“So what do we know about Bob Melvin, so far?”
Know is probably too strong of a word. We may have thoughts or premonitions, but 20 games isn’t really enough for us to know his tendencies.
I am worried about his apparent belief that Greg Colbrunn isn’t as good of a hitter as John Mabry. In today’s game, he sent Edgar Martinez up to pinch-hit for Colbrunn, than allowed Willie Bloomquist to hit for himself. Had he pinch hit for Bloomquist, he would have had to end Guillen’s day off, so at least there was a potential reason for the move. A few innings later, he sends Mabry up to pinch hit for Bloomquist, than uses Guillen as the defensive replacement. Essentially, he chose to have Mabry get the AB he took away from Colbrunn earlier in the game. This is not a good trend and really questionable. Melvin should be quite familiar with how good Colbrunn is and lobbied to bring him here. His usage of Colbrunn so far has been nothing short of strange.
“There’s no point in playing for ties in baseball.”
Despite the faults the past two days, the M’s bullpen is one of the best and deepest in the game. I’d call that a competitive advantage. I’ll take my chances with the Mariners in extra innings over most teams, simply due to the quality of pitchers they are able to run out in the 10th, 11th, and 12th innings. With that said, I think it does make sense to play for a tie with this team.
So what do we know about Bob Melvin, so far? He’s seriously in love with the bunt: not just using it in situations where it’s a wash or makes sense (for instance, getting a runner from 1st to 2nd, or playing for one run at the bottom of the lineup) but also in situations where it clearly does not make sense — sacrificing an out to get the runner from 2nd to 3rd, for instance. For someone who’s supposed to be a human odds calculator, these are bad tactical moves. He seems less predictable calling out the steals than Lou was, but still just as prone to run. As we hear all too often, it would appear Melvin’s in love with the “NL style” of baseball (caution: style may not have anything do do with leagues).
He’s also been willing to flex the lineup around, which is cool. He may be trying to see what he has (though I’d argue this is what spring training is for). He’s reduced Cirillo’s playing time, for one, and he seems almost eager to rest his regulars and see who can take their positions.
However, he’s afraid to make bold moves. And here I mean that while he has a huge bat on the bench in Colbrunn, he seems afraid to use him. This can be attributed to a general fear by managers to make moves in the late innings or extra innings that even marginally degrade their defense, but it remains true that he’s been unwilling to roll the dice and go for the win in tight situations, instead preferring to see how things fall out, and mulling his options. You can also call this ‘caution’ if you want.
Personally, I think you should go for the jugular when you have the opening. If you’ve got men on and low-outs in a late-or-extra inning situation and the guys headed to the plate suck, pinch-hit for them all. Put Greg in there, put John Freaking Mabry, whoever you have on the bench, toss them out there and see if you can end it. If that means you end up with no catcher on the bench and a crazy outfield alignment, so be it. There’s no point in playing for ties in baseball.
Minor League Highlights for Saturday, April 19
Tacoma 5, Las Vegas 3. The Rainiers responded to being shut out by picking up 10 hits on Saturday en route to a victory over the Dodgers AAA club. OF Jalal Leach led the attack with 2 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs scored and Pat Gillick’s Personal Catcher (TM) Pat Borders hit a three run home run to supply the run scoring. RHP Jeff Heaverlo didn’t have his best game of the year, but got the win anyways, going 5 innings, allowing 3 runs on 3 walks and 3 strikeouts. RHP Brian Sweeney was remarkable in relief, striking out 5 in 3 shutout innings. He’s now walked 2 and struck out 19 in 16 1/3 innings of work, posting a 1.65 ERA on the way. RHP Aaron Taylor pitched a scoreless 9th for his 4th save of the year. Rafael Soriano takes the hill for the Rainiers this afternoon.
San Antonio 12, Midland 6. SS Jose Lopez had four hits including two home runs and a triple as the Missions offense broke out in a big way. Lopez entered the game with just 3 extra base hits, all doubles, in 68 at-bats, but added three more during his 4-6 night. DH John Lindsey went 4-5 with a home run and 3B Justin Leone went 3-4 with his 7th double of the year as San Antonio rolled out 10 extra base hits. LHP gave up 4 runs in 4 innings of work, striking out 3 against 2 walks in a game that didn’t showcase his best stuff. LHP Randy Williams got the win in relief by throwing 1 1/3 shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 0.90.
Inland Empire 9, Rancho Cucamonga 1. RHP Cha Sueng Baek had his best performance in several years with 5 innings of one-hit baseball, walking 1 and striking out 5. He had few problems with one of the better line-ups in the Cal League that included rehabbing major league second baseman Adam Kennedy. A very encouraging start for the former top prospect who is coming off several years of assorted injuries. DH Jason Van Meetran led a balanced attack with a 3-4 evening where the 66’ers scored 9 runs despite only getting 1 extra base hit. 2B Ismael Castro and OF Shin-Soo Choo, the two top hitting prospects on the team, both went 0-3, though Castro did draw a pair of walks. They are hitting .204 and .182 respectively so far, but that will change soon enough. Emiliano Fruto gets the call for the 66’ers on Easter Sunday.
Cedar Rapids 4, Wisconsin 3. The T-Rats couldn’t make it a 4-4 day for the M’s farm system, falling in extra innings to the Kernals. RHP Tom Fulmer had his best start of the year despite giving up 3 runs in 5 innings. He posted 8 strikeouts against just 1 walk in those 5 frames. LHP Cesar Jimenez offered 3 shutout innings of relief, but Cedar Rapids got a run off Bryan Heaston in the 10th inning for the win. Wisconsin only managed 3 runs despite 11 hits, 8 of which were doubles. SS Tim Merritt was the only player in the line-up not to get a double, as he went 0-4. C Rene Rivera raised his average to .300 with a 2-5 evening. Beau Hintz takes the mound for Wisconsin this afternoon.