Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Nice Start
2006-08-02 06:39
by Alex Belth

Bobby Abreu drew a key, nine-pitch walk in his second at bat as a Yankee last night. It loaded the bases, and after A.J. Burnett came back to strike out Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams sent three runners home with a double to the gap in left center field (Alex Rodriguez had doubled home the first New York run earlier in the inning). The Yanks had a 4-1 lead, would add another run, and go on to defeat the Blue Jays, 5-1. Coupled with a Red Sox loss, the Yanks are now tied for first in the AL East.

Abrue was hitless in three other at bats, but was recieved warmly in the Bronx, hustling out a ground ball in his first at bat, and making a routine play closer than should have been. Jaret Wright threw a season-high 103 pitches, which got him through five innings. Ron Villone, Scott Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth pitched well in relief.

Gary Sheffield, expected to go mental with the addition of Abreu, had nothing but good things to say to reporters yesterday. According to Brian Lewis in The New York Post:

"A championship is on the way and that's what I'm looking forward to. I'm hurt; I can't help this club. They've got to do what they got to do to help this club. I'm all for it," Sheffield said. "If this helps I'm all for it.

"When I first got here, before Alex Rodriguez got here, I was willing to play third base. Thank God that didn't happen, but I feel the same way about this. I can do anything on the field: outfield, third base, first base. As long as I can get that ring I'm all for it."

Sheffield apparently has already ordered a first baseman's glove and is prepared to fight for a job. He was an odd mix of humility and hubris, something he called the "mystique of me," in Reggie-esque fashion.

"I love that people are in my face thinking this can't be done. I'll be laughing at the end: Watch me. You ask anybody on any team in the league would they want to be battling me over a position, they'll lose every time," said Sheffield, who'll see Dr. Charles Melone next Tuesday, and was bemused that many predicted he would erupt at Abreu's arrival.

"The first thing I did when I saw him was give him a hug. I wanted him to feel welcome. It's funny how people can think for you and tell you what you're going to do. Y'all think you know what I'm going to do, but you don't. Nobody knows. That's the mystique of me."

It's not quite on par with Reggie's "magnitude of me," line, but it's pretty good. And though Sheffield's mood has been known to turn suddenly and without warning, the Yankees (and their fans) must be breathing a sigh of relief to see him handling the Abreu deal in such good spirits.

Comments (92)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-08-02 07:13:08
1.   Cliff Corcoran
I believe Kay and Kaat said during the broadcast last night that Sheffield was working out at first base before the game. He was also quoted as saying something along the lines of, if Giambi can play first base, what makes you think I can't. Certainly a conversion to first base for Sheffield would be huge for both him and the Yankees, though for the most part the best line-up would likely have Sheff at DH and Giambi at first because those are the positions in which they hit best and I doubt Sheff would be able to convert himself into a better first baseman than Giambi on short order (Giambi can't move or throw, but he has great hands). It would also be an ironic conversion seeing as it was a collision at first base than ultimately put Sheff in this situation.
2006-08-02 07:20:27
2.   markp
If Steve Bilko, Dick Stuart, and a crippled Mickey Mantle can play 1B, Sheff can.
Anything to make the team more versatile helps.
2006-08-02 07:30:30
3.   Sliced Bread
As Alex described the Sheff cycle the other day, "Riff. Mash. Riff. Mash."

We got our riff, and we're ready for the mash, Mr. Sheffield. Get well soon.

I don't care where he plays, or how often. I want Sheff's bat in the lineup this season and next.

If we're seeing the Proctor-Farnswacker we're getting down the stretch, all's well, very well.

2006-08-02 07:30:34
4.   Alex Belth
Cliff, Sheff's quote was:

"Who is playing first base for us?" Sheffield said without mentioning the plodding Giambi. "If he can do it, I can do it."

2006-08-02 07:36:45
5.   Sliced Bread
Sitting way upper deck tonight, my vertigo accentuated by Becks beer, and a pre-game Cuban cigar. Nothing could be finer on the hottest night of the summer. Hope it's a bonafide Wanger.
2006-08-02 07:40:47
6.   Sliced Bread
Viva Villprocfarnsmo!
2006-08-02 07:41:34
7.   unmoderated
i remarked to my girlfriend as the game was starting that tonight was like opening night all over again. Close race in the east, wild card up for grabs, brand new players to give nicknames to (Abreu = Boo Boo, Wilson = The Phantom Menace, Lidle = The Host, due to his resemblence to Mark L. Walberg, host of such TV classics as 'Temptation Island' and 'House Rules').

sure enough, i wasn't the only one who felt like it was april all over again. kay mentioned it last night, and i've read that sentiment in a few of the bronx blogs.

so here's to the new season. Arod is batting .500, GOB leads the team in RBIs, and the Yank's magic number is 59.

