Showing posts with label Bruce Bochy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bruce Bochy. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Giants don't have anybody who can close games; Cubs capitalize

Bruce Bochy
Seventy-five percent of MLB's final four is now complete after the Cubs scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday to defeat the San Francisco Giants, 6-5. With the victory, the Cubs win the NLDS, three games to one.

For all the talk of the Giants' success in even-numbered years, no amount of hocus pocus was going to allow them to overcome their weaknesses against the Cubs. The most glaring San Francisco weakness? There isn't a single relief pitcher on that roster that can be counted upon to close games.

The Giants bullpen couldn't close out regular-season games against losing clubs such as Colorado and San Diego. Why should we believe they could close out playoff games against the 103-win Cubs? San Francisco took the lead into the ninth inning in both Games 3 and 4. The Cubs rallied to tie in Game 3 before losing in extra innings, and they rallied to win and close out the series in Game 4.

Clearly, San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy knew he didn't have any reliable options Tuesday, as he used five different relievers -- none of whom had any success -- to navigate a disastrous ninth inning.

I have some sympathy for Bochy, because there's a distinct possibility that nothing he could have tried would have worked, but I definitely think he was one step behind Cubs manager Joe Maddon tactically in this inning.

The Giants started the inning with a 5-2 lead. But Derek Law gave up a single to Kris Bryant. Javier Lopez walked Anthony Rizzo, and Sergio Romo gave up an RBI double to Ben Zobrist.

5-3 game, three pitchers used, runners at second and third, still nobody out.

At that point, San Francisco's margin for error was gone, and the chess match was on. Maddon fired the first shot with a curious move: He sent journeyman outfielder Chris Coghlan out to pinch hit for everyday shortstop Addison Russell.

I found it odd, because Russell is a more dangerous hitter than the left-handed hitting Coghlan. I sensed Maddon was trying to prod Bochy into replacing Romo with a left-handed pitcher, with the intent of sending Willson Contreras to the plate with the game on the line.

Bochy took the bait.

He brought in left-hander Will Smith to "face" Coghlan, only to see Maddon counter with Contreras, who is hitting .311 with an .854 OPS against left-handed pitchers this year. Bochy had to know Maddon was going to do that, right? He should have.

Contreras won the favorable matchup with Smith, delivering a two-run single to tie the game at 5. I couldn't figure out why Bochy was afraid to leave Romo in to face Coghlan. I even looked up the head-to-head numbers -- Coghlan is 0 for 2 lifetime with a walk in three lifetime plate appearances against Romo. Small sample size. No apparent reason for concern from a Giants perspective.

Who is the more dangerous hitter there? Coghlan or Contreras? In my book, it's Contreras. Bochy should have called Maddon's bluff and left Romo in the game. Make the journeyman Coghlan beat you.

In any case, Contreras ties the game, the inning continues, the Giants fail to turn a double play behind Smith, and the next critical decision arises. Man at second, one out, still tied at 5. Javier Baez due up.

Bochy brings in right-hander Hunter Strickland to pitch to Baez, who singles in the winning run. Hmmmm.....

The Giants had a base open. Did Bochy forget that David Ross was the on-deck hitter? Why not walk Baez and set up the double play? I realize that Ross had homered earlier in the game. I realize that Ross has become a folk hero on the North Side. But who cares? The guy is a .225-hitting career backup for a reason. You have to put Baez on first base and make Ross beat you in that situation.

If Maddon wants to send Miguel Montero or Tommy La Stella up to pinch hit for Ross there, he can be my guest. I would rather face any of Ross, Montero or La Stella in that spot as opposed to Baez. For the record, Ross grounded into an inning-ending double play after the hit by Baez.

Let's be clear: The Giants were overmatched, and they were probably going to lose this series to the Cubs one way or another. Heck, San Francisco's brilliant shortstop, Brandon Crawford, uncharacteristically made two throwing errors that cost his team two runs Tuesday night. That shows right there that it wasn't meant to be for the Giants. Even one of their strengths, up-the-middle defense, became a weakness in this series.

But ultimately, the lack of a real closer and some tactical mistakes that were the product of not having a reliable reliever sealed the Giants' fate in this series. They should have made Coghlan and Ross beat them. Instead, Contreras and Baez sent them home.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Buck Showalter, Matt Williams named Managers of the Year

So, Ned Yost guided the long-suffering Kansas City Royals to the World Series this year, but he still didn't win American League Manager of the Year.

Instead, that honor went to Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Can you tell the voting was done after the conclusion of the regular season, but before the playoffs?

Based upon the regular season, Showalter deserved the award. His Orioles won 96 games, an 11-game improvement over 2013, and captured the AL East title. Until Baltimore got swept in the ALCS by the Royals, it had not lost four consecutive games since May, nor had it dropped consecutive home games since June 28-29.

Avoiding long losing streaks is a good way to win a division, and that kind of consistency always reflects well on a manager. In addition, the Orioles were without catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado for long stretches of the season, and first baseman Chris Davis was a combination of bad and suspended throughout the year. Baltimore overcame all that and won its division going away.

Showalter was rewarded by receiving 25 of the 30 first-place votes on the Manager of the Year ballot. He finished with 132 points, ahead of Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels, who had four first-place votes and 61 points. Yost finished third with 41 points.

On the National League side, Matt Williams of the Washington Nationals joined Houston's Hal Lanier (1986), San Francisco's Dusty Baker (1993) and Florida's Joe Girardi (2006) as the only men to win Manager of the Year in their first seasons as a major league manager.

I thought Williams inexperience showed in a four-game NLDS loss to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Some of his pitching moves didn't make much sense to me, but again, this award is based upon the regular season.

You'd have to say Williams did as good a job as any NL manager during the regular season. He guided the Nationals to a league-best 96 wins, and his club destroyed the NL East, winning the division by 17 games.

Williams received 18 first-place votes and totaled 109 points in the balloting. Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle, the 2013 NL winner, garnered eight first-place votes and finished second with 80 points. San Francisco's Bruce Bochy was third, collecting three first-place votes and 30 points.