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Monday, October 28, 2013

It’s a bad time for Mike Matheny to learn on the job. | SportsonEarth.com : Will Leitch

Mike Matheny didn’t back down from his mistake. “[Maness] is a guy that we go to, to get us out of tough spots whenever we’re in question,” Matheny said. “We’ll use him again in that situation.” Maybe Matheny means that. Maybe he’s just protecting his player—being that leader of men. Maybe he learned a lesson on Sunday night; maybe he didn’t. But the real question is whether or not someone should be learning lessons in Game 4 of the World Series in the first place. Mike Matheny is going to be a well-rounded, top-tier manager in the big leagues someday. But the Cardinals need him to be one right now.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 28, 2013 at 01:10 PM | 39 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, red sox, world series

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   1. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: October 28, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4587100)
So Matheny kept Lynn in … and then, bizarrely, had Lynn throw four pitches so far out of the strike zone that Yadier Molina had to lunge for a couple. Clearly, Lynn and Matheny wanted no part of Ortiz. Now, if you aren't going to give Ortiz anything to hit, one might argue that you'd be better off having Choate throw four breaking balls off the plate, to see if Ortiz chases any of them. But whatever.


I disagree with this reading of the AB. I can't seem to pull up the AB strike zone on Brooks Baseball, but the first two pitches were borderline strikes the way the home plate umpire had been calling the zone. It was only after the count was 2-0 that Lynn went outside with the next 2 pitches to complete the unintentional intentional walk.
   2. salvomania Posted: October 28, 2013 at 01:55 PM (#4587109)
the first two pitches were borderline strikes the way the home plate umpire had been calling the zone.

I disagree, based on my memory of the AB (haven't seen a replay or looked at BrooksBaseball charts).

My impression is that from the get-go the pitches weren't close, and didn't even appear as if they might be close as they approached the plate. It looked like the classic unintentional intentional walk, except in a situation in which it made absolutely no sense.

You HAVE to try to get Ortiz there, and despite how hot he's been, the guy's not going to reach base every time. You have to go after him, and if Lynn's not the guy to do it then bring in Choate.
   3. salvomania Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4587120)
Just pulled up the Brooks chart of the Ortiz AB, and the first pitch is 6 inches under the bottom edge of the zone, and the second one was 8 inches below the zone. Neither one was a slider-type pitch that "dropped" out of the zone---they were pretty clearly balls the whole way. Neither is a pitch that Ortiz swings at to begin an at-bat.

I don't doubt that there may have been a strategy to "not give him anything to hit", but if that's the case, with Ortiz, that's essentially an intentional walk. Which is a stupid move right there.
   4. salvomania Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4587137)
but the first two pitches were borderline strikes

CTOBBTF, you have a valid point, though---last night there were 10 called strikes below the bottom edge of the rulebook strike zone, and three were as low as Lynn's first pitch to Ortiz (called a ball, "low").
   5. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:19 PM (#4587141)
Lynn's occasional breaking stuff last night wasn't accomplishing much. In the prior AB Ortiz ripped one foul and then ripped one into the gap. Lynn wasn't too likely to get him out on a poorly struck ball. So I felt it was essentially an IBB the whole time. And a brutal piece of strategy, if so, for the obvious reasons.

Edit: Ripped fastballs, I mean.
   6. esseff Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:29 PM (#4587158)
A textbook example of how the manager's a genius when a relief pitcher gets a key out, and unworthy of the job if the pitcher gets hit. Boiling this down, he's saying Matheny blew the game by not having Axford, instead of Maness, face Gomes.
   7. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:34 PM (#4587166)
A textbook example of how the manager's a genius when a relief pitcher gets a key out, and unworthy of the job if the pitcher gets hit.


Agreed. This is another example of the cognitive dissonance the stat community will go through in order to complain about a baseball decision that doesn't conform to their pristine theories. "Small sample size is meaningless; small sample size is meaningless; small sample size is meaningless; THIS ONE AT BAT WHERE THE MANAGER DID SOMETHING I SAY IS WRONG PROVES EVERYTHING I'VE ALWAYS ASSUMED TO BE TRUE!!"
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4587169)
So Matheny kept Lynn in … and then, bizarrely, had Lynn throw four pitches so far out of the strike zone that Yadier Molina had to lunge for a couple.


