We're not here to analyze, scout, predict, project or proclaim Derek Jeter a "winner." We're here to Second Guess. Hey, isn't that half the fun of baseball's postseason?
Friday, October 8
The following was written as Mike Scioscia removes Frankie Rodriguez in the bottom of the 10th, in favor of Jarrod Washburn, as David Ortiz steps in with two outs.
David Schoenfield: I think the managers have made all the right moves so far, but this could be a Second Guess. I know Ortiz doesn't hit lefties like he does righties, but Washburn is no K-Rod.
Eric Neel: Oh, good lord ... I can't bear to watch.
Eric: That's just so sad ...
Eric: Man, that's brutal; one thing I know is this: in 84 innings, K-Rod had given up 2 home runs this year. 2! You can figure he might get hit by Ortiz, but you can't figure he had anywhere near the chance Washburn did to get killed outright.
Eric: It was a weird move in a lot of ways ... why Washburn? Why not leave Frankie in? It was like a brain fart, a twitch ... when Washburn makes mistakes, they're mistakes up, mistakes flat; his pitches don't move much ... he's ripe for a ball in the air -- 20 home runs allowed in 149 innings.
David: OK, a quick check of the numbers and I can see what Scioscia was thinking:
Ortiz vs. LH: .250/.315/.469
Ortiz vs. RH: .326/.411/.671
Washburn vs. LH: .225/.277/.387
Rodriguez vs. LH: .213/.299/.265
K-Rod is an alien from another planet against righties (.386 OPS!) and merely superhuman against lefties; he'd thrown 38 pitches; Washburn IS very tough against lefties and Ortiz's OPS drops 300 points ... but Washburn hadn't pitched in relief all year and I still want K-Rod out there for one more batter.
Eric: I've been saying all year, and I've never felt it more than tonight, that K-Rod is the one of a handful of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Period.
If you're going gut, as Mike likes to do, maybe you don't let yourself be ruled by the numbers in a moment like this. K-Rod was vicious, and the D was right behind him, and there were no balls in the air against him, really, and the thing that can kill you in a moment like this is a home $%#@%! run.
David: So, you were rooting for the Angels ... Man, your season is on the line ... I think I'd rather go down with K-Rod than a mediocre lefty who got shelled in Game 1 and who hadn't pitched in relief all season.
Gets to the big question, though, doesn't it: When do you manage by your gut and when do use the book? Man, maybe this ain't such an easy job.
Eric: I know the job is difficult, and I like a lot of what Scioscia does (though I think his small-ball proclivity is a problem), but man, this looked, from the moment he hit the top step of the dugout, like a bad, bad, bad idea ... Put it this way, if it had been Grady Little and Boston, the guy would need security just to get to the jet that would whisk him out of town for the witness relocation program.
Second Guessing: Santana to start Game 4
Eric Neel: The Santana start on three days' rest is a panic move. If the Twins are down 2-1, you still need him to pitch one of the last two games, so why not make sure it's a game when he's at full strength?
Maybe Gardenhire is influenced by what McKeon did with Josh Beckett in the Series last year, but he shouldn't be. These aren't those Yankees, at least not in terms of pitching. And more to the point, all you do in rushing Santana is send a message, to your team, to your fans, and to the Yankees, that you believe in the mystique or some such nonsense.
If you're Gardenhire, you should be with Torii Hunter on this kind of thing. Torii said in the Star Tribune yesterday, "The Yankees don't have no mystique. Those guys can hit. Their mystique is their money." Amen, Brother. Now Ron, all you have to do is show faith in your guys and don't believe the hype. unless it's the hype about Johan Santanadanna, because that stuff is all true ... especially on four days' rest.
Royce Webb: I agree, but I tend to look strictly at the logic of it. If you win Game 3, you want to give yourself the best possible shot to win one more game. If you lose Game 3, you need to win two. Either way, trying to win Game 4 without Santana and saving him for Game 5 in Yankee Stadium, if necessary, is the right call.
We see this every year -- fans, journalists, and managers want to see the ace on short rest because "you've gotta win Game 4 before you win Game 5." But it's illogical to say that one of those games is more important than the other.
The only way Gardenhire's move makes sense is if he's saying that he would do almost anything to avoid pitching Kyle Lohse, including pitching Santana and Radke on short rest. That's a defensible opinion, I guess. But most of the time this move backfires.
Eric: And if you start Lohse and he gets in trouble, you have Mulholland, Rincon, Romero and Jesse Crain available. Santana is unlikely to need much backup in Game 5, and if he does, you've got a rested Nathan, who's shown he can dig deep if need be.
Second Guesses, Second Helpings
We question ...
Minnesota's overzealous baserunning in the bottom of sixth. Two guys thrown out trying to stretch hits while down by six runs? Worst. Baserunning. Ever. Trying to make things happen? Yeah, try an early exit out of the playoffs.
The mowing-the-logo-in-the-infield-grass move by the Red Sox groundskeepers ... that's the kind of thing that looks too eager by half, that's the kind of thing the baseball gods punish you for.
Our opinion the other day that all the gunk on Vladimir Guerrero's helmet was acceptable. On second thought, the gunk on his -- and so many other players' helmets -- is not acceptable. Let's bring out the handi-wipes ASAP. Yes, that means you, Mr. Biggio.
Previous editions of Second Guessing
Oct. 7: Did Bobby Cox play too much Small Ball?