October 9th, 2003

You're Pinch-Hitting for Me?

In this analysis of the Oakland A's performance against Boston in the 2003 post season (and the post-season's before that), Tom Verducci has this to say:

All of a sudden, as [Jermaine] Dye put it, "The umpire and Varitek told me somebody wanted me over there [by the dugout]."

It was Macha. The manager was pulling Dye for a pinch hitter. Forget for a moment the lack of respect Macha showed Dye, the team's highest-paid player and a proven veteran run producer, by pulling him for a hitter as he was almost in the batter's box. And forget the left-right matchup nonsense that eliminates what few gut instincts any managers might have. The season was on the line. That's when you want your most experienced players in action. What Macha chose to do was send up Adam Melhuse, a 31-year-old little-used catcher with 26 career RBIs, or 505 fewer than Dye.

Kinda like on the Simpsons! Mr. Burns company softball team, the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant have tied the Shelbyville Nuclear Power Plant softball team. Darryl Strwberry—a ringer— is at bat with the bases loaded, and the manager (who is none other than Mr. Burns), pulls him for a pinch hitter.

Strawberry: You're pinch-hitting for me?
Burns: Yes, you see you're a left-hander and so is the pitcher. If I send up a right-handed batter it's called playing the percentages. It's what smart managers do to win ballgames.
Strawberry: But I hit nine home runs today.

Burns: You should be very proud of yourself. Sit down.

Tom Verducci link via kottke.org.