Santos for Castro Revisited

There were other reasons the Mets lost yesterday, but the magnifying glass is on Jerry Manuel’s unbelievably illogical decision to replace Ramon Castro with Omir Santos in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and the bases loaded.

Per Manuel:

“I thought Santos had a better shot. I think Santos has a little shorter swing and when you have a little shorter swing it’s easier to get to a guy who’s throwing in the upper 90s. If it would’ve been a different, um, let’s say a sinker-slider guy, then Ramon would’ve continued to hit.”

Manuel stated this with conviction and clarity, and looked every writer in the eye as he said it. It was still absolute idiocy.

First is the obvious: Ramon Castro has 11 years’ big league experience, compared to Santos’ 35 MLB at-bats.

Second is the just as obvious: Castro already had two hits on the day, both off of Josh Johnson, who BY THE WAY was throwing in the upper 90s. In fact his 97-98 MPH fastballs were only a mile or two slower than Matt Lindstrom’s 98-99 MPH heaters.

Third is the nearly as obvious: Santos was “cold”, meaning, he’d been sitting on the bench all game. Pinch-hitting is hard enough, but to come into a game late and face a guy throwing that kind of gas … well, it’s damn near impossible to get a hit.

Fourth is the not-so-obvious: Omir Santos was unprepared to pinch-hit. He was so sure he had no chance of getting into the game at that point, he was somewhere in the clubhouse (getting undressed? head start on the caterer’s table? on the can?).

What this move came down to was Jerry Manuel deciding that he’d take a page out of Joe Torre’s book and “play a hunch”. If it worked, he’d be praised in the press as an absolute genius. If it didn’t, no matter, he’s still a media darling and they’ll give him a pass. Heck, if he explains himself clearly and looks everyone in the eye, no one will question how blatantly stupid a move it was. This Jedi mind trick stuff has been working since last June, after all.

Unfortunately for Jerry, this blogger is calling you to the carpet. My guess is the rest of the media will follow suit, and shortly.

Let’s not forget that this time next week, Omir Santos will be in Buffalo and Ramon Castro will still be a New York Met. Manuel has more or less sent the message that he does not trust in Castro’s skill at the plate in a big spot — how is that going to affect Castro’s psyche in future situations? How would YOU feel, if you were Ramon Castro?

By the way, Jerry Manuel is signed through 2010, and will collect $1.5M for this year and next. Willie Randolph is due to receive $2.25M this year. The chance that the Wilpons will eat almost $4M AND pay someone new is next to nil. So get used to the idiocy.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 April 30, 2009 at 11:26 am
    Bingo.

    If you’ve played baseball before, and know what it’s like to come up cold vs. a 95+ mph flame-broiler, then you view this as an absolute mind-blower.

    Even if you haven’t, and follow the team very closely….then you should also be scratching your head and asking, “WTF Jerry?”

    I’m shocked by yesterday’s events….couldn’t believe it as I drove home listening.

  2. Walnutz15 April 30, 2009 at 11:42 am
    And just to re-iterate, I mean “cold” in the sense that you’re actually in the dugout w/your mind actually on the game.

    What transpired yesterday, with Santos in the freakin’ bullpen — not paying attention to the game situation, or even what Lindstrom was throwing to that point?

    Even wackier.

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