It's a busy week - I'll be moving on Thursday - so in the meantime I can't go all crazy full-length recap style on you guys. Bear with me. Besides, it's not like anyone wants to read that much about tonight's game, anyway.
(Crappy image for a crappy player.)
Biggest Contribution: Miguel Ojeda, +25.1%
Biggest Suckfest: Matt Thornton, -35.9%
Most Important Hit: Morse DP, -10.3%
Most Important Pitch: Giambi homer #2, -40.8%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -47.9%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -3.7%
Mike Hargrove is playing to win now. From his starting Willie Ballgame over Morse to his extended usage of Felix Hernandez to his constant style of playing the matchups with the bullpen, Grover isn't a guy who's likely to sacrifice present success in order to win more games down the road. He's very much so a manager who wants to do what's best for his team each day, which is fine when you're coaching a contender, but more than a little out of place on a team as bad as this one.
With this in mind, tonight's controversy surrounds the summoning of Matt Thornton from the bullpen in a close game in the top of the sixth. Some choice excerpts from the game thread at the time of the pitching change:
Boy, this should be fun.
Here comes some more fantasy points
This is probably the game right here.
This one was pretty easy to see coming. Giambi blasted the crap out of a Thornton slider, the fans went hysterical, and Hargrove even had the gall to rip into Thornton in the middle of the diamond after he walked the next batter. Game over (for all intents and purposes).
There has been a little post hoc defense of Hargrove's decision, but to me, none of it really holds that much water. One of the explanations is that the team needs to get Thornton as much experience in these tight situations as possible in order to ascertain a better understanding of his abilities. The main problem with this one is that Thornton has been a consistently bad pitcher for the duration of the season, even moreso in close games, showing no signs of imminent improvement. You'd think that his 65 appearances since late last summer would be enough evidence for the team to determine that he blows. If a guy is a bad pitcher, he's going to be bad regardless of the situation; if the Mariners seriously think Thornton is a part of their future, then they should get him throwing strikes in mop-up duty before they try throwing him into the fire.
Another explanation is that Thornton's hard stuff makes it difficult for left-handed hitters to turn on a pitch and drive it into right field. Lefties are hitting .267/.382/.453 off Thornton on the year. Next.
Moving along, I've heard it said that Thornton is Hargrove's middle innings guy, while Sherrill is the southpaw setup man. This is, in a word, dumb. Better pitchers should pitch in bigger situations, and it was pretty obvious at the time that the top of the sixth would be important. You can't save your better arms for a hypothetical tight situation in the eighth or ninth; you use them when they're needed, and hope that the rest of your bullpen doesn't get in trouble later on.
Finally, something I've read in several places is that Sherrill allowed a home run of his own later in the game, with the suggestion that he therefore wouldn't have been any better of an option than Thornton. For one thing, it was an entirely different game situation, rendering the whole statement meaningless. For another, if you're going to draw comparisons, it should be noted that Sherrill struck out Jason Giambi in the eighth, the guy he would've faced had he come in instead of Thornton.
Matt Thornton is a bad pitcher, one of the worst in Major League Baseball. Yeah, he's gotten a little unlucky, having allowed 12 home runs on just 62 fly balls (possibly because his velocity makes the ball go a long way in the opposite direction), but he still has no right to be pitching in big situations against a team that everyone in the stadium would've loved to beat. September roster expansion is going to save his ass from getting cut immediately.
Odds of Yuniesky Betancourt drawing a walk in a game: 7.1% (1 per 14 games)
Odds of Adrian Beltre drawing a walk in a game: 20.2% (1 per 5 games)
Odds of Yuniesky Betancourt and Adrian Beltre each drawing a walk in the same game: 1.4% (once per 69 games)
54% of Greg Dobbs' hits are going for extra bases.
Robinson Cano is down to a .701 OPS on the year, with a miserable .249/.279/.337 batting line since the All Star Break. He doesn't walk, he doesn't play great defense, and at this point, he doesn't hit for much power. It's too soon to call him the latest in a long line of overhyped Yankees prospects - he's just 22 years old, after all, and has shown the ability to hold his own in the Majors for brief periods of time - but the difference between him and Tony Womack going forward this year is nowhere near as large as many in New York would have you believe. Cano is wearing down, the last thing the Yankees need from a middle infielder in the midst of a playoff push, meaning that Torre could spell him with a little Womack from time to time to keep him fresh. As if this weren't good enough news already, it's a virtual guarantee that whichever sub-.300 OBP infielder is manning second base on a given day will also be batting second in the lineup (a slot from which the Yankees have gotten just a .651 OPS on the year). It's really amazing that Gary Sheffield has driven in 99 runs considering the total sinkhole he's been batting behind all year.
Jeff Harris faces the Yankees tomorrow at 7:05pm because the schedule says he has to.