Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Pleasure Through Pettifogging

Sometimes, even when you lose, you can appreciate the beauty of a game. Last night saw some excellent pitching, some decent hitting, and was crisply paced. The only thing you could’ve asked for was one more big hit. It didn’t come; they lost. Sometimes there’s not much you can do.

But, that’s not going to stop me from picking nits. That’s what I do best, I guess.

-- I think Frank left Tony Armas in too long, something I said at the time.

Here's what we know.

Big picture: Armas is coming off the latest in a long line of arm injuries; He wasn't throwing especially deep in his minor league rehabs -- the 7th inning seemed to be the max; he wasn't even pitching especially great against minor league pitching; his pitch count, while not exceptionally high was climbing; also, I read somewhere (OMG?) that Armas hasn't pitched past the 7th inning in ages. Reasonably speaking, coming off rehab, six was about the max you could expect.

Little Picture: Armas was tiring. He hadn't been getting hit, but that's not always the sign of fatigue. He was starting to lose command of his pitches. It was especially noticeable against Luis Gonzalez. Armas wasn't hitting Brian Schneider's glove with the crispness he was early in the game. Gonzo walked. Troy Glaus homered. Two-run lead disappeared.

Standing alone it probably wouldn't worry me too much. But, it's another data point in Frank's continuing trend to leave his starters in for one or two batters too long (as long as they're not named Zach Day or Tomo Ohka). We've got a strong bullpen. Sometimes you just need to take the ball.

-- Can someone please explain to me why Ryan Church didn't start? I think Church, as a rookie, should be platooned, but the guy's been our hottest hitter for the last two weeks, and Shawn Estes (or Kirk Rueter earlier) aren't especially tough lefties. They're the ones you want to expose Church to, just to get his feet wet.

-- If he's going to start Jeffrey Hammonds to gain the platoon advantage, why did he have him bunt against a lefty? Especially when Carlos Baerga and the wrong-handed Brian Schneider are the 'sluggers' trying to drive the run in.

-- Why, in a one-run game, did he hit Endy Chavez ahead of Ryan Church. Endy earned a walk (If four wild pitches out of the strike zone count as earning), but that doesn't mean it was the right decision. Was Frank saving him for when the bases were loaded?

Ryan came up later in that inning, with runners on and walked. It seemed like it worked out fine -- Frank got his hottest hitter up, with runners on, but it created the next problem.

-- Hitting Endy before Church forced Frank to double switch Brad Wilkerson out of the game (which didn't matter because Brad probably wouldn't come up again), but it mattered because who ended the final inning? His final inning in a Washington Nationals uniform? Yep, our new number six hitter, I.E. Chavez. If Frank had hit Church there, in all probability, Church would have been hitting in that slot.

I know it's not fair to assume that everything would have happened the same way -- with all the hits and walks -- but, Frank should have been aware of that kind of scenario, just in case.


All that being said, it's hard to pin this one on Frank. We loaded the bases three times. And we got zero runs. We just couldn't get that clutch hit, or even the long fly ball.

Sometimes that happens. It doesn't mean I have to like it though!

It's another tough game to pick a Lame Duck. It's a dirty job, but I have to do it. Sorry, Jamey Caroll. You've been plucky, but you've been getting to much credit lately. You need to be knocked down a peg or two.

And besides, it was either you or Jose Guillen, and because he's been recently canonized, I don't dare touch a potential saint.


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