Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Padilla, Guillen and the DH

There certainly has been a lot of discussion about hit batsmen lately. Vincent Padilla, apparently a leper to his teammates, likes to hit guys after someone hits a homer off of him. It happened earlier in the year against the Yankees and happened again just last week. In the most recent incarnation, Michael Young got drilled in retaliation. Texas players were fed up with having targets on their backs and when Texas drop kicked one of its semi-reliable starters from its roster, there was nothing but praise for their GM by the Rangers' players.

In another news wire story today, White Sox manager, Ozzie Guillen, no stranger to the verbal highlight reels, said he was tired of his guys getting hit and would start hitting players on the other team if it continued. He was quoted as saying that he doesn't care if he gets suspended if it happens.

There are two problems here that have caused the present situation. The American League has the DH. Those who visit the FanDome on a regular basis know the Fan is a conditional lover of the DH. But one of the fall outs of the AL rule is that if the other team feels that its players are targeted, the DH takes the pitcher out of the lineup, so the other team has no other option than to hit another player. Take Padilla for example (which in all likelihood, somebody will). Padilla has his manhood offended by a homer. He decides to get some of his manhood back by plunking a subsequent batter. Padilla doesn't bat. So the opposing team can't go after him. The only option they have is to hit someone like Michael Young.

If the Fan had been the Texas manager, here's how that could have been handled. Obviously, Ranger players have been warned by other teams. Michael Young said so himself after the Yankee incident. Several of his "friends" on the Yankees (read Teixeira, A-Rod and Jeter) told him that Padilla was going to get his fellow Ranger players killed. So, since this is a known problem, the next time it happened, the Fan as manager would insert Padilla in the batting order where the DH is supposed to be. Can you see how that would play out?

Fan as Manager: "Padilla, grab a bat, you're hitting for Blalock."
Padilla: "Que?"
Fan as Manager: "Oh for goodness sake, will somebody bilingual please tell the guy he is going to hit for Blalock."
Bilingual Teammate: [[spanish translation]]
Padilla: "Porque? He Loco?"

Padilla glances at his manager who does a head shake towards the bat rack. Padilla grabs a bat and furiously begs fellow teammates for whatever body armor they wear up to the plate. Finally the umpire walks over and says, "You have a guy to hit or what?"

Padilla walks nervously to the batter's box. He looks out at the pitcher who just smiles at him. Padilla takes the first pitch which is at his feet. Padilla displays a good dance move to get out of the way. He's even more nervous now. The next pitch is a rocket heading right for Padilla's back. No way Padilla has time to get out the way. The sound is something like a hammer hitting a watermelon. Padilla winces and immediately grabs his back. The pitcher on the mound snickers all the way to the dugout after being tossed from the game. Padilla's teammates snicker too as the trainer tries to keep from laughing as he tries to assess the damage. Padilla vows he is never going to "man up" again and hit an opposing batter.

That would fix it. But it will never happen because a manager would be foolish to lose a DH for a game. Now that the Rangers have punted the pitcher, if he signs with a National League club, he better wise up.

The second problem (you have probably lost the reference here as the Fan had a slight diversion of fancy) is that one of the new Nirvanas for pitching is to pitch inside. As Ozzie rightly points out, if you don't know how to do it, don't do it. In other words, pitching inside is a great idea IF you have the control to pull it off. But if you are slightly unaware of where your mechanics are going to take your pitches, pitching inside is probably not a good idea. People can get killed that way. And it might be your own players who get thrown at in retaliation.

Speaking of hit batsmen, did you watch the Sunday night ESPN game with the Red Sox and Yankees? After Damon and Teixeira wrecked Daniel Bard with back-to-back homers, Bard then walked A-Rod. After Okijama came in, Posada doubled to put men on second and third. That brought up Nick Swisher. On the first pitch to Swisher, the pitch came inside and appeared to graze Swisher's uniform. Swisher, an apparent student of the game and the metrics of OBP, looked at the ump and told him he had been hit. The ump didn't see it that way.

Old school Joe Morgan (and the Fan couldn't quite disagree with him) laughed and said something to the effect of, "Why would he want to go to first like that when he has two possible RBIs sitting out there." Such is the vast cavern of thought currently in baseball. Morgan played in the "RBI is king" days of statistical evaluation. Swisher plays in the "OBP is king" days.

It all worked out for Swisher as he hit a single. He got his two ribbies AND a notch on his OBP.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

I really hope Padilla gets what's coming to him in the NL. Not a likable pitcher.

I think OBP is very important, but I'm with Morgan in that situation. I get disgusted when people dismiss the RBI as a statistic.