Hey, at least Matheny didn't bring Lynn in to have him throw four wide ones. That's an improvement over LaRussa.
   9. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4587174)
I like axford the guy but as a reliever he had a real problem giving up homers the last 2 seasons. there is no guarantee he wouldn't have had the same result
   10. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4587187)
CTOBBTF, you have a valid point, though---last night there were 10 called strikes below the bottom edge of the rulebook strike zone, and three were as low as Lynn's first pitch to Ortiz (called a ball, "low").


That second pitch is lower than I recall, but yeah, it seemed to me that Lynn was trying to get either a strike on a low pitch or force Ortiz to chase because the ump had been calling a lot of low pitches strikes. Definitely agree that he decided to not even try after the second pitch.
   11. Matt Welch Posted: October 28, 2013 at 03:29 PM (#4587234)
Is a strikeout pitcher more likely to get a strikeout-hitter out than a non-strikeout pitcher, everything else being equal?
   12. I Am Not a Number Posted: October 28, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4587237)
Just pulled up the Brooks chart of the Ortiz AB, and the first pitch is 6 inches under the bottom edge of the zone, and the second one was 8 inches below the zone.

Am I reading the chart differently? The first pitch was 0.2 feet (or 2.4 inches) below the strike zone. The second was 0.4 feet below (or 4.8 inches).
   13. Tiboreau Posted: October 28, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4587239)
What's up with Shelby Miller? Has he pitched this postseason?
   14. esseff Posted: October 28, 2013 at 03:38 PM (#4587254)
One NLDS inning for Miller.
   15. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 28, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4587256)
Is a strikeout pitcher more likely to get a strikeout-hitter out than a non-strikeout pitcher, everything else being equal?


In the aggregate? Perhaps. In any given at bat? No.
   16. Cabbage Posted: October 28, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4587259)
What's up with Shelby Miller? Has he pitched this postseason?



Neyer writes that it's a combination of legit reasons for dropping Miller from the rotation, and Matheney bizzarely not using him out of the bullpen.
http://www.baseballnation.com/2013/10/24/5023224/shelby-miller-stl-cardinals-world-series-roster
   17. salvomania Posted: October 28, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4587277)
Am I reading the chart differently? The first pitch was 0.2 feet (or 2.4 inches) below the strike zone. The second was 0.4 feet below (or 4.8 inches).

No, I was reading it wrong. I was reading the bottom edge at 2'-0", and I should have been reading it at 1'-9".

It makes sense that pitches six inches off the bottom edge wouldn't be under consideration as possible strikes...
   18. Davo Dozier Posted: October 28, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4587291)
John Farrell allowed Brandon Workman to have his first at bat since high school during the 9th inning of a tied World Series game. He did this despite having Mike Napoli on the bench and Koji Uehara in the bullpen. And by all accounts, he did this because he didn't understand how double-switches work in National League games.

There is nothing Matheney could do to approach that level of stupidity. There is nothing ANY manager could conceivably do to reduce his team's chances of winning as badly as Farrell's decisions in the 8th/9th innings of Game 3 hurt Boston's.
   19. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: October 28, 2013 at 04:06 PM (#4587300)
Am I reading the chart differently? The first pitch was 0.2 feet (or 2.4 inches) below the strike zone. The second was 0.4 feet below (or 4.8 inches).


That seems a lot more like what I recall from last night. The second is still pretty clearly a ball, but only a couple inches from what had been called a strike a few times.
   20. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 28, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4587320)
There is nothing ANY manager could conceivably do to reduce his team's chances of winning as badly as Farrell's decisions in the 8th/9th innings of Game 3 hurt Boston's.

well, he could place a call to ned yost and ask for advice
   21. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 28, 2013 at 04:33 PM (#4587330)
Harv, I'm pretty sure even Ned Yost understands the "let your hitter hit, then replace him with a pitcher in the next half" idea. It had passed my notice that Farrell has apparently never watched or played a game of baseball in his entire career.

EDIT: I just looked up Farrell's career stats. He's never played or managed non-DH baseball. This is the most horrific thing to come out of this terrible, very bad, no good World Series so far. I mean, dear god. How do you get to be a manager without understanding how to sub for pitchers?
   22. BDC Posted: October 28, 2013 at 04:33 PM (#4587331)
"Small sample size is meaningless; small sample size is meaningless; small sample size is meaningless; THIS ONE AT BAT WHERE THE MANAGER DID SOMETHING I SAY IS WRONG PROVES EVERYTHING I'VE ALWAYS ASSUMED TO BE TRUE!!"

