The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's Raining In Chicago, 72 Miles South...

While I have had cause to celebrate the Brewers and denigrate the Cubs for the past two days, it is now time to have a good old-fashioned bitch session.

The Brewers appeared poised to take game 3 in this four game series when Billy Hall belted a Bobby Howry breaking ball over the left field fence for a two run HR and a 3-1 lead. The Cubs had self-destructed the previous evening when Ryan Dempster and Ronny Cedeno committed terrible errors, allowing the Crew to steal game two, and after Hall's dinger the team and the crowd seemed dejected. However, it is at this point that Ned Yost made the most common strategic blunder in all of baseball. And at this point, it is necessary to make a small digression.

A few months ago I went to a book signing by some of the Baseball Prospectus guys, including Nate Silver. While I was there, someone asked Nate for his opinion on the most common mistake in baseball. His answer was something like this (Note: From memory):

I think that most managers and most teams have strategy down pretty well at this point, but there is one thing that still really bothers me, and that is the use of closers. I don't really understand the logic behind saving your best reliever specifically for the ninth inning, other than to generate a pitcher with a large number of saves. It creates an infexibilty in the team's strategy, and it creates situations in which bad relievers are forced to pitch in the most important, and often the most nerve-wracking portion of the game.

Teams should, obviously, I think, use their "closer" at any point in which the game appears to be on the line. It is easy to preserve a three-run lead for one inning. It is much more difficult to get a key strikeout in a bases-loaded jam. Conventional stats, and especially saves, contribute to this problem, but I'm surprised that more teams don't see through it.

(Note: He was more eloquent than that.)

Back to the game. The top of the eighth inning featured the Cubs' three best hitters, Todd Walker, Derrek Lee, and Aramis Ramirez. If the Brewers could get through the inning relatively unscathed they would face a relatively weak lineup in the bottom of the ninth including Henry Blanco, Ronny Cedeno, and a pinch hitter (Matt Murton, Neifi Perez, or John Mabry). It made all kinds of sense to bring Derrick Turnbow in for the eighth to handle the meat of the order, but instead, out trotted Dan Kolb. Kolby proceeded to serve up nothing but cheese, giving up a double to Walker, and a scorching HR to Lee on the first pitch. After that, the wheels came off. Turnbow, who was warming up for the ninth, never got in the game as the Cubs did not have to bat in the ninth.

This was far from the only Brewer flaw in this game. Geoff Jenkins dropped an easy fly ball, Chad Moeller grounded into an inning-ending rally-killing bases-loaded double play, and dropped a throw from Jenkins that very well might have gotten a Cub baserunner at home plate. It's actually somewhat surprising that the Crew was as close as they were. (An achievement that should be credited to a stellar outing from Dave Bush, who surrendered only a wind-aided HR to Juan Pierre. He was matched at every turn by good-looking Cub rookie Carlos Marmol.)

The Brewers can still take 3/4, and I fully expect them to, but this was a disappointing loss. These are the ones that haunt you in September.

Finally, I would just like to mention that Chad Moeller is terrible, and that I would rather have Henry Blanco, which is truly saying something.

Ahren agrees, although he is not as diplomatic.


  • the thing about bringing in kolb there, is that it's a mistake on like three or four levels, even if you concede that no matter what they're going to make the obvious mistake of not bringing in turnbow.

    1) it's a mistake to even have him on the roster in the first place
    2) it's a mistake to be paying him what they're paying him
    3) it's a mistake to continue to carry him on the roster, despite the fact that he's done nothing but suck all year
    4) it's a mistake not to bring in ANY OTHER pitcher on the roster in that situation-- capellan, wise, bernie brewer... they're all better.

    By Blogger ahren, at 10:59 AM  

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