Sunday update: Dierker, Anderson, Cox would be throwing things


Let’s face it!  The game of baseball has changed over the years. And, dramatically, since the Astros last played in a World Series.

Most of us have watched baseball for a long time and there are several students of the game among us.

But, let there be no misunderstanding. We are not watching the game that Tony Larussa, Bobby Cox, Sparky Anderson, Whitey Herzog, Bill Virdon or even Larry Dierker managed.

Both Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch have made moves in this World Series that would have those gentlemen throwing things at their televisions.

How many starters have been pulled before their time? Would Dierker or Anderson have pulled Rich Hill after four? Charlie Morton in the seventh? Would George Springer have been the leadoff hitter in Game 1 of the World Series?

Let’s be frank here. The game has changed. In-game calls are no longer just the call of one man. Now, there is a bevy (sometimes a clipboard) with all the latest stats of how a hitter hits when a specific pitcher throws a specific pitch under a specific moon with less than 30,000 people in the stands when the roof is open (or closed) and the temperature is over 61.7*. There are bench coaches with advice, special advisers to the GM with recommendations and a bastion of media demanding silliness of teams and managers.

This is not a defense or an apology for A.J. Hinch. Nor is it intended as a bashing for the Astros’ manager or even the stats or analytics. It is more a recognition of the state of the game today. In many respects, it’s a snapshot of our nation today where everyone has an opinion, doesn’t mind sharing it and expects you to heed it.

Today more than ever, general managers (and owners) are involved in those in-game decisions. Perhaps there’s not a phone line to the dugout, but it’s clear there are often directives or strong input a la the old days of George Steinbrenner. A manager can be fired today (and has been) for not following the analytics as much as he can for losing the clubhouse.

And, lest we believe analytics hasn’t changed the game, just direct your attention to Game 7 of the ALCS. The rimmed glass nerds had been giving coaches their insights on the Yankees for some time and it quite possibly not only affected the game, but changed the team appearing in the 2017 World Series.

No, the game has changed. It’s no longer a gut or a hunch. It’s a convoluted concoction of data, statistics, shifts, and lines and numbers. Every pitch. Every hitter. Every situation.

I’m not sure that Dierker, Anderson and Virdon could manage in today’s game.

The game is different. It has changed. It is no longer the game of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. This isn’t to harp on the game or lament the change.

It’s merely a recognition that A.J. Hinch and Dave Roberts are managing under different rules with different expectations. It’s no longer about just winning and losing. It’s about how you get there, the road map.

Game 5 will bring more pit stops, more detours, more mouth-to-the-floor decisions. Unfortunately — and fortunately — it’s 2017, not 1977. It’s not the game of our fathers, it’s the game of our children, a generation and era that functions in spans of 15 minutes and not hours.

Here are the questions for your Sunday starter…

  • In your mind, how many of the decisions by Hinch are completely, totally Hinch decisions?
  • What is the single, most egregious decision Hinch has made during the playoffs? During the World Series?
  • Which pitchers should not see the field during the rest of the World Series?
  • Other than pitchers, what change would you make for the next three games?
  • Is Hinch still the guy in your mind going forward for the Astros?
  • What would Larry Dierker do the rest of the way?

See ya tonight on the Game 5 Live Blog.

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14 comments on “Sunday update: Dierker, Anderson, Cox would be throwing things

  1. First question is a tough one. You’d think that all in game pitching decisions would belong to Hinch, but someone might have told him to leave McHugh out of the equation. But I feel pretty certain that Hinch went to Giles.

    We won the playoffs, so I have no bad memories. It’s a wash for Hinch. Obviously, Giles last night is his biggest mistake. For whatever reason(s) he’s not prepared to pitch in those situations at this point. And again, I think it’s partially a health thing. 97 was the best he could bring last night. And every pitch was forced. As Mrs. Dan astutely noted, at the very least, when the count went 2-0, then Musgrove should have been brought in with the hopes of avoiding the walk.

    Third question is not a tough one.

    Other than pitching situations, I change nothing at this point.

    Heck, if the Astros win it all, Hinch will be one of my hero’s. That’s what he should be judged on. Not when the series is tied at 2.

    Another easy one. Dierker would look for Keuchel to throw a CG tonight and Verlander to do the same on Tuesday. Hinch might even try it at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • daveb, I guess it’s not so much that “someone told him” to do something specific, but putting different ideas in his mind to clutter it from going with his own hunches and gut with the players that he “lives” with.

      You know that stats and analytics would never have pinch hit Kirk Gibson against Dennis Eckersley in 1988.

      It may be 10-20 years from now (when Hinch has three WS rings) that we find out he knew better than to go with Giles, but had a bug in his ear that told him the statistical chance for success was better than the statstical chance for failure.

      Look, we — or just me — are overanalyzing the analytics, but most of us by nature are resistant to change to dramatic change and the game has changed.

      I’m quite confident Hinch understands the game and has good hunches. Let him manage the next three games and let’s see what happens.

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  2. Sure strange that earlier this morning, I was lamenting to my wife about how the world and baseball has changed. Basically, we have to understand that Hinch is a “messenger” from the FO stats to the players.

