SAN FRANCISCO -- #EnoughAlready! #CutTheManagersSomeSlack!
Hey, I know it's fun to second-guess managers; I do it myself. But there should be some limit to our criticism. So can we please have a moratorium on ripping every single managerial move, including the ones that work out?
Some were ripping Bruce Bochy on Twitter for not pinch hitting for Yusmeiro Petit with two outs and a runner on first base in the fourth inning of Game 4 on Saturday. I can understand briefly questioning the move -- the Giants were behind, and Petit had five hits in 103 career at-bats -- but it was relatively early in the game, and Bochy also knew he needed (and probably would get) some quality innings from Petit. I mean, just look at what happened to the Royals when their middle relievers were unable to get the job done.
The crazy thing is that the criticism continued even after Petit singled to center. Some people still were contending Bochy should have pinch hit Michael Morse for Petit, as if it were an absolute that Morse would have gotten a run-scoring, extra-base hit rather make an out or single like Petit.
There also was criticism of Ned Yost. Of course there was. When is there not criticism of Yost? Either he should have taken Jason Vargas out to start the fifth inning -- after all, who expects a starter to get anyone out his third time through the order? -- or he stayed too long with some of his middle guys, or he should have gone to the potent back end of his bullpen. Or something. Because it always has to be the manager's fault.
"You're always going to have those questions," Bochy said of managerial criticism. "'Well, you could have done this or done that or it may not work out.' It's part of the game now, more so now than ever. You understand that, but hey, it's great people are watching the game."
That is true. It is very good people care. And it is natural to express our opinion. But we also have to cut the managers some slack. Regardless of all the new metrics, we have to acknowledge the managers might know more about their players and how they might perform than we do.
More importantly, the game's outcome usually doesn't hinge on the managerial decision but rather on what the players do after those managerial decisions.
"In close games, managers can sway and make a move that may turn the tide," San Francisco's Jake Peavy said. "That said, the majority of the games are going to be decided by the guys who put the uniform on between the white lines. Your manager has a big thing to do with the way he's got his guys ready to play and the way they believe in him as far as the game management. And whatever he says, guys believe it's going to work. It's just the way it works, especially after you've had some success."
Look at Brandon Finnegan. In Game 3, the kid became the first player in baseball history to pitch in the College World Series and the World Series in the same year. He retired two critical batters in the seventh inning. Yost went to him again Saturday in Game 4 -- and things didn't work out so well.
Finnegan gave up five runs, and the game turned into a blowout. But who was responsible for all those runs: Yost or Finnegan? Or perhaps it was Pablo Sandoval, who singled home two runs from his much weaker right side, just as he singled the previous inning against left-handed Danny Duffy?
"Clutch hitter," Yost said of Sandoval. "What are you going to say about that? I thought we had the situation right in the palm of our hand. We all know the difference between right- and left-handed averages [for him]. He just did a great job of hitting the ball up the middle with the bases loaded, and it was just a great at-bat."
That's the thing. Yost knew the percentages. He played the percentages. He went with a reliever who came through for him the previous game. Sandoval rose to the challenge while Finnegan did not. That's competition. That's sport. That's baseball. As Yost said, "It just didn't work tonight. It doesn't work every night, you know."
He's right. The metrics are not absolute. The players are human -- not lines of code. Some nights a managerial move works. Some nights it doesn't.
And more times than not, it's the players who decide.