Thursday, April 17, 2008

Memo for Mr. Hillman...

Trey,

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know you're a busy man.

I really love the way you use everyone on your roster. I really love the fact that you manage without fear, that you're willing to use your backup catcher as a DH, or the fact that even after you've pulled your starting center fielder earlier in the game, that you're willing to pinch-hit for his backup with the same backup catcher in order to take a shot at an game-tying extra-base hit or even a go-ahead homer. Even if it means a potential defensive arrangement that involves Mark Teahen or Esteban German in center field if the game continues.

But if you're willing to make whatever move is necessary under the circumstances, can you at least take the circumstances into account? With one out in the top of the ninth, with the tying run at first base, you pinch-hit for Joey Gathright with Miguel Olivo, with Francisco Rodriguez on the mound.

Admittedly, Gathright has about as much chance of driving that run home from first as I do. But Gathright is a left-handed hitter. Olivo is right-handed. And Rodriguez, whose claim to fame is that he has one of the best sliders in baseball, has (like most pitchers with a great slider) a marked platoon split. In his career, LHB have hit .205/.300/.329 against K-Rod. RHB have hit only .166/.251/.265.

More than that, Olivo's success in the majors has been almost entirely against southpaws, against whom his career line is .293/.322/.532. Against RHP, he's hit .220/.258/.362. Gathright, like most speed guys, doesn't have a marked platoon split.

Look, I understand that you need more than an infield single to tie the game in this situation. With two outs, I'd almost understand this move, because the odds of Olivo knocking a double into the gap are almost as good as the odds that Grudzielanek would follow Gathright's single with one of his own to drive in the tying run.

But with one out, a walk or an infield single puts the tying run in scoring position, and gives you two shots to tie the game, with Grudzielanek and - more importantly - with Mark Teahen, who's a left-handed batter with great plate discipline, the perfect weapon against K-Rod's suddenly-diminishing repertoire. (Witness what Alex Gordon had done to him earlier in the inning.) If Gathright gets on, the worst case scenario is that you have Teahen facing K-Rod where a single ties the game. And as a bonus, you get Gathright - representing the go-ahead run - on the bases. Anything in the gap and Joey might lap Buck home.

There is a time and a place where pinch-hitting for Gathright with Olivo makes perfect sense. But I had never seen a scenario in which it made sense to deliberately give up the platoon advantage in order to send up a free-swinging hitter with a career .220 average against RHP to face the hard-throwing right-hander with a nuclear slider. And I still haven't seen it.

We probably would have lost the game anyway, and frankly this is small potatoes compared to your persistent use of kamikaze baserunning tactics in defiance of overwhelming evidence that this is absolutely killing the team. (What were you thinking, letting Alex Gordon try to steal second with the tying run at 3rd base? Against one of the toughest right-handed pitchers in the game to run against? Two guys managed to steal a base against Garland in all of 2007. Six died trying. In Garland's career, exactly half of attempted steals have ended in failure.)

Again, I admire the aggressiveness of your tactics. But as you yourself have said, what you want in your hitters is controlled aggression at the plate. You might want to control some of that aggression on the basepaths as well. And tonight, controlled aggression might have kept you from sending an inferior option to the plate in the 9th inning.

Your friend,

Rany.

27 comments:

desertclone said...

Great post, Rany. I really do like Hillman as a manager. But he seems to be a man of two minds at times. Tonight's game was a frustrating one to watch mostly because we had a ton of baserunners and just couldn't seem to get a big hit. In my opinion though, all of the things you pointed out pale in comparison to Hillman's blunder so far this season against Seattle on Tuesday. Who in the hell puts Hideo Nomo into a tie game with runners on base when you have EVERYBODY else in the bullpen available? That ranks right up there with some of the dumbest tactical decisions Buddy Bell ever made. All that being said, I think Hillman was the perfect hire by Dayton. I'm glad he's our manager. But he's certainly not perfect and I don't think he should get a free pass. Thankfully, he seems like the kind of guy who isn't afraid to learn from his mistakes and have his thinking challenged. Let's hope some these early season growing pains help him become an even better manager for the long haul.

