Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Randomization, 04/18/06

<--This man wants to know...Did you pay your taxes? Seriously, you don't want this guy coming after you searching for your taxes. And he will find you. He always does.

Duke players arrested. I don't know how hard it will be to prove a case that is apparently so lacking in physical evidence, but it seems like the prosecution has their work cut out for them. On the surface, this looks like it may turn into the Kobe Bryant case, which was a public relations disaster for, in the end, everyone involved who wasn't named "Kobe Bryant". The players, sophomores Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, have been booked on charges of rape, sexual assault, and kidnapping. Both players maintain their innocence, and defense attorneys still point to the fact that 46 DNA tests of players came back with no matches on the accuser. The prosecution points to court records that say a medical examination of the accuser found injuries consistent with rape, and the fact that the accuser has reportedly identified her attackers with "100 percent certainty" (two of them) and "90 percent certainty" (the other one).

If this goes to trial, it won't be pretty. The defense is adamant that the players didn't do anything wrong - remember, hiring a stripper to "perform" at a college party might be stupid and immature, but it isn't illegal. There are allegations of rape, kidnapping, assault, racial slurs, and fabrication, just to name a few. Names will drag through the mud, and reputations will be harmed - no matter what the truth really is.

On the bright side, if you didn't think this case was getting enough media attention, MSNBC has now camped both Dan Abrams and Rita Cosby in Durham, North Carolina. I'm sure neither of them will go anywhere until this case is solved, because that's just how committed they are to seeking the truth. Well, that's at least what the MSNBC promos want you to believe.

Ned Yost or Ron Gardenhire. Which manager is dumber? Let's start with Yost.

In back-to-back games, he has allowed relief pitchers to get pounded with the game on the line. On Sunday, he inexplicably left Jorge De La Rosa, who should never be allowed within two miles of a close game, in when he couldn't throw strikes and keep them down in the zone. Last night, he allowed Matt Wise to completely blow a three-run lead that the Brewers had taken ten minutes earlier. I'm all for using Wise in the seventh inning last night, but Yost needs to have a quicker hook, especially in close games where the offense has, you know, just given you a three-run lead. Wise never has issues with his location, and maybe Yost just assumed that Wise would work himself out of it. But this isn't the time for assumptions. It's the time for wins. This team is too young for its manager to make mistakes handling the pitchers the way Yost has the last two games. I'm probably overreacting, which is my nature. But I don't like formula managing, and I think managers sometimes have too much faith in their short relief guys on a game-to-game basis. I am not arguing that Wise should lose his job as the Brewers' primary setup man. He's earned that spot. But that doesn't mean I should have to watch him completely implode on a day where he clearly doesn't have his good stuff.

Now, on to Gardenhire. Undoubtedly, Gardenhire has had issues in the past. But he may have reached a new low this weekend. It'll be interesting to see what the lineup is tonight when the Twins host the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California Angels Angels. If Rondell White is still batting cleanup, we'll know for certain that Gardy is having issues. 4 for 47? That's pitcher-esque.

White's OPS? .206.

(Editor's note: OPS=on base+slugging. The league average is usually going to be around .750. So .206 is really bad.)

Why White continued to bat cleanup through the weekend is beyond me. He looked awful in basically every single one of his at-bats against the Yankees, and it got so bad that the Yankees were walking Joe Mauer intentionally to get to the cleanup hitter. Not even the 2003 Detroit Tigers could boast such a horrible cleanup hitter.

Yes, it's early. Yes, the sample size is small. Yes, Rondell White has been a good hitter throughout his career. But a .206 OPS needs to be moved down the order until he works himself out. The Twins have some good young hitters, namely Mauer and Justin Morneau (who seems to have remembered how to hit again after forgetting for much of last season). Veteran free agent acquisition Tony Batista has looked pretty good so far, too. If the pitching comes around like we all think it will, White could be an albatross in the middle of that lineup unless he turns it around.

How good is Sid the Kid? Well, I think he's answered any questions about his game pretty emphatically. Last night, Penguin forward Sidney Crosby had three assists in a win over the Islanders. With those three assists, Crosby became the youngest player in NHL history to score 100 points in a season. Washington's Alexander Ovechkin may be the Calder Trophy winner, but Crosby has been great. The Penguins are a horrific excuse for a hockey team right now, but Crosby still found a way to score 100 points. While the Capitals aren't much better, I'd argue that Ovechkin has a little more to work with than Crosby does. Neither young star will be in the playoffs that start on Friday night, but they are clearly cornerstone players in the "new NHL", and one can only hope that, no matter what you think of the Caps and Pens, these stars eventually get the supporting casts they need to get to the playoffs.

As for the playoffs...More on the NHL later this week, as I'll take a look at the eight-team fields in each conference. The NBA playoffs also start this weekend, so I suppose I'll say a few words about that, too.


Anonymous said...

Bruce, I agree with your stats that you used to compare Yost and Gardenhire, but I'm going to say flat out that Yost is the dumber manager. Why? Gardenhire isn't a dumb manager, he's a victim in Minnesota. A victim of having a team owner who doesn't spend money and a team GM who doesn't know how to evaluate veteran talent. Good or not, no other GM would have gone after Batista, White, Castro, or Sierra with ANY intention of them being anything but spot players if not just signing them outright to minor league contracts. Castro has been a flipping joke and White can't even figure out which end of the bat to hold while looking out the back of his ill placed batting helment. Yeah, and to make matters worse, the Twins have put White in the field, which means it is only a matter of time before he ends up on the DL. Sierra I can write off, I guess, as he's not an every day player, but the rest?

Sad thing is, Gardenhire is headed down the road that only leads to scapegoating. It's only a matter of time before media sources start talking about Gardenhire's potential firing. I maintain it's not his fault that the Twins front office has no intention of fielding a team that is capable of winning. I mean, look at the White Sox. That's a team that is built to win. And tonight, they'll show it by sweeping the hapless Twins.


Bruce Ciskie said...


I think both managers have been hamstrung a bit by budgets and other things that aren't in their control.

However, Gardenhire is notorious for mishandling his pitchers, and he is also well-known for having too much faith in slumping veteran players (White comes to mind immediately).

Ned is sometimes the opposite of Gardy, in that he reacts too quickly to poor games and at-bats by players. But Ned also has too much faith in his regular pitchers, and he leaves them in the game far too long when it's obvious that they're struggling.