Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


So I was reading Chico Harlan's latest chat on the Washington Post site. I always check those things out since Harlan's embarrassment is palpable, and I really like the way embarrassment feels. It's warm and kind of spongy, and it leaves your hands smelling a bit like tar.

There was some discussion of Manny Acta's handling of Jordan Zimmermann during the young fellow's unwatched debut. With two men on in the sixth, and with Zimmmermannn having thrown just 72 pitches, Acta pinch hit for him - which was a good idea - with Alex Cintron - which was not. The issue was addressed in the chat.
Alexandria, Va.: Why is Cintron the go-to pinch hitter with Kearns and Willingham on the bench? Cintron repeatedly got the nod in the big spots over the weekend and last night. And he delivered like you'd expect a backup utility middle infielder.

Chico Harlan (mood: embarrassed): It was the sixth inning. It's OK to save your better pinch hitters for the latter innings. (Willingham, by the way, was starting LF last night, but Kearns was indeed available to PH.) But there's no problem is using a guy like Cintron in that spot. Plus, I believe Lowe was still pitching at the time. Kearns is 2-for-17 lifetime against DL.
This is utter tactical nonsense, right? The point of pinch-hitting in that situation is to blow the game open; to make it, as "Chico" himself mentioned earlier in the chat, 5-2 rather than 3-2. If it works, you won't need your better pinch hitters later, and it's a lot more likely to work with Kearns than with Cintron. But I don't need to explain this to you - "It's OK to save your better pinch hitters" is obviously moronic and requires no commentary. These aren't the higher Stengelian functions we're dealing with.

But why am I making fun of the sportswriter who defended the bad move rather than the manager who made it, other than to make fun of the sportswriter for hating his job? I guess it's because I don't want to see Acta fired just yet.

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