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.
All in all, it wasn’t bad week for Scioscia. There were no real single moments of brainlock that cost the Angels runs or a win. This, my friends, is progress and I will continue to insist, despite their being no evidence to support it, that Second-guessing Scioscia is driving this progress!
On to this week’s second-guesses in which we take a look at some of the more low-level strategic missteps that Scioscia continues to make despite my best efforts.
5/17/14 – That’s a lot of pitches
Talk to most any baseball fan over 50 and you are most likely to eventually listen to them complain about how pitchers never go deep in games anymore. Complete games used to be the norm back in the days when men were men! Today’s pitchers are soft, both mentally and physically and only cowards worry about pitch counts!! Well, that old guard has to be happy with what Scioscia let C.J. Wilson do in this game. That would be throwing a complete game shutout on a career-high 127 pitches.
Me, I tend towards the new age pitch count hand wringing crowd. Now, I am fully aware that not all pitch counts are created equal and that certain pitchers can handle heavier workloads than others. That being said, damn, that’s a lot of pitches. That applies both to this game and Wilson’s season overall. He has yet to throw less than 111 pitches in a start in 2014 and had thrown 125 pitches two starts prior. This was also only the second start he had made on regular four-day rest this season. It just concerns me that Scioscia is potentially going to wear down Wilson.
This game was in the bag with the Halos owning a six-run lead. Scioscia easily could’ve pulled him for the ninth inning so as not to tax him and the game would not have been in danger. Instead, he played to Wilson’s ego or machismo or competitive drive or #PMA or whatever nonsense you want to call the irrational reason Scioscia used to send Wilson out to start a new inning when he was already over 115 pitches. Who knows what the fallout will be now, even with C.J. getting an extra day’s rest before his next start. He could be a bit fatigued still. He could be pushed into a zone of injury risk. This could just be another drop in the bucket for a season-long workload that could have him running on fumes by late-August. Or C.J. could just be a rubber arm guy and this won’t have any impact.
5/18/14 – I don’t get it
This is more of a personal nuisance than an actual second-guess. But in this game, Mike Scioscia allowed Matt Shoemaker to start the seventh inning of a game where the Angels led 5-0. That’s a very comfortable lead and Matt Shoemaker was still under 90 pitches. No need for panic, right?
Well, it looked like Scioscia did when Shoemaker walked the first batter of the inning on five pitches. Shoe got the boot (zing!) immediately. I just don’t get why you would have such an itchy trigger finger. If you don’t trust the pitcher, don’t let him start the inning. And it is clear Scioscia didn’t trust Shoemaker otherwise he wouldn’t have had a reliever warmed up and ready to go. It isn’t as if a walk is the most egregious offense either.
The thing is that Scioscia does this a lot. He does it with his more trusted starters all the time, or at least he did in 2013 and early on in 2014. It is just a bad pattern because it shows a lack of confidence in decision making and it also puts the relievers in bad positions. It is always better to have a guy start an inning clean, if you can help it. Scioscia though sometimes goes out of his way to make sure that doesn’t happen.
It isn’t a particularly harmful issue, but it definitely isn’t helping.
5/21/14 – Why is Ibanez still batting clean-up?
I know I promised to not spend much time whining about lineup construction and I know this problem will solve itself when Josh Hamilton gets healthy. But can someone please explain to me why Raul Ibanez is batting clean-up still?
I get that Scioscia wants lineup balance, so he wants a left with pop behind Pujols, but in this game, he could’ve used Kole Calhoun for that. Ibanez just doesn’t fit the bill anymore. Yes, he has been drawing a lot of walks lately and there is value in that, but he sure as hell isn’t driving the ball. In the spray chart above, you can see all of his balls in play in the last seven games he has played in. That’s an arbitrary sample size, but I used to to also illustrate that Scioscia can’t hide behind the “hot hand” premise. Raul has hit one ball more than 250 feet in his last seven games. There is no pop there other than the blood vessels in my forehead that pop every time I see a pre-game lineup with Ibanez in the four-hole.
Mind you, I’m OK with Scioscia playing Raul to see if he can’t turn it around. The walks are some kind of sign that he is seeing the ball better, but he needs to be kept in a less leveraged spot in the order until he proves that he is still physically capable of putting a charge into a ball on occasion.