Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Today, in Poorly Managed Games

I'll start this one off by saying that I really like Gibby, and think he's a pretty good manager in general. The big things that a manager is responsible for are done more-or-less correctly: he manages his bullpen better than most, he flirted with the idea of Bautista in the 2-hole for a while before eventually succumbing to being a people-person, and he'll even give you a pretty nice soundbite every now and then when explaining what's on his mind.  Gibbons, especially when compared with that clown beside him in the above picture, is a great manager.

If I have one complaint about his style, though, it's the way he gets his guys to run in to outs way too often, especially with the offense that he's got at his disposal.  Today's game, for example, saw an awful lot of that.  There was the good old bunt-to-stay-out-of-a-double-play-for-a-double-play trick, which made me want to break something.  Obviously, it's ultimately the player that happens to not get the bunt down successfully, but there are just so few situations that warrant donating an out to the other team that you could probably get away with never bunting ever and being okay.  And the Jays still scored 7 runs!  Play for the big inning, you might get a big inning every now and then.  Play for one, you apparently don't even get that.

Ron Roenicke, on the other hand, makes me glad that we have Gibby, bunt forceouts and all.

This may have been the most poorly managed game I've seen in years, and I watched a shitload of Reds games over the last few years when Dusty Baker was hitting Zach Cosart and his sub-.300 OBP 2nd all the time.  It's not batting order optimization is worth a whole hell of a lot over the course of a year, especially when most managers are reasonably close to optimal, but you just know that someone who bats their worst non-pitcher batter in the 2-hole consistently does something way worse fairly often too.

Anyway, let's go through this game and cringe at all the things managers did today.

  • Gibbons comes out to argue a call that got overturned after a review, which automatically results in an ejection.  This may or may not have been because he was thirsty, and he maybe just wanted to stir his team and home crowd up, so we'll kind of let this slide for now.  Pretty silly though.
  • Roenicke got tossed on a not-even-close check swing call on a ball that hit Steve Tolleson on the foot.  Perhaps he and Gibby both needed a beer.
  • Roenicke questionably lets Wily Peralta start the 7th inning, his fourth turn through the meat of the lineup, having thrown something like 107 pitches to that point.  Both Melky and Bautista get on base to start the inning.
  • Gibbons pinch-hits for Lind, presumably because Roenicke brought a lefty in, only to have the replacement bunt, planning to give away an out anyway.  May as well let Lind try to accidentally run in to one, as helpless as he is vs. LHP, or let Mastro swing away and take advantage of the platoon situation.  The result, however, was a double play that turned a first-and-second-nobody-out spot in to a 2nd-base-with-two-out spot, and let the Brewers bypass Edwin Encarnacion via an intentional walk, thanks to 1st base being open.  Assuming Mastroianni gets his bunt down successfully, it's still 2nd-and-3rd with 1 out, and Edwin is still getting walked to bypass the better hitter and to set up a double play.  In total, sub Lind for 2 outs, further Bautista, and a skip-your-turn for Edwin.  We also don't know that his spot in the order won't come up again in a higher leverage spot, which it did.
  • With 2 outs in the 7th, Anthony Gose is brought in to pinch-run for Bautista, taking him out of the game in a tie-game in which his spot is likely, though not guaranteed, to come up again in the 9th.  Of course, this doesn't matter if the game is close, or if Bautista is feeling sore.  I would guess that there's a bit of fear that Bautista's hamstring isn't at 100% and the idea of him busting it for home and sliding in on a close play is at least a bit scary.  Still, with two outs, there's a decent chance that it makes absolutely no difference and that Bautista is coming out of the game way too early.
  • I suppose I can live with Loup coming in and facing all those righties, but you're going to have to rely on McGowan or Santos in a spot like that.  Maybe they weren't available.  A rather small complaint.
  • I'm assuming Gibby is in the tunnel calling the shots after his ejection, so having Gose bunt there is stupid, although less so than the Mastro one.  It might make sense if Bautista is in the game, but it's Darin Mastroianni in his place.  Roenicke (or whoever he was barking orders at from the dugout) promptly brought in a RHP, who struck Mastro out....
  • ... and pitched to Edwin with a base open and two outs.  That pitcher happened to be Brandon Kintzler, who has a not-insignificant reverse platoon, meaning he's been much worse vs. RHB this year.  On deck is Dioner Navarro, who, as a switch-hitter, would be batting lefty, which would favor Kintzler.  Kintzler not only pitches to Edwin, but he gives him 3 balls in the first 4 pitches, getting behind and in to a hitter's count.  The result is a three-run shot and the end of a ballgame that apparently neither of these two first place teams really wanted all that bad after all.  Francisco Rodriguez, meanwhile, did not pitch against Encarnacion and was of little impact during that 2-out, 2-on jam, since he was sitting in the bullpen.
All in all, that wasn't a great look for either manager.  I hate to soapbox about bunting so much, yet here we are.  Having said that, bunting cost the Jays 3 outs, including two at third base.  That's a whole inning!  I'm about as big a Gibby apologist as there is out there, and he certainly does more good than bad, but that was a bunch of bad, compounded by a lack of execution.