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Monday, January 20, 2014

THT: Revisiting the Shelby Miller “mystery”

Months after the 2013 postseason concluded with another Red Sox victory, it has emerged that the Cardinals never communicated with young phenom Shelby Miller about his lack of use in the postseason. In an interview with the Associated Press, Miller elaborated on the topic and made it clear that he did not know why pitched just one postseason inning.

The Cardinals and manager Mike Matheny were roundly criticized during the playoffs for rostering two players that they did not use despite plenty of opportunity to do so. Those players were Miller and reliever Edward Mujica. As fans, we assume that there is some internal rationale behind the decision to carry these players and not use them. Perhaps the two players weren’t fully available due to a minor injury but could help out in a pinch. Miller’s comments call that reasoning into question.

Many supposed that Miller was dealing with shoulder soreness or fatigue. It would seem that was not the case. Said Miller, “Physically, I felt amazing,” and “I felt good. I didn’t feel any better or worse than I did during the season.”

Not to climb up onto a high horse, but if that was the case, the Cardinals owed Miller an explanation as to why he was put on the shelf. It’s one thing to manage a young pitcher’s innings, especially one with All-Star-caliber stuff who could be with the organization for another five-plus seasons.

...If it’s true that the Cardinals were worried about injury, then why place Miller in harms way at all? He was seemingly reserved for a mop-up role, which was precisely the wrong role if the concern was health. If the concern was purely performance, then the Cardinals did themselves a grave disservice by not using Miller.

Miller termed his usage a “mystery,” and it’s an apt description. There are a couple of obvious reasons why the Cardinals might have been cautious about using Miller, but choosing not to communicate with him on the topic is simply befuddling. The club’s silence may indicate that the real reason Miller was not used was simply too hard to communicate.

Thanks to Barnald.

Repoz Posted: January 20, 2014 at 05:48 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals

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   1. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 20, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4642525)
I'm not saying this is definitely the case with Miller, but it's been my experience that a lot of employees don't recognize that they've been told something unless it's been conveyed to them very specifically in a formalized manner.
   2. bjhanke Posted: January 20, 2014 at 10:06 AM (#4642535)
Within the last week, the STL Post-Dispatch printed a column where they say the Cards "Srasburg"ed Miller. That is, Miller had a maximum number of pitches he could throw in the season, and then they were shutting him down. I don't know if they told Shelby this, or didn't during the season, since it might entice him to throw more strikes. As the the post-season, I agree than an explanation was due. But the regular season looks like what happened to Strasburg. - Brock Hanke
   3. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 20, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4642608)
Matheny: Just to let you know, it was my decision not to use you in the post-season. I did it to protect your arm.

Miller: So you are saying I shouldn't have slept with your wife?

Matheny: Yes, if it happened again I was going to break your arm.
   4. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 20, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4642708)
I don't remember any spots in the World Series where Miller would clearly have been the right choice. It was odd not to see him used but the Cards had a good pitching staff and a strong bullpen. If you've made the decision to start Kelly and Lynn ahead of him (defensible and not clearly right or wrong) I don't see him ahead of any of the relievers the Cards were using. It's odd to have him on the roster if you don't plan to use him. For a young guy who had never made a relief appearance I can see being apprehensive about asking him to do it for the first time in that spot.

Mujica seems a bit odder. While not obviously superior he is a normal reliever so you'd think somewhere along the line you'd get him in there.

