Just jaw-droppingly horrible

Dave · May 28, 2006 at 2:13 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I’m on record as stating that, by and large, managers don’t matter. They’re basically all the same. They all do pretty much the same things in the same situations, and with only a few exceptions, they all make decisions that will lead to the least amount of public criticism, regardless of whether it’s in the best interests of the team. Good teams can, and often do, win in spite of their manager.

But sometimes, if they’re nutty enough, managers can have a big impact on a ballgame. Today, Mike Hargrove has been a disaster. As mentioned in the game thread by Dave Clapper, “If Pete Rose had managed this way, they’d have used it as evidence that he was betting against his own team.”

I mean, just look at this:

Seattle – Top of 3rd
Y Betancourt doubled to left.
I Suzuki bunt popped out to first.

Ichiro’s hitting about .800 the last few weeks. Betancourt’s already in scoring position with nobody out and the top of the line-up coming up. Bunting in this position is absurd. The Mariners didn’t score.

Seattle – Top of 5th
Y Betancourt reached on infield single to third.
I Suzuki singled to left, Y Betancourt to second.
J Lopez sacrificed to third, Y Betancourt to third, I Suzuki to second.

Jose Lopez, in his first two at-bats, homered and walked. He leads the team in homers and RBI’s. There is already a man in scoring position. The run expectancy in this situation, on average, is 1.6 runs. With Lopez/Ibanez coming up, it’s higher than that. The M’s came away with one run.

Seattle – Top of 7th
I Suzuki tripled to deep right center.
J Lopez bunt popped into double play, pitcher to third, I Suzuki out at third.

The infield was in, making a hit far more likely than normal and the squeeze far less likely to succeed than normal. Any ball in the outfield likely scores Ichiro. Bunting here with Lopez, again, is absurd.

Seattle – Top of 9th
W Bloomquist singled to center.
R Rivera sacrificed to first, W Bloomquist to second.
Y Betancourt grounded into fielder’s choice to shortstop, W Bloomquist out at third.
Y Betancourt caught stealing second, catcher to second.

After a leadoff single, the run expectancy with average hitters coming up would be .94. In other words, if the M’s just swing the bats, they’re pretty darn likely to score, even with Rivera and Betancourt due up. Bunting the runner to second reduced the run expectancy to .73. Rivera’s a pretty bad hitter, so that might be defensible if it was an isolated incident. Bloomquist’s baserunning gaffe, certainly a result of the Agressive Baserunning philosophy Hargrove has pounded into the team, made the entire bunt useless, though. And then more Aggressive Baserunning ends the inning. Just an abomination of an inning.

Seattle – Top of 10th
I Suzuki reached on infield single to second.
J Lopez singled to center, I Suzuki to second.

What’s not shown here is that Lopez attempted 4 bunts before swinging away. That’s right – he was having Jose Lopez, the team’s best hitter to date, lay down a third consecutive sac bunt. Thankfully, he couldn’t get it down, and he then got a base hit on his only swing of the at-bat.

Seattle – Top of 11th
Eddie Guardado pitching for Seattle
L Ford homered to right center.

Guardado has had a severe problem with the longball. Putting him into a tie ballgame on the road, where a home run ends the game, is just foolish. Especially with J.J. Putz just twiddling his thumbs in the bullpen.

This was just an amazing display of out-wasting by Mike Hargrove. Mismanaging your job that poorly, in any other environment, gets you a reprimand and possibly terminated.

Mike Hargrove earned his pink slip today. When he’s fired, they simply have to show him tape of this game, because no amount of excuses can wave away just how terrible he was today.

Just astoundingly bad. Fire Mike Hargrove.


