And now I know why God, in His infinite wisdom, did not want me to attend Opening Day.I am, as many of you know, a rather patient baseball fan. I am a rather forgiving baseball fan. I would not have survived as a Royals fan if I was not.
Last year, no one was the beneficiary of my patience and my forgiving nature than Trey Hillman. Whether it was his ridiculous dressing-down of his players on the field at the end of a meaningless spring-training game, or the way he talked up the importance of OBP all spring even as his players set an all-time franchise low in walks, I defended him well past the point of reason. I figured that anyone who had just taken the Nippon Ham Fighters, the Royals of Japanese baseball, to two Japan Series and one championship must have some idea what he is doing, and after years of watching managers who had no idea what they’re doing, I was prepared to give some leeway to a manager with an actual history of success on his resume.
The free pass is over.
The shame is that there are so many positives to take from this game. Gil Meche was brilliant once again, getting through seven innings in just 91 pitches, striking out six without a walk, and getting out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the second with just one run scoring. After Mike Jacobs turned a routine groundball into a double (excuse me…a “double”) in the fourth, Meche retired Carlos Quentin and Jim Thome to get out of the inning. David DeJesus showed off the improved outfield defense with his arm instead of his glove, killing two baserunners and taking at least one run off the board. Kevin Seitzer was in line for a game ball after both Jose Guillen and Mike Aviles walked (did those two ever walk in the same game last year?), both of them working their way back from a two-strike count against Mark Buehrle. Gordon homered. Teahen doubled and walked and didn’t kill anyone while playing second base.
If the Royals hadn’t held a lead going into the late innings, the story of the game might have been the team’s inability to hit with runners on base. The Royals stranded 11 men on base, and were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. But how a team hits in those situations over the span of one game is meaningless; what matters is that the Royals were getting guys into scoring position in the first place. And thanks to Meche, the Royals were in excellent position to win the game despite their futility with RISP.
Until the eighth. Until the inning that Hillman had just yesterday designated as Kyle Farnsworth’s inning, a decision that I suppose was inevitable in spite of, or perhaps precisely because of, the fact that it completely defies common sense.
Look for veteran Kyle Farnsworth to get the ball today in the eighth inning — instead of Juan Cruz or Ron Mahay — if the Royals are looking to bridge a lead to closer Joakim Soria.
“With the effectiveness that he’s shown (in spring training),” manager Trey Hillman said, “it would probably be Kyle. But those three guys can rotate between the seventh and eighth on any given day.
“One of those guys, probably Cruz or Mahay, could default to the sixth if we needed that.”
There wasn’t a Royals fan in the country who didn’t hold their breath when they read that passage on the eve of Opening Day.
Trey Hillman named Kyle Farnsworth his primary set-up man instead of Juan Cruz.
Kyle Farnsworth, he of the 4.48 ERA last year, and the 4.80 ERA the year before that, and the 4.36 ERA the year before that, over Juan Cruz, who had a 2.61 ERA last year, a 3.10 ERA the year before that, a 4.18 ERA the year before that.
Farnsworth, who surrendered 15 home runs in 60 innings last year (pitching for the Yankees and Tigers, two teams that play in pitcher’s parks) over Cruz, who surrendered 5 home runs in 52 innings last year (pitching for the Diamondbacks, who play in one of the game’s best hitter’s parks.)
There is no fathomable reason to think that Kyle Farnsworth is a better pitcher than Juan Cruz. None. And any reason that Hillman might proffer serves only to denigrate the intellect of the man proffering it. Before today’s game, I had been told that Hillman decided on Farnsworth in part because he pitched better during the final week of spring training. That excuse – and I hesitate to sully the fine name of the term “excuse” by associating it with Hillman’s thought process here – is both inexplicable and totally absurd. Which is to say, it makes as much sense as any other excuse that Hillman could have offered for his decision.
And it actually makes more sense than the other possible reason Hillman might have had: that Hillman arranged his bullpen hierarchy not based on performance, but based on salary. It’s a fact that Farnsworth was signed for more money than Cruz. It’s also completely meaningless, unless you’re using that information to evaluate Dayton Moore’s skills as a GM. If Hillman decided that he needed to justify the fact that one reliever is making $4.5 million a year and the other one is making $3 million a year – or if
Juan Cruz has been the better reliever for at least three years. Dayton Moore signed him, at the cost of a draft pick, precisely because he was an upgrade on what the Royals had in terms of a bridge to Joakim Soria. How Hillman could have settled on Farnsworth to be his eighth-inning guy and decided that Cruz “could default to the sixth if we needed that” defies explanation.
Does Hillman even know that Farnsworth, whatever his assets are, is incredibly vulnerable to the home run? Does he know that U.S. Cellular Field is one of the best home run parks in baseball? Does he know anything?
It’s bad enough that Hillman brought Farnsworth in to protect a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. Worse still, he left him in. He left him in after Josh Fields led off with a bunt single. He left him in after Chris Getz singled with one out to put the tying run on third.
He probably felt pretty good about leaving Farnsworth in when Carlos Quentin struck out and kept Fields ninety feet away. That’s why the Royals spent $9 million on a pitcher that few other teams wanted at half that price: they wanted the guy who could get a strikeout when a strikeout was needed. Never mind that Farnsworth badly needed a strikeout because of a mess of his own making, or that Cruz has a better strikeout rate than Farnsworth.
So that brought Jim Thome to the plate. Jim Thome, who had hit 42 home runs against the Royals in his career, more than any other player in history (Rafael Palmeiro had hit 41.) Two men on, two out, one of the most feared left-handed hitters in the league at the plate.
Does Hillman bring in Juan Cruz at this point, because he’s, you know, a better pitcher? No, but fine, that ship has sailed.
Does he bring in Ron Mahay to get a key left-handed hitter out? In his career, Thome has hit .296/.431/.620 against RHP – against southpaws, those numbers drop to .240/.342/.442. He’s basically Barry Bonds against right-handers, and Casey Blake against left-handers. Mahay only needs to get one out before it’s Mexicutioner time. How about it? No.
