Sharma: A year with Rick Renteria

From Sahadev Sharma at Baseball Prospectus on October 31, 2014:

Rick Renteria won’t leave much of a legacy in Chicago. That’s not a knock on the man; he was afforded six months in charge of a sub-.500 roster, so he never really had a chance to leave his mark.

Just a few weeks after President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein assured the media that Renteria would be back for the 2015 season, Joe Maddon surprised the baseball world by exercising a little-known opt-out clause triggered when Andrew Friedman bolted for Los Angeles.

The Cubs front office, which is in the process of transitioning from building to contending, was obviously intrigued by this change in the managerial-free-agent landscape and pounced at the opportunity to add one of the most respected managers around. Whether that was fair to Renteria and whether it was the right thing to do for the organization are two separate topics, which I’ll address down the road. Right now let’s look at what type of manager Renteria proved to be in his lone season.

The fact is, it’s hard (and pretty unfair) to judge a manager on one season’s worth of games. Good managers often need time to really get to know their players, to truly understand how to put them in the best position to succeed. And many managers adjust and improve over the years as they learn from experience, or absorb new information from those around them (fellow coaches, front office members, etc.). Terry Francona and Clint Hurdle are two examples who immediately come to mind.

In-game, Renteria sometimes made some odd decisions. There were times when he’d bunt early in a game with a non-pitcher, playing for one run against a strong offensive team. He had the seventh most bunts in all of baseball. Without accounting for the context of each, it’s hard to judge that number, but I can tell you that there were instances when reporters gave each other sideways glances in the press box, questioning the decision of a bunt. Of course, there are times players take that decision into their own hands. And of course, it’s an issue that could have easily been addressed by the front office during the offseason if the lines of communication were strong. All indications are that they were.

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Originally published: October 31, 2014. Last Updated: October 31, 2014.