Monday, April 11, 2005

Frank Robinson: "Fire Bad"

Frank don't know from computers. Frank stands athwart history yelling "Stop!" Frank doesn't understand Billy Beane with his rock music and his sock hops and hula hoops.
Frank Robinson baseball is about feel, faith and knowledge gleaned from 69 years. He does not understand how these young executives with their power ties and their CD-ROMs suddenly took over baseball.
Blah blah. Seriously, this makes very little difference (CP agrees, which means I'm right). If you were watching the game yesterday, you may have heard the announcers talking about this. Their point was that Frank wasn't going to rely on a spreadsheet that told him some bench-rider was 4-5 vs Josh Beckett or whatever and start that guy in favor of Brad Wilkerson. Anyone who knew the first thing about sabermetrics would realize that there is no conflict there. Nothing will get you mocked more mercilessly on the Baseball Think Factory than paying attention to a sample size that small - those guys are just as nerdy and just as nasty as those jerks at the Star Trek convention who so rudely pointed out the flaws in my Klingon pronunciation.

So this is a non-issue - Frank's the manager, not the GM. But that won't stop me from a couple of digressions. First, Post reporter Mike Wise, whom I'd never noticed until today, is on my shit list.
In some ways, Robinson's approach is refreshing. At a time when baseball's recent history and character are being severely tested by steroid use and internal obfuscation, along comes one of the game's genuine legends, using his heart, mind and gut to determine risk vs. reward. He's not breaking out his homework in the dugout.
Sporstwriters, among other, hated Moneyball, because it made everyone except Billy Beane and a couple of his friends look like drooling halfwits. That's a reasonable objection (I recently reread the part about how you'd have to be a retard to draft Prince Fielder. I'll just let that speak for itself), but what the hell do steroids or Bob DuPuy's content-free prattling have to do with Moneyball? I can manage (occasionally) to comment on issues of import without taking a shot at Dayn Perry, so what is it with sportswriters? Not everything you don't like is Billy Beane's fault, Wise.

My other digression: I have two main complaints with Frank so far. The first is that he's leaving his starters in too long. Even I could tell John Patterson had nothing left yesterday, but Frank was determined to leave him so he would have to use a pitcher to get just one out. Ditto with Loaiza on Tuesday. And that ties in to my other objection: Frank doesn't pinch-hit enough. What was there to prevent a double-switch yesterday? As long as Soul Patch Ryan Church is playing left and not center, he and Terrmel Sledge are more less interchangeable, and Frank seems intent on using one or the other - not both. Jose Vidro is a lousy defensive second baseman - get Jamey Carroll in there in the late innings. That's two double switch opportunities right there. And this lineup is full of guys to pinch-hit for. It's the eighth inning, men on second and third, two outs, and we're down one. Who'd you rather see at the plate, Cristian Guzman or Sledge? There is a right answer to that question. Guzman should be hit for in any important situation with the Nats down. Brian Schneider is a decent hitter for a catcher, but that's different from being a decent hitter. Hit for him too - Gary Bennett's getting bored on the bench. And now the game's about to start; rant over.

1 comment:

Basil said...

In Wise's defense, one paragraph later he did talk about how it's sort of . . well, frightening that a manager would deliberately not learn all that he can learn. I thought it was a pretty decent column, at any rate. Quite a bit better than Sunday's felating of Bodes's ego.