Why I Don’t Trust Jerry in a Pennant Race

An article by posted on June 30, 2010

I have a feeling that I would really enjoy having a philosophical conversation about life with Jerry Manuel. A conversation about baseball strategy? Not so much. Jerry says and does a lot of incomprehensible things when it comes to running a baseball team and last night’s game against the Marlins took the cake. While I certainly appreciate the way J-Man has this team fighting until the last out in every game, I have zero confidence that Jerry’s in-game decisions will ever steal games for the Mets and, in fact, his poor strategy and decision-making (especially his use of the bullpen) will lose us some and could cost a playoff spot.

Although none of the following poor decisions directly led to last night’s loss, they could have prevented a victory and were out and out bad moves, regardless of the outcome.

1. Starting Fernando Tatis over Ike Davis: Okay, so this may be a bit picky. I understand the idea of trying to get everyone on the team at-bats. But why would you choose to rest Davis on a day when a soft-tossing lefty is throwing, the day after a loss and when you know that Tatis is probably history when Carlos Beltran comes back. And excuse me, but if you play Tatis, why would you bat him in front of Frenchy?

2. Pitching K-Rod in the 8th inning in a road game when you’re down by two runs: Alright, I’ve had enough of this catering to K-Rod and jumping through hoops to get him into games. I don’t care who it is and how long he hasn’t been in a game. You do not bring in your closer in the 8th inning of a road game you are losing 6-4, which is tantamount to admitting you think you’re going to lose and you may not be able to get him in for the 9th. Absolutely ludicrous. Your closer sits on his butt in the pen until you tie the game or take the lead and he can shut down the opposition and ensure the win.

3. Not pinch-running for Rod Barajas in the 9th: You’re down 6-4 and one of the slowest runners on the team gets a leadoff single. You have Alex Cora on the bench to run but instead of getting him in immediately so the bases aren’t clogged, you wait until Chris Carter–a faster runner than Barajas–hits a triple that is only a double because Barajas was the guy running on the play. Not to mention the fact that there were two other catchers on the bench so it’s not like you have to save Barajas. Did someone say “asleep at the switch?”

4. Pinch-hitting Josh Thole for Ruben Tejada: Yes, I know Thole got the hit to tie the game, but does he really have that much more power and contact ability in that spot–coming cold off the bench–than Tejada does, especially with the infield in? The issue here is that when you have already started emptying your bench and the game may go into extra innings, why use another player when it’s not that much of an advantage.

5. Pitching Pedro Feliciano in the 9th of a tie game: Oh, I get it. He’s now the 8th inning guy so since K-Rod pitched the 8th, they had to flip flop, even though there were all righthanded hitters coming up for the Marlins and Igarashi was available and perhaps if you take the lead in the 10th you can have Pedro as the closer. When is Jerry and everyone else who overrates Feliciano going to get it into their heads that Feliciano cannot get out righties consistently. And even when he does get a couple–like the first two last night–it’s only a matter of time until they get to him.

6. Not walking Uggla to pitch to Ross: Yeah, yeah, I know all about Uggla having more holes in his swing than Ross, but you have to set up a force play in that spot. After Cantu hit the double (on a third straight outside fastball, by the way, great pitch calling there), Uggla hit a ball up the middle. Suppose he had hit a ball in the hole that was playable? Well, you may not have a play at any base. Suppose with first and second, Ross hits the same ball in the hole that Reyes or Cora can field? They have a much better chance of getting a force out throwing to the nearest base.

Nice job, Jerry. Somehow I think that if Bobby V was managing that game, they’d still be playing.

About the Author ()

Stephen Hanks (Tom Terrific) is a magazine editor and writer based in Brooklyn, NY, who has been the publisher and editorial director of publications ranging in subjects from sports to health to archaeology. He began his career at the late, great SPORT Magazine in 1977 and in 1983, he co-founded NEW YORK SPORTS Magazine (which ceased publication in 1985). He has written and edited coffee table books on baseball history, penned unauthorized biographies of Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretzky, and in 1990 authored "The Game That Changed Pro Football," an oral history of the 1969 New York Jets Super Bowl Season. Even though he grew up near Yankee Stadium, he loathes the team from the Bronx and has been a die-hard Mets fan since attending his first game at the Polo Grounds in 1963.

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