Well, how about Soria himself? Didn’t we just hear Hillman talk about how he was going to use Soria to get four or five outs a lot more this year? What better time to use Soria in the eighth than on Opening Day, when he hasn’t thrown a pitch since Saturday? Keep in mind that Soria, much like his doppelganger Mariano Rivera, has a reverse platoon split – he’s been more effective against left-handed hitters (.167/.242/.255) than right-handed hitters (.188/.251/.264) in his career. If ever there was a time to call upon Soria in the eighth inning, it’s this situation, right? No.
No. We’d much rather break out the deer rifle to measure just how far Jim Thome can hit a fastball that’s thrown incredibly hard and incredibly straight.
Farnsworth threw the pitch, but he’s no higher than third on the list of people who should be blamed for this. It’s not his fault that Dayton Moore offered him $9 million to sign. It’s not his fault that Hillman brought him in to pitch the eighth inning when better options abounded, then left him out there even as his margin for error grew smaller and smaller.
The Rany of a year ago would have cut Hillman some slack for this. “He made a mistake,” he would have said, “but he’ll learn from this. Let’s see who he calls upon the next time the Royals have a one-run lead in the eighth. If Cruz gets the call, then chalk this up as an expensive but useful lesson for Hillman, that the guy with the ERA in the 2s is generally better than the guy with the ERA in the 4s.”
That Rany is gone. He’s fed up. He’s watched Trey Hillman make enough dumb decisions with his bullpen (like this one). He watched as Trey Hillman lost the clubhouse, the cardinal sin for any manager, last August before he was rescued by the team’s improbable 18-8 run in September. And he’s decided that whatever Hillman accomplished in
The worst part of all this is that we all saw it coming. Every last one of us knew from the moment they read Hillman’s words about keeping Farnsworth in the eighth-inning role that it would cost the Royals dearly at some point. We didn’t know it would be Opening Day, against one of our chief rivals, with the justice meted out by one of our greatest nemeses. But we knew it was coming. With the Royals, no bad decision ever goes unpunished.
Here’s a memo for you, Trey: Kyle Farnsworth is NOT NOT NOT a quality set-up man. Juan Cruz is.
Oh, and here’s another one: never underestimate the power of common sense.
If the reasons why Juan Cruz is better than Kyle Farnsworth can be understood by a six-year-old, then no amount of extenuating circumstances, like who looked better in a meaningless ballgame in March, ought to change that fact.
Maybe Hillman will learn from this immediately and anoint Cruz as his top set-up man, or maybe he’ll need to cough up a few more games first. What happened on Opening Day was the ultimate example of what behavioral psychologists call “negative feedback”, and you’d think that would be enough to learn. (Even lab rats know that if you shock them every time they press a lever, they should stop pressing the lever.) But Hillman shouldn’t have needed the negative feedback of a game-winning three-run homer to learn. If he’s not smart to figure out on his own that Juan Cruz is a better reliever than Kyle Farnsworth, he’s probably not smart enough to realize that if Decision A leads to Outcome B, the best way to avoid Outcome B again is to stop making Decision A.
Regardless of whether he learns or not, Hillman is getting no slack with me this year. He cost us this game, plain and simple. He cost us a two-game swing in the standings with a divisional rival. The odds that the outcome of this game – the outcome of Hillman’s decision – keeps the Royals out of the postseason are something like 1%. Think about that: it’s still Opening Day, and there’s a one-in-a-hundred shot that the Royals just blew the division.
What else is there to say? I’m tired of getting sarcastic emails on the Baseball Prospectus email list with subject lines that go “Trey Hillman, Supergenius” – emails from people who are not Royals fans, but are just so offended by dumb managerial decisions that they felt compelled to discuss what Hillman did with other non-Royals fans. I’m tired of getting trash-talking text messages from friends who root for the White Sox. I’m tired of losing games that should have been won, wasting performances that should have been celebrated, and starting the season with that pit in my stomach that says, “here we go again,” and it’s still Opening Day.
Most of all, I’m tired of watching the Royals shoot themselves in the foot. God knows we have enough of an uphill climb if we want to contend. We can’t control the size of our payroll or the size of our market, but dammit, we can control the quality of our decisions. We can’t outspend our opponents, but is it too much to ask that we outsmart them? Or at least that we don’t outdumb them?
Instead, Trey Hillman made arguably the worst decision made by any of the 30 major league managers in their first game, and it cost his team the game. Worse, that decision was pre-meditated.
Thank God there’s another game tomorrow, and a fresh chance for the Royals to prove that this year really is different. It’s also another chance for Trey Hillman to prove whether he really has the chops to be a manager in the major leagues. I’ll be watching, with jaded eyes.
Amen Rany. You took the words right out of my mouth. There is NOBODY in baseball that would consider Farns a better pitcher than Mahay, Cruz or Soria. We lost the game today with our 3 best bullpen arms sitting down.
That was pure brilliance.
Great rant. My only question is why you cut Hillman so much slack a year ago. I assume he got big bucks to come back from Japan and manage the Royals. Given that, you don't expect the guy to be learning on the job. You're paying him a bundle because you are convinced he already knows what he's doing. Of course, Kyle Farnsworth's contract would indicate Dayton Moore was convinced Farnsworth was an outstanding relief pitcher, too. Are we beginning to see a pattern here?
What a crappy way to start the year. I was angry enough that Farnsworth was in there in the first place, but I was literally yelling at my TV when they showed both Mayhay and Cruz warm in the bullpen with two men on.
I don't mind starting the year off with a loss (there will be plenty more). Gil pitched great, AG hit a home run, and we had plenty of baserunners against a very good pitchter. What I do mind is the complete ineptitude of our manager. That is inexcusable.
I hated the Farnsworth signing because I only remember him from being god awful with New York and with Detroit and with Chicago (was he good with anyone?), so I was hoping that he was better than I thought and that my opinion was a little biased because I mainly only remember him being a giant d-bag.
But I still can't believe what I saw today. Signing this guy for that money is almost as inexcusable as using him in that situation today. It's like they want to lose, and they've found clever little ways that can make it more painful.
Thank you, Rany. Thank you for saying everything I wish I could've said while I was busy constructing a Trey Hillman Voodoo doll.