Heh, I thought pretty much the same thing. Though to be charitable, it might not be the same people uttering both halves of that rant. Well, maybe I can think of one or two :)
   23. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 04:37 PM (#4587333)
Though to be charitable, it might not be the same people uttering both halves of that rant.


But it's so much easier to accuse an entire body of people representing diverse viewpoints of hypocrisy.
   24. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 28, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4587340)
Reliever usage is the latest hill on which stat nerds have decided to die the noble death in service of the Lords of Workbooks.
   25. Davo Dozier Posted: October 28, 2013 at 04:51 PM (#4587354)
#21--it was a missed double-switch that set it up. Saltalamacchia (the #7 hitter) had made the last out of the 8th inning. When they brought Workman into the game in the bottom of the 8th, they just put him in to the pitcher's spot in the lineup (#9, so he's due up to hit second in the 9th)--despite the fact that Boston has a perfectly cromulent* back-up catcher in David Ross on the roster to take over for Salty.

*Ross has started, what, about half of their games this post-season, right? And he's miles ahead of Salty defensively.
   26. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4587361)
Whenever I hear about AL managers that are not capable of handling the double-switch, I am skeptical of the idea. After all, I understand the double-switch. I could execute one. I am not a baseball manager. But it does look like that's what happened.
   27. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: October 28, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4587373)
Whenever I hear about AL managers that are not capable of handling the double-switch, I am skeptical of the idea. After all, I understand the double-switch. I could execute one. I am not a baseball manager. But it does look like that's what happened.


That's how I feel. In principle, I don't believe it when someone claims that a major league manager can't execute a double-switch. But it's really hard to argue with the claim in this case.
   28. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 28, 2013 at 05:14 PM (#4587381)
#21--it was a missed double-switch that set it up. Saltalamacchia (the #7 hitter) had made the last out of the 8th inning. When they brought Workman into the game in the bottom of the 8th, they just put him in to the pitcher's spot in the lineup (#9, so he's due up to hit second in the 9th)--despite the fact that Boston has a perfectly cromulent* back-up catcher in David Ross on the roster to take over for Salty.


+26, +27

Yeah. I'm just... I mean? How does a man who has successfully hired into TWO major league managerial positions not understand the double switch? It's not some arcane process by which we turn lead to gold. It's "I'm replacing the P with the C, and the C with the P, so the guy who hasn't batted since 9th grade doesn't take swings in the World ####### Series."
   29. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 28, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4587386)
And how the hell does a guy get into the majors and not hit since 9th ####### grade?Q
   30. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4587391)
He didn't even need to double switch though. He could have just pinch-hit for Workman. Letting him bat was truly bizarre.
   31. Davo Dozier Posted: October 28, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4587392)
Brandon Workman's last at bat, before the 9th inning of Game 3 of the World Series

To be fair, he hit a double. You gotta ride the hot hand.
   32. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 28, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4587415)
You gotta ride the hot hand


RDF.
   33. Cabbage Posted: October 28, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4587419)
He didn't even need to double switch though. He could have just pinch-hit for Workman. Letting him bat was truly bizarre.


It's more mind-boggling the more I look at it. He had two options to keep the pitcher from batting. Double switch with Ross and Salty, moving the pitcher's spot to 7th. Or letting Workman's spot come up and having Napoli take the AB, preserving Ross on the bench and keeping Salty in the lineup. I think that's why this gets worse the more you look at it. If he simply screwed up the double switch, that's a single, stand-alone mistake. Even if that's a "You had ONE JOB" kind of an egregious mistake, it's plausible. People screw up.

But to have a second opportunity to correct the error and blow that too? Unfrigginbelievable.

Isn't this what bench coaches are for? To run your strategic decisions by and make sure you're not forgetting something obvious? On commercial airline flights both pilots individually (and verbally) verify that the landing gear is down and locked on several occasions. Wouldn't a responsible manager, esp. an AL guy in an NL game say to one of his assistants, "hey, plan out the substitutions and pitching changes on your own. I'm going to run every move by you, and together we'll make sure nothing is forgotten."

And an aside: What does everyone think would have been the better move: double switch with the catchers, or keep salty and just have Napoli pinch hit?
   34. Davo Dozier Posted: October 28, 2013 at 06:00 PM (#4587437)
#33-- I swear swear swear! this is not results-oriented thinking...but in that spot, I double-switch the catchers to improve my defense. Middlebrooks-Ross-Ellsbury in the 9th, then try to hold them and hope to score against their other relievers.