2006-08-02 07:45:29
8.   Chyll Will
Man, when Sheff comes back stick him right behind Alex, even if he's batting 10th.

Hmm, they all should have riffmash for dinner if it gets them five-up by the end of September.

2006-08-02 07:45:31
9.   Mystique of Me
I can be the backup catcher too.
2006-08-02 07:51:26
10.   Chyll Will
9 And Bob Sheppard's understudy...
2006-08-02 07:53:23
11.   holmesy007
I can't wait for that vicious bat to come back, no matter where he plays. I'm glad he has a good attitude about things. I may be one of the few to hope he stays a Yankee after this year but he's still on the DL so I'll stop that thought

One step closer to that glorious opening day lineup they had for all of, what, a month?

2006-08-02 07:57:53
12.   Sliced Bread
10 You're onto something there, Chyll.

"Your attention please, ladies and gentlemen. Now stepping up to the microphone, my understudy, DJ Riff."

Two turntables and a microphone, and it's a smooth transition from Shepp to Sheff.

2006-08-02 08:00:30
13.   Chyll Will
...and second-chair cowbell...
2006-08-02 08:07:05
14.   Chyll Will
12 (LOL)

"Ring the alarm, another sound is dying, whoa, aye"

Shepp-Fu has maaddd skillz...

2006-08-02 08:11:56
15.   Alex Belth
Kick in the door, wavin' the 44, all you heard was Sheffy don't hit me no more.
2006-08-02 08:17:53
16.   BobbyBaseBall
Sheff: "Mash is something I do, hip hop is something I live"
2006-08-02 08:34:43
17.   Chyll Will
Sheff: "Muh Louis' Weighs A Ton..."
2006-08-02 08:36:33
18.   standuptriple
We got a gift from the Blue on "The AB" by Abreu. He did not check that. Maybe if the fans got behind A-Rod like that they could influence the umps as well? He was, plain and simply, bullied by the Bronx.
2006-08-02 08:42:49
19.   BklynBmr
Proof the 'mystique' is real: This morning my wife told me I was talking in my sleep last night, which my first thought is always 'Oh, no, this can't be good', then asked her what I was saying. "I dunno, you were mumbling something about Gary Sheffield". Whew! Other the other hand, if I'm now managing the Yanks in my sleep, let alone all day long, I think I need professional help...
2006-08-02 08:44:20
20.   Chyll Will
18 mad skillz...
2006-08-02 08:50:43
21.   C2Coke
19 So BklynBmr, did you figure out our lineup for today? Will Wilson gets his chance since it's Wang on the hill or Torre still wants him to keep the bench warm?
2006-08-02 08:50:50
22.   Cliff Corcoran
18 Abreu did successfully check the ball-four swing, though I missed the replay of the check swing from earlier in the AB.
2006-08-02 08:52:19
23.   Cliff Corcoran
21 Torre's already said Wilson will start against the lefty Lilly. Though with Giambi having cramped up late in the game yesterday, we could see Wilson at DH and Andy at first. I hope not.
2006-08-02 08:52:57
24.   markp
The umps have called far fewer check swings strrikes this year, at least that's my impression.
2006-08-02 08:53:35
25.   tommyl
19 Where was Bernie batting?
2006-08-02 08:57:42
26.   BklynBmr
21 I almost had the lineup, but Angelina Jolie appeared and...

My guess is we get a look at Wilson tonight, with Giambi at DH. Wilson goes 3-4 against Lilly and the statue of Cashman is commissioned to begin...

2006-08-02 09:00:35
27.   BklynBmr
25 LOL! Leadoff and starting in CF...
2006-08-02 09:01:12
28.   tommyl
26 Might not want to tell your wife about that part.

NYTimes says Wilson will be starting tonight, I'm guessing at first with Giambi DHing, but we'll see.

2006-08-02 09:04:17
29.   Chyll Will
19 It's gotta be better than mumbling something about Nick Green...
2006-08-02 09:05:47
30.   C2Coke
23 Thanks, Cliff. I hope Giambi's in too, but he did said his cramp was because the weather, and according to the Weather Channel, today's temperature is only higher...