I can handle an opening day loss. Especially if the other team simply outplayed us.
But when victory seemed so reachable, and to have it trashed by such a stupid move, just makes all my positive vibe about this season go down the drain.
That's a great rant, and well deserved.
I'm still at a total loss, just fuming all day. Losing is one thing, but the way we lost this ... I mean, any Strat-O-Matic manager knows how to play those percentages. NO. WAY. FARNSWORTH. FACES. THOME. None. Nada. Zip. If Thome beats Mahay or Soria, fine, it hurts, but I blame the pitcher (or tip my cap to Thome). This, though, was just ... AAAARRRGGHHH!!!!
Oh, and one other thing: Why is Mahay on this team if not to face Jim Thome? Is he only supposed to pitch the 6th or 7th? It's just mind-boggling how idiotic that managing was on so many levels.
Seriously, I really wanted to fire Hillman today.
He made another decision in that inning that also could have cost his team. In a one run game, with one out, and a runner on first--why was Mark Teahen playing second base instead of Willie Bloomquist? Isn't the entire purpose of having Bloomquist on the roster so that in a tight game where you need good defense more than Teahen's bat, you have a glove?
Hillman is an idiot. I am tired of the Royals having managers who think they have to reinvent the game in order to be successful. Baseball is a simple game that is best managed 'by the book' with decisions that are based on how players have performed in previous situations.
And Dayton Moore went all the way to Japan to find this guy!
Well, at least we know what you can talk about on your first radio show.
What an unconscionable move by Hillman. Thanks for the rant, and I hope you repeat it loud and passionately on the radio Thursday!
There were some things in this game that bode well for the rest of the year. Teahen's 10-pitch walk in the first inning. The way the whole lineup worked the count against Buehrle. Meche's outstanding work--even better than the boxscore indicates, as several White Sox hits were weakly tapped just through the infield. Soria's perfect 9th...Oh, wait.
Like you, Rany, I've been more forgiving and optimistic about Moore and Hillman than most of the fans here. But there's just no way of explaining this one away. This was the wrong reliever in the wrong situation against the wrong batter in the wrong ballpark. It's inexcusable and I'm glad to see you're not excusing it.
Very well said, Rany.
I had so wished that Dayton Moore would be smarter than what he has shown. I am so tired of losing because of bad GM and managerial decisions. I have been a fan of the Royals since the 70's. I am just tired of losing period. Why are we, the fans, smarter than our current manager regarding the bullpen. Is it to much to ask that our manager know what the hell he is doing? Common Dayton show some nads and straighten Hillman out or get someone in who knows what the hell they are doing.
Alright, I'll take the other side and be in the minority. Yes, Farnsworth sucks and blew the game to one of the biggest Royal Killers of all-time. However, leading up to that at-bat, he gave up a bunt single and a jam shot humpback liner on a hit and run that fell into short right field. That's not exactly getting lit up. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that's bad luck. White Sox fans will call that good managing from Guillen, but it wasn't exactly that Farnsworth was getting hit hard that inning. That being said, whether you follow the Royals or not, I think everybody except Trey knows Cruz is more effective than Farnsworth. Here is another way to look at it, wouldn't you like this to happen to Farnsworth right out of the gate instead of having a little success at the beginning before the inevitable meltdown? Trey would give him chance after chance if he succeeded at first. No, this way the experiment fails immediately and Trey learns Farnsworth is better pitching the 6th/7th. I hope....
By the way, is there anyone here that can't predict precisely what is going to happen Friday with Ponson on the mound? I just can't put up with these idiotic decisions any more!
In Rany We Trust.
Last year, this happened with Brett Tomko against the Tigers, and the Royals only won in extra innings, when they could have easily lost.
This year, Farnsworth got the loss. Maybe his exit will be faster than Tomko's? I'm sure there are other pitchers out there (or, could you believe, in the Royals farm system) that would love to have one-fourth of Kyle's salary. What could an extra 6 million bring the Royals? Two more Mark Teahens. Three more Juan Cruzes.
Even one half of a Gil Meche. I hope we get at least half of what Meche put out there today from HoRam and Ponson. If either of them can go 5-6 innings and give up 2 or 3 runs, I'd call that success.
I am in favor of Mahay over Farnsworth.
But Mahay has fared worse than Farnsworth against Thome (small sample size, but in 11 PAs, Thome has hit 1 HR, 1 2B and drawn 3 walks against Mahay). Mahay also has pretty small platoon splits; less than a 50 OPS difference. Mahay is a good reliever because he is a good reliever, not because he is a lefty killer of any sort whatsoever.
This does not mean that Mahay isn't a better choice than Farnsworth. The best choice overall would have been Gobble, the Mahay killer. But Gobble is with the Sux now -- can't blame them for grabbing up the guy who completely destroys Thome.
I'm sure glad we kept TPJ and Wright over Gobble. I love giving up the kryptonite to the biggest Royal killer in our division so we can keep a weak-hitting shortstop on the pine.
Trey used the wrong tool for the job; I'm sure he wouldn't have used Gobble even if he had him. But that doesn't mean that DM doesn't share some of the blame for not stocking the toolbox with a lefty killer.
You know, the thing I liked best about the Hillman hiring - and I did like it, back in the day - is that I thought we would have a guy who thought outside of the box. Most managers manage the pens to maximize the number of saves for their closers, rather than the number of wins for their team. I thought maybe someone from outside would not be prisoner to that type of thinking.
Today's eighth inning was an utter mess. And it is true that until Thome came up, Farnsworth had not been hit hard. But the bottom line for me is that when the game is on the line and the Sox are sending up Quentin, Thome, and Dye, I want Soria in there. It is mayb too early to demand that in the seventh inning, but in the eighth it should be a no-brainer.
I doff my cap to Thome, and take nothing away from the blast that he sent to the bleachers - it was clutch and what he is paid to do - but damn it, we have Soria to get the biggest outs of the game, and we lost with our best bullet in the gun.
I agree with the sentiments above that if Thome takes Soria deep, it sucks, but that's the way it goes sometimes.
