Author: Craig Calcaterra

John Hart

John Hart to be named Braves President of Baseball Operations


Ken Rosenthal reports that Braves interim GM John Hart has accepted an offer to take the top job permanently, and will soon be named Braves President of Baseball Operations.

The title is interesting. John Schuerholz has been team president for some time, but his responsibilities extend beyond baseball ops. The top purely baseball guy in Atlanta has, traditionally, been the GM. With Hart taking the President of Baseball Operations job, it implies that the Braves will now adopt the two-headed management style we’ve seen in Chicago and will soon see in Los Angeles, with a general manager below Hart, who will handle the day-to-day but who will still answer to, and will possibly be vetoed by, Hart.

Could that GM be John Coppolella, the current assistant GM? If it isn’t, one would have to assume another organization would want to poach him. If it is, one would assume that there is a grooming process going on here where the young Coppolella will eventually take over for the 66-year-old Hart.

Chris Colabello tried to play through an injury. It didn’t work.

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Indians

Chris Colabello was a great story for about a month. The long-time independent leaguer and player for the Italian national team in the WBC had finally made it to the bigs and he broke out in a big way early, hitting  .346/.386/.577 with four home runs and 26 RBI through April 23. Then he fell off the table. The Twins sent him down to the minors but he never regained his stroke, finishing the year with a line of .229/.282/.380 in 59 games.

It seems that he was injured, however, and that he tried to play through the injury:

According to the Worchester Telegram, a “Twins physician told him he had suffered nerve damage and only rest would help.”

Asked in early June about injury as a possible explanation for Colabello’s struggles, which initially continued at Rochester, a Twins official rejected that notion and suggested it was purely a matter of timing and confidence.

Colabello, unwilling to sit out after making a long-awaited breakthrough in a 27-RBI April, tried to improvise. He glued a strip of cotton to his batting gloves and wore a thumb protector at the plate, but his opportunities quickly dried up when he was unable to pull himself out of the slump.

“I don’t like to make excuses,” Colabello told the Telegram. “I chose to play and I’ll deal with the consequences.”

This is not the first time a Twins player has played through injury when he probably shouldn’t have, making one wonder whether Ron Gardenhire or others on the Twins staff created a culture in which players did not feel comfortable sitting in such situations. Or, it’s possible that Colabello was just desperate to stay in the bigs after so many years in the sticks.

Either way, the Pioneer Press now reports that he may be shopped to a Korean team. The Twins considered that with him last year, but Colabelo rejected it. now it would seem that he has far less of a realistic choice.

There was a Tim Lincecum sighting last night! But then he went away again.

Tim Lincecum

Tim Lincecum hadn’t pitched in nearly a month. He was, without question, the forgotten man on the San Francisco Giants. But then, last night, he got his chance. Mop-up duty. And he did OK in that role. An inning and two-thirds. Struck out a couple of guys. Didn’t allow any base runners.

It ended on a down note, though, with the two-time Cy Young Award winner having to leave with back stiffness after a couple of wonky pitches, including one that came close to plunking Sal Perez. After the game he and Bruce Bochy said he’d probably be OK. It’s possible that Lincecum, if he is OK, could be the righty that Bochy calls on in situations where he might’ve called on Hunter Strickland before his meltdown last night.

Whatever the case, I’ll always be fascinated by the guy once known as The Freak. A rare, elite pitcher who suddenly lost it despite not, apparently, suffering any major injury. A guy who just became ordinary overnight.

No, Ned Yost didn’t “out-manage” Bruce Bochy. His players played better

World Series Giants Royals Baseball

I’m seeing some pretty serious overanalysis this morning about last night’s game. Two guys — ESPN’s Jayson Stark and Fox’s Jon Morosi — have “Ned Yost out-managed Bruce Bochy” columns up. Both of them seem like an oversell. Stark called it a “chess match,” and argues that Ned Yost proved all the naysayers wrong with his deft moves. Morosi only briefly goes there — his column is more of a look-ahead to Game 3 — but asserts the same thing.