124 Responses to “Just jaw-droppingly horrible”

  1. Zero Gravitas on May 28th, 2006 9:27 pm

    The other night I was going to watch the M’s, checked the internet, and saw our first 3 hitters all went 1-for-1 to start the game, yet no runs scored because our 4-5-6 hitters all went 0-fer. Decided not to watch the rest of the game. Today I turned on the radio and heard Niehaus talking about Bloomquist going back to catch a fly ball in centerfield. Shortly thereafter the Twins tied it. Decided not to watch. Hargrove is seriously costing the M’s fans now because what he’s done to the team is make them unwatchable. I am NOT going to spend my holiday weekend watching Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson ground out/pop up/strike out 5 times a game and watching Willie Bloomquist try to learn centerfield, while Petagine and Reed ride the pines. This is all Hargrove’s fault. With a decent manager this isn’t a great team, but at least they’d be fun to watch. Why does he have to spoil that with his crappy lineups and awful bullpen moves. Guy is just killing me. He is sucking my will to live. 3-day weekend and I haven’t had the stomach to watch a single ballgame.

  2. Phoenician Todd on May 28th, 2006 9:57 pm

    And the reason he didn’t start Everett today? He wanted to rest his “weary” legs by not playing him on the turf. Hello? How much time does he spend on the turf anyway? He is the designated hitter, isn’t he?

  3. pablothegreat on May 28th, 2006 10:00 pm

    Isn’t the surface at the Metrodome FieldTurf? I’ve run around on that stuff quite a bit and it’s softer than grass. Also, Hargrove is a moron.

  4. pinball1973 on May 28th, 2006 10:03 pm

    I only had to read the reviews, and not be tortured by this truly stunning display of bu–sh–. I never got more than annoyed at the last managerial impersonator, appropriately initialled B.M. (he did little harm, after all). I cannot stand following a Hargrove game even through Gameday, however. Yesterday was the pits, and today was far, far worse even to read about. It actually has me blaming the manager, fully, for the play on the field.


    I’ll just be checking the box scores and rooting from a fuzzy distance till this Human Reef is removed from the Mariners course. I wish the players the best, and promise to return when they can play w/o obstruction from evidential the worst manager in baseball, for many, many years.

  5. Phoenician Todd on May 28th, 2006 10:09 pm

    I was so fed up by this crap that I felt the urge to send feedback via the Mariners website. Completely useless but a bit cathartic. Man, and since I get to be up in Seattle for about the next month, I was looking forward to going to some games. Now I guess I’ll watch them from the hotel bar and boo Hargove and hope that a foul-ball renders him unable to coach for several months or manages to fix what is so obviously wrong with his head that calls for Lopez bunts. And WFB starting in CF. And Sexons starting at 1b all the time…

  6. Phoenician Todd on May 28th, 2006 10:17 pm

    I’ve heard people say very positive things about Corey Brock, so I wanted to see what he wrote about the game. After I read his recap of the game, I began to wonder how much he has to toe the party line or else be relieved of his job there. No mention of the excessive bunting by Lopez, only that he is one of the best bunters. ARGH!!

  7. DMZ on May 28th, 2006 10:43 pm

    MLB.com writers essentially can’t write bad things about players or teams. So if you’re a Royals writer, you can’t say that Baird’s done a horrible job — you have to skirt the whole issue.

    Corey did a stellar job writing for the Tacoma News Tribune earlier this year before he got hired for MLB.com, but this is a different job.

  8. Jim Thomsen on May 29th, 2006 1:19 am

    The P-I labels Ichiro’s choice in the 10th inning as a “gaffe”:

    Ichiro pointed fingers only at himself.

    “I second guess myself on that one,” he said.

    “I put too much thought into the score. If (he tags up), at worst I’m at third base with one out if the ball is caught, and if the ball isn’t caught, the bases are full.”

    Third base coach Carlos Garcia said the line drive was a tough read. But the play had to be made.

    “I knew he had to tag up and go to third,” Garcia said. “Everybody in the stadium knew it.”

  9. Gromky on May 29th, 2006 1:21 am

    Hmm. The good run expectancy tables I have seen also show the odds of scoring at least 1 run. That makes more sense, there are times you play for one run (if it’s the bottom of the ninth, tied…you don’t have to maximize runs, you just have to score). From previous years going from a runner on first and no outs to a runner on second and one out increases the odds of scoring 1 slightly while lowering the overall run expectancy. But if a runner is in scoring position giving up an out only hurts your chance of scoring 1, on top of screwing your run expectancy.