{26]Now that, BklynBmr, is a far better dream than the one you had Sheff in. And you are forgetting the first Yankee HR by Abreu tonight.

2006-08-02 09:07:05
31.   C2Coke
28 In a funny world, we will have Giambi at first and Wilson DH.
2006-08-02 09:10:43
32.   BklynBmr
29 Yeah, then I'd be worried...

30 I was kinda expecting one last night, which would have brought down the house. I have a feeling we'll see an outburst from him pretty soon.

2006-08-02 09:12:23
33.   Chyll Will
31 I've got five on it!
2006-08-02 09:15:27
34.   KBT
2006-08-02 09:16:11
35.   KBT
2006-08-02 09:17:04
36.   C2Coke
33 Yea, but don't we all know if Giambi is on 1B, Bernie will be the DH?
2006-08-02 09:17:43
37.   RI Yankee
or . . .


2006-08-02 09:19:44
38.   BklynBmr
34 or 37 That's just not right. If MLB had a commissioner with cajones, he would break up any team that fielded a lineup like that...
2006-08-02 09:24:59
39.   standuptriple
22 It wasn't the ball 4 check, it was earlier in the AB. 9 times out of 10 the batter gets punched out on that one. Maybe even 19/20.
Had it not been that particular situation (tie game, 2nd and 3rd) most managers argue enough to get tossed on that one.
2006-08-02 09:26:50
40.   RI Yankee
And on the bench:


2006-08-02 09:44:51
41.   Chyll Will
36 Well, I don't mind. Mr. Torre would obviously have the lead in Man of La Mancha if that were the case, and Bernie would be Sancho. I'd have five on that.
2006-08-02 09:52:44
42.   Chyll Will
and on the DL:


2006-08-02 10:37:20
43.   wsporter
S Lombardi at Was Watching has a remembrance of what today is in Yankees history. It's worth a look and certainly worth remembering.
2006-08-02 10:43:59
44.   Chyll Will
Yay, Sporty's back!
2006-08-02 10:46:15
45.   Bama Yankee
Everyone talks about the Yankees being "tied" for first in the East or "percentage points" ahead of Boston, does anyone not go by the Loss Column anymore? We are really one game up on Boston in the Loss Column and therefore I don't consider us "tied" for first, we are in first and Boston is one game back... Does anyone else agree?
2006-08-02 10:46:58
46.   BklynBmr
43 I caught that and am surprised it wasn't mentioned here. RIP, number 15...
2006-08-02 10:53:38
47.   pistolpete
45 I'm not sure if it was a mistake or not, but Mark Patrick on XM's MLB channel said the opposite - that Boston was a game up on the Yankees. I thought I might have been listening to a replay of Monday's show...

They talked about Abreu a little, but didn't really get into the one good AB or the display of speed he put on for the fans last night.

The talk was more about Carlos Guillen and his hitting for the cycle...

2006-08-02 10:56:54
48.   Shaun P
Keep cheering from the big ballyard in the sky, Thurman . . .

43 Welcome back, MFD - wondered where you'd been.

45 I think its all semantics, but I agree with you Bama. The loss column is really what matters.

2006-08-02 10:58:53
49.   Bob B
For everyone who complained about Bernie being in the lineup last night...........well what are you saying today?
2006-08-02 11:00:09
50.   RI Yankee
45 I'm kicking myself, because I remember that day. Tonight when I toe the rubber for my last softball game of the (regular) season. #15 will be on my back.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-08-02 11:00:40
51.   RI Yankee
sorry, that should have been 43
2006-08-02 11:05:08
52.   tommyl
49 I stand by my original statement. 3 or 4 PAs is too small a sample. Remember last year when Bubba hit a walkoff HR? Does that mean we should play Bubba everyday? Its precisely this reasoning that gets a lot of people into trouble. Over the course of this whole season Bernie has done worse against RHP than either Wilson or Phillips.

Bernie is not awful or useless, but he was not the best option to have in the lineup last night. His getting a nice RBI double doesn't change that.