I'm also thinking that I will hopefully find a better spot for Napoli then as my #2 hitter in the 9th inning against Rosenthal (as there's about a ~90% chance that Rosenthal will retire Middlebrooks to lead off the 9th, meaning Napoli would be batting with 1 out and no one on*).

But both are certainly defensible, and I don't think anyone would have batted an eye either way. The only inexcusable decision is to let Workman hit for himself.
   35. The District Attorney Posted: October 28, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4587445)
The take from Posnanski, who is not exactly known for biting criticism:
It is not often that you see a manager make a move, especially in the World Series, that is inarguably stupid. Even the moves most people might disagree with — a shaky bunt decision, a questionable pitching change, an ill-timed intentional walk, whatever — will have its counterargument. But hitting Workman was one of those moves that has no counter. It was just a brain cramp by the guy who will probably win manager of the year. It’s hard to believe that somebody, anybody, didn’t stop him from doing it.

Farrell after the game admitted his mistake, but even in his admission he seemed to miss why the move was so awful. Farrell said his error was not double-switching Workman back in the seventh inning. Then, he could have put catcher David Ross in the game in the pitcher’s spot, and put Workman into Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s spot (Salty ended the eighth with a groundout). That, of course, is true and should have been done. Farrell missed the double-switch opportunity. That’s a clear manager’s error.

But he doubled down on that blunder in the ninth inning. He decided to hit Workman because, he said, he NEEDED Workman to pitch more than one inning. This was pure nonsense. Everyone in the entire world knew that as soon as Workman gave up a single or a walk or anything else to put a runner on base, he would get yanked and closer Koji Uehara would come into the game. So, Farrell absolutely DID NOT need Workman to go more than one inning, and had no intentional whatsoever to stay with him if he got into even the mildest trouble. Farrell batted Workman because he was not thinking clearly.

And, what’s worse, as you know, the Red Sox had one of the better hitters in baseball, Mike Napoli, just SITING ON THIS BENCH. Two innings earlier, Farrell proved willing to play havoc with his defense just to give Will Middlebrooks the puncher’s chance of hitting an unlikely home run. But in the ninth inning of the World Series, he hit his pitcher instead of Mike Napoli — still boggles the mind — and again his explanation was as baffling as the move. He said he wanted to hold Napoli back because he thought the game would get into extra innings and the pitcher’s spot might come again. This is just so bizarre you don’t even know what to say.

Workman struck out on three pitches, of course, and I suspect will never forget his first big league at-bat. Yeah, that’s right. His first big league at-bat. But that’s OK. He never got a minor-league at-bat either. This at-bat is legend now.
   36. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 28, 2013 at 06:29 PM (#4587452)
I double-switch the catchers to improve my defense.


This is the key thing that was missed. Ross is a much better receiver and overall defensive catcher then Salty. And since Salty is just sucking it at the dish right now, you lose nothing by having Ross in the game. In games 2 and 3, and yes this is speculation, but I don't think Ross lets the Gomes throw home get by him and doesn't throw down to 3rd in game 3. Salty and Middlebrooks (missing the Holliday triple) can be blamed for essentially giving away games 2 and 3 IMHO.
The Sox have made 6 errors in 4 games, that seems like a lot. As I posted yesterday, neither of these teams are great so you aren't going to see Orioles circa 1971 fielding.
   37. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: October 28, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4587459)
Is a strikeout pitcher more likely to get a strikeout-hitter out than a non-strikeout pitcher, everything else being equal?

In the aggregate? Perhaps. In any given at bat? No.


I think that's wrong. Assuming it applies to the aggregate, it should also apply to the individual PAs. It doesn't mean the outcome is guaranteed, but there is some increased probability of getting an out.

Anyway, Maness only gave up four home runs in the regular season, in 249 PAs (and only allowed 18 (!!) fly balls), so I don't think Axford was the better choice. Maness was probably more likely to give up a hit, but he was probably much less likely to give up a 3 run home run. Axford, OTOH, is a walking HR machine.

The right choice was probably Siegrist to Ortiz, and tell him not to throw it right down the middle this time.
   38. Bug Selig Posted: October 28, 2013 at 08:39 PM (#4587595)
I think that's wrong.


