Friday, August 28, 2009

3 comments You Can Always Count On Plaschke

I was struggling to find something to post about this week because it has been busy and there hasnt been too many articles that made my head hurt. Thank god for my man Bill Plascke, though. That man always comes through in the clutch. You know, even when the subject he is writing on isnt annoying, the way he writes it just rubs me the wrong way.

Bill makes a lot of money.

I do not.

He spends countless hours counting it.

I do not.

See? I can do that, too. Now where is my 6 figure contract to write for the LA Times? Its just not fair, I tell you.

On to the more pressing matter at hand. The latest (and by latest, I mean August 23rd.) is a nice "lets suck off Joe Torre for his managerial genius." piece. It was written the day after Torre got all "unconventional" on everybody and switched Broxton and Sherril, thus causing everyones head to explode, for some reason. Lets dive in, shall we?

Eighth inning, Dodgers leading Chicago Cubs by two swings, phone rings in the Dodgers' bullpen for their setup reliever.

Hello? Is turmoil home?

"I started taking my stuff off," George Sherrill said, "then somebody said, 'It's Brox,' and I'm like, 'Ohh.' "

For those scoring at home, thats 3 one sentence paragraphs in a row. Whoever passed this man in his college english class needs to be tarred and feathered for unleashing this menace on society.


Oh. My. Fucking. God......Who does this? Thats one fucking word and hes using it as a paragraph. You know, I remember a few years ago Bill held a chat and multiple chatters asked him if he read FJM and went into detail about how they constantly make fun of his writing style, and his response was "Well, I'm still here, so I guess its still working.". NO! NO IT IS NOT WORKING! YOU ARE CONSIDERED A JOKE! HOW HE WON WRITER OF THE YEAR IS BEYOND ME. Okay, time to calm down and take a deep breath. *(taking deep breath) okay, now I'm good.

So went the three-letter theme to the two-run Dodgers victory over the Cubs on Saturday, a 2-0 decision that featured a bullpen shake-up that could not have been more pronounced if the pen were actually inhabited by a bull.

That is pulitzer material right there. "Ohh" was the theme. Do tell more about this supposed "theme", because it has only been mentioned once by a seemingly not so shocked George Sherill. Whats the big deal? All he said was "ohh" when he thought he was getting called to warm up. Its not like his reaction was "OMFG, I cant believe I'm not going in to pitch the eighth?! That wiley Joe Torre has tricked me with his genius!"

Jonathan Broxton, the struggling All-Star closer, was used as a setup man.

Okay, so your best reliever was brought in to face the 3-4-5 hitters, that makes sense to me.

George Sherrill, the hot All-Star setup man, was used as a closer.

While the lesser talented one, albeit hot right now, is brought in to face the weaker portion of the lineup. Again, that doesnt sound too bad to me.

Roles were reversed, egos were tested, questions were raised, long-term implications were considered.

This really sounds like, the plot to, a really shitty movie, written by, Bill Plaschke.

It looked unusual. It felt unsettled.

It looked so unusual and unsettled that THEY WON THE FUCKING GAME!!!!!!!!!

Fans gave Broxton a ninth-inning standing ovation in the eighth. Teammates gave Sherrill an eighth-inning embrace in the ninth.

Someone please explain to me the difference between a "ninth inning standing ovation" and an "eighth inning embrace" is. How many fans actually stand when the closer comes in? I mean, unless its the playoffs or a really important game. So, did Broxton get this huge rocking ovation and all George Sherill got was a golf clap? Whatever.....NEXT!

On a team fighting for pitching stability at the start of a stretch run, it seemed just plain wacky.

They are both pretty good pitchers. I dont see how it matters what inning they are pitched in. I guess I see why people think its weird (thanks Tony Larussa for inventing the modern closer) but is this really such a big deal? Its not like they had some scrub closing out the game or anything.

But it worked. And in the end, the real save went to neither pitcher, but to Joe Torre, the old-fashioned manager unafraid to make a new-age decision.

Okay, first off, this is not a new age decision. Before Larussa revived Dennis Eckersly's career by inventing the one inning closer. Managers always brought in their best relievers to get the toughest outs, often going multiple innings. If Bill paid any attention to Joe Torre, he did it all the time in New York. He would often bring in Rivera to get 2 inning saves. He would also bring him in to keep tie games tied. The most famous example would be, oh, I dont 7 of the 2003 ALCS, where Mo pitched, I think it was, 3 scoreless innings to keep the game tied leading to the Yankees eventual win.

"I don't think I've ever done that before," Torre admitted later in his office. "But it's all about winning."

ha, even Joe doesnt remember how he used Rivera.

Even if winning means temporarily changing the two most defined pitching roles on a first-place team on the 22nd day of August?

I dont buy the bullshit that closers dont have the mentality to pitch the eight inning because there is no "pressure" and they "just dont feel the same". I think thats a way of them saying "hey, now I cant pad my save total and get a big contract."

Only a manager with Torre's credentials could have tried to sell this.

Really? Only Torre could have sold this? So, fuck Cox, Larussa, Francona, Leyland, and Gardenhire. Their credentials are shit compared to Torre's.

Only a team that has total belief in that manager would have bought it.

You pretty much just said the same thing only changed a few words to try to make it sounds different.

While Broxton wore a weary grimace afterward, he said he understood.

"We won, so it didn't matter," he said.

he said this while silently thinking "Damn. Now I'm losing saves to pad my stats. Ugh, I'm going to get raped in arbitration if this keeps up."