2006-08-02 11:09:35
53.   Bama Yankee
49 I wondered that too, Bob. Also, those who thought Giambi should have been in Abreu's spot in the lineup: would Giambi have scored from first on Bernie's double? I realize that Bob and I are looking at things from hindsight and you guys were looking ahead, but it is funny how Torre seemed to pencil in the correct lineup last night (guess that's why he is the manager and we all sit around typing things into a computer). Those who give him grief should also give him props when it works out...
2006-08-02 11:10:50
54.   wsporter
48 Thanks MFD. It was nice to see B. Cash pull those deals off and get a little love for a change. I guess he's way above replacement level now. That September lineup looks like a fantasy league team. Think I'll wear his jersey even if he doesn't have a number.

I wonder what our old pall R. Gee thinks of Bea Cash Money now?

2006-08-02 11:12:53
55.   tommyl
54 Speaking of which where is Robgee? I haven't seen his name on here in ages.
2006-08-02 11:17:15
56.   yankaholic
45 disagree.. there is no guarantee we win that extra game..

they also have one more win than us..

so i think % points is the only viable thing..

2006-08-02 11:17:49
57.   seamus
54 maybe not, but Abreu probably would have scored on A-Rod's double if he had been in Giambi's position.
2006-08-02 11:18:32
58.   seamus
57 should reference 53 not 54
2006-08-02 11:21:40
59.   Sliced Bread
43 Yo, wsporter. Thanks for the reminder.

I was cutting the grass that evening, not sure if it was before or after dinner. 11 years old, little league cap, gym shorts, late-summer tan, grass-stained sneakers.

It was hot and hazy, and I was probably going to play ball when I was done.

I was cutting the side yard, navigating the mower around our Japanese maple, when my dad came out of the house. He looked like someone had died. That was my first thought.

I shut down the mower, and he told me what happened.

"Munson was killed in a plane crash, it was just on TV."

I guess I asked the questions a kid would ask when he heard news like that.

I remember my dad looked sad, which was really unusual, and how sad I felt. My dad always had a moustache, still does, and I think Munson sort of reminded me of Pop. My dad was a tough kid from Whitestone, a lefty knuckleballer actually, who once had a try out with the team from the Bronx. He was an architect, but could be a little gruff. Munson could be a lotta gruff, but you had to love him, too.

I remember the silence between us, the cicadas buzzing in the trees and bushes. Strange, but I don't remember anything after that.

I'll think about Munson, and that sad moment I shared with my dad at the Stadium tonight.

2006-08-02 11:23:30
60.   Chyll Will
46 Absolutely. I missed him by less than a year for my Stadium debut. Of unfortunate coincidences, I do know what his family must have felt, and it stays with you, but the passing of time makes it easier to handle in some ways.

One of my uncles died on this day, and the year before on tomorrow's date, my father passed away. This time of year is not a great time for me to say the least, but at least you can automatically recall the good times when you think of them. Look for all the hats to go off tonight, and profundity to briefly manifest.

Dear Thurman,

Thank you for being here and blessing us with the time you had. It still hurts a little, but we smile when your name comes up. All is well here and we do look forward to seeing you again when our time comes. Say hi to Mickey and all for us, and keep it cool.

Peace, BB

2006-08-02 11:25:41
61.   Bama Yankee
56 You're right. But there is nothing Boston can do about that extra loss. There is something we can do about our win deficit. I guess my point is that we control our own destiny on the "win" column but Boston has to hope someone helps them by beating us and thus adding to our "loss" column.
2006-08-02 11:32:29
62.   Andrew Fletcher
52,53 This gets back to the question of how you should judge a decision -- by the results or the reasoning behind it. Any decision in baseball has a chance of turning out well or badly. When we second guess a decision, we're saying that the reasoning was flawed regardless of the outcome. If we judge only on the results of a single event we can get some really warped reasoning. Classic example -- virtually everyone on this board would cite bringing Weaver in instead of Mo in the 2003 WS as a serious error in judgment. The decision is universally regarded as wrong because both the reasoning and the result turned out badly. What if Weaver had thrown up a few 0s and the Yanks take the game? Would that have made the decision "right"? From a results standpoint, sure, but the reasoning was still flawed. On the other side, how about Mariano's blown save (the Roberts steal) in the 2004 ALCS. The Yankees lost, but few people suggest that the decision to bring in Mo was wrong, even though the results suggest it was the wrong move. Why? Because the reasoning was sound and none of us were yelling at the TV when he was on the mound to start the inning.

