Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bad Managing

Post #2 in the set "Imagine How Mad I'd Be If He Was The O's Manager." The Toronto Blue Jays are in last place in the AL East. With this kind of managing, I'm not surprised. (Hat-tip to Joe Posnanski, one of the best sports writer around)
"I’ve never seen a more offensive walk than Friday night. Never. Toronto trailed the Royals 5-4 in the eighth inning. The Blue Jays trailed 5-4 because that gutty shortostop David Eckstein dropped a double-play throw from the pitcher. No matter. They trailed 5-4, and the Royals had runners on second and third, and there was still one out, and Tony Pena Jr. was at the plate. I mentioned this in the last blog post, I believe — I like Tony Pena a lot. Great kid. Got a lot of the energy and joy for baseball his old man has. And he’s a terrific fielder. And he’s smart enough to adjust, at least I think so. But facts is facts: Tony Pena Jr., at this moment and time, is the worst everyday Major League hitter I’ve ever seen. I mean the worst. There are numbers to back this up — .148/.172/.164 would be three of those numbers — but this is truly a case where seeing is believing. His swing is now longer than the Bill Clinton autobiography. He starts it on a Tuesday, it ends on a Thursday. It lasts longer than that ”Deal or No Deal“ show. It’s a long, long swing.

And with that sort of swing, he’s an out. That’s all. An automatic out. Every so often when a pitcher lets his mind wander, Pena Jr. will fights off a bad pitch, bloop a hit the other way, but it is almost always a mistake pitch. I assume (and hope) that he will make those adjustments I mentioned, shorten the swing, punch a few balls into gaps, and all that. But right now, at this moment, if you don’t make a mistake to Tony Pena Jr., he’s out. Period.

And John Gibbons, after pitcher Scott Downs fell behind Pena 2-0 count, had him walked.

I’m just telling you … I’d have fired somebody. I’m just telling you that intentionally walking Tony Pena Jr. or any other light-hitting middle infielder hitting .150 would be a fireable offense on my team. I’d have that written on a clubhouse sign.

And Gibbons (or whoever) would tell me how the walk set up the double play, tell me how by walking Pena they got the lefty-lefty matchup they wanted, tell me that in that situation, down two balls, you HAVE to walk Pena because any major league hitter becomes dangerous ahead 2-0 in the count and blah blah blah. Thank you. Please have your desk cleared by 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

In this case, the Baseball Gods were as offended as I was, and the next batter — David DeJesus — scoffed at the whole lefty-lefty thing and drilled a single that scored two runs. Then Alberto Callaspo hit a single that scored another. The Royals snapped their losing streak and won 8-4. It was just. It was right. I’m not an owner, and it’s good thing. All I can say is: I implore you, Canada. Somebody stop John Gibbons before he walks again."
The O's employed the intentional walk last week and it led to a big inning. There is a time and a place for it, but those situations are few and far between. I especially like when a team walks the bases loaded and leaves the pitcher in the game, and he can't find the zone and walks in the winning run. It's hard enough to locate well when you're in a groove, why would the manager assume the pitcher can do it effectively after intentionally changing their approach and throwing 4-8 pitches way outside? Toronto got what it deserved in that situation, and John Gibbons was in the hot seat to start the season - he should be gone pretty soon unless the Jays turn things around.

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