But this was just plain stupid.
I don't know why the hell Soria wasn't in their to start the eighth. I was watching on gameday and I knew during the delay after "ball in play run(s) scored" that it was a 3-run homerun.
I just started coaching t-ball and one of the rules states that everyone gets to play. Maybe Trey could coach my sons team.
So I need some help from a technically-savvy Royals fan. I don't have a clue how to design a web site, but after today's game, and Sunday's damning article from Bill Reiter, I felt compelled to buy www.firetreyhillman.com. I'm honestly not a reactionary person normally. But I realized after Reiter's article that nothing had changed with Hillman. And today sent me over the edge.
So if there's anyone out there that has some knowledge about building a web site and wants to help me put together something, please let me know.
Rany--this was perfect. I'm done fooling myself into believing Hillman is smarter than me.
Sometimes it seems almost as if he's pulling a prank.
I agree with you that Farnsworth wasn't hit spectacularly hard except the home run. But do you really think relievers should be allotted certain innings in the game instead of being used according to the situation? Moving Farnsworth to the 6th inning would constitute an acknowledgment that he's not as good as Cruz. That would be nice. What would be better still is to consider leverage and matchups when selecting a reliever, instead of letting whether it's the 6th, 7th or 8th dictate the choice.
You know, I was just thinking...
If it wasn't Kyle Farnsworth out there...
If it had been, say, Joel Peralta... would Hillman have stuck with him? I think, in last year's situation, he would have gone straight to Mahay (or god-forbid, Gobble) against Thome.
Just because you have a guy named Kyle Farnsworth in your bullpen doesn't mean he's somehow allowed to pitch to Jim Thome in the 8th inning when you're holding a one run lead.
Just because your general manager spent millions of dollars on your bullpen doesn't mean you don't pull them in the face of a guy with 541 career home runs (542 now, thank you very much), especially when he crushes right-handed pitching and you have a left hander just waiting in the bullpen.
And apparently, just because you took some team to the Japan World Series, it doesn't mean you can manage in the major leagues.
Did Dick Howser have any kids? Can we hire them instead?
freaking hillman must have wore a visor and froze his brain in that chicago wind.
Ditto. Leave the mike, Rany. We need you in the dugout.
Just how dumb is it to not only tag Farnsworth as the Pre-Soria, but why even have a "bridge" pitcher with such a deep bullpen? The 7th, 8th and 9th innings are all highly probable danger zones for losing a lead...manage to the situation, Trey, not to convention.
i threw my fist in the air when i got to the end of this post. i love the idea of you being the voice of the fans. i go to Mizzou, and all the royals fans here are saying the same thing about the game today. how upsetting.
having that been said, wouldn't you have been more confident with gil meche going back out for the 8th? he had only thrown 91 pitches and his last pitch so effectively gave alexi ramirez the okie doke that he had a pissed off look on his face as he was swinging. he obviously had his good stuff today, and he still had it going through 7.
anything would've been better than farnsworth.
Good blog, Rany. I was probably kinder to Hillman (not kind, but not as harsh) and tougher on Farnsworth, but the thoughts are the same - as is the preferred option - go to Soria in that situation.
Good luck on the radio.
It was just utterly ridiculous. It goes back to Dayton's free agent signings this off season. GMs should have to sign the hippocratic oath every years: first do no harm.
Signing Jacobs cost them Nunez, and kept Kila in AAA, and they already had a logjam at first. They sign Farnsworth, because they lost Nunez. He preaches .OBP to Posnanski and then goes a bunch of players that strike out a lot and don't get on base.
I can't believe Farnsworth was signed. He sucked with the Cubs. He sucked with the Yanks. He sucked with the Tigers. He's dumber than rocks. His fastball has got to be the straightest in MLB. I don't understand how I know that sitting on a futon couch, and the Royals brass doesn't.
Moore has upgraded a lot of things for the Royals, but it just goes to show how low our expectations must befor he came. We went from utter imcompetancy, to just average, stupid, mediocrity.
I know it's off topic, but this "logjam at first base" myth just baffles me. We had:
1) Billy Butler, who is more suited to DH,
2) Ryan Shealy, a 29-year-old with a .764 career OPS,
3) Ross Gload, who is, you know, Ross Gload, and
4) Kila Ka'aihue, a 25-year-old who broke out in his third season at AA, hit well in 139 AAA PAs, and had an MLB cup of coffee last year.
I like Ka'aihue, but his 75% PECOTA forecast for 2009 is 5.6 VORP. It's not unreasonable to expect him to earn a promotion in Omaha. Butler might be OK at 1B, but then you need a DH.
So, what 1B logjam are you talking about? A collection of bad players at a position isn't a logjam, it's a hole. Jacobs might not have been the best way to fill the hole, but that doesn't mean there wasn't one.
We just clinched defeat from the jaws of victory
Trey Hillman=Gunther Cunningham, they "work harder" than anyone but have no feel or common sense. Hillman is a loser, and Moore is as well. And no, this has almost nothing to do with this particular game. If Moore has any sense when the Nats get rid of Manny Acta he will immediately hire him. Oh wait, Moore doesn't have any sense, but he sounds good on the radio and looks the part.
Hillman had Meche, Cruz, Mahay and Soria... and decided to leave Farnsworth in there against JIM THOME. Maybe if it were like the 13th inning or something, sure, but good grief.
And the best part is, Hillman's stupid decision-making had already "worked" in the retard / bizarro logic Hillman employs. Farnsworth got two outs. Sure, there were runners on, but he got the team to the HoF lefty with the lead intact. Sort of. It was amazing Farns got that far.
Sorry, Royals fans. You're better than this. You don't deserve this.
Never commented before. I just could not take this. Hillman should be fired before it is too late. Moore needs to admit two mistakes (Hillman & Farmsworth) and move on.
Been reading the blog for some time now, big fan.
Took the words right out of my mouth on this one, I almost turned away completely when I saw the move to the pen in the eighth, like I knew exactly what would unfold before it happened. However, in this vision I think I gave Hillman too much credit, not thinking he would compound this awful decision by sticking with Farnsworth to face Thome as well. I turned away for a second without even thinking about it after the Quentin strikeout, knowing [at least I thought] there would be a break in the action for a pitching change. I was in utter disbelief when I saw him throwing to Thome.
