Ah, Joe. I was actually just about to write a post saying how much your decision-making has improved lately. You’ve benched Juan Pierre for Andre Ethier; you’ve let Matt Kemp continue to be your leadoff man. Sure, I suppose any manager will look good when you replace Pierre, DeWitt, and Berroa with Manny, Blake, and Nomar, but even so, other than some questionable bullpen choices, things have been looking up lately. And then you have to go and say this to Diamond Leung of the Riverside P-E:
In order to load the lineup with more right-handed hitters while preserving Nomar Garciaparra, Joe Torre said he would look to get Garciaparra some playing time at first base in place of James Loney. Torre said he nearly did it last night with left-handed Manny Parra on the mound before deciding against it. “I tried to reason who was going to give me the better at-bat – Berroa or Loney,” Torre said. Loney could get some days off against tough lefties in the future. “Loney’s so unpredictable,” said Torre, who could choose to sit Loney against either Jeff Francis or Glendon Rusch when the Rockies come to town next week.
There’s something unbelievable in there, so in case you glossed over it, I’ll present it again.
“I tried to reason who was going to give me the better at-bat – Berroa or Loney,” Torre said.
This. This, friends, is what will drive a man to insanity. I didn’t see Torre say this, of course, but I wish there was video of it. Was he able to say this with a straight face? Isn’t a quote like that grounds for immediate firing? Let’s see what Joe would say if he had some other professions:
Joe on shooting the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition:
“I tried to reason who was going to give me the hotter photo – Jessica Alba or Jessica Tandy,” Torre said.
Joe on choosing a movie:
“I tried to reason what was going to be the better film - Godfather or Godfather III,” Torre said.
Joe on going to a concert:
“I tried to reason who was going to give me a greater show - Led Zeppelin or Hannah Montana,” Torre said.
Really, James Loney vs. Angel Berroa, and this is something you have to reason? Do I really even need to explain this? One is a solid young major league regular who’s likely to only improve. The other is Angel Berroa.
I shouldn’t even have to go through this, but entering last night:
James Loney: (2008) .799 OPS, 106 OPS+ (career) .857 OPS, 118 OPS+
Angel Berroa: (2008) .528 OPS, 38 OPS+ (career) .681 OPS, 76 OPS+
How can you even consider having to “reason” who’s better? Even when you just look their stats against lefties (which is when Torre is considering putting Berroa in), it doesn’t change anything. Loney’s stats certainly fall, but it doesn’t matter because Berroa can’t hit anyone! Berroa’s got a great .573 OPS against southpaws this year, which Loney is beating by over 100 points at .687.
This is such a ludicrous statement that I’m having a really hard time believing it’s not just some twisted joke. Right? Anyone?
* Then you’ve got tonight’s game. What’s with the simply bizarre usage of the bench? In the 8th inning, Torre lifted Derek Lowe after Ryan Braun was announced as the pinch-hitter. With Nomar having made the last out in the 7th and Lowe up second in the bottom of the 8th, Torre chooses to double-switch in Hong-Chih Kuo to pitch and Berroa at shortstop, meaning Berroa – now in the 9th spot – will be up second in the bottom half. This is fine. Except that when Berroa comes up, Torre pinch hits for him with Juan Pierre. Where’s the sense in that? You’ve now wasted Berroa for one inning of his defense – and since you took out Nomar for him, you’re now down to your third shortstop, the endlessly mediocre Pablo Ozuna. Torre then takes out Kuo for Chan Ho Park in the 9th, which means that the double-switch was completely useless in the first place; Pierre could have just hit for Kuo and been replaced by Park, if that’s what Torre was going to do – and still had Nomar’s bat in the lineup and both Berroa and Ozuna on the bench, rather than Nomar and Berroa out and Ozuna at shortstop.
Ozuna, of course, ends up leading off the top of the 10th inning and does the one thing you cannot do when leading off in extra innings: he strikes out looking. Fantastic.
* Finally, two guys I’ve been backing forever that just did not come through tonight: Kuo and Matt Kemp. On Kuo, the double to Braun is one thing; it wasn’t really hit all that hard as much as it was well-placed. But in a tight game like that, you cannot give up a homer like that to Hardy. You just can’t. He’s been phenomenal all year, and I realize no one’s perfect, but… that was a killer, right there.
As for Kemp… well, this isn’t going to make things easier on him. How many completely overblown articles have we had to read on baserunning mistakes that he’s made, many of which weren’t even that big a deal? Well, with this most recent debacle, we’re really going to hear it. After Kemp singled in the 10th inning with one out, Ethier hit a shot to dead center that looked like it might go out, but also looked like Mike Cameron might track it down. With less than two outs, there’s no question what the runner does there – he stands on second base, because there’s no downside. If the ball is caught, you can easily make it back to first. If the ball drops, you can easily score from second, and if the ball leaves the park, well, who cares where you are. Except that Matt Kemp did none of these things; thinking that Cameron would catch the ball, he went back to first base. As you may have seen, Cameron got a glove on the ball but couldn’t quite haul it in, meaning that Ethier ended up with a 399-foot single when Kemp was only able to advance to second. That hit right there should have tied the game. Neither Kent or Manny could get a hit after that, and that was that. Absolutely terrible display by Kemp – I hope Larry Bowa is letting him hear about it right now. No matter when it is you read this, I still hope Bowa’s yelling at him.
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness