Saturday, March 17, 2007

Less than Perfect Storm

Again, my friends, I was unable to catch the performance of our hero as the game time in Japan posed a dilemma. Sleep or Daisuke. In the regular season, the choice would be Daisuke. No question. In the know the answer already.

The thing is, it hardly mattered as the 2 innings of work that Matsuzaka was able to get in before the rain started was probably not all that enlightening. I find the walk that he was able to work against Hong-Chi Kuo fascinating, despite everyone around the world knowing that he wasn't going to swing. That's disgraceful. He would end up scoring on a home run by Eric Hinske.

Matsuzaka went back to the bullpen for 77 pitches after the game was delayed by rain, and made sure to get his work in. That's a good thing. The recap provided by Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe told me all I needed to know about the matchups between ML hitters and the man of mystery:

"Though the two minor leaguers scheduled to stand in against Matsuzaka didn't get a bat on the ball, a few Dodgers did. Rafael Furcal began the game by smoking a ground-rule double down the right-field line, followed by a sacrifice bunt by Juan Pierre. With Furcal on third, Marlon Anderson blooped a high changeup into left field, scoring the Dodgers' lone run. Olmedo Saenz followed by lining a high fastball for a single, putting runners on first and second. But that was it, with Matsuzaka using his slider to help close out the inning."

The part of that story that makes my skin crawl is that Dodgers' manager Grady Little decided to sacrifice with Rafael Furcal on 2nd and no one out in the first inning and Juan Pierre at the plate. The Dodgers paid Juan Pierre $44 million over 5 years, despite his career .727 OPS and a horrific 86 OPS+. If you're going to pay him that much money, I assume you expect him to hit. According to the numbers, a bunt in that particular situation actually contributed a -2.8% chance of winning the ballgame. To put it in plain words, you are hurting your team more often than not. What happened next? As you just read, Marlon Anderson got a single, scoring Furcal. I assume that Furcal would have scored from second on a single with his speed. We'll never know because Grady Little gave away an out to find out. For good measure, Olmedo Saenz' single would definitely have plated Furcal had Pierre and Anderson failed to do so. In the end, the Dodgers bunted, got one run, and promptly gave up 5 to the Red Sox. Where is Earl Weaver when you need him?


At 2:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be fair, Grady may have asked Pierre to bunt in that situation simply for practice's sake. It is spring training after all. Still a pretty awful manager, but there could be a reasonable explanation for that one. Not for walking Daisuke though...

At 4:22 AM, Blogger Mike Plugh said...

Why couldn't he have asked Pierre to bunt in the 5th, 8th, or 120th inning? Why does Pierre need to practice sacrifice bunting at all in live game action?

At 5:06 AM, Anonymous mouse said...

You're essentially preaching to the choir in regards to Grady, Mike. I don't know a Red Sox fan alive who didn't think he was a bad (and infuriating) manager. The Dodgers are going to lose a few extra games this year just because of the Gump factor, as we witnessed yesterday.

Still can't believe Matsuzaka got a walk when he wasn't going to swing. That's just hysterically bad.

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous ptodd said...

Maybe Grady just wanted to make sure they scored a run against the Red Sox 100 million investment, perhaps thinking his tactics to get a run scored would tick off the Red Sox FO, or that Dice-K would strain a groin going after the bunt on a wet field. LOL

But it is just ST, and the outlook for getting the game in was bleak, so you are basically starting the game in the 7th and 8th with a limited amount of time to practice Pierres bunting, if that is what he wants him to work on. Based on his hitting last year, Pierre needs to bunt more.

Matsuzaka actually told them he would not swing, maybe they did not believe him, then he walked back to the dugout with only 2 strikes thinking the pitch was a strike, but it was called a ball.
Then he walked somehow.

Of course, maybe Grady had him walked on purpose. Knowing the angst it would create in Red Sox nation with their prize pitcher on base in wet conditions giving him a bit of pleasure. Grady has a sense of humour.

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Bob said...

Not great quality, but some video of Matsuzaka in the game.


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