Baseball 101, freaking amazing...I know there are situations where you can come away second guessing a manager, and it is much easier making these decisions from the couch or the stands, but his thought process in that inning is in a league of its own.
Like Dan I was "watching" via gameday and when there was a delay I also knew it was bad. Thome is the ultimate Royals-killer.
I agree with the myriad of non-Farnsworth options suggested. However, given the way the roster was selected (NOT based on "who are the best 25 players?"), why would we expect the best pitcher (Soria) to be in the game at that point?
Hammer, meet nail. Thanks for being the voice here for the long suffering Royals fans. I was literally IM'ing this same thought process during the game today with a friend. I've literally never been more frustrated, because this year was supposed to be different. Instead, this was the car accident you could see coming from 50 feet away, but were powerless to stop. You just hope nobody is injured. Well, today, someone was injured.
anon 8:16 makes a great point. Why wasnt Teahen at 1st, Bloom at
2nd and TPJ at short? You had Crisp, DDJ and Teahen batting in the 9th. Isnt that what 'defensive substitution' is all about?
Mike Jacobs is one of the worst rated defensive first basemen in the league. He can't get on base. He strikes out a lot. How does his addition help the Royals? We left eleven men on base today, because the Royals line up is where rallies go to die.
If Jacbos is the worst rated first baseman in the league, despite Hillman's glowing reviews of his footwork, how much worse could Butler be if you gave him more starts there?
How would rotating Butler, Teahen, and Gordon there be any worse? None of them will strikeout 300 times this year. Or give Shealy a shot for another year or two until Hosmer is (hopefully) ready?
In a year or two if Moustakas keeps hitting, you're probably going to have to move Gordon over there anyways, because Moustakas will be probably be a 3B. Or if Hosmer and Moustakas both are actually ready by 2011, between those two and Gordon, someone will be learning a new position.
I'm getting ahead of myself. Hillman "believes" in Farnsworth. Posnanski's column in Wednesday's paper says it all.
Hillman is awful as a manager...period. As long as he is running the show, this team has no hope.
That made me fell better. Thanks, Rany.
Rany was 100% right. Farnsworth sucks.
Does anyone agree that Brad Ziegler is a modern day version of Quisenberry?
sorry for the non-sequitors.
The moment I saw Getz come to the plate, I just felt that old familiar "here we go again" sting. And yeah, I was thinking the same thing about "Why isn't Mahay in there against Thome?" I, also, cut Hillman a lot of slack last year but I got over it around August because I saw the same thing in Hillman that I saw in Buddy Bell - a guy who focused only on maximum effort players (guys who hustled) and could play 6 positions, and a guy that didn't have a clue in Hell as how to use his bullpen. Hillman might literally be dumber than a box of rocks. I think Mr. Potato Head could make better decisions. How could he not know that you don't give a Farnsworth a 1-run lead in the 8th? That's like giving a pyromaniac a blowtorch; it's just stupid! I mean, my dog was watching the game on the couch with me today and I'm pretty certain that even he was like "Why the hell is the Professor in there?"
Regardless the level of baseball complexity you choose to view this decision, it was obviously the wrong one. And I should say that for ever questionable decision there are usually there abouts an even amount of people on both sides of the argument. I don't think I have ever seen a situation where it was so blatantly obvious to everyone, baseball priest and layman alike. I'll do my part to break it down, as if you asked me to.
I'll start with the obvious reasons Farnsworth shouldn't have been in the game: Jim Thome is a Hall of Fame left handed home run hitter. Farnsworth is a homer-prone pitcher who throws bullets, so hard that making contact seems to be enough to launch the ball over the wall. Case closed?
Statistically speaking, Farnsworth shouldn't have been pitching. He allowed 15 HR's in 60 appearances last year. He's not trying to give them up, he just can't help it. Jim Thome has hit 42 HR's against the Royals--I always thought it was a dubious stat as he hit these HR's less against a team than against individual pitchers. Now, maybe there's something to it. Either way, I think I read that Thome hits .441 against right handed hitters. Remember, the only reason he is going to the Hall of Fame after his years are finished is because of his 541 HR's.
Farnsworth is a high risk, high reward pitcher. He has averaged over a K per inning his entire career. Amazing. But obviously, he gives up the long ball like a batting practice pitcher. Prior to facing any All Star or HOF caliber player every coach/manager vows to "not let so and so beat us". You can't go skill on skill on Hall of Famers, they will win, thats why they are who they are. You have to play the angles, go to a lefty, go to the guy with far fewer HR's per 9.
I think everyone knows this really isn't Farnsworth's fault and I feel terribly for him. This is the LAST thing he wanted to do. He is going to be an asset to the royals if he is used correctly this year, he has great stuff. Problem is, he has too good of stuff. He literally throws the ball too hard. Follow me: His ball is straight as an arrow because it doesn't have enough time for the laces to grip the air and change the pressure on the ball, moving around the zone. Upon occasion you run into pitchers who have phenoms ability to throw the ball and rotate it at a much faster rate, rendering movement. Farnsworth is not one of these guys, and the symptoms give away the disease in this case. Farnsworth may be able to pitch until he is 55. If he takes a few ticks off his fastball he will add a few inches movement as well. There is a reason sinker-ball pitchers become more effective the longer they pitch, and its the above. Farnsworth literally has too good of stuff; he simply throws too hard. Imagine that.
Idiots. That's about all I'm seeing here. Saying Hillman is making bad decisions after watching one game means your baseball knowledge is limited to fat-guy-after-work softball.
Let the team take shape over the first 20-30 games and then you can make calls about rotations - position decisions etc ... At least let the team get through the rotation 2 or 3 times before declaring Hillman an "idiot". Are you kidding me? Get a grip.
Love it Rany. I was so flummoxed by the decision today, it was hard to cope. There are no Royals fans around here to hash out what went wrong, so its nice that I can turn to your blog and have everything I want to say written eloquently. Your post really provides some closure to the events of today, and will allow me to rest easy.
