Ryne Sandberg named PCL manager of the year

3 Comments

Here’s one for the resume as the Cubs look for a new big league manager:

Ryne Sandberg will be named Pacific Coast League manager of the year today, the Iowa Cubs confirmed Thursday. In
Sandberg’s first season as Cubs manager, the team was a season-high 21
games over .500 entering Thursday’s contest at Albuquerque.

The article notes that Sandberg’s success has come “despite the fact
that there have been 107 player transactions” and eight
Iowa-to-Chicago callups for guys making their big league debut.  This kind of screams for context, though, because that’s pretty much life for an AAA manager. It wouldn’t shock me at all if several other PCL managers had to deal with that stuff.

Still, the award is another thing that’s going to make it harder for the Cubs as they choose their new manager. Not because it makes Sandberg an objectively better candidate or something, but because now, if the Cubs choose someone else for the job, every Chicago reporter who wants to take issue it will be able to add “2010 Manager of the Year” before the phrase “Ryne Sandeberg was passed over . . .”

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

Getty Images
3 Comments

The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

3 Comments

Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.