Monday, September 19, 2005


Many times this season, I've complimented Frank Robinson for his use of the bullpen. While he lacks decorum with dealing with the starters, he's had a fairly magical touch with relievers, usually putting the right guys in the right place to maximum effect (even if I've complained about overuse from time to time.)

That all went out the window on Saturday night. By now you know the particulars of the game; I touched on them in my last post. If not, here's Barry (in a droll sort of way), and here's Zuckerman (in an angry fan sort of way).

Frank simply managed the life out of the game. Certainly the players deserve some of the blame for the lack of execution. But Frank failed at something he's done so well at all year: putting relievers in a position to succeed.

In today's recap of another blown bullpen game, Frank admitted that he managed a 'tight' game on Saturday. He knows he probably didn't handle it in the best way.

The best case for what Frank did wrong is from Nats Blog. It has all the iniative and creativity you've come to not expect from me.

The key point is that Frank managed the game as if he were Mike Hargrove. Hargrove, when he managed the Indians, developed a notoriety for chewing through relievers. When you do that, you'll eventually find one who doesn't have good stuff.

While some of the relievers gave up hits, none of them were getting knocked around. As the bumper sticker says, "Hits Happen." Frank trotted to the mound time and time again, regardless of how well the reliever was throwing. He wanted perfection, dammit.

By the time that Frank got to Cordero, it was too late. The fire was already in full flame.

You can't question Frank's decision to bring in Cordero. At that point, he simply did have to come in. But you can question Cordero's readiness. Given the short amount of time that Travis Hughes was in the game, as well as the number of relievers who were throwing, Cordero probably didn't have a lot of mound time. And, perhaps more importantly, I'm not sure that he was pyschologically ready. With an insurmountable (yeah, right) five-run lead, Cordero started the ninth inning with thoughts of entering the game somewhere below pruning the hedges when he gets back home in his mind. Some of that's youth and inexperience, to be certain. He probably wasn't in the right mindset.

Oh well. Live and learn, I suppose.

Our friends at Nationals Interest disagree with me, and those who would criticize Frank. They say that none of the moves Frank made are counterintuitive. I won't speak for them, though. They do a fine job on their own -- even if I don't agree with their conclusions. I'll have more on that later though.


  • As I said, all the moves make sense, unless you realize we were up by 4. It's like pinch hitting for the pitcher with a man on second makes sense, but not if we're up 6-1 and it's the 4th inning.

    By Blogger Harper, at 9/19/2005 9:59 AM  

  • Frank has the power to conjure up close games. He managed the ninth on Saturday like it was a close game, and, sure enough, that's what he got!

    By Blogger DM, at 9/19/2005 10:09 AM  

  • I'm not so sure about that. We lost by three. Is that really close? ;)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 9/19/2005 10:10 AM  

  • Well, like most conjurers in literature, he often cannot control what he brings to life, and it comes back to destroy him.

    By Blogger DM, at 9/20/2005 10:59 AM  

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