And to the people saying, "hey idiot, you can't judge off one game", i say to you:
Hey idiot, if you think this kind of decision making on Hillman's part just started today, why don't you look back at a few decisions from last season for more evidence, or shut the hell up.
Over/Under on Gibbons becoming the Royals new manager May 5, 2009.
A Hall of Fame post Rany. The deer rilfe line itself belongs in a museum somewhere.
Everyone, even Hillman knew that putting Farnsworth in was a stupid move. I don't think he was dumb. The guy was revered as a manager in Japan. He put in shorter easier hours and got more respect as a minor league manager. I think he's just aiming for an easier job. He'll keep making "dumb" decisions until he can get away from being a big league manager.
At least, that's the only explanation I can come up with.
Trey Hillman isn't the only one to blame. John Gibbons culpability certainly has to come into play here as well. Ultimately it is Hillman's decision, but if Gibbons is worth anything as a bench coach, he should've never let Hillman do this. A minimum of three guys should've been used in this situation, and even if all three failed, it was still the right call to pull Farnsworth in this situation.
I keep repeating, "it's only one game.... It's only one game...."
One game? This 'one game' fits right in with all of last year. Piss-poor manager.
Dear "Your Daddy",
I think it's safe to presume that you yourself are one of those "fat guy after work" people that you reference since that's where your mind goes to first as it's probably all it can understand/surmise/relate with. Here's some dumbed-down kuh-nowledge for ya (don't worry, Sesame Street will do a translation for you later on PBS so you can follow a little more easily): Yeah, that one game you're talking about is an extension of a previous and established behavior. Perhaps if you were an actual fan rather than a casual fan you'd know what every person here seems to know: YOU DON'T GIVE THE PROFESSOR A 1-RUN LEAD IN THE 8TH INNING, mmmkay? Get it that time? No? Okay, well Big Bird will be on later so try and catch their version. Just try not to nap through the sing-a-long part this time. And stop sucking your thumb, you're a big boy now. Big boys don't suck their thumbs.
A couple of thoughts - I think if this were the first game of last season, your points would be merited. Which is why we all scratched our head while freaking Brett Tomko almost blew a game, but nobody was calling for his head last season.
But we have a whole year of evidence. We have an article in the Star from this weekend talking about how he used the 'pen poorly last season, never figured out how to use Gobble, didn't use Soria in the most effective way possible. He talks about the fourteen games (IIRC) that we lost when tied or ahead late in which Soria didn't appear, and promised that he would get him in there for the most important outs.
And then on the first day, he makes the same boneheaded mistake.
The bottom line is that by the time Thome came to the plate, we probably had about a 70% chance at the win - it was a slim lead and they had their best slugger up with runners on and all that. Hillman is by no means the only reason we didn't win.
But to lose the game without our best player ever taking off his jacket is unbelievable. We have one clear advantage over every team in the division - possible exception of the Twins - in that our closer is awesome. If we are going to win the division, we have to maximize what we get from that advantage, and it is the manager's job to do that, and he flat failed.
Seriously -- if you're going to state that you realize you should be getting Soria more 4-5 out appearances in order to hold onto tight games late, then on what planet is "one-run lead, two outs in the bottom of the eighth, two runners on, Jim Freakin' Thome at the plate not the time to demonstrate this?
Over on royalsreview, no fewer than three of us called that homerun before the pitch, because Thome vs. the Professor is just asking for trouble. It wasn't hindsight. Hell, even Mahay or Cruz would have been better, but a guy whose M.O. is "throw ball hard" vs. a guy whose M.O. is "hit ball far"?
You are so right, there is not another manager in baseball that would have lost that game THAT WAY. If that happened in New York or Boston...wait, it never would because they wouldn't hire a guy as clueless as Hillman.
I am not ready to anoint Hillman as manager of the year, but neither am I going to castigate him on the basis of one game. Managers do not lose ballgames! Players lose ballgames. Farnsworth definitely blew this one, but if three runs score of the 11 left on base, we are not having this discussion. One game isn't a basis to decide Hillman can't manage, even if that is the conclusion after a representative sampling. The talk shows are full of nay sayers who argue Meche should never have been pulled. Opening day after 91 pitches? Are you kidding me? What would folks have said if he had put the first two batters on base because, as pitchers do at every level when fatigued, they go south in a HURRY? Simple baseball: Bad pitch, bad location. Let's not make more of it than that after one game!
I had the following conversation with my father yesterday:
My dad: The Royals had the lead until they gave up a 3-run homer.
Me: Farnsworth was pitching, wasn't he?
My dad: Yep.
Long time reader Rany, finally had to register to vent. If everyone on the face of the planet knows what a huge managerial boner this was, that also includes the rest of the team. I feel for Meche. The locker room can't survive too many losses like this one.
Hell, I even feel kinda bad for Farnsworth. Somewhere deep down he had to be thinking, "Holy sheeet, he's leaving me in?!?!"
I never want to lose, but losing with Soria, Cruz, Mahay, or Meche pitching, would've still sucked, but at least I can understand those decisions.
All Hillman did was back himself into a corner.
Why? Thats what I want to know. Why did he make the decision to leave him in?
Did he not know the circumstances? That Farnsworth has uncanny potential for giving up the longball? That Cruz/Mahay/Soria would be a better option purely by the numbers? Does he not have a calculator?
Did he know and not care?
I've LOVED the Royals since their inception and will continue to do so but...
this decision was SSSSSOOOOOOOO.... DUMB that I say it is time to give Trey the flick. So, FLICK TREY HILLMAN!!! And that comes from a guy with a long-standing history of unmitigated support for all things Royals!
Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW
Gibbons is not the manager and it is not and should not be his decision....yet! So to say that Gibbons should have said something to Trey, maybe he did, but even so, he would have been speaking out of turn. Hillman is the manager, not Gibbons.
