Liss and I were gabbing the other day in the office about just how much a manager matters (Liss is in the "very little" camp, while I have a more nuanced view). Well, here's Exhibit A why a manager's impact is not small: Mike Hargrove on Sunday.
It's hard to recall a worst-managed game. Seriously. No hyperbole intended. Hargrove didn't lose the game (the player's still play), but he did nothing to put the Mariners in a position to win, which is what the manager is supposed to do.
1. After Betancourt doubled to lead off the third, Hargrove called on Ichiro to bunt. Ichiro entered the game hitting .316 and singled in his first at bat. Betancourt is already in scoring position and is speedy enough to score on an Ichiro hit. Plus, Jose Lopez, who homered in his first at-bat, was due up after Ichiro with Raul Ibanez to follow. Ichiro popped out on his bunt attempt. Oh, and it's the third inning.
2. Fifth inning no outs, Ichiro at first, Betancourt at second, Lopez gets the bunt sign this time, sacrificing the runners over. Yes, this is the same Lopez who homered in his first at-bat and who leads the team in RBI (38 at that point). Two on, nobody out, your best run producer at the plate, and you bunt him? With a runner already in scoring position? In the fifth inning?
3. Lopez up With one out in the seventh inning of a 3-3 tie after Ichiro triples. A pretty good spot for the team's RBI leader, right? Hargrove calls for a squeeze bunt, which Lopez pops into a double play. Inning over. Yes, this is the same Lopez who has the highest slugging percentage on the team and second-highest batting average.
4. 10th inning, Ichiro on first, no outs, another Lopez bunt. He couldn't get it down, though, and then swung away and singled to center (imagine that). I get wanting to the move the go-ahead runner into scoring position, but you don't take the bat out of the hands of your best hitter in a tie game.
And this doesn't even mention the numerous base-running blunders (again no hyperbole ... there's been a TON) brought on by Hargrove's "aggressive" approach this season.
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 5/29/2006 5:17:00 PM