    Reminds me of the Joe Don Looney story of when he was playing for the Detroit Lions. He was told by the coach to carry a play to the quarterback that obviously did not include Looney. His reply was “if you want to send a message, call Western Union.” And sat back down.

    Yes, the game and coaches and managers have changed. In my opinion, not improved. Just changed.

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    • 1. Don’t know if Hinch makes any decisions. 2. The decision to NOT win Game 4. (At least not willing to realize when a reliever has command or not). 3. I have no issue with using any reliever, but they don’t need to see multiple batters because that is what the stat sheet says. 4. Remind Altuve that he is hitting .158 in the World Series. So unless he wants to cry again this season, he needs to get with it. (I love the guy by the way) 5. Obviously Hinch is doing as told. Or he will be shown the door this off season without a “ring.” 6. Don’t know because I have no history on him in the World Series. But to me, you expend all resources in each game to win that game. None of this “wait until tomorrow” strategy.

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  3. Today’s game is the most important game of Dallas Keuchel’s, life.
    And I’m him……I look over in that bullpen, and pitch a complete game, just like Verlander did when he threw his complete game. Who knows if this time will ever come back around for EITHER of them, because *THIS* is their time not next year, but TODAY. Giles is broken, I hope he has thrown his last pitch for 2017. The guy is either hurt, or his confidence is totally gone.
    Today’s baseball is managed by scientific analytics……and you are exactly right, this is not how LaRussa or Bobby Cox would have done it. If it’s all hands on deck for the next two games, who are those hands????

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  4. It’s one thing if it’s one pitcher making an excuse for a bad outing. But when pitchers and managers line up saying the ball is obviously slicker, well,… the “game” appears to be changing without warning.

    https://www.google.com/amp/www.nydailynews.com/amp/sports/baseball/astros-dodgers-complain-slicker-baseball-world-series-article-1.3597279

    The first two pitchers I noticed a drop off in playoff movement with sliders were Keuchel and Peacock.

    I’m finding the controversies arising from sports altogether to be disconcerting and suspicious. Re Astros first it was a bar fight, then Yuli dealing with racism, baseballs juiced or slicker. There’s already so much I couldn’t believe in the series’ we’ve played in NY (going back to 2016’s first week). Terrible umpiring! Dierker would say to put a sensor in each butt cheek of the ump to let him know digitally whether to call ball/strike.

    I sat with an old timer who said he was never going to watch football again after the anthem debacle. Seems the game itself, sans all the controversy just doesn’t sell enough newspapers.

    Instead of debating xFIP and OSwing, we have to speak to the barbaric masses about hand gestures and yelling at one another. What’s happened to the game I grew up with? Maybe it never was apple pie and Chevrolet. Those are the hawkers from yesteryear who’ve been replaced by Nolan Ryan hot dogs, and such.

    I’m a little bitter this morning, mainly though because losing a game from the bullpen is *the most demoralizing. Hope we can do what we do best today and that’s display our balanced attack. Just give us a fair shake is all I ask!

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  5. I’ll stand by my previous comments that Hinch’s management “put us in a position to lose the game last night”. No he didn’t play but the players that he sent in didn’t do the job. No bother to name names, we know who they are. Secondly, all a Dodger lefty has to do is keep the ball on the corner or a couple of inches off the plate and our hitters can’t do squat. Did anybody notice that the pitch that Springer hit out was in the same location as the pitch before? Wood was throwing it to that spot at least 2 – 3 times each at bat. Springer finally “guessed” he would do it again and he hit it out. These guys are going to need to read Kershaw if we’re going to get hits. Otherwise, it’s a long winter for us fans.

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  6. Go Stros its been an awesome year no matter what. I have enjoyed the ride. We all know what we need to upgrade next year, Hint they usually set in the outfield benches.

    Today I’m choosing to believe DK is going to be awesome and we win 4-2!!!

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  7. Surprisingly I’ve got a decent feeling about our guys showing up tonight. I want to see 2015 and early 2017 Dallas Keuchel today. We have to be able to get something going against Kershaw. I’m not sure we can afford to get late in the game and be down. Last night needs to be washed from their memories. Don’t we have good stats hitting wise following a less than stellar hitting game? I know that Kershaw is mighty good but so was darvish coming into Friday.

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  8. I’m not sure I’m going to answer all the specific questions but I will make some observations. One of our advantages going into this series IMO was that we have six starting pitchers but there are only starts for four. I was opposed to McCullers getting the start in NY but it obviously turned out OK. I would have had Peacock follow him and perhaps finish up just like he did Friday. Last night I would have followed Morton with McHugh who must think he’s invisible despite a long history of performing well late in the year. For this evening I would have McHugh ready because no reliever outside Devenski has done his job in the WS. Use Devo to put out a fire if it erupts on Keuchel (although I don’t think any Astro reliever has seen an inherited runner that he didn’t let score) and then let McHugh finish up. Giles really can’t be trusted. His velocity is down and his command is nonexistent. I wonder if he’s hurt. I hope so rather than it being his head that’s messed up.

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