While Sherrill wore a shocked stare, he said he could also adjust.

"You try not to think about anything, you just go out there and pitch," he said.

He said this while silently thinking "Sweet! Now I'm getting more saves to increase my total. I'm totally going to kick ass in arbitration!"

A journeyman knuckleballer named Charlie Haeger gave up three hits in seven innings against mindless Cubs hackers.

hmph. Never thought I'd see the day where a 25 year old is referred to as a journeyman. I know its his 3rd team, but to be a Journeyman, in my mind, you have to play for at least 5 teams and be a minimum of 30 years old.

Sherrill and Broxton finished it up.

I mean, Broxton and Sherrill.

hahaha, I get it. Because it was so wacky, confusing and unconventional, right?

"Today was the team concept that Joe has created around here," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "This is why Torre was brought here, this is what he does."

Where is the evidence anywhere that suggests that Torre switching his relievers roles was a "team concept" that Joe "created"? That doesnt even make sense.

Torre said the change was not permanent, nor based on recent performance, but simply a matter of matchups.

"We're not as concerned about who gets the stat as much as the only stat that is important is that 'W' on the left-hand side," Torre said.

Joe Torre is making an awful lot of sense that Plaschke is not.

After Haeger started the eighth inning by walking Sam Fuld, the heart of the Cubs' order was due up, and a right-hander was needed.

Milton Bradley, a switch-hitter, hits nearly 100 points worse against righties, while Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit right-handed

Broxton: Very effective right handed pitcher.

Sherill: Not right handed.

I'm going to parrot what I said about Tomase's Varitek article: WAY TO UNDERMINE YOUR FUCKING POINT, PLASCKE!!!

Torre said Broxton was a better bet in that situation, so he was brought into the game, thrilling all those baseball thinkers who believe that a closer should pitch the most important inning of the game, not necessarily the last inning of the game.

Once again, Joe Torre: Making sense.

So how do they act now? What happens next?

Battle Royale?

More than any other player, relief pitchers hunger for defined roles. They set their minds to it. They base their routines on it.

Like I said before, I dont buy this argument. Its all about getting their stats up so they can score a big contract in free agency and win at arbitration.

This is particularly true for relatively inexperienced relievers such as Broxton and Sherrill, and even though Torre said the switch was temporary, you know they are both thinking about it this very minute.

Of course he just makes a statement, but doesnt back it up with any facts. Is there any evidence? Will their psyche be completely destroyed? You know what really kills his argument is that Sherill was the Orioles closer and he seems to be doing fine in the setup role right now. Broxton didnt pitch too horribly the other night, either. (note: I dont know how he has done since then, or even if they are still doing this experiment.)

Was this really just about matchups, or was this a possible test for the rest of the season? If Broxton is as tired as he seems -- he ranks second among National League closers in innings pitched -- could this be the first step in a full-time switch?

Torre was correct in making the move Saturday, and any other time that it makes sense.

But is he correct in his assumption that Broxton and Sherrill can handle the uncertainty?

If they can't, then he has to pick a guy and stick with him, because even the soundest of baseball strategy cannot overcome the frailty of human nature.

Dude, relax, they are big boys. They can handle it, I assure you.

"I don't think it will be an issue," Torre said. "If somebody gets offended by pitching to the 3-4-5 hitters in the eighth inning, they're not the person I think they are."

(Slow Clapping and nod of approval) Thank you, Joe Torre, for being the only thing in this godawful article that makes any kind of sense. We here at BotB salute you, and David Eckstein.


Bengoodfella said...

I think a Battle Royale is always the best way to determine the winner of such baseball problems like this.

For some reason many people are still fascinated with any type of creative use out of the bullpen. I am not sure if Plaschke has realized this but when you have a LH and a RH closer, both of whom can get outs in the 9th this strategy may be best. It's really not earth shattering and it is all about padding the save stat, which is quite possibly the most overrated stat in the game of baseball.

Ask my Fantasy the beginning of this year Bobby Cox switched off Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano in the closer role depending on who was coming up in the 9th. It doesn't take a manager of any stature to do this. He's the fucking manager, if he says he wants Broxton in the 8th, that's what Broxton has to do. Besides, I don't know how Broxton would be offended by this, he was brought in to get the heart of the order out...that should be a compliment.

It amazes me how sportswriters are constantly amazed at what strategic moves a manager makes like they are completely revolutionary. Torre has always used his closer in the 8th inning if necessary.

You can always count on Bill Plaschke. Great post Fred.

Martin said...

Does anybody here remember way back in the day when "closers" were called "stoppers"? Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Sparky Lyle, Hoyt Wilhelm (I loves dropping my Hoyt references in these comments)these guys were "stoppers". As Fred points out, they came in the 7th inning with two guys on and 1 out, to "stop" the other team, or "stop" the bleeding, or whatever. But the key was, they regularly took the best pitcher and used him when they needed him the most. Saves were a stat for pussies.

Bengoodfella said...

I do recall when closers were stoppers...and you do love the Hoyt Wilhelm references as well.

I like closers but the save is a stat that is very much overrated. It really is...I always use this example but if a guy comes in the 8th with two outs and the bases loaded and gets an out in a 3-2 ballgame to hold the lead, how is his contribution less important than a guy who comes in the 9th when it is 3-2 with nobody on to "close" the game?

It doesn't matter when or where you use closers, it's better to use them in the most necessary situation. I am glad Joe Torre can see this.