Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Randall, Randall, Randall...

Here's a funny column by the Stats Geek about Randall Simon's bizarre ability to hit like, y'know, a decent major league hitter with a runner on first. I've argued with Geek columnist Brian O'Neill about this issue at Baseball Primer, and he's convinced me that he might be on to something, at least where Simon's batting average is concerned - it's been so much higher in all situations with a runner on first than in other situations the past few years that I think it's possible that Simon is able to hit a whole lot of balls through the hole between first and second in those situations that would otherwise be groundouts. Of course, it could just be a sample size issue.

While this is all very interesting, though, Simon should not be starting for the Pirates under any circumstances. He started at DH last night against the Rangers. Jason Bay sat on the bench for the entire game as the Pirates lost 6-5 in the tenth. What's going on with Bay? Is he not healthy? If he is, then why wouldn't he be playing? He's had exactly nine plate appearances in the past week. Losing a game by one run while starting Simon and never playing a clearly-rested Bay is borderline negligence.

When Abraham Nunez pinch-hit in the top of the ninth, there was a man on first and the score was tied. Nunez sacrificed, of course, and the man was stranded at second. Note to Lloyd McClendon: in the top of an inning a tie game at Arlington, sacrificing a man to second with no outs is not an optimal strategy - one run isn't even likely to be enough to win, and sacrificing an out for a base isn't even the best way to score that one run, especially when you can send Bay to the plate.

The bullpen usage last night was also strange, even though it may not have hurt the Pirates. Don't the Pirates think that Jose Mesa is their best reliever? If not, then why's he their closer? And if so, why didn't he play last night to prevent the Rangers from scoring with the game tied in the bottom of the ninth or the bottom of the tenth? Salomon Torres and Mike Johnston pitched those innings and generally were fine (Johnston allowed the winning run, but only because Tike Redman misplayed two flares to shallow center). But Mesa hadn't pitched in three days, so he clearly should have been ready.

We shouldn't be surprised by this, of course, but what's going on is that McClendon is allowing an arbitrary statistic - saves - determine who pitches rather than allowing (the guys he thinks are) his best relievers to pitch the highest leverage innings. It's really terrible strategy, and it'll probably cost the Pirates a couple of games over the course of the season. Mike Johnston may or may not be better than Mesa (and he also might be better for certain matchups), but Torres clearly hasn't been this year. If the Pirates trust Mesa leading by one run in the bottom of the ninth, they also ought to trust him while they're tied in the bottom of the ninth. If the opposing team scores, the Pirates lose; there aren't any situations that are more high-leverage than that.


Blogger coxswain said...

Taking a risk posting a comment here not directly having to do with baseball; hope it doesn't intrude. I am genuinely amazed at all of these observations and insights processed while simultaneously holding a phone conversation. No sarcasm meant here, by the way. Just sheer amazement.

12:49 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com
Listed on Blogwise Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com