The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Monday, June 30, 2008

You're The Manager

A little baseball-related mental calisthenics for a Monday morning:

It's a warm Thursday evening in late April. Your team is hosting an evening contest against a pretty decent ball club. They still have some components in their lineup from the team that just a few years prior had won the pennant. As the year goes on, they will be in the thick of things in the race for the pennant, only missing out in the final days of the season.

You, however, are just trying to hold on to your job. This is your third season at the helm of this team (admittedly, an expansion squad), and though your team won more games last year than your first year, they slipped in the standings. Your team has high hopes for the future, though – and it starts with the big ballpark that's going up in the parking lot outside your stadium. You'd love to manage your team there next year, but you have to get through this season first.

Your little ballpark tends to be very pitcher-friendly. Run scoring tends to be low, and tonight's game is proving that fact as both your pitcher (a soon-to-be 31-year-old right-hander) and your opponent's pitcher (a veteran 36-year-old lefty who's been in the majors for two decades) are engaged in a pitcher's duel.

Your starter has the upper hand, as he has gone eight full innings, striking out nine batters, walking two – and not allowing a single hit. However, the veteran lefty (who is getting the spot-start because of the Thursday game) has scattered four hits through seven innings, and hasn't allowed a single one of your players past second base. In fact, last inning was the first time you'd gotten a runner to second – and he was promptly eliminated on a strange shortstop-to-third-to-shortstop double play.

It's now the bottom of the eighth. Your lead-off batter, the left fielder who may end up as the future of the franchise, finally lines a double to center. Your center fielder, batting seventh, strikes out – only the fourth strike out victim on your side of the night. You're a bit tentative about asking your catcher to sacrifice bunt, as he's not very swift of foot (he will hit into 6 double plays this year, and get caught both times he attempts to steal) and he isn't very good about getting the bat down. He proves this by popping up to foul ground, where the first baseman nabs it for the second out.

So, it's decision time. Do you remove your pitcher for a pinch hitter, or do you let him hit?

Here's a few things to consider:

So - what do you do? (No fair if you figured out who was playing and what game this was.)

If you really want to know what happened... try going over here. Or, if you want a bit more in-depth, go over here.

I would personally bet that 90% of all managers in the majors today would have pinch-hit for their starting pitcher – regardless of the situation.