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Sunday, October 12, 2008

About That Suicide Squeeze In ALDS Game 4

I wanted to use this Mike Lupica piece in the New York Daily News (via BTF) as a touchstone for a brief comment on the Angels:
Mike Scioscia is one of the best guys in baseball and usually one of the best managers, but trying for that suicide squeeze in the ninth inning against the Red Sox the other night was such a dumb idea you couldn't believe the city council didn't come up with it.
I didn't have much of a problem with the move at the time, considering that Erick Aybar is a fairly accomplished bunter, and Reggie Willits a fleet runner. But the more I think of it, the more I'm starting to realize that the problem ultimately is that it represented a glaring case where the Angels' singles-n-speed offense simply collapsed. A hit would have gotten that runner home, too, and had this been the 2002 squad, the team would have gotten it. But Erick Aybar is not really a good hitter, and the fact that the Angels were in a position where they needed him to be one says reams about the team's inability to make their offense go in the postseason.

The Angels slugged .511 in the 2002 postseason, about eighty points over their regular season average of .433. That they haven't hit as well as that in any postseason (or really, any regular season) has been the problem, but the Angels continue to hammer away on an offensive strategy that has not only failed to get them past the first round in the main, but didn't work the one year they did (they hit .275/.297/.461 in 2005's ALDS, and only .175/.196/.266 in the ALCS). Power and OBP are how you score runs; everything else is illusion. Unfortunately, the Angels appear to be focused on pitching to the exclusion of fixing their power and OBP problems.


Had Maicer been healthy I think we've seen more playoff production from shortstop, not having to rely on Aybar full time.

Not to excuse the Admiral's failure to put bat on ball perhaps we should've seen a pinch hitter & Wood at SS in the bottom of the frame.

Aybar needs to mature a biot as a hitter, otherwise I don't think he'll be an Angels' shortstop for very long.
I also think the Angels were a deeper team in 2002 (even if the best players on the 2002 might not have been as good all around as the best on the 2008 squad).

Having the best players helps win in the long term. Having a deeper team works in the playoffs.
And yet, Boston didn't exactly slug its way to a win in this division series. True, the Sox won games 1 and 2 on homeruns, but the culprits were Jason Bay & J.D. Drew; "Big Papi" was pretty much silent, as were Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia (the possible league MVP).
Rob -

I thought the squeeze would have been a very good call except that the Red Sox were playing for the squeeze. With a 2-0 count and the Red Sox clearly playing for the squeeze, it was the wrong call.

Otherwise, the squeeze plays well. Aybar is a weak hitter but good bunter; the odds of getting that run in are far better with Aybar bunting than with him trying to make contact.

If Scoscia has Aybar take, the count probably goes to 3-0, and then the Angels can run the safety squeeze. A suicide squeeze isn't a good call because at 3-0 the Red Sox still might not give Aybar a buntable pitch, recognizing that walking Aybar if he takes also sets up an inning-ending double play.
i agree we missed the Mouse.

we had a deep team, but two players made the difference: Jon Lester and Howie.

While you can point Halo hitters didn't get it done, you really have to give Jon Lester and Papelbon credit. But when you look at what Lester did, the difference was as much attributable to him as any Halo failure. On defense, we let our pitching down. Both team's starting pitching was great, but a few mistakes by us - some pitchhes and some fielding plays hurt.

For the first time, we had a team built to get past the first round, at least. And it did fire on some important offensive pistons - But face it, though it was much closer, we got out-pitched. And Howie didn't play well.
Stephen -- but that's supposed to be the beauty of the squeeze: even if the opposition is playing for it, there's not a damn thing they can do about it. The problem is getting that bunt down.

Again, I want to reemphasize here that I don't intrinsically disagree with the call for the squeeze, but I do take it as a sign that Mike Scioscia had no confidence in Aybar to get a hit in that situation. I'm pretty sure that even if he had the contact play on, Aybar would have flubbed it and hit the ball to the left.

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