 5 innings and giving up 4 his and 1 run. McNutt walked one and struck out six. Could he force his way into the big-league picture sometime in 2011? Tony Campana, Russ Canzler and Matt Spencer homered. Campana went 4-for-6. Robinson Chirinos was 2-for-2. Craig Muschko pitches today.
The Cubs probably will name Chris Archer their minor-league pitcher of the year. McNutt should be in that discussion, too.