Watching a manager go is rarely easy
Let's not forget that the last time the Marlins changed managers midseason, Jack McKeon replaced Jeff Torborg and they went on to defeat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series. Now, was that luck? Maybe. Was it just that McKeon inherited a really good team? Probably. But being good on paper isn't what being a manager is about. It's about motivating 30 individuals (I include the coaching staff) to believe in one goal. New managers aren't going to come in and shake up the lineup on their first day on the job, but they need to remember to be themselves. Staying true to your personality and your style is one of the most important aspects of managing. Players will respect you for it, and gradually you'll figure out ways to get everyone on the same page. In addition to managing the winter league Leones de Ponce in Puerto Rico, next month I'll be managing the Puerto Rico national team. I bring my own fire to each team and keep in touch with all my players while still maintaining that balance of respect and authority. You have to know which buttons to push, not only with your players but with your staff, and that can be a fine line to walk. But the bottom line is that you have to try not to meet expectations, but to exceed them.
Eduardo Perez is an analyst for "Baseball Tonight."
Baseball Tonight Live
"Baseball Tonight" analysts, ESPN.com writers and SweetSpot Network bloggers chatted and gave their in-game opinions throughout the day's games -- all in Baseball Tonight Live.
Touch 'Em All
Who went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page. For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.
|Paul Konerko, CHW||18||ATL||Bot 8: 0-0, 2 Outs. 1 on.||Saito|
|Carlos Pena, TB||16||SD||Bot 7: 2-2, 1 Out. None on.||Webb|
|Prince Fielder, MIL||14||MIN||Bot 3: 0-1, 1 Out. 1 on.||Blackburn|
|Pat Burrell, SF||6||HOU||Top 4: 3-1, 2 Outs. 1 on.||Rodriguez|
|Vernon Wells, TOR||17||STL||Bot 1: 3-2, 2 Outs. 1 on.||Wainwright|
Friday's Best Matchups
Cubs at White Sox, 4:05 p.m. ET
The White Sox are rolling, having won 10 of 11 to draw within 2½ games of the Twins in the AL Central race. Part of the turnaround has been the resurgence of Jake Peavy, who is coming off a complete-game shutout against Washington and who has won three of his past four starts.
Phillies at Blue Jays (in Philly), 7:05 p.m. ET
Nope, that isn't a typo. The game is being played in Philadelphia, yet the Blue Jays are the home team. The series was moved because of the G20 Summit being held in Toronto. So that means Roy Halladay will face his former team in his new team's park.
Yankees at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
The Yankees see old manager Joe Torre, and send CC Sabathia out to the mound for the opener. The big lefty has won his past four starts, lowering his ERA from 4.16 to 3.68 in the process. His best performance during the run came in his most recent start, when he tossed eight shutout innings in a 4-0 win against the Mets.
BASEBALL TONIGHT ON THE AIR
|10 p.m. ET on ESPN|
Host: Kevin Negandhi|
Analysts: Doug Glanville, Eduardo Perez, Tim Kurkjian
|12 a.m. ET on ESPN|
Host: Kevin Negandhi|
Analysts: Eduardo Perez
WEB GEMS LEADERBOARD
THURSDAY'S BEST AND WORST
BESTYovani Gallardo, RHP, Brewers
Gallardo breezed through the Twins' offense in a 5-0 win. The righty tossed a complete-game, 122-pitch, 12-strikeout, five-hit shutout for his first win in a little more than three weeks. He surrendered a double to Justin Morneau and four singles. And, oh yes, he had a double of his own.
WORSTHector Ambriz, RHP, Indians
Fausto Carmona wasn't good against the Phillies. It only got worse when Ambriz entered. He followed up the seven runs Carmona gave up over four innings by serving up five more on four hits and two walks in only 1 2/3 innings of work in the 12-3 Cleveland loss.
On Wednesday, Stephen Strasburg lost his first game as a major league pitcher, though not through much fault of his own, as his team fell to the Kansas City Royals, 1-0. Meanwhile, in Queens, N.Y., R.A. Dickey threw eight shutout innings for the New York Mets, continuing to offer his team a much-needed boost in its rotation. What do these two guys have in common?Absolutely nothing. Strasburg's fastball averages 97.7 mph, and he throws it 58 percent of the time. Dickey's fastball averages 84.3 mph, and he throws it 18 percent of the time. Dickey, of course, relies on a knuckleball to dance around and get outs. Strasburg just overpowers hitters with an assortment of pitches that is usually reserved for video games. But despite their disparate approaches, both have found success in getting big league hitters out this year. We thought it would be fun to compare how they're doing it. For Strasburg, it's not that complicated. His plan is to get ahead in the count (67 percent first-pitch strikes), usually with his high-velocity fastball. Then, he makes hitters chase an assortment of pitches they can't hit. Opponents have swung at 35.5 percent of the pitches he has thrown out of the strike zone, but made contact just 34.6 percent of the time. For comparison, the next-lowest contact rate on pitches outside the zone by a starter is 48.1 percent, by Jorge de la Rosa. When Strasburg gets hitters to chase, they come up empty, and he racks up the strikeouts. Dickey can't do that. Hitters are chasing his pitches slightly less often (29.3 percent), but are making contact twice as frequently -- opponents put a bat on 70.2 percent of the pitches that they swing at outside of the strike zone, a pedestrian number that doesn't explain how Dickey is striking out nearly seven batters per nine innings. The key for him is not to get hitters to fish, but to swing through pitches that they think they can whack.