baseball gods productions

Thoughts about baseball, from the perspective of sports psychology and the role of sports in society. It includes team and player analysis, predictions, and what I think needs to be changed in Major League Baseball. Brought to you from the heart of baseball, Brooklyn, by baseball gods productions.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Relief At Last

Well, the Mets did not follow my blueprint for 2009, but I'm not upset. What they have done instead is to blow up the bullpen and turn it into a monster pen. I really like the moves to get K-Rod and Putz (which sounds like a radio show). The best part of these acquisitions (in addition to getting rid of a couple of guys that the fans had turned on viciously, and unfairly) is that it allows Jerry Manuel to use one closer at the most critical point in the game, and another closer for the 9th inning.

I am one of those people who believe that the way closers are commonly used is not the most effective way to win the most games. My philosophy is that the turning point of most games occurs in the 6th-8th inning, and that is where I want my most dominant reliever. I want my best guys to pitch when the game is tied or within one run either way. I don't want my best guys pitching just the 9th inning, and often with a three (or even more) run lead.

Of course, Manuel will probably do what most managers would do: use Putz for the 8th inning with a one, two, or three run lead, and then use Rodriguez for the 9th if it's still close.

What I would do if I were the manager is this: Put in Putz in the 7th with a tie score, or a one or two run lead and let him pitch two innings, and then use K-Rod. If the Mets are trailing by one in the 8th, I would also use Putz to keep it close, and give the Mets a great chance to tie it up or go ahead. If the Mets have a larger lead (3+ runs) in the 7th, I would put in Putz as soon as the tying run comes to bat. I would ask K-Rod to get 4 outs once in a while if Putz has thrown a lot of pitches in the 7th and 8th.

When the game is tied, or the Mets are trailing by one or leading by one or two, I want Putz and Rodriguez in the game whenever possible. I want my starter to pitch into the 7th or beyond as often as possible, and skip the middle relievers in the really close games.

I hope the Mets keep Feliciano and use him as more than a lefty specialist. He is capable of pitching multiple innings, and he can get out righties better than most lefty specialists. I trust him in pressure situations, and would use him to protect 3+ run leads in the 8th or 9th inning, especially if one or more tough left handed batters are due up. I would use Brian Stokes in a similar way. Sean Green may be able to contribute in these situations as well, so I would try him early in the season and see how he handles it.

The key change I would make is to reprogram relievers to learn how to pitch whenever they are called on, regardless of "role" or expectation. Let the manager decide how to best give the team a chance to win. The starters are not the only pitchers that have been babied, and it has hurt the game immensely. A manager that is willing to do it in a more innovative way will be rewarded with success. I hope Jerry Manuel is one of those managers this year.

© Judy Kamilhor 2008


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