Saturday, May 01, 2010
Baserunning Blunders, Down Shields Doom Angels: Tigers 3, Angels 2
I suppose you can understand it. Aggressive baserunning is a Mike Scioscia trademark, but it also presupposes having the players to execute it, and Matsui isn't really one. Certainly, he's not Chone Figgins, and you can see the collision between Scioscia's philosophy and the players Tony Reagins got him in the offseason.
I don't mean to pick on Matsui exclusively, but his position in the lineup somewhat forces my hand; he's one of the team leaders in on base events (hits, walks, and hit-by-pitches), which necessitates him running. In fact, going into the game — and in this order — the top four players in on-base events were Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, and Kendry Morales, all of whom save for Hunter are unaccomplished runners. I doubt Scioscia will learn anything from this, and it's not really clear there was a lesson to learn anyway. Discretion may be the better part of scoring from second, but Scioscia will always say it's better to have run and lost. That's especially true with the horrifically slumping Mike Napoli due up behind Rivera.
None of this, of course, is to excuse Shields' incompetence today; he hasn't looked right at all this year, and that included spring training. Contract or no, I wouldn't be surprised to see the organization cut him loose if he can't right himself before the end of May.
With respect to "unaccomplished" base runners, did you really mean to suggest that Bobby Abreu, with 351 career steals, belongs in that category?
I find that this blog tends to the pessimistic side, but I had very similar thoughts about Shields's future, though the Angels stuck with Speier until August last year. Let's see if Scioscia adopts that certain tone when the stuff is about to hit the fan.