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terence-moore-thinks-bobby-should-stay-so-does-that-mean-he-should-go | February | 2008 Articles

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Terence Moore Thinks Bobby Should Stay. So Does That Mean He Should Go?

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I'll admit, I've often disagreed with Terence Moore's opinions about the Braves. So I had to pause when I read the following line: "If anybody should manage forever, it is Cox, still sharp and enthusiastic as ever at nearly 67." The point of the column was that it's unwise to pre-anoint a successor to someone who's already in place, though of course that's exactly what the Braves did with Frank Wren. Still, the point he touches on here, whether Bobby is still in full possession of all his capabilities, is worth considering. I'll look at just two measures that are sometimes cited as oblique evidence of a manager's value to his team: the team's performance in 1-run games, and the degree to which the team has exceeded its expected Pythagorean record, over the past 10 years.
  W-L Pyth W-L 1-run game Pyth diff 1-run diff
1998 106-56 106-56 23-21 0 2
1999 103-59 98-64 29-21 5 8
2000 95-67 90-72 18-18 5 0
2001 88-74 90-72 19-23 -2 -4
2002 101-59 96-64 28-17 5 11
2003 101-61 95-67 17-25 5 -8
2004 96-66 95-67 27-17 1 10
2005 90-72 91-71 23-20 -1 3
2006 79-83 85-77 19-33 -6 -14
2007 84-78 88-74 18-25 -4 -7
  avg     total  
  94.3-67.5 93.5-68.3 22.1-22 8 1
As you can see, both skills have been on the decline during the recent slide, and that the slide in these numbers actually began in 2005. Bobby's late-90s and early 2000s teams did extremely well in besting their expected regular season Pythagorean records, despite challenges from a Mets team that went to the World Series in 2000 and a Florida Marlins team that won the Series in 2003. During the same time span, their record in 1-run games was mostly terrific. In recent years, both numbers have fallen precipitously. One reason may be that the Mets and Phillies have both improved, leading to better competition; another could be that after John Smoltz went back to the rotation, the bullpen started blowing more saves and losing close games. But more competition means more tough decisions for the manager, and it may be that those decisions are the difference between a win and a loss. We've had many fewer wins the past two years than we're used to, and part of the reason may be that Bobby's skills are slipping. Perhaps he shouldn't manage forever after all.
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