Speaking of Jesus Montero ...
Dr. Detecto hopes you find it amusing that on Monday he might analyze Mike Montgomery to the point of his readers' nausea ... and then on Tuesday he will say something like "Who's this Johnny Cueto guy?" It's all part of the SSI fun. Some things interest us and other things, we pay zero attention to. Off the top of his head, Dr. D couldn't name three guys in the Ranger lineup. But he does demand the right to veto the M's roster moves.
What was I going to say ... on Friday, I had no clue what the Mariners' roster was. Don't know, don't care. OK, flip on the DVR. The M's played a normal-looking defensive 9-man alignment. But then Franklin Gutierrez came in as a pinch hitter for Seth Smith ... followed by Mark Trumbo as a PH for Dustin Ackley. ... WHAAAAaaaaa? You got a backup SS and C ... does that mean the Mariners have a 4-man bench now? (!?)
Then Jesus Montero also pinch-hit! Who's ON the roster any more? Wouldn't that add up to FIVE bench players? When you can't add 9+5 and subtract that from 25, it is time to just bluff your way through with Konspiracy Korners. But sure enough, as of 2:36 am Sunday night, the M's official roster showed a mere 11 pitchers. Amusingly, it also didn't show Jesus Montero as active, so it had 24 players on the 25-man roster. You know they aren't going to flush Montero at 2:36 am when he just proved he was your go-to lefty counter.
Franklin Gutierrez got excellent swings at lefties, too. Mark Trumbo is a career .504 slugger against lefties. 8 out of 10 dentists recommend Chris Taylor/Brad Miller platoons for their patients who chew gum. Montero. The M's obviously have some right hand batters who are a whale of a lot better against David Price than left hand hitters are.
(Belatedly, we noticed that J.A. Happ was off the roster for a few days, just because of the way the dynamic AAA shuttle works these days. Okey doke, fine and dandy.)
Bill James just wrote a column tracking the increase of RP's historically. We are up to 2.9 relievers per team per game. That is 7.8 pitchers per game, you understand. 8 pitchers in an AVERAGE game. Many games have like 13 pitchers. But you can expect to see 8, just tomorrow. If you enjoy that, you're obviously not ... me.
Managers like 7-8 relief pitchers for exactly one (1) reason --- > they'd rather control the matchups on defense than control the at-bats on offense. Let that sink in for a moment.
The more of a control freak a manager is, the more he emphasizes defense. That's any sport. Better defense -- when it comes at cost to your offense -- provides the ILLUSION of control. It provides a FEELING of security to hold the other team down. It's like the NFL used to run the ball until Bill Walsh came along, and then it realized that being BETTER gives control. Whether it's because of offense or defense, running or passing, playing Cover Two or blitzing a lot. As Elliott Hulse gently pointed out, "Feelings don't mean squat."
Okay, that's the industry trend, and McClendon is leading it. Eighty-nine reliever switches is the coin of the realm. We want 8 relievers and 1 bench guy, plus the utility infielder and the backup catcher (who does not play if he's in Seattle). We prefer RP's to PH's as a philosophical choice.
But (1) what if your offense is batting .235 as a team, and ruining your season?
And (2) what if the substitute hitters available to you are much better than the sub pitchers available to you? Does that factor in? Wouldn't it make sense to go with platoon hitters on the roster if you have good ones, and it's your offense that needs the help?
Wouldn't you want to choose RP's vs PH's dynamically, based not on an abstract preference for defense, but based on the here and now? It's like saying you prefer the 4-3 defense in the NFL, but you have 5 Bobby Wagners and no decent DL's. You don't play a 3-4 then? It's just, "I like 4-3."
In chess, it's axiomatic that you cannot afford to nurse "favorite strategic principles" while ignoring today's tactical position on the board. You might love to play against isolated pawns, but if Nf5-Qh6-Qg7 mate is looming, that's what you play. You adapt to the demands of the position.
7-8 relief pitchers, based on personal philosophy and not based on the resources available to you? That reaction cannot be right.
Ah. The M's did option Montero back to AAA, an appropriate response to a man who went 6-for-13 (.461 OBP, 3:1 EYE) for an offense scoring 3.5 runs a game. This dude is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
(PS the good news is, Montero's surge won't go unnoticed in the short-to-medium term.)
(PPS we know, we know. This specific Montero demotion is more due to our Trumbo wedding than it is due to RP prefs. This week the Mariners DID use the AAA shuttle to make a run for the offense over the defense. But in general.)
PPPS image: Seattle Times