Dear Bruce: Could I Ask You a Few Questions?
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Saturday, May 28, 2011
Manager, San Francisco Giants
24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, CA
We don't know each other. I'm just a lowly amateur scribe trying to comprehend some of the personnel decisions you've been making.
I know, I know. Seems audacious that an average Joe like me would be second-guessing decisions by a World Series champion manager like you.
Thing is, I think many of our readers are as curious as I am about some of your recent moves.
Oh, if you're wondering: These things (listed in the ensuing pages) were bugging me before Buster Posey's injury; I'm not interesting in fueling any of the post-Posey panic.
Why Are You so Fixated on Righty/lefty Matchups?
Schierholtz is your best defensive outfielder; he needs to play every day
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
This one has been puzzling me for a while. Since your club is playing (and likely to continue) so many tight, low-scoring games, giving your pitchers every little edge possible seems sensible to me.
But today, you had Nate Schierholtz, your best defensive outfielder, in the dugout while Pat (the Gnat) Burrell was in left and Cody Ross in right. And you had Aaron Rowand in center, with Andres Torres sitting.
Ross misplayed Carlos Gomez' first-inning double into an inside-the-park homer. That run was critical in another frustrating one-run loss. A game Jonathan Sanchez deserved to win.
You must have played Burrell because you thought his right-handed bat was a better option against a tough lefty, Randy Wolf.
Burrell drove in a run. I almost fell off my seat. He still has no homers since April 18, and his batting average has plummeted almost 50 points since late April.
Rowand singled and scored. Good for him. But, Torres also hits right-handed. And he's a superior center fielder.
Just don't get your mixing and matching of outfielders; seems almost like you're over-managing.
When Will You Put Miggy on the Bench?
Tejada's limited range makes him a liability defensively
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Watching Miguel Tejada has gotten painful. Really painful.
He isn't hitting; his average is down to .212 after his latest o-fer.
He's shown himself incapable of playing a competent shortstop and is only passable at third base.
How about giving Manny Burriss some starts at third base and letting Brandon Crawford play every day? Could that conceivably be worse than continuing to put Tejada out there?
Why Was Brandon Belt Promoted If He's Not Going To Play?
Rookie Belt isn't going to develop sitting on the bench
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I've been harping on this for a while. (sorry, readers)
Brandon starts the season in San Francisco, while Cody Ross rehabs. He goes to Fresno when Ross is activated and terrorizes AAA pitching.
He languishes there while your veteran first baseman and outfielders find inventive ways to be non-productive.
Then, after a series of concurrent injuries, he comes back to San Francisco, and you sit him while the same non-productive veterans play. (a couple actually produced today; this is a larger point, about Belt's development)
I hear you're giving him a start on Sunday. Good. About time.
But I fear he'll play off and on while you continue to rotate the non-productive veterans into the lineup, at the cost of Belt's development, if not the team's immediate fortunes.
Why Do You Favor Veterans, Even When They're Not Producing?
After a smashing major league debut, Crawford was back on the bench Saturday
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Wow. It was energizing to watch Brandon Crawford Friday night.
Forget the grand slam. His first at-bat, a solid liner to center, showed me something.
Then there were the several scintillating plays, including balls I doubt your veteran (Tejada) even touches. Great range. A rocket arm. He reeked of confidence.
Reminded me of what good shortstop play the Giants had for years, until Brian Sabean started doing the veteran free-agent dance, signing guys past their prime, on the cheap, while waiting for the farm system to produce a home-grown replacement.
Crawford may not even be the organization's best future option at the position; some consider Ehire Adrianza a better long-term prospect.
But here Crawford is, and after grand-slamming in his debut, he sits the next day. Randy Wolf is a tough lefty, but Crawford would seem to have earned another start.
You did the same with Schierholtz, sitting him in Colorado a day after he hit a tape-measure job into the third deck at Coors Field. It made no sense then, either.
What's Up with Some of Your Bullpen Moves?
Casilla's return gives Bochy another outstanding late-inning option
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Lately, Brian Wilson has worked in some tie-games; mostly you've done this at home, where your club has the sudden-death advantage of the last at-bat. And it worked; Wilson earned three wins after ninth-inning walk-offs.
But, today, in Milwaukee, you put Guillermo Mota, arguably your long/middle relief specialist, into a ninth-inning sudden-death situation, then left him in to struggle through a bases-loaded situation he created for himself.
With Santiago Casilla available for the first time, I can understand your reluctance to put him into such a tense situation. He's had a history of control issues.
But, unless you know something we didn't, you had plenty of relatively fresh arms available. Why stick with Mota?
Please don't tell me it was because you like his veteran-ness.