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Craig Biggio could be a top candidate for the Astros job

Sep 3, 2014, 8:49 AM EDT

Craig Biggio

Marc Carig of Newsday notes — as some others have noted in the past two days — that Craig Biggio could be a top candidate to become the next Astros manager. He talks to one of Biggio’s former managers, Terry Collins, about Biggio’s chances to do well in the job. Not surprisingly, Collins thinks he’d be a fantastic choice.

Biggio’s lack of coaching or managing experience would not, in this day and age, be unprecedented of course. Brad Ausmus, Mike Matheny and host of other former players have recently taken skipper positions with little or, in some cases, no coaching or managing experience at all. It would be a bit odd in this particular situation in that, for the most part, the relatively inexperienced guys have taken over teams either laden with veterans or already strongly in contention. The Astros certainly aren’t that and, one would think, could still use someone who can be a teacher too. But really, given how much say front offices — especially Houston’s front office — have in day-to-day decisions, one wonders if clubs even care all that much about it anymore.

  1. SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    And, Ausmus (not necessarily primarily his fault) is behind KC. Matheny’s routinely called out on this forum and many others for questionable managerial decisions.

    GMs? I don’t think they “don’t care.” Rather, candidates without experience are probably seen as more pliable.

    • Paper Lions - Sep 3, 2014 at 9:45 AM

      This is all true, but those guys don’t make any more dumb in-game decisions that “seasoned” managers. Most managers give away outs via sac bunt, ill advised hit-n-runs, having poor OBP guys hitting 1st or 2nd because they are fast (or can bunt), leaving starters in too long, and generally manage bull pens poorly by failing to understand leverage. Being a poor in-game manager is just par for the course because in the moment, nearly all of them rely on emotion and gut instinct rather than the data….and the data will always result in better decision making that one’s gut.

      • SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        This is why we need to heat up the WAR for managers idea, and find out what more than exceeding or missing Pythag numbers could be used as an evaluation. And, it’s true that Matheny has yet to phone in the wrong pitcher from the pen during a postseason game.

      • Paper Lions - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        No one anywhere thinks there is any way to capture any aspect of manager WAR. It isn’t that people haven’t though of trying it….it is that there is simply no data available that can measure the concept. Small bits of it could be measured just by evaluating changes in run expectancy based on things like sac bunts or steals, but then you are confounding managerial decisions with execution of those decisions and the ability of players.

      • stex52 - Sep 3, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        One thing, though, Paper. You can talk about statistical managing, but there is such thing as a “hot hand.” If you are not doing something overtly stupid, then a lot of times the statistics stack up very close either way (a lot like card games). In that case a “gut feel” (read as lots of experience giving one an eye for the situation, or reading a “tell” on the other player) is just as good a tool.

      • Paper Lions - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:14 AM

        Except, of course, the every rigorous evaluation of the “hot hand” theory has shot it down conclusively. Small sample sizes are not good predictors of the next event. The recent article claiming to support “hot hands” in baseball was rife with methodological problems.

        More often than not, the problem isn’t that managers don’t use data to make decisions, they just use the wrong data (like individual batter-pitcher matchups).

      • SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        On the third hand, especially if one is managing in the playoffs, and there’s no next year, maybe small sample size should get more attention.

      • georgebrett - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:48 AM

        Wow are your statements way off the truth. By your thinking, you probably think that you would be a great MLB manager. Blahahaha

      • Paper Lions - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        Feel free to provide any evidence of inaccuracy in my statements.

        You are conflating understanding the basics of what leads to scoring and preventing runs and the basics of useful data for making decisions with the ability to manage. The primary job of a manager is not in-game tactics, which is why so many teams don’t mind that their managers take far from ideal approaches to managing games. Managing the egos, personalities, and clubhouse is the primary job of the manager. In game decisions are relatively minor, unless they simply aren’t playing the best players.

      • SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        That’s sort-of true. It’s also sort-of not true.

        If one manager, for example, has a pattern of making more bad in-game decisions, they tend to chain up. No less than Jonah Keri has talked about “clustering” a series of events, too.

        Per my first comment, about Matheny and bullpen management, for example. One bad pen decision can ultimately trigger 2-3 others. And, a failed hit-and-run, a sac bunt at the wrong time, etc., can also lead to another wrong decision.

        Per the “emotion” issue, it’s arguable that a more experienced manager has “flattened out” some of that emotion, knowing the 162-game cycle. Kind of like a more experienced player vs. a less experienced one (Yasiel, That’s Not My Baby, No Sir, Calm Down Maybe) managing their emotional ups and downs better.

      • gloccamorra - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        I’ll just stick with the old saying that a good manager will win about as many games as he loses with his decisions, while a bad manager can cost you three places in the standings.

      • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        The main problem with rating managers’ in-game skill is separating luck from skill. Managers should always be graded on the process that led to the decision rather than on the outcome of that decision. If a team fails to get a bunt down when needing 1 run to tie a game in the ninth inning, many processes were needed to justify that bunt. It doesn’t mean that the decision to bunt was a bad one.

        Has the hitter practiced bunting in BP? How well does that batter bunt? Does the hitter’s true hitting ability make the decision to bunt a poor one? Do the following hitters justify the bunt? How has the hitter been picking up the ball during that game alone? How well does the opposition defend the bunt? Does the bunt automatically mean one of your best hitters will be IBB? etc. etc. The permutations of decision-making are myriad. And that doesn’t even get into ego management.

      • SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        @Jack. Yes. And this is why I also bemoan the Cards’ bad baserunning skills. Knowing your limits, knowing the outs situation, knowing to look for your 3B coach, and paying attention to your 3B coach are all things you cover pre-game on a regular basis.

