Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
"Take this job and restaff it"
Dancin' Homer Simpson
Lou Piniella's campaign to divorce himself from the D-Rays without breaking his contract has now entered the self-parody phase.
His newest idea is not, as the nonpareil Sports Pickle reports, "Lou Piniella thinking that going pants-less might get him fired". (Though their beautiful headline of "Study: 96-Percent of Boston Sports Fans Have No Idea How Annoying They Are" is actually true.)
Piniella's brain drizzle is to allow his middle relievers to start the game in order to avoid an eighth-inning meltdown, or rather to allow them to develop in the early innings.
"I've made up my mind, and that's what we're going to do," Piniella said. "People are going to think I'm crazy, but we're just going to try it.
"Starting (tonight). I'll bring in whatever reliever I feel like starting the game with, and I'll bring my starter in in the third inning and we'll play nine innings of baseball that way. I'm serious."
"I'm serious I'll do it I'll jump "
Paul Richards might be proud, but this is pure insanity. If middle relief is an issue, why feature it at the start of the game when a very good start (admittedly a rarity in Tampa) could obviate the need for these inferior setup men. Isn't the best strategy to get as many innings as possible from your best pitchers, who should be your starters?
And what of the reliever-cum-starter is pitching well? Does he stay in the game for additional innings?
Studies regarding the probability of winning ballgames after trailing in the first couple of innings as opposed to allowing those runs in the eighth aside, there are some obvious problems with this.
OK, the D-Rays team ERA from the seventh inning on is third worst in the majors (5.55). But so is their ERA for innings 1-6 and it's even higher (5.95). Their staff ERA for relievers (5.84) is almost identical to the starters (5.83).
"So what," you say? The starters are just as bad as the relievers so who cares who starts? Well, one would hope that Piniella had some rationale for assigning certain members of his staff to the rotation. One would hope that the best pitchers go into the rotation and pitch more innings.
If not, then the best reason for his dismissal is the fact that he is admitted he bungled the staff from the word "go".
Perhaps, I'm being too hasty since Piniella decided to forego the experiment and startoddlyhis scheduled starter Casey Fossum tonight. Maybe he was trying to use his genius to get into the opposing managers' minds.
By the way, here's an example of Richards' shenanigans from BaseballLibrary.com. It's my understanding that a gentleman's agreement was imposed to avoid these sorts of scenarios at least until today:
September 11, 1958: Orioles manager Paul Richards lists three pitchers in his starting line-up, hoping for a scoring chance in the first inning, at which point he can remove the extra pitchers for a batter of his choice. Billy O'Dell, batting 9th at P; Jack Harshman in CF, batting 5th; Milt Pappas at 2B, batting 7th. Only O'Dell bats as he goes to 1411, losing to KC's Ned Garver, 71. The A's plate five in the 8th, paced by Bob Cerv's 33rd home run.
When I first heard this story, I thought, hey, maybe Lou's trying to do that. Then I remembered the not-contracted-yet Devil Rays play in the American League. Pitchers don't bat.
In today's news, Piniella revealed that he will no longer use the DH to make his reliever-cum-starter plan more effective. He is also experimenting with pitchers learning to throw with their current non-pitching hand just for the heck of it.
Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.