It has been said that the definition of stupid is doing the same wrong thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome.
As cruel as it might sound, I believe the industry of major league baseball is stuck in a method of managing of pulling your starters before they are cruising. Continuing to use the same failed pitching mistakes continues to only lead a team into more and more losses, and wasted efforts of the starting pitcher.
I believe New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel is a stupid person, and one of the worst culprits of this pitching change phenomenon.
He obviously does not read my Bleacher Report articles .
What else would there be to explain why he continues to pull the best pitcher in baseball, Johan Santana, out games in which he is pitching great? Can you honestly believe that was the correct move today against the San Francisco Giants?
Especially when your team needs a victory in the worst way to avoid being swept in the first four games on this important road trip?
How about the Sunday game before the All-Star break against the Atlanta Braves ? Does Manuel himself honestly believe pulling Santana AFTER SEVEN SHUTOUT INNINGS of a game against the leader of the NL East was the correct move?
Well, Santana did already throw 107 pitches in that game. OMG! Call the papers!
And the Mets were only ahead 2-0 in that Braves game. Why would you remove your best pitcher in that game to put the ball in the hands of Bobby Parnell?
Granted, the Mets did win both games, but Manuel has to realize (especially after Frankie Rodriguez blew another save today) that Santana, no matter how many pitches he has thrown, is the best option for him at the end of the game.
Check out the photo accompanying this article. It is the on-field hand slapping between Manuel and Santana after Johan was allowed to finish his own game.
It might never happen again.
Manuel already managed the Mets into many losses this season by pulling Santana early, and even pulling R.A. Dickey in this game where the Mets had Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals beaten.
Parnell and K-Rod gave up four runs in two innings in the eighth and ninth, but I doubt that Dickey would have allowed any more runs to the that Nats lineup. In watching the recorded game later on, they looked flustered trying to hit Dickey’s hard knuckle ball.
But Dickey threw 115 pitches already. What are we doing Jerry, trying to save the 35-year-old journeyman’s arm?
I remember driving home that day from umpiring a double header and listening to the game on the radio. I smiled when I heard that Dickey was being removed from the game. That gave the Nationals a chance.
But let’s get back to the Mets’ most effective, and highest paid, starting pitcher.
I don’t care how many pitches he has thrown into the later innings. If the game is tight and Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, or Albert Pujols was coming up, I WANT MY BEST PITCHER TO FACE THEM in that situation.
I already got on Manuel’s crosstown manager, Joe Girardi, last week regarding his pitch count limit shenanigans .
And it is not just Manuel and Girardi, but MLB in general. This entire notion that a middling relief pitcher, who isn’t good enough to be a starting pitcher and is not good enough to close games, is better than one of your starting pitchers when a game is tight is ridiculous. You can see this trend as middle relievers continue to get more and more win/loss decisions.
In 2008, Manuel pulled Santana early in four games which the Mets either held the lead or was tied but eventually lost , including two heartbreakers to the Philadelphia Phillies on July 4 and July 22 .
I heard on today’s radio broadcast that Santana had eight leads that season in which the Mets bullpen could not hold the lead.
How about Santana holding the lead?
Not until I wrote a piece two years ago did much talk center on letting Santana go longer in games because he is the team’s best pitcher, not Pedro Feliciano, not Fernando Nieve, not Elmer Dessens, not even the newly-anointed eighth inning guy Bobby Parnell or K-Rod are better than Johan Santana in these spots.
If you are talking pitch counts, and that Santana needs to be preserved for an August/September stretch run, there won’t be a late stretch run if Manuel continues to micro-manage the Johan Santana-pitched Mets games.
During those two Phillies games in July 2008, Santana had thrown 95 and 105 pitches, respectively, before he was pulled with a lead. As a reminder, the Mets lost the National League East by three games last season to those same Phillies, but were out of the National League Wild Card by a single game.
Leaving Santana in those four games when he was pulled would have likely returned three victories for the Mets.
If I am Manuel, I don’t care if Santana is at 95, 105, 115, or 135 pitches on a specific night. If Santana is still dealing and getting guys out, he is the man to be in the game. Not the aforementioned middle relievers.
And do not pinch hit for him late either when there is no one on base or two outs in an inning. Having Santana on the mound is more important than gambling on getting a late insurance run.
Despite some successes this season, the Mets rotation is far from elite. The Mets need to win every game that Santana pitches, and that means letting your ace pitch very deep into games, if not a complete game every time out.
Then you can use the bullpen to try and bail out Mike Pelfrey, Jonathan Niese, and new rotation member R.A. Dickey—because you know Manuel, for a variety of reasons, is not going to be allowed those guys to go the distance.