Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All-Star Puzzlement

The 2010 All-Star game will be remembered for a number of things… it came on the day that one of the largest figures in modern MLB history passed away in George Steinbrenner, it marked the end to a thirteen year drought for the National League, and it also might be remembered for the strange moves the managers made in a very close game that could have gone either way.

Both teams pitched very well, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise seeing the names on the rosters for the most part and noting that things like home runs and scoring are down this year overall. This is certainly looking like the year of the pitcher and the all-star game was no exception.

Both managers made some very weird choices (I’m not talking roster choices… I’ve bitched about that enough) though that made me puzzle why.

On the NL side, Charlie Manuel didn’t exactly surprise me when he named Ryan Howard to be the starting DH. I wouldn’t have made that same choice… it should have gone to Joey Votto, who is tearing up the NL like it’s his own personal batting cage… but since Howard is his guy, it’s not too much of a stretch to figure he’d put Howard in that role.

What really made no sense to me though, was that by the 5th inning, you had (arguely) the three best hitters already out of the game in Albert Pujlos, David Wright (who had two hits and a stolen base in the game) and Ryan Braun… but Howard was still in there until the 7th inning. Nepotism is one thing… but waiting until the 7th inning (and at that point the NL had been shut out) to finally get the hottest hitter in the NL into the game didn’t made a lot of sense. Either did putting Hong-Chih Kuo in the game to pitch the 5th with names like Adam Wainwright, Brian Wilson, Heath Bell and even his own Roy Halladay still in the bullpen.

On the AL side, every player got into the game except for A-Rod… and after Big Papi singled to lead off the 9th inning… wouldn’t it have made sense to pinch run for him? Of course he could have pinch hit for Beltre, but he had only come up in the 8th and had only played defense… however Ty Wigginton was pinch hit for with Nick Swisher after playing on one inning of defense and he didn’t get an at-bat (which I though was pretty unfair of Girardi to do to him) so it wouldn’t have been the first time he would have done that. Once he let Betre hit (and he struck out) you had John Buck up afterwards and you had to leave him in because he was the last catcher… I get that… but you had Ian Kinsler up after him and Vernon Wells up after that. Odds are you weren’t pinch hitting for either. What was Joe Girardi waiting for? The next obvious move would be A-Rod pinch hitting for Elvis Andrus (and A-Rod could have played short had the game gone on) but you had three batters before Andrus would be getting up. Of course, Buck hits a bloop single that Ortiz had to wait to see if it would be caught or not and OF Marlon Byrd made a spectacular play, by picking up the hit on one bounce, spinning and firing a bullet to 2nd, where he caught the slow Big Papi by a step. If it had been A-Rod, he would have been safe and it would have been 1st and 2nd with one out and the winning run at the plate.

All in all, it was a tight and exciting game with a lot of dominating pitching and good defense. However, to me, the game was a little marred by the weird decisions each manager made.

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