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Despite Joe Torre managing as though the analytical breakthroughs of the last 20 years never happened – bunting three times with a lineup of All-Stars, shrugging off matchup-relief situations, walking a career-long scrub to load the bases with a new reliever coming in and keeping the player who led the major leagues in slugging percentage last year on the bench all game despite struggling for runs over the first seven innings
Definitely true, but that's not the case on any of the moves being criticized here.
And to face Canada's almost entirely left-handed lineup in the seventh and eighth innings, Torre called on Heath Bell, David Hernandez and Steve Cishek. All are right-handers. All needed to throw. So damn the situation and the matchup – damn that Joey Votto's OPS is 103 points higher against righties than lefties over his career, Justin Morneau's 176 points and Michael Saunders' 43 points, and that Hernandez's is 43 points and Cishek's 181 points while Bell's is even – and go ahead with what their clubs would want instead of what's best for the team.
The idea is to get the players repetitions, not (necessarily) to do the best thing to win the game.
Furthermore, managers often ask players to do things in spring training games that they don't ask them to do in similar situations in the regular season. You will see guys bunt in situations where during the regular season a bunt would not be called for, or issue intentional walks, or face a lefty hitter when the LOOGY might come on. The idea is to get the players repetitions, not (necessarily) to do the best thing to win the game. And that's the way that I think Torre is managing - like this is just another spring training series.
Jim Kaat loved it.
So why would he want to use important ABs in a tournament - even if the tournament is not truly competitive - to get them bunting reps?
And this isn't so much on Torre, because I see other managers do it all the time, but can someone explain to me the rationale of bringing in a reliever and tasking him with intentionally walking the bases loaded immediately upon entering the game? If I'm bringing in a guy who absolutely has to throw strikes, the last thing I want to ask him to do is purposely throw four balls.
In the first two WBCs, the U.S. parlayed its talent into a pair of disappointing finishes. It still hasn't made a final, let alone won the tournament, which from the first moment Torre met with the Americans was the stated goal. Not just Miami. Not just San Francisco for the semifinals and finals. The whole damn thing.
No other manager is taking such precautions.
Maybe because the direction he's been given by his bosses in MLB is to treat the tournament exactly as he would any other early spring training game? Why is that so far-fetched?
He talked about the fine line between managing to win and making sure everyone gets to play.
This must be the most stupifying managerial move. I would rather have the shortstop come in and walk the guy.
MLB, please make like F1 and get rid of team orders.
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