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Early Returns Under Stephen Vogt — How’s it Going?

Time to make some initial observations, now that Vogt’s first week has passed

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Oakland Athletics Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor’s Note: Brendan submitted this article a couple days ago but I missed it in the queue)
Does Stephen have my Vogt of confidence yet? Perchance.

A week has come and passed since the birth of a new Cleveland Guardians season. So much excitement has been in the air around Progressive Field, especially since the Guards have started off the season on a 6-2 run. Being the league leaders in run differential (+30) as well as a multitude of other stats, Cleveland has come out swinging — literally. Behind all the excitement of a productive offense and pitching staff, however, is the question of how well the new Guardians manager Stephen Vogt is doing at, well, managing.

Generally speaking, there are very big shoes to fill as a new manager of a ballclub. Just the expectation of running a full clubhouse for a 162 game season alone seems like a daunting task. Add on the fact that your predecessor is possibly the best the franchise has ever had, and this mountain would prove strenuous to climb. Truly, Terry Francona’s time here has made the bar pretty high for the one to succeed him; but Stephen Vogt has more than expressed his willingness to try and exceed such expectations.

After one week of watching Vogt run the Guards’ clubhouse, it seems pretty safe to say that things are going somewhat smoothly. As I mentioned, the Guardians have had a very hot start on both sides of the field. With a mix of an offense that has made slight improvements in the power category so far, and a roughed up pitching staff firing on all cylinders despite some poor injury luck, Cleveland has already turned some heads in this young season. Now, you can attest some of the success to the fact that the Guardians started off the season in a 4-game series against the Oakland A’s — but they also got to two Cy Young Award contenders in Luis Castillo and George Kirby of the Mariners (20 hits, 12 runs).

Beyond how the team has been performing, there is a lot to like about Vogt’s managerial decisions as well. I’d like to put the spotlight on how he has handled the lineup. Stephen has been able to give everyone looks so far this season, with everyone besides Austin Hedges and Gabriel Arias playing at least half of the team’s 8 games. It has been plain to see that everyone is getting chances, even though we may already know who is intended to be made mainstays for our open spots.

The bullpen usage, on the other hand, has been a topic of discussion for many. Vogt’s management of the bullpen has proposed some issues to some in the Guardians fanbase, but I do not find much of what he’s done very problematic. There are some concerns, such as how Vogt has handled pitch counts and load management, but nonetheless, such problems, and any others involving how the bullpen is managed, will get better with experience. These issues shouldn’t be expected to be solved just a week after a rookie manager starts his tenure.

So far, those are my only observations if you don’t count Vogt’s odd propensity to call sacrifice bunts even for those who don’t execute them well (an anomaly to many). Of course things are not going to go as swimmingly as they have over the first week, and Vogt will face many growing pains and bumps along the road. That being said, I think Stephen went through this first week very well as he got his feet wet. The real test is facing the challenges when the season gets long. But as for now, the question remains — does Stephen have my Vogt of confidence? I’d say yes.