You KNOW that's wrong. If something is more likely to happen in the aggregate, it is also more likely to happen in a given sample. Sam is pretending again that the fact that 100% probabilities are hard to find means that we jus' don't know nothin.

There are good bets and bad bets. Sometimes the good ones lose, but they're still good. Sometimes the bad ones win, but they're still bad. It's not at all confusing unless one is being intentionally obtuse.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: October 29, 2013 at 12:09 AM (#4588198)
1. In the day and age of 1-inning relievers, you should almost never double-switch. The only reasons to double-switch are if you intend for the reliever to begin the next inning or you intend/want to do a defensive replacement anyway. I suppose also if it's a day where you've given your regular a day off up until now and figure you might as well get him in now.

2. So Farrell should have only double-switched there if, as he stated, he wanted Workman to keep pitching ... or he did want Ross in the game anyway. (Note, in the latter case, you might still not double-switch because you don't want Ross coming up anytime soon.)

3. I'm sure Farrell knows how to double-switch, he just didn't think of it ... probably because he never has to do it. (That's not excusing him it's just ... well, sometime the brain f's up and you lock yourself out of your house.) Beyond the manager, what exactly is the bench coach (and the 1st/3rd base coaches when in the dugout) responsible for? Not that managers have a huge amount of stuff to keep track of but I can see how they might occasionally miss something like this or not getting a lefty up in time to face Ortiz or something. The whole point in having the bench coach et al are as fail-safe systems. They're supposed to be like the IT help guy who asks you if it's plugged in. "Hey John, Ortiz is due up, better get a lefty up." "What do you think I am, an idiot? I just called down to the pen. My god, you're annoying." "Sorry, it's my job ... hey, ever heard of the double-switch?"

3a. I mean, I can imagine one person just missing something bloody obvious ... but two people much less four people? Something so obvious and simple that Tommy LaSorda mastered it.

4. Strikeout pitchers to strikeout hitters ... did you mean to ask the question the way you asked it? Did you mean out, not strikeout? Did you really mean "everything else equal"? By definition, if pitcher A Ks more than pitcher B and all else is equal (walk rate, BABIP, HR rate, etc.) then pitcher A is much more likely to get (on average) any batter out. Even if you allow for variation in BABIP, that tends to be quite small and won't be nearly big enough to offset a substantial difference in K-rates.

The more complicated question is does a guy with a 5/1 K/BB and low HR rate (say Bartolo Colon) have a better chance than a guy with a 10/5 K/BB and average HR rate? Well, let's see:

Colon 2013: 264/290/369
Colon 2000: 233/329/371

OK, kinda kidding ... that 329/371 line in sillyball is probably better than 290/369 today. Ryan Dempster was 8/4 not 10/5 and he had a line of 256/339/435. He was the closest high-K starter I could find.

Sam's pointless point is that for any given PA by any given batter, the number of variables is so vast and the granularity of our observations so sparse that you can't really tell with any level of certainty that this particular batter in this particular situation in this particular park in this particular weather at this particular time in the season against this particular type of pitcher throwing this particular type of pitch thrown with this particular level of quality doesn't just happen to be the worst possible match-up this pitcher could imagine. Therefore of course your random gut feeling is as good a guess as any so it's pointless to ever try to play the odds cuz as soon as it doesn't work in your favor, Sam will claim that he knew it all along.

Equally interesting is whether you'd rather have a BIP pitcher like Colon or a strikeout artist face classic Ichiro? He's hitting the first thing coming his way in either case so the guy with pinpoint control might be better at getting weak contact here.

You KNOW that's wrong. If something is more likely to happen in the aggregate, it is also more likely to happen in a given sample.

Only under the assumption that you are sampling from that aggregate. As a silly example, if all batters are either Brendan Ryan or Miguel Cabrera, it would be silly to expect the aggregate average in any PA.

Even in the best-case scenario, you are sampling from some joint distribution -- i.e. the pitcher and the hitter. Max Scherzer vs. Dustin Pedroia. OK, sure, Scherzer is (probably) more likely to K Pedroia than Colon is but that doesn't tell you how often you would expect him to K Pedroia. Of course somebody will do the math and, with my luck, the answer will come out to exactly league average but I assume you get my point -- sampling from Scherzer/Pedroia is not the same thing as sampling from Colon/Pedroia or from Scherzer/average or from average/average.

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