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Thursday, June 22, 2006

BRAINS
Let me start off with a micro issue that I was unable to get to yesterday.

We lost Tuesday's game due to, in chronological order, Adam Kennedy making an error, Mike Scioscia engaging in the worst strategy of all time, and John Lackey pussyfooting around an opposing pitcher at the plate.

Adam's error, that's obvious.

Mike Scioscia's mistake was, with two outs, intentionally walking the number eight batter to get to the pitcher, Matt Morris. I loathe this strategy with every ounce of my being. Most number eight hitters are not very good, and not worth pitching around; let your pitcher attack him. Sure, that guy'll get a hit every now and then, but more often than not you're going to come out ahead.

And if the best case scenario happens and you retire the pitcher, that means your opponent gets to start the next inning at the top of its order, which is a fairly large advantage over starting with the pitcher leading off. Nine times out of ten, the top of the order will be left with only two outs to play with, which obviously cuts down on how many runs they can score.

Of course, there's also the worst-case scenario, which is that the opposing pitcher gets a hit and knocks in a run (or more), and that's exactly what happened to the Angels on Tuesday. John Lackey, once again refusing to trust his fastball, threw roughly three or four straight slurves to Morris, which were fouled off and/or taken for balls, leaving a 3-2 count in which Lackey had no choice but to come into the zone with a fastball.

Morris was sitting on it, of course, and Lackey threw it knee-high and away, where Morris was able to basically throw the bathead out at it and slap it down the rightfield line for a two-run double. This was in large part a result of Lackey's pitching defensively instead of assertively, going with high-risk/high-reward off-speed pitches (which are less frequently in the zone) instead of challenging Matt Freaking Morris -- a career .158 hitter -- before falling behind in the count.

Of course, another big reason we lost that game was because of the ineptitude of our offense, which brings us to the macro issues due to be discussed by Scioscia, Bill Stoneman, and Arte Moreno today.

Unfortunately, the spin given in that linked LA Times report is that topics of discussion will include what young players we may be able to give up to acquire established slugger or big bat. The Reverend has opened up a discussion on this very topic at Halos Heaven.

I fear that this is the backward way to be doing things; no one hitter is likely to provide that much assistance at this point. Any moves to be made should be made with an eye toward the future, assuring that we will be a competitive team in the next five years and beyond. That obviously doesn't mean we should go out of our way to sacrifice today at the future's expense, but I don't want to see the future mortgaged so that we can make a push in a weak division that already has our number in 2006.

One name mentioned in that article is Miguel Tejada, who might well cost us Orlando Cabrera (whose trade value will never be higher) and Erick Aybar or Brandon Wood. I'm not saying we should make a trade along those lines, but as Tejada is under contract through 2009 and is still going strong, it's at least a move that would have some future benefits, and is worth considering.

Ditto the talk of acquiring Carl Crawford, who could theoretically solve the centerfield problem through 2008. I don't want to give up Ervin Santana for him, but, again, that's a move with an eye to the future.

At the other end of the continuum you see the names of Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee mentioned. Good hitters both, but each is a free agent at the end of this year, and neither will single-handedly drag our offense to respectability. Moves such as acquiring these (and they would demand some of our brightest prospects and young players) have no eye toward the future, and would merely represent a futile attempt to try to drag our team to ... something.

I don't want to see this organization panic just because a bunch of veterans are underperforming at the major league level. This is still a team in good shape, and the current struggles of the flagship do not change that. We don't need to ruin 2008 and 2009 to quixotically drag 2006 to where it should be.

Comments:
I say we salvage all the parts from the useless players and trade that player for a bat. We'll take JMo's arm, punter's desire, Salmon's approach, Garret's bat, and trade them for what's left of Steve Finley.

Deal!
 
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