Is it the manager's fault when players who usually play intelligently suddenly start playing stupidly? Yeah, maybe just a little bit. This much, though? Matthew Pouliot:
- Because Guerrero and Alex Rodriguez shined in the ALCS, Figgins perhaps now stands alone when it comes to active postseason futility. He did score one of the team's runs Sunday after a flare to left off Mariano Rivera that barely eluded Derek Jeter's glove. That's about as close to hitting with authority as he came all month. He hit .130 against the Yankees, and he's at .172/.223/.246 in 122 career postseason at-bats. Scioscia refusal to move him down after so many awful plate appearances hurt the team.
But if standing by Figgins was Scioscia's worst sin, he would have had a fine series. Scioscia was handed what was essentially a lifetime contract from the Angels prior to this year, and he's certainly not going to lose his job over a poor series. However, the regular-season success will only go so far.
Scioscia loves ignoring the numbers and playing favorites, and because his clubs keep winning, he gets the benefit of the doubt. It's something that could begin to change if the October results don't turn around. Scioscia's teams have averaged 95 wins the last six years, yet are 2-5 in postseason series.
And with a few lucky bounces here and there, they might be 4-3 or 6-5 or whatever. Similarly, it would make no more sense to move Chone Figgins down this month than for Larry Dierker to have moved Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell down, amid all their October struggles. Or to have moved Willie Mays down, or Joe Morgan. All of these brilliant players struggled in October, and their managers did what you have to do with struggling superstars: leave them alone and hope for the best.
As Pouliot correctly notes, the Angels lost to the better team. They did push the Yankees to six games, and they were blown out just once. It really could have gone the other way.
Which isn't to suggest that Scioscia's perfect. He's not. But as long as his teams are winning more than 90 games every season, all the Angels can do is leave him alone and hope for the best.