Welcome to Second-Guessing Scioscia! As you might have surmised, it is a look back at some of the questionable decisions that Mike Scioscia made in the last week. This isn’t because we dislike Scioscia, in fact, MWAH is officially pro-Scioscia. However, we do realize that Scioscia is not infallible and hope to use this series to bring light to the decisions in which Scioscia went wrong (or was at least perceived to be wrong by some). At a minimum, it will help us all come to a better understanding of what goes on during games but maybe, just maybe, we’ll get lucky and this will somehow make Scioscia more self-aware of his more chronic managerial missteps.
This was actually a pretty good week for Scioscia. There were a few odd batting order choices, but it is hard to bang on him given what he has to work with right now. No, Scioscia was nearly perfect… except for one specific inning that was just a calamity of questionable managing.
4/23/14 – The disaster of a ninth inning
Let’s start with the game-tying double. Yes, Frieri was horrible. I get it. What I don’t get is why David Freese isn’t straddling the line. This is a textbook no-doubles situation because only a double can tie the game. That would normally mean having the corner infielders hug the lines, but that didn’t happen for some reason here. I can’t recall the exact game, but I recall an earlier play in a critical situation where the Angels were burned for not having Freese on the line when they should, so this could be an informed choice they are making.
Perhaps Scioscia was willing to take his chances with a double down the line and wanted to play to get the out. Maybe they had reason to believe that it was highly unlikely Werth could actually pull a Frieri fastball like that. I guess we don’t really have enough data to fully evaluate this particular instance, but it sure seems like common baseball knowledge (which is not always right) mandates the third baseman to be on the line. Of all the times for Scioscia to not bow to tradition.
And now the real fun begins. First, let’s discuss defensive positioning since that is still fresh in our mind. There is one out and the tying run is on second. That run CANNOT score and a well placed single would score him. So, explain to me why the left fielder is playing so deep against a left-handed pull hitter? Shuck should be playing way in to take away a slap hit, like the one LaRoche got. With proper positioning, that could’ve been caught. I’m not sure if that is Scioscia’s call or if Rick Eckstein is somehow responsible (which I doubt since it is an in-game situational decision), but that was pretty bad.
The more egregious error here is, here we go again, BRINGING IN FERNANDO SALAS IN HIGH LEVERAGE. This is the fourth week of this series and this is already the fourth time I’ve had to bring this up. Salas was, once again, the wrong choice here. For one, the Angels need to avoid allowing a hit and Salas is fairly hittable. In Scioscia’s defense, Kohn and Smith had already been used, so his options were limited, but seeing how he had gotten burned here three times before, why not try someone else?
For example, he could’ve tried Nick Maronde. Maronde, as Scioscia must not be aware, is left-handed. Guess who else is left-handed? Adam LaRoche. You know, the guy at the plate? Yeah, him. Kind of important. LaRoche was pretty good against lefties in 2013, but he has been terrible this year and has had noticeable platoon splits over his career. Maronde is shaky, I realize that, but is he that much shakier than Salas who is slightly worse against lefties? Methinks not.
I mean, what is the point of even carrying Maronde on the roster if you aren’t going to use him in that spot? I know Scioscia tends to overplay platoon match-ups, but this is a situation screaming for a LOOGY, especially with another lefty on deck. You might as well just demote Maronde if you aren’t going to use him in this spot over Salas.
If this Salas nonsense happens one more time, I think I am going to have to start doing two versions of this column: Salas-edition and non-Salas edition.