Managers or Manglers
What are these guys thinking?
Let's say you're a manager and you have two guys to choose from to be your team's full-time closer. One of the guys has a better ERA, allows fewer hits, fewer walks AND strikes out more hitters. This guy is gotta be the logical choice, right? Not if you're Jack McKeon. Scott Williamson has an ERA a full two runs lower than co-closer Danny Graves. He also has allowed fewer hits, fewer walks and has nearly half again as many strikeouts. And yet McKeon still hasn't given him the job. McKeon's a pretty smart manager so I'm inclined to think there's something else here. My guess is that the Reds are trying to boost Graves trade value and shopping him as a closer to either the D-backs or the Mariners. The Reds need starting pitching even if Villone pans out. Harnisch and Neagle are both bothered by shoulder woes, Avery has struggled in 3 of his last 4 starts and Bere has been pretty terrible, period. Look for the D-backs to deal one of their starters for Graves. If he doesn't go to Arizona, whoever gets him better have a good infield defense - Graves is a ground ball pitcher and doesn't overpower hitters.
OK, so why does Jim Riggleman keep playing Benito Santiago every day when Santiago isn't even hitting his weight? "Defense", Riggleman says, but perhaps he knows that Santiago has a history of surging in the second half. For the past 5 years, Santiago has hit .277 or higher with increased power after the All Star break.
What's up with the Mets? Why do they keep sending McRae out there when Agbayani and Cedeno are playing so well. Again, this may be a case of playing a guy to build up his trade value. The problem is that McRae's contract is a little unwieldy, so unless the Mets agree to eat most of it, he's probably not going anywhere. If they do manage to trade him, then the question really is are these guys worth playing full-time? Cedeno has always been thought of as an immense talent and had just never gotten adequate opportunity. Agbayani, on the other hand, is somewhat of a question mark. The 27 year old had never hit more than 11 home runs at any level and had a career .283 average in his 6 year minor league career. He could just a late bloomer. For his sake, he'd better be because Jay Payton is tearing up the International League (.388 BA/.642 SLG) and is a formidable hitter if he can stay healthy.
If you have Francisco Cordova on your roster, you're probably wondering what Gene Lamont was thinking on Sunday. Having pitched very well through 7 innings, Cordova was sent out for the eighth, where he was greeted by 3 singles and a fly out. Lamont finally pulled him for Scott Sauerbeck, then Jeromy Burnitz foiled the strategy by hitting a grand slam. So why didn't Lamont pull Cordova after 7 when it was pretty clear he was out of gas? Cordova had only thrown 95 pitches and the Pirates are still trying to stretch out Cordova and build up his shoulder after his early season injuries. Whether they look like it or not, Cordova's outings are getting better as 5 of his last 6 starts have been quality (if you take out Sunday's eighth inning). He should be back to his old form by the All Star break. In previous years, that might have been too late to have him as he's had a history of tiring in the second half. That won't be a problem this year since he essentially took the first two months of the season off. In case you were wondering, lefties hit only .114 off Sauerbeck, so Burnitz' homer was somewhat of an anomaly.