The thing is I like what the Cardinals did. Maybe I don't agree with how they ranked their pitchers but it seems obvious that they used the guys they considered the best. I'd rather see a team do that in the post-season than roll out their 11th or 12th pitcher just to get him some work.
   5. Bug Selig Posted: January 20, 2014 at 08:09 PM (#4642889)
I don't have a problem with keeping an extra starter even if it is just for an emergency start or to be the last guy out of the 'pen in an extra-inning game. Having a guy that can go 5+ innings lets the manager use his bullpen as he wants without a fear of running out of pitchers. I like that better than a 3rd lefty or 3rd catcher (I almost said pinch-runner, but I think a pinch-runner is a perfectly good use of a playoff roster spot.)
   6. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 10:41 PM (#4642944)
Matheny was the starting catcher for that 2000 Cards squad that went to the playoffs with a 20-year-old Rick Ankiel as its ace. Matheny didn't catch either of Ankiel's meltdown games, but he must have seen them from the bench. Could be he doesn't trust phenoms in the playoffs.
   7. jobu Posted: January 20, 2014 at 10:44 PM (#4642945)
Matheny was the starting catcher for that 2000 Cards squad that went to the playoffs with a 20-year-old Rick Ankiel as its ace. Matheny didn't catch either of Ankiel's meltdown games, but he must have seen them from the bench. Could be he doesn't trust phenoms in the playoffs.

Wacha Wacha.
   8. esseff Posted: January 21, 2014 at 12:36 AM (#4642976)
Matheny was the starting catcher for that 2000 Cards squad that went to the playoffs with a 20-year-old Rick Ankiel as its ace. Matheny didn't catch either of Ankiel's meltdown games, but he must have seen them from the bench. Could be he doesn't trust phenoms in the playoffs.

Matheny didn't catch anyone's games in that postseason. He sliced up his hand with a knife he had been gifted just before the playoffs. There's still a small block of Cardinals' fans who blame the absence of Matheny in those playoffs for Ankiel's troubles, though not as much as they blame TLR's decision to make Ankiel a surprise Game 1 starter after sending Kile to do the pitchers' news conference the day before.
   9. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: January 21, 2014 at 01:18 AM (#4642982)
He sliced up his hand with a knife he had been gifted just before the playoffs.

I'd forgotten about that. Can you imagine the series of thoughts & feelings that must go through a person's head in the moment right after he cuts himself? As the pain starts to wear off, a cosmic "RUH-ROH" must begin to dawn on you.
   10. bjhanke Posted: January 22, 2014 at 02:29 AM (#4643883)
I have cut myself (accidentally, I should add), and that's not how the feelings went for me. It didn't hurt for a while, because I was in shock. During that time, I was mostly trying to think of a way to control the bleeding. Then it started to hurt, real bad. I stopped worrying about blood, and started thinking about painkillers. Same thing happened when I was 8 years old, playing in the woods in my neighborhood, and stepped on a 4" nail that went completely through my foot, sneaker and all, still attached to an 6 inch wide, half-inch-thick board that kept me from pulling it out. It didn't hurt until I got in sight of my house (about a quarter mile walk, with a nail in my foot, dragging a board underneath it), where I knew my parents could deal with it. Then it hurt a LOT, although still not as much as the antibiotic shot I got 2 days later in my rear end. You see those jokes in cartoons about kids who get hurt, but don't start crying until they see their mothers? I think that's probably real, although I didn't cry when I got home with the nail. But, then, I almost never cry.

As to the Ankiel thing, comments #6 and #7 make it impossible to really develop a theory as to Matheny's ideas in the postseason. They're both true, and pretty much cancel each other out. The main difference is that Wacha only pitched part of the regular season in the majors. Well, that, and Ankiel's dad was apparently not behaving well towards Rick all year, probably leading to even more stress than usual. - Brock Hanke
   11. DFA Posted: January 22, 2014 at 03:14 AM (#4643889)
I have nothing to add #10, but I found your story hysterical. Thanks. If it's any consolation I once stupidly ruptured my spleen and for awhile was known as spleen-boy. Good times.
   12. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 22, 2014 at 04:18 AM (#4643895)
That reminds me of the time a paper towel dispenser fell off the wall and sliced my hand open right before a jazz band rehearsal. I wrapped some towels around it and ran to the rehearsal, intending to go ahead and play anyway (which I did), and when I got there, the piano player, a sort of laid back stoner type, asked what happened. I said "I cut myself," and he asked, in all seriousness, "whoa, on purpose?" I said "no," and he just responded with "good." There was something of a puddle by the time we were done, but I always appreciate it when people respond calmly to situations. I had a scar from that one for a few years, and I don't remember it ever hurting.

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