On that basis, 52 is right; just because GOB got the big hit last night doesn't mean the lineup decision was the right one. Sure the results worked, but it wasn't playing the percentages. Of course, we can celebrate Bernie for getting the hit and thank our lucky stars that Joe's poor percentage play worked out anyway.

2006-08-02 11:42:31
63.   Bama Yankee
59 Good story Sliced. You and I are about the same age. I was 10 when Thurman died and I remember thinking that it could not be true. When you are a kid, guys like Thurman are supposed to live forever. Life sometimes has a way of making you grow up fast, a lesson I learned a couple of years later when my father passed away.

Maybe the fans should add Thurman to the roll call tonight...

2006-08-02 11:46:31
64.   Sliced Bread
63 Good call, Bama. Roll call Munson.
2006-08-02 11:47:14
65.   markp
Good posr Andrew. Something a lot of fans never learn.
2006-08-02 11:53:56
66.   JohnnyC
62 Great illustration of your point, Andrew. That's why I've never bought into the idea of "hunches" in managing ballgames. Relying on good luck rather than any semblance of rational thought can hardly be a case for being a great manager. There very well may be times when no logical choice can be arrived at. There are also times when you can easily read a print-out that states Chris Hammond's BA against righthanded hitters is STILL better than Jeff Weaver's, handedness of the pitcher be damned.
2006-08-02 12:04:33
67.   Bama Yankee
62 Well said Andrew. You make a great point about playing the percentages and the solid reason behind doing so. I would only add a couple of observations:

1) Sometimes we don't have all the info that Torre does (i.e. how does a player feel that day, how does juggling the lineup effect a player's ego/psyche, etc.) and therefore he might be making his decision on sound reasoning (more than just statistics).

2) I always lose the NCAA Basketball Pool beacuse I use the sound reasoning that a lower seed will always beat the higher seed. Then some clown who has not watched a game all year picks a few upsets and wins the money. I alway finish near the top, but I never win it all.

2006-08-02 12:07:48
68.   Shaun P
54 MFD, I bet our buddy head trauma Rob is pretty psyched about Cashmoney right now. I too would love to know his actual thoughts, but its pretty hard to track down someone just by their handle on one blog . . .

55 tommy, there was some bru-ha-ha between Rob and our Toaster host Mr. Ken Arneson, I don't remember all the details but if you search the June/July Bronx Banter archives it was discussed somewhere. It all started when Rob noticed that Alex was linking to SI game recaps instead of ESPN's . . .

62 That was a fantastic post. Absolutely perfect.

2006-08-02 12:18:24
69.   tommyl
62 Thanks for the well thought out argument backing me up. You are absolutely right and very well written. 67 is correct to state that sometimes Joe has more info, but seeing Phillips used to replace Giambi later on tells me he was healthy enough to start and if Bernie is still worrying about his ego, well he has problems.

68 I prefer to think that one day Rob saw Milton Bradley get a gapper double and his head exploded cursing Cashman. Ah, the memories.

2006-08-02 12:21:11
70.   Bama Yankee
66 If managers never played "hunches" and all went by the so-called "book", then everyone would manage the same way and theoretically anyone who knew "the book" could manage a game.

What if we measured the times a manager plays a "hunch" during a game? If a certain manager had a good rating (say Torre for example) and another manager had a bad rating (say Grady Little), wouldn't you rather have the manager who had the better "gut" or just a guy who always went by the book? I know it is unscientific and that seems to drive people crazy, but I think there is a place in baseball for playing "hunches". But what do I know, I graduated from a football school...

2006-08-02 12:27:35
71.   Cliff Corcoran
68 Just to set the record straight, the "bruhaha" between Rob and Ken had nothing to do with Alex's SI links, even though Rob remains convinced that it did.

Allow me to add my kudos to Andrew's comments in 62. That sort of first-guessing is the basis for a great deal of what I do here. I'm half tempted to link that comment on the sidebar.

2006-08-02 12:27:53
72.   Bama Yankee
69 I was thinking more of Giambi's ego, if he had been moved from the three spot for Abreu. I agree that it should not matter, but maybe it does and Torre knows this and we don't. Plus, Joe might have been trying to keep from putting extra much pressure on Abreu in his first Yankee start by placing him in the three hole. We never know all the things that go into his decisions unless he tells us (I can't believe he doesn't call to let us know and even ask what we think).
2006-08-02 12:30:44
73.   tommyl
70 So was the hunch to bring in a righty to pitch to Phillips last night a good one? Any fool can see that Andy is much better against righties. In that case the manager was both going by the "book" (righty to pitch to righty) and playing a hunch, but it was the wrong decision.

