…now go make me a sammich! Seriously, I’m waiting for you to pull a rabbit (or at least a LHP) out of your hat. I’ve just spent the last 24 hours making confetti from recycled paper for the forthcoming parade to be held next fall. Such is the level of expectation associated with your decision to grace us with your untainted greatness for another year. Please don’t thank me. I had plenty of help from Marty Mason. After all, he’s got plenty of time on his hands now.
Wait. Please allow me to backtrack for a moment and congratulate you for a spectacular 2010 season highlighted by a 86-76 record. That’s quite an impressive win total for a team of nobodies. Only a future HOF manager could possibly guide a team with a lousy run differential of +95 to such a finish. What else could one expect of a team built around multiple All-Stars? After all, aren’t top 3 candidates for ROY, MVP, and the CY Young award just a bit overrated anyway? With so little power in the heart of the lineup, it must be difficult to manufacture runs. In that light, it makes complete sense to play guys like Winn, Miles, Lopez, and Feliz as much as possible. Their collective athleticism and respective bat speeds paid off from day one for each of them. After all, covering less ground in the field than Prince Fielder‘s shadow seems like a huge advantage to me.
Of course, you can’t be held accountable for everything, especially the injuries and the #ultimatefails. You had no idea that Brad Penny would win one less game (3) than Kyle Lohse (4) in half as many starts (9). It’s not your fault that David Freese needed rehab after rehab. Fair enough. Instead, I choose to give you credit for a lot of things that you did especially well. To that end, here are 10 reasons why I don’t blame you for the 2010 season:
- Baserunning gaffes. You deserve credit for the awesome decisions to hit-and-run with Colby on 1st base. He’s not really a basestealer yet, and you should know your personnel better, but I give you credit for setting him up to fail. That’s big of you.
- Great job handling the Colby situation. Nearly any other manager in baseball would allow incredible raw talent like Colby to develop by playing every day. Instead, you have decided that he needs to learn by watching less talented players in CF from the bench on occasion. Kudos to you.
- That one time you decided to bat Allen Craig lead-off was awesome. He’s perfect for that spot, especially since the book on him is that he’s an RBI-producing guy with gap power. It’s not your fault he was so much more productive hitting deeper in the lineup.
- Good job battering Brendan Ryan‘s confidence. He’s only a Gold Glove quality defender at SS. There are tons of those guys just sitting around.
- Wonderful work with Yadi. He really shouldn’t have many days off or anything. It’s a horrible idea to give reps to your backup catcher, and Yadi’s knees don’t need a break at all.
- Love the job you did with the bullpen this year. More than any other year, you were great at identifying immediately when relievers did not have their “good stuff” and were ready with the quick hook. Nobody ever noticed MacDougal or Reyes being left in too long.
- Awesome work managing the pace of the game. Never once saw the tempo disrupted by your innane tactics or matchups. Not once.
- Definitely enjoyed those instances when you ran out of bench players. Always great to see an “athletic” pitcher run the bases or pinch hit. It’s not like those guys are paid to do anything else of value to the team.
- Always warms my heart to see the fiery side of you. The way you make lukewarm attempts to influence the home plate umpire from the dugout is awe-inspiring. No reason to actually get kicked out of the game like other managers do. You’re far too valuable.
- Fully appreciate your unwavering support for veteran players. Especially enjoy watching a bench full of “punch-and-judy” switch hitters. After all, we wouldn’t want any of our AAA guys to accrue significant major league service time. Memphis needs to be as competitive as possible.
See, it’s not all negativity and #fail. I really am able to see through your arrogance and stubborness to find the positives. You aren’t coming back for 2011 simply to torment me for another year. Instead, you are coming back to teach me about patience and the finer points of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. 32 years as a big league manager with a .535 winning percentage and 2 WS rings - I’d say that makes you a genius. You’re practically light years ahead of Terry Francona’s .527 winning percentage and 2 WS titles, although you’re slightly behind Joe Torre’s .538 and 4 WS titles. Now the Cardinals can focus on really important matters – like signing Miles for long relief.