A bench coach usually charts hits, informs the manager who is available for each team and be a support to the manager, not second guess him, unless of course he wants his job. ))
We've focused so much recently about how better we're getting on the field, you start to wonder if it's going to matter when we make these types of decisions. A lot of us probably assumed the reason for signing Cruz was to replace Ram Ram as our set up man. Why in the world would we base our desicion on pitches thrown in March? This wasn't like we were deciding who was going to be our 6th or 7th arm in the pen or our fourth outfielder. I agree Rany, no more free passes, get it right the first time Hillman or get out!
Right on! I was shocked when I read his comments about Farnsworth-less getting the set up man job. I assumed the point of signing Cruz was to sure up that spot since he appeared to fit the description perfectly. This was too easy a decision to screw up. Let's hope he learns from this sooner rather than later.
Anon, I disagreee--A bench coach is there to consult, just like any assistant coach in any sport. If Gibbons was brought in to "chart pitches" and not "second guess" why wouldn't they just bring in a tech guy? An assistant coach's job, and in this case, a bench coach's job is to second guess and provide alternatives. Now as I have said it is Hillman's ultimate decision and Gibbons may have disagreen, but Gibbons should've tackled Hillman when he left Farnsworth in.
This is what I originally said, "Trey Hillman isn't the only one to blame. John Gibbons culpability certainly has to come into play here as well. Ultimately it is Hillman's decision, but if Gibbons is worth anything as a bench coach, he should've never let Hillman do this."
See I said it was ultimately Hillman's decision.
Forget bringing in Farnsworth - That decision was bad enough - I was more mystified by the fact that Mark Teahan was still playing second bast inthe eighth inning...WTF?!?!?
Isn't that when you bring in a defensive replacement?? Isn't that when you'd rather have somebody playing defense that has more than zero games experience at second base?? When a duck snort thru the infield can be the difference between a win and a loss??
Or, maybe Trey is more shrewd than we give him credit for. Teahan WAS coming up third in the ninth (HATE to waste that AB when you have a lead), and he probably knew that Farnsworh was MUCH more likely to throw something that somebody would hammer into the center-field seats than to the right side of the infield.
Well, Teahan got his AB in the ninth, and flew out to RF with Coco in first. Hey, at least he didn't ground into a double-play...that would have been REALLY embarrasing.
I was watching the game with some CWS fans. When the bottom of the 8th started, and there were no "defensive substitutions", and I saw that Farsnworth was in, I crapped a little. I did the math, and was extremely worried that Thome might come up with a chance to give the Sox the lead. I tried to give odds that Thome would hit a home run, and couldn't find a taker. Not one. Everyone in that bar knew what was going to happen.
Bad decision. Bad reaction. Rany, I love ya, but this is way overboard. If you read Poz article today, I think the subtext is pretty obvious. Hillman knows he made a mistake, but after 1 game, what is he supposed to say? I no longer have confidence in my players? I made an idiot decision? No. He needs to keep control of his clubhouse, unlike last year, and to do that he needs to just worry about making the right decisions in the future. Today's blog is written completely on What-ifs and hypotheticals, and I'm sorry, but that's not enough to crucify the man.
Jays fan here - I don't remember Gibbons doing anything like this with his bullpen in Toronto. If he is managing in May, you won't see Farnsworth in anything but mop-up duty.
I tend to agree with the defensive substitution suggestion, though I think the play is to bring in Spork and move Teahen to first base, benching Jacobs. Jacobs was due up fifth if I recall correctly, so less likely to bat, and you can hit with Callaspo if he does come to plate in the top of the ninth.
Or, even better, bring in Pena, move Aviles to second, Teahen to first, and then you definitely pinch hit if you get the opportunity in the 9th.
I don't think you want to take Teahen out at this point when he does have another AB coming for sure in the next inning.
I second those thoughts Rany. I'll go further at this point however: I'm ready to see Trey Hillman FIRED. IMO putting GasCan Farnsworth into the game and LEAVING him there instead of going with SEVERAL obviously better options is a firable offense in my mind.
Trey Hillman has s*** for brains, and has no business whatsoever managing ANY baseball team, much less a MLB team. If Dayton Moore won't fire him, then I'd like to see David Glass fire BOTH of them. My two year old can make better decisions than Hillman can.
Thank you for your candid, and completely accurate, POV on this one.
My biggest problem with Farnsworth is I thought Moore came to KC with the mentality that pitching -- not how hard you throw -- is what matters. Wasn;t that the philosophy in ATL?
I was so glad when we got rid of Burgos, MacDougal and Sisco. Thought I saw that old "wow, you're a good pitcher cause you can throw 98 mph" philosophy headed by wayside. Moore seems to have embraced the ATL philosophy with most pitching moves he's made in KC...except this one.
I don't get it.
I know that this is only one game, and, the first game of the season at that. However, IMHO, what Hillman did is so egregiously stupid that it merits his immediate dismissal. He used every coupon he had left in the book with this one yesterday and I am now firmly a member of the "he's gotta go" crowd. I was in a bar full of people watching this game and everybody in it was screaming at the TV for Hillman to get Farnsworth out of the game and one guy sitting a couple stools away from me even predicted the outcome of Thome's at-bat before he launched his titanic homer, which I was able to follow the flight of pretty well, until I lost it in a cloud. Hillman has a great future after baseball on the TV show "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?". What a way to start the season, by having your manager gut punch your team. Stupid beyond belief! A subtle mistake is one thing, however, when you make one that's obvious to laypeople that aren't "professional" major league managers, that's quite another. Ozzie Guillen even, in the Chicago papers, smugly alluded to the stupidity of Hillman's non-move. What an embarassment! For the first time ever, I am actually ashamed of my team and I can't ever remember being madder about something the Royals have, or have not done. Sigh.........
Farnsworth is projected to have the lowest ERA among Royals relivers by PECOTA. For whatever reason, Farny is at 4.21 and Cruz is at 4.27.
So, if you don't have any evidence that PECOTA is missing on this projection, it does look like Farnsworth was our best option to start off the 8th.
Now, that certainly does not mean it was wise to leave him in to face Thome. It looks like Mahay and Soria were better options there. Not necessarily Cruz - he's even more of a flyball pitcher than Farny. I do have some reservations about criticizing a manager who lets his relievers finish innings. I haven't seen much evidence that relievers can't face more than 4 batters before breaking down or risking injury.
