From: Houston, TX - USA
Lots of nuances in the game that are hard to put your arms around the first few times you play. One is to never, never, never (did I mention NEVER) stand down a combat carrier unit until in port. Always assume a CV, surface, or sub battle could occur that turn. Set CV plane missions accordingly. Always have ample attack, search, and CAP aircraft in replensihment or repair port. Have surface combat ships patrolling and protecting the port if it can be raided while CV in port. As to torpedoing TF performance by selecting a suboptimal commander, that would be...unwise. If you set the TF reaction to 0 and set direct absolute, you can do no more than that from a ship perspective.
Trust me when I tell you the list of do's and don't-s is long, and I certainly dont have all of them in my pocket.