    And everything has to be adjusted for the person at the bat, because run expectancy is an average of players. Any manager who bunts with Pujols should be shot, but when a pitcher is at the plate bunting can become a great idea. Everywhere in the middle is a gray area, but in general the bunt is the most self-destructive strategy in baseball.

  10. Jim Thomsen on May 29th, 2006 1:24 am

    Bob Finnigan weighs in:

    “But the biggest miss on the bases seemed to be Ichiro’s failure to make third on Ibanez’s deep line drive.

    “We said this before: It’s the toughest read on the bases,” Hargrove said. “As hard as that ball was hit, it was a difficult decision for Ichiro, to tag up or go halfway. The worst thing that can happen is you don’t advance to third, which is what happened.”

    Ichiro said, “On a play like that, you consider the score. And I put too much thought into the score, which was my mistake. If the ball falls in, you can go to third. But you can score, too, on that play.”

    Would he second-guess himself or let it go? “Both,” he said.

  11. Jim Thomsen on May 29th, 2006 1:25 am

    Finnigan bizzarely editorializes at the end of his game story:

    “But how normal can it be when fate decrees that Seattle’s leading run producer, Lopez, comes up three times to bunt?”

    Fate decrees?

  12. Jim Thomsen on May 29th, 2006 1:27 am

    What a great relief it is to know that it’s Ichiro, not Hargrove, who’s killing the team.

  13. Mat on May 29th, 2006 1:52 am

    Isn’t the surface at the Metrodome FieldTurf? I’ve run around on that stuff quite a bit and it’s softer than grass. Also, Hargrove is a moron.

    I’ve been on the Metrodome’s old turf for their fan fest during the offseason a few years back. That stuff made my (completely healthy) lower back and knees ache after just walking/standing around on it for three or four hours. While I’m sure the FieldTurf is better, I think you have to keep in mind that the FieldTurf there is still essentially sitting on top of a big slab of concrete. The FieldTurf I’ve been on outdoors is just as good as, if not better than real grass, but it also wasn’t sitting on a big slab of concrete.

    That said, the better reason to keep Everett out of the lineup today is that he doesn’t hit lefties particularly well. Giving him a day off is a bonus. And while I’d like to see Petagine play more, having him hit against one of the best lefties in the game isn’t really an ideal situation either.

    If Beltre and Everett were going to get a day off during this series, it seems like it would’ve made better sense to give them Saturday night off, let Morse play 3rd against a pretty mediocre right-hander and let Petagine DH against that same mediocre right-hander. Then, maybe have Beltre play 3B on Sunday, when you know you’re going to want to play good ‘D’ because you’re facing Santana, and let Everett get his hacks in against Santana, because the difference between Morse and Everett against Santana probably isn’t very big.

    Of course, that means you have to plan ahead and can’t just follow the lazy “give the regulars some rest on a day game following a night game” by-the-book strategy. Sometimes it really baffles me how much managers could seemingly optimize by just looking a couple days ahead.

  14. Dave on May 29th, 2006 5:50 am

    “We said this before: It’s the toughest read on the bases,” Hargrove said. “As hard as that ball was hit, it was a difficult decision for Ichiro, to tag up or go halfway. The worst thing that can happen is you don’t advance to third, which is what happened.”

    Actually, Mike, the worst thing that can happen is that he gets thrown out trying to advance.

    Hargrove’s post game quotes are just awful. He sounds like a deranged lunatic trying to defend his actions.

  15. jpwood on May 29th, 2006 7:53 am

    Hargrove has gotten so bad that he’s outside even his own bubble now.

  16. patl on May 29th, 2006 8:54 am

    #111 – obviously, Fate dictated The Book, and in particular Hargrove’s unique Appendix to The Book.

  17. argh on May 29th, 2006 9:43 am

    Corey did a stellar job writing for the Tacoma News Tribune earlier this year before he got hired for MLB.com, but this is a different job.