Anon 1:52 are you joking??? You go buy projections v. performance? Please tell me you are joking. Otherwise it sounds like something I could see Hillman saying
am, as many of you know, a rather patient baseball fan.>>
BS. You whine and go around saying the sky is falling and it's hopeless about twelve times a year. You made it all of four hours into the season before bitching this time
Remember when you got your turban in a bunch because they signed a utility infielder during the off season?
Like all the other stats geeks you're just a fan of math, not baseball.
With overblown hysterics like this you're radio show will be the sports-talk equivalent of fox news
Hee Hee...Here's what Craig Calcaterra (The Hardball Times) had to say, "White Sox 4, Royals 2: Kyle Farnsworth gave up a late blast to Jim Thome despite having no business facing a lefty slugger like him. For a short and concise analysis of this, check out Neyer's post about it. For an angry, 2,300 word screed about it, check out Rany's. Remember back in the day when Rob used to be the more bitter of the two of them when it came to the Royals? Yeah, times change."
You're a bigoted, redneck wuss. Next time you want to write an idiotic racist post, put your name next to it. We'd all love to get to know you.
I don't know if any of you read Pos' article, but it's absolutely a must read after yesterday's debacle.
Trying to make sense...
This Farnsworth situation is akin to that moment when a couple, boyfriend/girlfriend, encounter a moment which should be a matter of insignificance. Perhaps someone forgot to close the front door, or left the milk out on the counter, or insert-moment-here. And this little misstep leads to disaster. This is not a straw on the camel's back as much of a moment of clarity. The minor issue is amplified by deeper problems and becomes a precipice. It's at this point that both people realize they shouldn't be together. The event itself may have been minor, but it's implications are huge.
This is what happened yesterday.
Hillman just doesn't get it.
When asked about Mahay, who provides a lefty-lefty matchup even if he isn't a LOOGY, Hillman brushed it aside as nonsense.
He just doesn't get it.
The most telling sign of Hillman's ineptitude?
Ozzie Guillen doesn't have an opinion on Hillman's move.
His (in)decision to leave Farnsworth out there was so mind boggling. So befuddling. So obviously wrong, that Ozzie Guillen doesn't... have... an... opinion.
I just want to know what is going on in Moore's head.
Wasn't Gibbons the one who intentionally walked TPJ that one time? That's almost as indefensible as using Farnsworth as your primary set-up man.
Anonymous at 2:48pm:
Are you proud of your ignorance?
I can't believe someone of such deplorable character comments on this blog.
I pray you don't have children whose minds are ripe for your poison.
P.S.--I think you meant "your radio show", not "you're".....genius.
"Wasn't Gibbons the one who intentionally walked TPJ that one time? That's almost as indefensible as using Farnsworth as your primary set-up man"
Wait. I'm a big Royals fan; read Rany and the other Royals blogs religiously. How did I miss the fact that THE GUY WHO INTENTIONALLY WALKED TPJ is now our bench coach? I'm so sad. That's even worse than the opening day loss.
And, sorry, but I completely blame Dayton Moore for the opening day loss. He brought in Farnsworth to be the set-up man. For all we know he told Hillman to use Farnsworth as the set-up man, which would explain Hillman's lack of a coherent excuse. Trey can't say, "I used Farnsworth because DMGM told me too."
Hillman didn't hire Farnsworth, but Hillman HAS to use Farnsworth in actual games because his boss is paying Farnsworth millions of dollars. There is never a good time to play Farnsworth; he'll continue to cost us wins until DMGM sends him to Omaha. It's not Hillman's fault he's on the roster. Hillman is the fall guy here.
Not only do we have an anonymous racist post here, but the web broadcast of the game on KCSP cut to some right wing blowhard yelling about Muslims preempting coverage of Soria's final outs. Total Heidi moment. The game was a pretty sweet demonstration of how the opener should have been managed. Maybe Hillman got the message (not holding my breath). Anyone else unable to watch White Sox games due to their crap-tastic announcers?
Nice bounce-back win today, but watching Soria in the ninth, I can't help but think the Royals have made a huge mistake by not making him a starter. Cruz or Colon would definitely be a step back as closer, but the team would more than make up for it by having Soria over Ponson in the rotation.
Interestingly, I've come to appreciate the White Sox announcers. Oh, don't get me wrong, I scream vile obscenities not even fit for the ears of hardened longshoremen at Hawk on a regular basis for being a poor sport and a whiny twit. But I've noticed something interesting about Hawk and Steve.
Other teams' announcers will generally either (subtly) deride the Royals and their players, or will go completely overboard talking about how good the Royals and/or individual players are (in an attempt to make their team's accomplishments sound more interesting). Hawk and Steve... their perceptions of opposing players are actually about the most honest I've heard. If a Royal sucks, they'll crack on him. If he's "solid", they won't waste time talking about him at all. And if he's actually very good, they'll actually say "he's very good." Not "he's okay" or "he's great" or "he's awesome."
It even carries into game events. If the opposing pitcher is totally abusing the Sox, they will tell you so; if, instead, the Sox are just being dipsticks at the plate and making a mediocre pitcher look like Cy Young, they'll bemoan the Sox offense. Opposing hitter yanks a good pitch into the cheap seats? Well, that's what happened. Yanks a grooved piece of junk down the middle of the plate? They blame the pitcher.
So, yeah, they'll piss and moan about bad calls, or whine and cry about Zack trying to give Quentin a new ear hole, but those exceptions aside, they're very honest about what actually happens. A lot of guys simply aren't. It's oddly refreshing.
There are, I will contend, few things more annoying than the White Sox and their antagonistic, a-holish tendencies. Their manager, their players, their fans (though I understand there are good and bad fans for all teams), and their announcers....I can't stand them. They exemplify everything that is wrong with sports.
Do you remember Hawk and the replaying of AJ on the basepaths from last season? I was so livid. I can't find a link...somebody help. Joe Posnanski blogged about it and was equally pissed.
here it is:
Amazing work done by author! I hope Baseball fans will definitely get some new information about forth coming baseball events.
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