Friday, April 6, 2007

It's not a New Season Until...

...Joe Torre makes his first tactical error.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, with the game tied 6-6, Torre sent Miguel Cairo in the game as a pinch runner for Jason Giambi at second base. There were runners on first and second, and two out, with Jorge Posada at bat.

Once again, this took place in the seventh inning. Not the bottom of the ninth. Torre was gambling that Cairo's (nebulous) speed would prove the difference on a single to the outfield, and that he would have a better chance of scoring the potential winning run than Giambi would.

But how smart a gamble was it?

Of Jorge Posada's 5,094 career plate appearances, 697 have resulted in a single. So Cairo/Giambi would only have the chance to score on a single about 14 percent of the time. Any result other than a single would have rendered the substitution pointless.

Moreover, the difference in speed between the two runners would not come into play on every single. On some singles, even a runner as sluggish as Giambi could score from second. On others, even Cairo would have had to hold at third or been thrown out the plate. Let's be generous and say that on about half the singles Posada could potentially hit, Cairo would score and Giambi wouldn't.

That means Torre was taking one of his most dangerous hitters out of the lineup in favor of one of his most pathetic for a measly 7 percent chance of scoring the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. In a game where Giambi could very easily have had one or more additional critical at-bats.

Sure as he drinks green tea, the move came back to bite Torre. Posada grounded out, the Devil Rays took the lead in the eighth, and Josh Phelps came to bat (against a righty) in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line instead of Giambi.

Last night's was a sloppy game, and there is no guarantee that the Yankees would have won even if Giambi had remained in the lineup, but Torre significantly harmed the team's odds of winning. Which is the exact opposite of what a manager is supposed to do.

UPDATE: In their live game blog, Replacement Level points out that having Melky Cabrera bunt in the eighth inning was similarly retarded.

With Joe Girardi sounding sane and rational in the broadcast booth, Torre's idiot-syncracies are going to be harder to take than ever.