Willie’s Head-scratcher

Willie Randolph, on his managerial gaffe of pinch-hitting his last position player in the seventh inning last night — causing Tommy Glavine to be used as a pinch-hitter in the ninth:

“Yeah, we were short…When Lo Duca went down, we had to get somebody to run for him, and I was thinking maybe I’d have to pinch hit Glavine later on, maybe, if we had to go that route, and that’s the way it turned out…We’re short, and really can’t play with fire like that…

“(Marlon Anderson) was like 2–for-3, or 2–for-4 against (Ray King), and he’s a professional pinch hitter and I’d rather have him in that spot. I knew that if I pinch hit Castro there, they would have brought in Rauch and Ramon is not the swiftest the guy, at least Marlon could beat out a double play there, to get to the top of our lineup, so I wanted to turn it over and keep it going. I was confident in Marlon, and he gives you a tough at bat, no matter what, and you don’t always want to use two players there, but I just felt good about that at-bat, as opposed to Rauch against Castro…

“I mean, you’ve got to go for it. You get an opportunity, they were shutting us down pretty much, and we were starting to get back in the game, and you wanna keep that flow going. Our bullpen was pretty much set up, and we wanted to get on the board there, so made the move.”

So … in a nutshell, Willie has more confidence in Marlon Anderson as a pinch-hitter. Secondly, he feels Anderson against a lefty is a better matchup than Castro against a righty. Further, instead of making a logical decision based on available (and limited) resources, he played one of his “Torre hunches” and justified it with the idea that he was afraid that Castro might hit into a double play.

Sounds like a guy playing not to lose — a defeatist attitude — and a guy who has more faith in a player who’s been on the team for two weeks than one who’s been with him for three years.

After listening to this explanation, I’m still not understanding it. Willie based Anderson’s “success” against Ray King on a five at-bat sample. Yet, Willie plays down Ruben Gotay’s “success” in over 100 at-bats this season. Kind of an inconsistent valuation system, eh?

Further, Randolph stated that he didn’t want to bring in Castro because then the Nats would bring in Jon Rauch to face him. So what? Isn’t part of the manager’s strategy to get the other team to burn through their bullpen as quickly as possible — particularly in a tie game that could go extra innings?

Castro, by the way, was 0-for-3 lifetime vs. Rauch — again, small sample — but is batting .304 this year against righties. Oh, and Rauch isn’t exactly lights-out on righthanded hitters this year — they’re batting .260 against him (interestingly, lefties are only hitting .189 vs. Rauch). So I’m not buying the stat lines in Willie’s head.

Anyway … moving on …

Wiggy an Astro

Another second baseman came off the market yesterday — as well as a middle reliever — when the Houston Astros traded Dan Wheeler to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for former Met Ty Wigginton. A bit of a head-scratcher for both sides, though Wheeler should help out a hopeless Rays bullpen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wheeler flipped to a playoff contender in the next few days in return for more youthful arms.

Wigginton, on the other hand, is essentially another Mark Loretta, but with more power and more swings and misses. Do the ‘stros see Wigginton as next year’s third baseman? Or their second baseman? Does this move free them to deal Loretta? Time will tell.

Cantu Dumped on Reds

Loyal readers know I’ve been clamoring for Jorge Cantu since March. Well, the Rays finally dealt him — with outfield prospect Shaun Cumberland to the Reds for a questionable prospect named Calvin Medlock and so-so lefty pitcher Brian Shackelford. I’m a bit disappointed the Mets didn’t put together a package for Cantu, who could be a big fish when he finds himself. Notice I said “when” and not “if” — I see Cantu as an offensive version of Oliver Perez circa 2006. He’s a talented guy, who is going through some rough head games right now. A new environment is just the thing to jog him out of his doldrums.

This deal doesn’t stink as badly as the Tadahito Iguchi trade, but it’s still one of those, “huh, that’s all it took to get him?” deals. Dissecting this deal, Cantu was packaged with a Ben Johnson-type outfielder in return for a LOOGY who’s worse than Scott Schoeneweis and a 5’10” righty who throws gas but doesn’t have command (Ambiorix Burgos or Marcos Carvajal might be a decent comparison, though this kid Medlock hasn’t had success above AA — and in fact struggled in A ball before this year.) Which poses the question: would you have traded, say, Schoeneweis straight up for Cantu? (The Rays would never accept such a deal because of The Show’s contract, but I’m just throwing it out there.) Or, would you have sent Marcos Carvajal and Jon Adkins for Cantu and Cumberland?

Of course, we don’t know what the Rays think of the Mets’ prospects, and I’m guessing their scouts are higher on Medlock than other people. But you see deals like this and have to get a little frustrated. I’d be very happy to get a bat like Cantu down in New Orleans, and see how he responds in an organization focused on winning, like the Mets’.

