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Archive for the ‘Intentional Walks’ Category

Two Injuries, Two Instances of Questionable Thinking

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I have mentioned before that I thought the Brewers might prove to be enormously entertaining this season. The exciting mix would be a potent offense with some problems with run prevention. While the starting pitching looks pretty generally competent, the Brew Crew’s run prevention woes center more on some defensive issues and some serious questions regarding their bullpen’s ability to (1) keep runners from reaching base, (2) prevent batters from making good contact, (3) ensuring that batters don’t hit the balls with which they make contact beyond the outfield fences. Despite these problems, however, I thought the Brewers’ offense would provide a nice balance resulting in high-scoring and thus “entertaining” ballgames.

Well, the interesting nature of Brewers baseball took a hit last night, with both Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez missing either the whole ballgame or a significant portion of it due to injury. In Braun’s case, it was neck spasms that kept him out of the lineup and the entire ballgame. Though it is not regarded as serious, what few glimpses we caught of Braun during the game broadcast revealed he had to turn his torso to look from side to side, and he never turned his neck once. Ramirez, however, will be absent from run-producing activity for some time, for he was placed on the Disabled List today. With Corey Hart’s absence, this makes for at least two key offensive pieces missing at least the next two weeks of play. And given how tricky neck/back issues, when can Braun be counted on to be, well, Ryan Freakin’ Braun, masher of baseballs and run-producing madman?

And the bullpen issues I anticipated have manifested themselves. The club itself appears concerned enough about bullpen quality to have made the decision to carry 13 pitchers on their current roster, leaving them an extremely thin bench. Now, with both the starting first baseman and third baseman out of ht lineup, the Brewers may have to do something they resisted in the spring, promoting Hunter Morris. But they want him to succeed at Triple-A. But these injuries will likely leave the Brewers trapped in a dilemma between the conflicting interests of major-league competitiveness and player development.

On another injury-related note, Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey will be returning to the Disabled List. While making his first start since returning from missing all of 2012 following Tommy John surgery, Lackey left in the fifth inning, suffering a strained right bicep. The only good news was that it was the bicep rather than the elbow.

In much funnier news, I read that the Phillies are finding their corner outfield defense to be a concern. Heck, Delmon Young hasn’t even played an inning in the field for them! Just wait until they get a load of that travesty. (As a Twins fan, I feel well-qualified to note that Delmon Young might as well be using a frying pan when attempting to field his position.) This again points out how foolish it is for the Phillies to continue eschewing the use of advanced statistical metrics, particularly newer fielding metrics like FRAA or UZR; old-school notions like fielding percentage are easily fooled by terrible-glove guys like Dominic Brown and Delmon Young since a guy can’t make an error that would reduce his fielding percentage if he never gets to the batted ball in the first place. Brown didn’t make an error yesterday, after all, he just played a single into a triple.

Hilariously, we also have the instance of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire blaming a reliever for what happened in the Twins’ loss to Baltimore. Yes, the guy did serve up a grand slam, but Gardenhire himself made at least two bad decisions at the end of that game. First of all, Gardenhire ordered an intentional walk which loaded the bases before bringing in the lefty to face the monstrously hot Chris “The Krusher” Davis. When he brought in said left-handed relief pitcher, he didn’t bring his best lefty to face The Krusher, Glenn Perkins, but rather brought in the marginal guy out of the bullpen, Tyler Robertson. He didn’t use Perkins because it wasn’t the ninth inning. Perkins is, after all, the Twins’ “closer,” and conventional wisdom holds that a manager must use his closer in the ninth inning when he can get the “save.” In this way a statistic of dubious value, the save, determined Gardenhire’s bullpen usage. Which is about the most idiotic thing conceivable. Bases loaded in the eight with the game on the line, why use the second-best left-handed pitcher you have? Gardenhire then compounded his already multiple errors in judgment by shifting blame for the result onto the pitcher he used. Look, if the guy’s fastball can’t beat Davis’ swing, then you use someone else on Davis; the best pitch there is, after all, is the located fastball. The only thing worse than Gardenhire’s behavior has been the complicity in the media in transmitting Gardenhire’s “reasoning” rather than asking him why he is managing “by the numbers” rather than thinking through his decisions. Oh well, I guess the larger point to observe is that the baseball media and the conventional wisdom remain inextricably interlinked.

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