Tagged: Managers

9/3/06- Willie’s fault.

Its easy to get greedy. With the best record in baseball and no real NL competition, I just expect the Mets to win every day (I feel the "best record" honor does have an implied asterisk though, since the Tigers, Yankees, White Sox, Red Sox, et al DO have competition, namely each other, and still post excellent respective records). So that brings us to today’s affair, an attempt to post the first 3 game sweep in Houston in 22 years. El Duque and 3 relievers limit the ‘Stros to 1 hit, and despite a 9th inning Delgado homer its a one run, 2-1 loss. What’s my problem, is it the 9 walks allowed, 6 by The Duke? Not at all, that comes with the territory as I see it. Hernandez at times lives on the edge, a junkballer who nevertheless still throws a heater in the low 90s (!), he gives up walks, compensates for them with Ks, and I can’t argue with anything he did today. I enjoy watching him pitch, the times he’s knocked around early notwithstanding. I am pinning this one on Willie. It goes pack to the 7th, after Reyes breaks up Oswalt’s perfect game with an infield single to lead off the frame. Ideal! Given the very high percentage of Jose scoring when leading off an inning by getting on base, and the Mets’ fine pitching on the afternoon, things were looking solid at this point. But then the moment of truth. Batting second, Endy Chavez sacrafice bunts successfully. Without information to the contrary, it looks like this decision was called from the dugout. If it was an attempt to get the Mets second straight infield hit (which would be evidence that it was Endy’s decision, and not one I would have a beef with), that was not apparant. He did not "drag" it, and high tail out of the box. Instead, it really seemed to be a straight sacrafice. If so, the Mets deserve this loss. Jose Reyes is the major league stolen base leader, and is successful in that venture 70% of the time. We are facing a pitcher that had until this point not allowed anything beyond an infield hit, and forego the steal to set up a situation where a hit is needed to plate a run? No good. Steal second first, THEN sacrafice, moving the then tying run to third with one out. Such a situation would have indeed resulted in the tying run given how the rest of the inning played out. Instead? Stranded on third. If Reyes had been thrown out at second, I can live with that. It would have been the right move. Steal every time in that situation. Why give up an out for the same end of moving over the runner? I really don’t think the differences in percentages of a successful sacrafice vs. a straight attempted steal by Reyes is significant enough to give up what would be the decisive out. Too conservative. Not to mention for a team 16 games up in the division, too dull. I like Willie, though not happy with this one. Only rationalle (and not one I agree with): perhaps trying to protect Reyes’ health by limiting his head first slides, since the remainng regular season games are gravy at this point.

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Willie’s quick hook.

Willie’s hook is too quick for my liking. Take tonight’s game in progress, in which Steve Trachsel started against Greg Maddux, and the Mets are trailing 8-4 in the 6th. Trachsel took a 4-3 lead into the 5th and 3 batters into the frame we’re trailing, due to a single, followed by a couple of homers (this is a relative anomoly; Trachsel hadn’t yielded a long ball in 4 consecutive starts). Willie leaves him in, and 4 batters later its second and third (a check swing double, an infield single in which the lead runner does dot advance, and a passed ball, sandwiched around a couple of well pitched outs). Trachsel had just fanned the pitcher and is in position to escape the inning without further damage facing the leadoff hitter. His pitch count is around 90. Why is this a spot to bring in Heath Bell? The move doesn’t work as Bell yields a first pitch single that plates two runs charged to Trachsel. Why not let Steve have a shot at the victory in that situation? With Maddux less than dominant these days (ie- tonight), it was not unlikely that the Mets could have retaken the lead in the bottom of the frame allowing Trachsel a shot at a 5 inning victory (the Mets went down quiet so it is a moot point, but I remain frustrated by these kinds of decisions). I completely agree that the interests of the team outweigh statistical considerations, but if you were gonna make like Whitey Herzog and quickly yank a faltering pitcher, then it would logically have been after the hard hit long balls, not after 2 outs wrapped around a check swing hit and an infield hit. Trachsel appeared to have returned to form and from the perspective of finishing the inning, pitch count was not an issue. Its now the 7th inning and Maddux is still in there after having given up consecutive hits to start the inning; that’s my sensibility. Go with your sarters deep. Let them get a decision. I should think that the oppoprtunity to accumulate a good won loss record is a prime motivator. These days you have the lame stat "quality start" for, what is it, 5 or 6 innings and 3 or 4 runs surrendered. The statistic is too stupid for me to remember exactly what its criteria are. As a fan, I follow the relevent statistics of our pitchers; wins, losses, innings pitched, strike outs, walks, opposition batting average, etc. The won loss record of relief pitchers on the other hand, is irrelevent for a number of issues. And why should things like bloop hits have any impact on a manager’s decision on a pitching change, since such occurances are a roll of the dice misfortune but not an indicator of a pitcher’s effectiveness? I understand matchup considerations, but Willie’s hook has made its early appearance irrespective of these too often for my liking. Glavine was a recent victim in a game in which he had a low pitch count, a 2 run lead in the 6th, but after a couple of bloops he got the yank. He ended up with a no decision in a winning effort. Ironically, as I write this, the Mets have loaded the bases, and Maddux is out. The used car dealership commercial on during the pitching change has "eliminate the middle man" as a tag line. Sounds good to me; more opportunities for complete games, going from starter to closer, or at least starter to set up man, and more of "eliminating the middle man", who should be reserved for emergencies (and our overused pen is solid). I’ve gotta go, the Mets have cut the lead to two and are still threatening, what am I doing sitting here typing…