Is it rude of me to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we’ve gone way overboard in attributing wins and losses to managers this postseason?

Certainly bad moves should be called out. Yost made a few early in the playoffs and the Tigers and Cardinals, for example, can point to managerial decisions as a big reason they’re sitting at home now. And as I mentioned earlier this morning, Bochy putting in Hunter Strickland in the game with runners on base was probably the wrong move.

But it’s not as if last night was a master class in managing by Yost or a comedy of errors by Bochy. Hell, even Yost was dismissive of anyone suggesting he was a genius. From Stark’s own column:

Except afterward, with his Royals’ Series-evening 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants in the books, Yost had a confession to make, before anyone could induct him into either Mensa or the World Grandmasters Hall of Fame:

“After the sixth inning,” Yost said, happily, “my thinking is done.”

And it is: Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland make thinking something of a redundant concept. Heck, if we can say anything about Yost’s decisions last night, perhaps we can say that he should’ve possibly gone with lesser relievers after he got a five-run lead rather than use his big guns. I don’t mean that as anything approaching a major criticism — there is an off-day today and Yost did what he felt he needed to do to win the game — but the fact remains that Yost didn’t exhibit genius last night. He just managed and didn’t mismanage. The fact also remains that, if we try hard enough, we can find fault in even the no-brainer moves.

It seems to me that, rather than focus on the managers like everyone seems so intent on doing, maybe we can just say that the Giants’ pitchers didn’t make good pitches when they needed to and the Royals handled everything that came their way in that sixth inning. I suppose it’s harder to get 800-1,000 words out of “the Royals hit the ball well and the Giants didn’t pitch too good” than it is to go on about managerial genius or the lack thereof, but the fact is that most games are decided by the players playing, not the chess moves the managers make. Last night was one of those games.

It’s understandable when people overanalyze during the World Series. There is only one game a night and a couple of off-days in the middle. The usual rhythm of the Major League season in which any game is relatively disposable and we get a new slate of 10-15 of them the next evening is out the window. The October schedule lends itself to football-style analysis, in which every single move is scrutinized to the nth degree because, jeez, what else are we gonna talk about? But let’s not forget that this is baseball and that sometimes — probably most of the time — the players decide what happens.

At least Hunter Strickland entertained us last night

Hunter Strickland

Giants reliever Hunter Strickland had a memorable night, even if it was one he’d probably like to forget.

Things were already unraveling in the sixth inning due to Bruce Bochy probably sticking with Jake Peavy too long and Jean Machi not putting out the fire immediately, allowing the Royals to score the go-ahead run. Javier Lopez did his job in retiring lefty Alex Gordon, but then Strickland entered in a tough spot: two men on and one man out with the Giants down a run.

And he clearly didn’t have it. A wild pitch (nerves?) and a two-run double later (more nerves?0 he was facing Omar Infante, who is not a serious home run threat. Of course he left him a big fat pitch over the plate and it went out of the yard. Now, Strickland has allowed a good number of home runs this postseason. That’s a big reason why, maybe, it’s not a good idea to call on him with runners on base. Either way, if the young and inexperienced Strickland has experience with anything, it’s with watching opposing hitters take their home run trots. Strickland, however, acted like he’d never seen such a thing before and started jawing at Sal Perez, who was waiting at home to congratulate Infante. The highlight, embedded with the players talking about the little dustup:

Strickland blamed “miscommunication.” Whatever makes you feel better dude. You were the only one communicating, and what you were telling the world was that you lost your cool after letting the game get totally out of hand.

He’s young, and as Bruce Bochy noted in that clip, he’s intense. And with stuff like his, he’ll eventually be the kind of guy who is routinely called on to get his team out of jams. But for the moment, however, he has played and ranted his way out of the World Series. Or at least he should have.