Part of being a baseball writer and fan is to criticize. We dump on players, managers, GM’s, umps … and, in some markets, the ballboys and peanut vendors.
Today, though, I want to give credit where credit is due.
You’re doing a great job, Ron Washington.
What makes me say this? Two recent RotoWire player updates caught my attention.
The first: Nelson Cruz will be eased into the lineup and will graduate to a full-time role as the season progresses.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this one. At first, I thought this was a great idea. Why throw your young star to the wolves? Pick your spots early, get him comfortable, and let him progress at a rate that’s comfortable for him and the team.
Then I turned against the idea. Everyday at-bats are crucial for a young player, I said to myself. To learn and improve, Cruz needs to be in the lineup just about always.
Finally, I took a step back and looked at the big picture. Maybe this is a good idea, maybe it isn’t. Regardless, I commend Washington for this decision. He has constructed a plan that he thinks will aid Cruz now and will help Cruz reach his potential down the road. Many times when we criticize managers, we ask, “What was he THINKING?” Well, Washington’s handling of Cruz proves he’s putting a lot of thought into the decisions he makes. I like that.
The second: Kevin Millwood and the other Texas starters will be limited to 100 pitches the first two times through the rotation.
This makes Washington one of my favorite managers ever. Every year, I write a column about pitcher overuse, and I plan on having Pitcher Overuse Week here in The O-Zone later this season. It really bothers me when good pitchers -- perhaps the game’s most precious resource -- are used and abused. I find it refreshing to see a manager who understands how dangerous high pitch counts can be, especially early in the season. As with his Cruz decision, Washington is thinking about what’s best for his players -- and his team -- both now and later.
Bravo, Mr. Washington.