Tactics, Part II
I’ll be honest with y’all — during the game, I thought the decision on whether to walk Cedeno was a bigger question than the decision to bring in Encarnacion. Maybe I’m just conditioned to the L/R matchups when TLR is at the helm. Maybe it’s just that I have vivid memories of Duncan waving at sliders from LHP more than once or twice this year. For whatever reason, I did not anticipate that this would turn into such a huge deal.
At the time, my thought was, "Hm, that’s interesting." I’m still not sure which way I would have gone, if it had been my decision. But as for the discussion about it, I do have some thoughts.
First, I do not think it was a "disgrace" or the "stupidest" move or "ridiculous." Whether you would have left Duncan in, or you would have pinch-hit, it’s defensible either way. It’s not an easy call. I think Bernie’s column today hit it on the nose in terms of the number of elements that go into it. Encarnacion has been much better against LHP than Duncan — much. And Ohman has killed LHH this year. You may not have liked the move, but to act like there was no justification, I think that’s incorrect and unfair.
Other thoughts — I don’t think comparing it to pinch-hitting for David Ortiz or Albert Pujols is accurate or fair either. Chris Duncan has been hot; he’s having a fantastic couple of months. But he’s not David Ortiz or Albert Pujols.
Also, I believe somebody noted the issue of building confidence. And this is one case where I do think TLR has it dead on. The way he looks at it, the first 2-3 months of the season, that’s the time for leaving guys in, building their confidence, seeing what they can do. The end of the year is the time to play every advantage. Put another way, he’s much more likely to pinch-hit for a guy like Molina, say, in August than in May. And I think that’s a good way to go about it. You can’t worry too much about the messages you send to a guy when you’re trying to win a game in late August.
Finally, I think people are underestimating Encarnacion. It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of his, but he’s not a bum. It’s not as though they brought in a guy hitting 250/330/370. It’s not like they even went with Taguchi — not to suggest that Taguchi’s a bum. They brought in a guy who’s hitting .280 and slugging .450 this year, a guy who is at .310/.333/.503 vs LHP this year. I know he doesn’t have a lot of fans in Cardinal Nation, but however he may look out there, he’s not a bad hitter. He’s not a great hitter for a corner OF, by any means, but he’s not a bad guy to have swinging the bat there.
FWIW, here are TLR’s comments from our pre-game chat this morning.
"If Chris doesn’t produce in that situation, I’m mad at
myself. If Juan doesn’t produce in that situation, then I’m mad at Juan. There wasn’t
enough working there for Chris. The left-hander, never seen him. We had a lot
working with Juan."
(were you surprised by the reaction the move has gotten?) "**** no. Chris has done such a good
job. I can tell by how tough the decision was. I worked that one over for a
Anyway, I guess the underlying point is that it’s a really interesting point in the game, it’s absolutely worth discussing, but I’d ask that people try to see both sides.