Matt S said...

That Gordon steal was so weird, he was about by about 10 steps. Almost like he thought it was 3-2.

Also, can someone tell me how John Buck couldn't score from second on the bloop single in the 7th? I was at the game tonight so I couldn't rewind and see. Did he get a horrible jump or something? Please tell me he was running hard the whole way.

Reham said...

The power of this post will be heard in both Daytons and Treys ears. Book it.

Vygotcha said...

Yeah, that Gordon play was really strange. He looked *shocked* that the ball was there. I really think he thought the count was full.

Anonymous said...

I'm almost positive Gordon missed a sign right there.

Anonymous said...

I like Hillman as well, but the baserunning is becomming a concern. We ran ourselves out of an inning's worth of outs on Wednesday night and were lucky to come out with a 1 run win. The lack of power and walks have a bigger effect on our low runs scored, but all these baserunning outs are hurting as well. We're running ourselves out of a lot of potential runs. Aggressive is good, as long as it's smart-aggressive.

Anonymous said...

I really think their strategy with aggressive baserunning is intended to create a constant pressure on pitching-- such that as the royals tame that a lot more, the IDEA that we can attempt to steal at any time will work to our benefit. Gordon's steal attempt was bizzare though....almost looked like he was thinking HIT AND RUN (for some reason).

Uphaus said...

I like the aggressiveness shown by the Royals and much like Butlers gaffe's on the base pads, the Royals basestealing will get better as the game goes on. I also liked pinch-hitting for Gathraight. I think Olivo is pissed that he is the back up catcher and wants to shove it in managements face everytime the situation allows it.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't Buck that couldn't score on the bloop hit in the 7th, it was Gload. Silverio held him b/c the ball landed right in front of the LF who would have had plenty of time to nail him at home if he had been running. Watching the game at home I wish they had sent him to test Anderson but I can at least understand that you don't want to make the 3rd out at home with Grudz coming up.

Max said...

Wow, I couldn't disagree more on Olivo. I thought the Olivo move was great and a move that went against traditional wisdom. One should not be a slave to left/right splits. Context matters and Joey Gathright is not your average lefty hitter. He's a slap hitter who gets bloops and ground balls with eyes and utilizes his speed to get on base. He's not one to drive in runs nor is he likely to get a decent swing off a guy like K-Rod.

Its also kind of weird that would be the thing to set you off on a rant. Like you said, its not very likely we would have come back anyway with either of them up there.

The baserunning complaints I agree with wholeheartedly. We have the second most "caught stealing" in the league. A team with or lack of offense can't afford to waste outs. Trying to steal third with one out and Billy Butler up is beyond stupid.

Anonymous said...

Shut Up Rany... You are not a Major League manager, so stop thinking you are one. That was a perfect move in that situation as Joey is over matched against K-Rod.

And as far as your knowledge of the Royals, let the real experts at Royals Corner teach you more about the team. I suggest you go talk to the real intelligent Royals fans over there...

Anonymous said...

To me, Gordon CS was way more of an issue than the decision to pinch hit Olivo for Gathright.

Nobody has pointed out the OBVIOUS - why steal 2nd with two strikes on Buck? The only way you get a steal is if it's ball three, and if it's then 3-2 on Buck with 1B open, what does everybody think Garland will do, considering PENA is on deck?

Class? Class?

That's correct - he would walk Buck.

NO WAY Gordon should be running there, even if it was a bizzare hit and run or something.

That leads to my final point:

I'm ready to give the SS job to Callaspo. Combine that with the signing of Barry Bonds, the move of Butler to 1B, Bonds to DH, and Gload as the premier guy off the bench, and suddenly we have league avg offense to go with top of the league pitching. That's a formula for winning. Just look at this everyday lineup:

CF DeJesus
SS Callaspo
LF Teahen
DH Bonds
1B Butler
3B Gordon
RF Guillen
2B Grudzielanek
C Buck


Tell me that lineup couldn't avg 5+ runs per game.