There is a time and place for hunches. Maybe you see someone hitting really well in BP or something. Maybe two players have very similar stats and you have to pick between them. For example, picking between Phillips and Wilson against a righty last night. Based on the sample size their OPS are virtually the same, so if Joe feels one has a hot hand, play the hunch. But when one player has an OPS 100 points lower than another I'm going to point out that its a bad decision to play the lesser player, as it was to play Bernie last night. Of course the fan in me rooted for Bernie and was happy to see him get the big hit. One has nothing to do with the other.

2006-08-02 12:33:07
74.   tommyl
72 I wish I could reference the post, but Cliff had one awhile back studying the actual effect on batting order over the course of a season. The conclusion was that it was almost minimal and it also depends on which metrics you use. That's why I never complained about the batting order last night.

Cliff, maybe you can drop the link for your (excellent) post?

2006-08-02 12:37:21
75.   tommyl
Giambi is on the bench tonight (probably resting from the cramp). Bernie is DHing again, but since its against a lefty (if memory serves me correct) its not a bad move. Wilson is at 1B so hopefully both rake tonight.
2006-08-02 12:39:29
76.   rsmith51
I don't know if Bernie figured something out, but he has been hitting better from the left side for the last 2 months.

VS Righties:

April/May: .216/.259/.265
June/July: .297/.330/.515

It may change, but as long as he is out of the field, he may be OK against LHP or RHP. That said, I still would have DH'd Wilson last night.

Note: Got these numbers from another poster. If they are incorrect, I apologize.

2006-08-02 12:42:32
77.   seamus
76 that wouldn't surprise me. we've come to expect the worst from Bernie, but from the plate he has always been a slow starter. He clearly got the groove much sooner form the right side, but he has seemed to just improve overall over the last two months. Not surprised at all.
2006-08-02 12:47:12
78.   Bama Yankee
73 Gibbons must not have had the same "book" the rest of us had that said Phillips hits better against righties (I bet he did, he is probably old-school or maybe he was playing a "hunch" and lost).

At least we agree that hunches have their place. I would never try to start an arguement against using stats to make decisions (especially on this blog and since I do believe that stats are vital in making decisions), but I do think sound decisions can be made by things other than stats and sometimes a manager needs to listen to his "gut" if he has had success with that in the past.

2006-08-02 12:57:24
79.   yankaholic
61 agree. thats a good point, lets start building some Mo and get some distance while their catcher is out..
2006-08-02 13:02:32
80.   Shaun P
71 I appreciate the clarification, as I was going on a post someone else made back in July . . . in reading through some of the old posts trying to find that one, I see what you mean.

As for hunches, I think they do have a place, especially because we don't have all the info about players, as Bama pointed out above. The problem is when the hunches are "stat-backed-up" - like playing Enrique Wilson because he's 10 for 20 against Pedro, or starting Randy Velarde at first base in the Serious just because he had good numbers against Randy Johnson in a small number of ABs . . .

2006-08-02 13:12:47
81.   Alvaro Espinoza
Here is the lineup:

Johnny Damon CF
Derek Jeter SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jorge Posada C
Craig Wilson 1B (Yankees debut)
Bernie Williams DH
Melky Cabrera LF
Miguel Cairo 2B
Chien-Ming Wang RHP

2006-08-02 13:17:14
82.   Mystique of Me
Abraham reporting that Bobby is batting in my spot in the order tonight.
2006-08-02 13:17:27
83.   Bama Yankee
80 I never liked starting Enriqe Wilson just because of his success against Pedro. He always seemed to "let in" more than he "knocked in". But didn't a certain guy named Boone come off the bench to hit a big HR in one of those games where Torre started Wilson? Man that Torre is a genius!
2006-08-02 13:19:37
84.   standuptriple
49 I took mine back! I took it back!
Maybe Joe did have a plan, knowing that Giambi was probably going to sit today. Me and my darn shortsightedness.
I'm ready for a W streak, how 'bout you guys?

I thought this group could appreciate the satire...

2006-08-02 13:26:42
85.   Bama Yankee
80 Shaun you just made me think, I sure like our new Wilson better than our old one (Enrique). My last name is Wilson by the way (no relation to either of them).

