We finally got our first public appearance of Stephen Vogt as manager of the Guardians. Vogt was emotional as he thanked everyone he could think of for helping him get to where he is today. To be honest I can’t really think of negative things to say about the hire, not that I’m looking to find negatives per se but I have zero criticism here.
Vogt is just a hard guy not to like, he comes across as incredibly genuine, witty, and kind. Based on his press conference he’s clearly someone who wears their heart on their sleeve and doesn’t hide what he’s feeling in the moment. While I loved Tito’s press conference there’s no question he would keep everyone at arms length, using humor and deflection to prevent anyone from truly putting him under a microscope. Vogt seems like someone that we’re really going to get to know as the years go on.
From a baseball perspective the move was exactly what I was hoping for. I said on the podcast that a lack of experience was something I was actually valuing in a potential managerial hire. While that may sound counterintuitive, within the context of this team I think it’s a good thing. My number one issue with Tito’s last couple of years as manager was some of his rigidity in his decision making, particularly around lineups. It sort of felt like he just had his way that he liked to do things and was trying to shoehorn this roster into that vision, rather than taking the approach of building strategies around personnel. Without turning this into a bash Tito piece (because honestly I don’t think that’s fair) having a manager come in with no preconceived notions, no “way I’ve always done it,” and a fresh perspective is incredibly refreshing.
A modern manager, in my opinion, bases their strategy decisions on probabilities and analytics, constantly trying to put himself in a position where he’s gaining a statistical edge when making calls, but most of that stuff now comes from assistants, analysts, and the FO. So in actuality the manager’s main job is to trust their assistants and analysts in the decision making, while making sure that the wheels are greased from a team chemistry standpoint. I see Vogt as that person.
On the Disgusting Baseball podcast, Quincy mentioned Vogt switching to a one-knee catching stance in one of his final seasons as a player, changing the way he’d always done it purely because he saw data that suggested that a one-knee stance was more effective. Vogt is clearly a man who trusts numbers and, more importantly, is willing to change course when the numbers suggest that the current course is incorrect.
From a chemistry standpoint Vogt feels like the perfect hire for a young team. He seems like a guy who is willing to be the life of the party while also being incredibly serious about his craft and performance. He strikes me as the type of person that will come closest to Tito’s level of clubhouse management of all the guys we discussed, someone who will build relationships with his players while also expecting excellence out of them. As a younger guy too I think he’s the perfect guy to lead this team that is still one of the youngest in baseball, while he has no managerial experience this certainly isn’t someone who’s new to a major league clubhouse.
Vogt is clearly still an unknown and this is a roster that is very much still in flux. There’s no guarantees that we’ll be a successful team next year, regardless of who is calling the shots. But what I do know is that of all of the people we discussed, Vogt is the one who excited me the most. We’ll have to wait and see to get a true conclusion, but I’m optimistic about the future of this team with Vogt at the helm.