Ron Hostetter said...

I wanted to throw my dog throught the TV screen when Gordon was caught at second. WHY, WHY, WHY???

We had Mr. Mo on our side. Down just one run with one run in, the tying run at third and Buck up. Momentum was on our side. The Royals were showing signs of life.

That CS deflated the team. It ended the inning and killed any chance to tie the game. The Royals were flat the rest of the way.

PLEASE - Somebody show Hillman some of those stats about how the outs cause more damage than gaining that extra base!

I love aggressive baserunning, but these Royals are taking it too far!

Anonymous said...

i'm relaly curious how much of the stealing is guys having the greenlight versus Hillman calling for the steal (or maybe Silverio???). I think getting caught a bunch early in the year is something that we won't see a bunch of in the second half. I think Trey is feeling out his players right now, and there will be some changes in a month or two.

Anonymous said...

I thought Gordon's steal attempt was a botched double steal. He did looked shocked that the ball was there--and he stopped before he got to second base. Which is something you do if you expect the runner from third to break for home. Could it be that Jose Guillen missed a sign?

Brett said...

I posted a similar lineup with Bonds & Callaspo a couple posts ago. Everyone seems to think that he'll sign with a good team this summer anyway, so why not sign him and deal him in July?

Brett said...

I posted a similar lineup with Bonds & Callaspo a couple posts ago. Everyone seems to think that he'll sign with a good team this summer anyway, so why not sign him and deal him in July?

Kc1fan said...

I think with the baserunning mistakes the players should call the managers out of the dugout and talk to them at home plate for about 15 minutes. Just to let them know they are sick of the stupid managerial mistakes...

Adrian said...

This memo should probably be addressed to Mr. Hillman's gut. Which is why I'm afraid the memo will fall on deaf ears. Guts, after all, don't have ears.

Anonymous said...

here's hillman's reasoning:

"I'm thinking they're not going to run the count to 3-2 there, so I'm thinking Johnny is going to get something to put in play and, obviously, he didn't and we got thrown out by a long way," Hillman said.

"We need a better lead and a better jump but also a better decision by me to put that play on. I didn't necessarily outsmart myself; they just didn't do exactly what you expect them to do in that situation. You don't expect to see somebody come inside in that specific count in that situation."

Gary said...

10:15 Anonymous: no, you shut up.

10:21 Anonymous: Your logic on the Gordon caught stealing is impeccable.

But if details that intricate are important to this team winning, then the addition of Bonds is going to throw way more negative issues into the mix than it will add positives with his bat. The media circus around this young team (who can’t seem to figure out when to run or not to run) would be a disaster. This team needs to work on plate discipline and base running discipline. The Bonds schtick of "swing big because if you connect its going into McCovey Cove" is a terrible influence on guys who need to figure out they have just enough talent to play base to base and manufacture runs when they can.

Shelby said...

@ kc1fan:


hahahaahahaaa!

Anonymous said...

I was most frustrated with Gload's inability to sacrifice in ONE run with less than two outs. Instead, he fouled out to Figgins. Suck.

Anonymous said...

Anybody else sick of the constantly running, basepath aggressive, small ball bullshit? Hillman is stealing runs from this team with his constant SB attempts, hit-and-runs and sac bunts. I'm not saying his a bad manager, but his overuse of those tactics has hurt this team's offense. And we can't exactly afford to give away outs, baserunners and runs.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm really pissed off by this 9-7 start. I'd much rather be 4-11 like we were this time last year. Hillman sucks.

royalidiot said...

I agree with anonymous that Gordon's caught stealing looked like a busted double steal. It appeared Gordon was pulling up to get caught in rundown, a missed sign by someone IMO. That being said, I'm not too thrilled by the strategy.

Duderino said...

This aggression will not stand, man.