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.