    Speaking of writing for MLB.com, what is the going rate for putting lipstick on a pig these days?

  18. David J. Corcoran I on May 29th, 2006 9:48 am

    Why would they hire anybody with particular writing talent to work for MLB.com? All it takes is the ability to summarize the manager’s statements and present them as fact.

  19. msb on May 29th, 2006 9:53 am

    so far, the only person who expresses an opinion about the squeeze (other than just saying it failed) is McGrath, who has a column about Hargrove…

    “Felix Hernandez’s best start of the season was wasted on Friday, the triple play turned by the Twins is all that’s needed to describe Saturday, and then came Sunday, when the manager probed the bandbox dimensions of the “Homerdome” and put down a baffling procession of bunt signs. The third-inning squeeze play with Ichiro Suzuki on third base and Jose Lopez at the plate might’ve been the single-worst strategic move since Coca-Cola briefly decided to change its recipe 21 years ago.”

  20. billy1 on May 29th, 2006 10:07 am

    I totally agree that while Hargrove should and probobly will be fired soon, not all base running moves are his direct fault. However, he can be held responsible for creating an atmosphere of acceptance when they happen. The lack of tagging up by Ichiro last night was on Ichiro, that was a slam-dunk mistake, he could have crawled to third which would have obviously changed the game. Other people making stupid decisions on the bases should not affect the decision there. Third base coach needs to help but ultimately Ichiro needs to know time and situation and get to third base.

  21. msb on May 29th, 2006 10:52 am

    I think by the 10th inning of the third mismanaged & played game in row, a certain amount of desperation might hamper clear thought….

  22. John in L.A. on May 29th, 2006 11:24 am

    120 – “However, he can be held responsible for creating an atmosphere of acceptance when they happen.”

    I would go one step further than that – he is responsible for creating a “philosophy” of aggressove baserunning.

    I haven’t gone through the game threads, but I know this sent a shiver up my spine the second I heard the words and that it was criticized the moment the season started. It is a philosophy of losing clubs and of desperation and it *never* makes a club better… by defition it is not *smart* baserunning, which is the ONLY baserunning philosophy any team should ever have.

    It was a disaster from game one (possibily two, but right from the start) and I have never, ever, watched a team self-destruct on the bases like this one.

    That’s on Hargrove. Either because it was his idea, or because he accepted it.

  23. billy1 on May 29th, 2006 11:47 am

    122- Agreed, that was an embarrassing display of little league base running, aggressive and stupid are different things. Just have to re-assert that at least the 2 instances that I noticed, Ichiro, and the triple-play were just boned up by the runners on base. Beltre should have better recognition of where the ball is hit and freeze, making sure that at least the Twins turn the the play honestly, and Everett, judas priest, there is just no way he should round third base for any reason,(base coach should be screaming to stop and pointing at the bag). Will beat the dead horse on Ichiro, extra-innings, ball hit to warning track in right field, tie game, few steps off, then tag up.

  24. Celadus on May 29th, 2006 4:46 pm

    This is way late, but I’m responding to the poll about getting Hargrove to not bunt with Lopez. One of the options was for Hargrove to watch himself batting on ESPN Classic.

    That option would have drawn more votes if it were more specific. Namely, forcing Hargrove to watch himself bat against Diego Segui.

    As most of you know, Hargrove used to the called “The Human Rain Delay.” Segui had just as many twitches and idiosyncrasies as Hargrove. They didn’t face each other all that often, which is a good thing, because some of those games might still be going on.

    After a pitch Hargrove would step out and proceed through his rituals. By the time he stepped back in, Segui would be tired of waiting and go through his rituals again. This sequence was repeated often, much too often.

    If you have any hyper snowboarder friends that you’d like to drive crazy, I recommend scouring the archives for one of their longer at bats. Play it over and over and pretend to be fascinated at the psychological intricacies of two master baseball strategists as your friend squirms with impatience and a sudden desire to pee on your shoes.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.