Cubs

Levine: Numbers Help, But Talent Determines Winners

Cubs manager Rick Renteria. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Cubs manager Rick Renteria. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Bruce Levine Bruce Levine
Bruce Levine covers both the Cubs and the White Sox for CBSChicago.co...
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By Bruce Levine-

WRIGLEY FIELD (CBS) — Cubs manager Rickey Renteria is doing his best to cajole and push his players to better performance levels. Renteria has daily briefings with a statistical analyst team that helps the manager and the coaches get inside the vast numbers and video files that are available. The Cubs have state-of-the-art computers and the best in written and video technical data for the coaches’ and players’ consumption.

All that stated, better players would help the statistical support. Renteria, like previous manager Dale Sveum, is going to war with three bullets in a six shooter. In baseball the best talent usually wins, regardless of the of great peripheral information.

“It’s great they have a good manager and coaches,” Alfonso Soriano told the Sun Times referring to his former team. “You still need good talent to win.”

Going through a rough patch of games where his team has lost five straight, Renteria is asking his fledgling group to march on. A team conversation after a sloppy loss Friday has made the manager more determined to get it right.

“The statistics that exist in the game existed 100 years ago,” he said. “Somebody found a way to put them on paper. They give us this information and we try to use it to the best of our ability. The reality is we also put our eyes on our players and we see what they are capable of doing. We can see without numbers if somebody is having a tough time or doing well. We try to balance the approaches we have in how we use the numbers.”

Renteria was advertised as a great teacher and solid baseball man coming into this job. The pressure and reality of the Cubs managers is as unique as the mystique that surrounds “Cub Nation.” Renteria is a tough, smart baseball guy who is battling to win games and fight a losing tradition. I asked him if the job was tougher than he had originally anticipated.

“I think the reality is I separate myself from a lot of things,” he said. “I don’t read papers or listen to broadcasts. No offense to anyone. I am in the dugout, I have a pulse as to what is happening, which is the most important thing for me. I get what is going on around me…it is a great place to be. To say am I being overwhelmed by the thing, not really!”

Renteria is a solid baseball man, who I am sure will have an impact on this club. The fact remains, until the baseball front office gets sufficient funding to field better teams, all the hard work and statistical data will not move the needle into the red zone of winning baseball at Clark and Addison.