Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Stealing The Facts

One of the annual rites of Spring Training has passed. The team's manager has complained about stolen bases, and how this, Goshdarnit, will be the year the team finally gets off its keister and runs. Witness stories here and here.

The MLB.com quote is different than the WaPo's version, and includes this nugget:
"We had the personnel last year to steal bases, but it's a mind set"

It's hard to disagree with the fact that it's a mindset, I suppose. But we had the personnel?
Player         Career High in SB     Career SB %
Schneider 1 25
Johnson 6 48
Vidro 5 57
Castilla 7 43
Guzman 28 66
Wilkerson 13 55
Guillen 5 47

I left out the bench, and the players who weren't regulars.

Keep in mind that unless you're breaking 67%, you're probably costing the team runs.

This comment is precisely why I have a problem with Frank as manager. He tries to shoehorn the players on his team into his predesigned strategy. That's the reason there were so many blown hit and runs, and it probably contributed to all the pickoffs -- even if Brad Wilkerson should take the brunt of the criticism.

This isn't a team built on speed. That's not to say that they shouldn't steal bases. But it can't be forced, and it has to come in the right situations. Vinny Castilla, for example, had his own stolen base party off Mike Piazza last year. That's great! But when Brad Wilkerson is running and Junior Spivey is at the plate, there's no excuse for calling a hit and run.

I hope this is just typical spring training manager talk. If it's not, the Nationals are going to be running into far too many outs on the bases -- outs that their weak bats need badly.


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