Let’s Make a Deal

So who is left that the Mets might be interested in pursuing? Mark Loretta or Luis Castillo for second base? Jose Contreras, if the price isn’t too high?

My guess is it will be another one of those deals that Omar alway likes to make — under the radar, unexpected, not a rumor in sight.

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. isuzudude July 29, 2007 at 11:43 am
    Yeah, Willie knows he messed up and his best excuse was he had a hunch about Anderson. You hit the nail on th ehead, Joe. Good job. Earth to Willie: you’re allowed to be wrong about something from time to time, just fess up to it.

    News regarding Lo Duca is that he’s not seriously hurt, so I guess the Mets can remain concentrated onlanding an OF, 2B, or RP. I would say fixig the pen is our first priority, cause there aren’t any in-house guys who can help. In the OF, at least there’s Milledge, Gomez, and Chavez, and at 2B Gotay deserves not to get replaced. So I say if the Mets are to use a Mulvey, Humber, Pelfrey, or Vargas in a trade, it would be to get a big guy for the bullpen.

  2. JIMMYJ723 July 30, 2007 at 7:43 am
    What do you think we could get back if we traded Willie Randolf?
  3. joe July 30, 2007 at 7:52 am
    Stan Javier
  4. Walnutz15 July 30, 2007 at 9:02 am
    Joe, you’re my hero.

    I was probably the angriest guy at Shea on Saturday night, when I realized sometime in the top of the 8th, that Tom Glavine could possibly be pinch-hitting for us in the 9th.

    I passed this knowledge along in my section, and was looked at like I was a 6-year old child who had just been taken to his 1st ball-game.

    Walnutz: “Tom Glavine’s the only guy left to pinch-hit…thanks Willie.”

    People in my section: ……………………………….?

    Bottom of the 9th inning — 1 out.

    *Now pinch-hitting #47, Tom Glavine*

    Attaboy!! — well, in fairness, I do trust Glavine at the plate more than I would, an unavailable Anderson Hernandez.

  5. isuzudude July 30, 2007 at 10:16 am
    HAHA…I agree, Walnutz. Although don’t you think Jorge Sosa (who’s a converted infielder from the minor leagues and has 3 career home runs) would have been a better 9th inning sub instead of Glavine? I’m splitting hairs, but Glavine did wind up grounding out so the question should be pondered.
  6. Walnutz15 July 30, 2007 at 10:57 am
    That’s exactly what my brother and I talked about after the last out of the top of the 9th — and Willie still didn’t make the right move, in our opinions.

    Nobody on: Jorge Sosa. Swings out of his shoes, and is capable of driving the ball.

    Reyes gets on? Then you hit Glavine, who is capable of laying down a bunt, or at least put the ball in play somewhere.

    Wonder what they were saying on TV, we had no access to either radio or television sitting in the stands. Hernandez must’ve had a field day…..hopefully?

  7. joe July 30, 2007 at 11:21 am
    I actually thought it was crazy to put El Duque in as the pinch-runner, rather than saving him for pinch-hitting. IMHO, he’s as good as if not better than Glavine as a hitter — plus the Mets may have needed his bat in extra-innings. Any of the other pitchers could have pinch-run.
  8. isuzudude July 30, 2007 at 12:56 pm
    I’m dumb…what does IMHO mean?

    I thought the Mets would use Maine as a pinch runner instead of El Duque. Certainly, of all their pitchers, Hernandez is the most fragile, so again Willie’s decision for him to run for Lo Duca comes under fire. When he had to dive back to second on Schneider’s pick off throw, I could almost hear his hamstring pulling and stretching beyond its limits.

    It was more Cohen than Keith getting on Willie for the pinch-hitting blunder in the 7th. He caught it right away too. Didn’t say anything about El Duque running or Glavine hitting, but thought using Anderson over Castro to pinch hit was wasteful knowing Castro was already headed into the ballgame. Keith just agreed with Cohen. I gotta say, the more and more I listen, keith sounds like a real bumbling fool. I know he’s an all-time great Met and he says something funny every now and then, but his analysis and his awareness of what’s going on on the field is really not that good. Am I the only one who feels this way?

  9. joe July 30, 2007 at 1:24 pm
    IMHO = In My Humble Opinion

    Keith used to be a bumbling idiot who rode on a high horse and whose ego was obnoxious. Thanks to Ron Darling joining the crew, Keith’s now a bumbling, lovable idiot whose ego adds comedy to his errors. He’s evolving into the Mets’ version of Phil Rizzuto … just waiting for him to start announcing birthdays on the air.

  10. […] before the trading deadline in July, I was jealous that the Reds stole Cantu in return for the equivalent of a bag of […]