Mr. B. Bellows had the pleasure of attending yesterday's home opener and watching from the 3rd row, thanks to his childhood neighbor and close friend:
I've been biting my tongue on this for awhile, but Willie Randolph is just not a good game manager. Evidence:
1- Mets up 2-1, Bottom of the 4th, 2 outs, John Maine up with runners on first and second. Keep in mind Maine had struggled mightily in the previous 2 innings. In the top of the inning Maine had loaded the bases with 0 outs and then worked out of it, and his pitch count was just shy of 90. Of course, Willie lets Maine strikeout and then yanks him 2/3 of an inning later.
2- Mets up 3-2, Top of the 6th, Ambiorix Burgos pitching to Ryan Howard, runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs. Willie himself, not Rick Peterson, comes out to talk to Burgos, presumably to tell him not to give Howard anything to hit with a base open. Well, Burgos has never averaged anything less than a walk every other inning, and let up a staggering 16 HR in only 73 IP last year, obviously he doesn't have pinpoint control. Of course he hangs a splitter/slider (I don't know which because it didn't split or slide) and Howard deposits it over the right field fence for a 5-3 Phillie lead. WALK RYAN HOWARD WITH FIRST BASE OPEN, YOU MORON!
3- Mets down 5-4, Bottom of the 8th, runners on 1st and 2nd, 0 outs, Jose Valentin up. First off Willie decides to pinch-run Endy Chavez for Shawn Green. Not a move I would've made, but ok. Then Willie bunts Jose Valentin, to move the runners up to 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. THIS IS A TERRIBLE PLAY! The expected run value of runners on 1st and 2nd with 0 outs is 1.47, the expected run value of runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out is 1.41. So, in short (without looking at the likelihoods of scoring 1 or 2 runs specifically in each situation) YOU'RE BETTER OFF NOT BUNTING IF YOUR GOAL IS TO SCORE RUNS. Also- all of that presupposes that Valentin successfully gets the bunt down and Moises Alou successfully runs the bases. Needless to say Valentin bunts too hard, Geoff Geary makes a great play off the mound and guns down Alou at 3B. Expected run value of 1st and 2nd with 1 out is .91. So Willie/Valentin/Alou cost us a half-run, attempting to gain -.06 runs. UGH!
4- Mets down 5-4, Bottom of the 8th, runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out Pedro Feliciano up. The very next batter after the bunting debacle, Willie decides to pinch-hit Julio Franco (spring OPS .734) instead of Lastings Milledge (spring OPS .974). Again I understand small sample size, and I know that Milledge's 2006 Major League Equivalents weren't exactly Hall of Fame caliber, but come on. Milledge should've been starting yesterday instead of Green. It was a day game after a travel day, with a left-handed pitcher starting for the Phils. What does Milledge have to do in order to get some playing time?! Did he sleep with Randolph's wife or something? What the hell?!
This stuff all comes out in the wash on this day, because the Mets would go on to score 7 runs in the inning; but over the long run making bad baseball decisions, particularly those that hurt your team's offensive goal of scoring runs, will cost the Mets wins. I also understand the values of things like instilling confidence in your players, handling the media well, taking good photographs, shielding your players from blame, etc... But, in the end I still can't help but think that it shouldn't be too hard for a manager to not hurt his team's chances of scoring runs.