Also, why does our Wilson-Phillips platoon at first make me want to go on a diet... (I know, I know Carnie lost the weight but still her picture is on the CD cover... wait, not that I own that CD or anything... Hey Cliff, how do you delete a post?)

2006-08-02 13:27:35
86.   vockins
84 I would kill -


- for a "Don't be a pussy, Gary Sheffield" autographed press photo.

2006-08-02 13:33:38
87.   Chyll Will
85, 86 (Clutching a rolled-up newspaper) No! Nnnno!
2006-08-02 13:38:40
88.   Shaun P
84 That is hilarious!

86 I bet if you caught Sheff in the right mood, he'd sign a photo for you with that on it.

2006-08-02 13:48:19
89.   singledd
62 Great post! In baseball, as in life, we are usually too attached to the outcome to really analyze the decision. It is one of the things that bothers me most when I hear criticism of Torre or Cashman here.

Who knew how truly bad Pavano would be. In another Universe, he could have been a great #3. He was considered one of the best, if not the best, pitcher to be had. The Sox wanted him. I think the decision was good... but the outcome has sucked.

"Hunches" are not just guesswork. They are usually based on intellectual knowledge, but knowledge that is not usually in the forefront when make a particular decision. You have a .300 BA guy and a .250 BA guy. The .300 has a big argument with wifey and slept in the basement. The .250 guy just got layed for the first time this month. Torre plays the .250 'on a hunch'.

But this is not a guess, but an intellectual decision based on his perceived state-of-mind of the 2 players. You don't make up your everyday lineup based on this kind of info, but as an exception it has merrit.

2006-08-02 13:48:55
90.   mehmattski
62 I agree with you, let me share my thoughts. I'm a casual poker player as well as a baseball fan, and basically what you've described is the tendency to let "results-based" outcomes influence future decisions. In poker, many pros make money by feeding of a psychological disadvantage that exists in many of their opponents. When a weak player gets lucky, drawing to an inside straight, playing terrible cards from the start, etc- the lucky player is happy and continues to make bad decisions because of the positive results. Even more important, statements by weak players such as "My pocket aces never win!" are even more profitable for the professional, as weak players cost themselves tons of equity.

Back to baseball, then. All the studies have shown that batter v pitcher records are almost entirely small sample size. Therefore, the best decisions are made by putting the best starting cards onto the field. Players who get on base score more runs than players who get on base less. That said, many poker players have "favorite hands" that they play to mix things up, even if they have negative long term consequences. It seems that Joe Torre is playing a subpar hand (Bernie seems equivalent to J-9 offsuit in Hold'em). The negative results are long term, which is difficult for many to see. There are few negative short term results, because we all enjoy seeing Bernie bat, at that moment. If he messes up (which happens 70% of the time), we make excuses. But the short term positives, the clutch hits, the inside straights- they make Torre and others remember Bernie as good, despite an obvious negative long term effect.

In the end, you're right and you put it much more eloquently. Simply: baseball decisions based on positive long term results win baseball games. Play pocket aces, but when Seven-deuce off comes your way, fold and stare at the cocktail waitresses instead.

2006-08-02 13:54:17
91.   tommyl
90 You might want to pick up "The Book" from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. They have a chapter trying to find any predictive value in batter/pitcher matchups. They even try to increase the sample size by doing batter/pitcher family matchups, e.g. A-Rod hits well against AJ Burnett (don't know if he does or not really), so they find all pitchers like him by analyzing things like K/9, GB/FB, pitch types, etc. In the end, they find almost zero predictive value aside from handedness. You are much better off just going with the best hitter you have.
2006-08-02 14:08:39
92.   Andrew Fletcher
Hey guys, thanks for all the props. With regards to "hunches," I think Bama correctly pointed out that they are not necessarily created out of thin air and may have some basis in fact (player X feeling under the weather, etc.).

I think it's clear to all of us that Torre makes a lot of decisions that are looking at more than just the current game. Obviously his bullpen usage and even line-up choices are made with the "marathon, not sprint" theory of the season. What frustrates me sometimes is that his decision-making process is rarely clear to me. Aside from generally resting Jorge on day-after-night games or the equivalent, I don't know how he decides when someone needs a day off.

I'm sure he has some kind of methodology (including his tendency to play favorites), and I'm equally sure that he does it better than I would, but as a fan who likes to think along with the manager, it can be frustrating to have very little insight into his methods.

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