        The fact that, in his third year, the Cards still have dumb baserunning errors is something Matheny should have fixed by now, or fixed more than he has.

    • jeffa43 - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:09 AM

      It’s Biggio’s job, let’s bypass the antics…
      I also remember some unbelievable double plays by Biggio & Everett turned.. let’s keep him them thinking together.

      Ok.. Everybody voice your opinion.

      Congrats Biggio, Hall of Fame, and first managerial job in the same season.

  2. mybrunoblog - Sep 3, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    Biggio was obviously a terrific player who will likely end up in the HOF. That said if I’m an owner or GM I’d want a manager who has some experience. At least a season or two in the minors to know what it feels like to be in charge of 25 guys and a coaching staff. Managing a big league team is an incredibly demanding job.

  3. brewcats - Sep 3, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    BAD IDEA! It’s not that I don’t think Biggio could be a good manager, or care about his lack of inexperience. But they’d be setting the guy up to fail. (See: Bo Porter) The Astros are a mess and they’ll be a mess for a few more years. Longer than Biggio could last as a manager. What you’ll be left with is a hometown legend tarnishing his reputation. Ask Alan Trammell. Sure, all would be forgiven eventually. But it’s a painful and sad experience to see one of your local legends go through that.
    Biggio would be better off starting in the minors, waiting for a few of those prospects to develop (which he could assist with, building relationships), and give it a go at a better time. If he really wants to manage now, he should look elsewhere to a organization that has some pieces in place and can assist with his inexperience, like the guys Craig mentions.

    • SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      My thought is that Luhnow deliberately hired Porter, not because of his race, but because his greenness made him cheap, like the current roster, and related to that, it would be a “waste” of a better manager to hire him during this rebuild.

      Who Luhnow looks to hire now may reflect how far along he thinks the rebuild is.

    • sportsfan18 - Sep 3, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      ditto for Ryne Sandburg finally getting a chance to be a big league manager with the Phils

      • brewcats - Sep 3, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        I agree about Sandberg, but it would have been worse if he were to take over the Cubs, like he wanted to. It was better for him to get out of Chicago to learn the ropes (even if he hangs himself with them).

    • Minoring In Baseball - Sep 3, 2014 at 8:57 PM

      Alan Trammell is the first one who came to mind when I read this. Upper management has to be able to put a team on the field, not throw fans a hometown legend in the dugout. I still feel bad for Tram when you look at the teams that he had in Detroit.

  4. chill1184 - Sep 3, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    Now if they only put him, Mike Piazza and several others into Cooperstown already

  5. stex52 - Sep 3, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Shows what I know. I said yesterday that he was a poor fit and they wouldn’t consider it. Generally I agree with Brewcats’ assessment.

    However, he has worked with HS baseball a lot lately and he was regarded as a positive clubhouse presence. But otherwise, it smells like a PR move – and not a smart one.

    • jwbiii - Sep 3, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      When Biggio was coaching at St. Thomas Prep in Houston, he said his main duties were cutting grass, doing laundry, and hitting fungoes. Call me!

      • stex52 - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        Point taken, but you don’t believe that entirely. I don’t want to make too much of the St. Thomas experience. But the players he works with won’t be much older.

        Not that I think they should hire him.

  6. ptfu - Sep 3, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Dear Craig Biggio,

  7. shanabartels - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    I wish the best of luck to whoever gets the gig. Based on all the things we’ve heard this year about how the players don’t appreciate the minor league development experiments (the starter piggybacking) among other personnel issues (Appel throwing a bullpen at Minute Maid is apparently worth starting World War III?) and people are so openly expressing their discontentment with the work environment, it sounds pretty stressful to me. In other words, it’s an unenviable assignment. I hope someone can put on a smiling face for a while and keep some order while they turn things around. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the guys they interview for the job end up turning down the offer.

  8. hojo20 - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    If Biggio became manager and wins 3 World Series, he’d be a HOFer.

  9. gloccamorra - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    Wasn’t Biggio one of the people Luhnow didn’t communicate with, along with executive adviser Nolan Ryan? Isn’t Ryan’s son President of the club? When you realize the owner fired Porter, not Luhnow, the choice of Biggio might be a bigger signal than we assume.

    • beefytrout - Sep 3, 2014 at 4:28 PM

      Nolan Ryan only tries to push out GM’s, not managers.

  10. Jack Glasscock's Cup - Sep 3, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    I’ve always thought that Sean Casey would make a terrific manager. Guy can handle the press and has the political savvy to succeed.

    As far as a complete players’ manager goes, Jim Thome would probably be like a mini-Charlie Manuel, though a bit bigger.

    • mazblast - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:27 PM

      Sean Casey would never shut up long enough to think a situation through. Man, is he a ratchet-jaw.

      And being a popular player does not make one a good manager any more than being a good player does.

  11. rosiebrowne5 - Sep 3, 2014 at 2:16 PM

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  12. psousa1 - Sep 3, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    rosiebrowne5 – where is the other half of your neighbor’s sister?

  13. rayvid - Sep 3, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    I think that Biggio will be a very good manager at some point but I have to question if this is the right time. He’s going to expect these young players to prepare and work as hard as he did when he was a player. Is this team of MLB “toddlers” ready to do that? I don’t know…..but they don’t show it.

    Hope I’m wrong.

  14. mazblast - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    I doubt that Biggio would be able to fit in with a “all the credit goes to me, all blame to the manager” setup like most organizations appear to have now.

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