I’ve had few frustrations with Dale Sveum through the first 36 games.
For the most part he’s pressing the right buttons, has the team hustling and seems to be getting the most from a team struggling to be relevant in the standings (15-21).
However, Sveums insistence on pitching to Yadier Molina, instead of around him, continues to pain me.
Molina, the noted Cubs killer, nearly cost Sveum and his club a victory Monday night. Less than 24 hours later Sveum wasn’t as lucky when Yadier delivered a walkoff single to RF in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday afternoon.
In both games Sveum had the option to pitch around Molina, recognized league- wide as a tremendous clutch hitter, with first base open and the game in the balance.
Twice Sveum decided to pitch to Molina. Neither time made any sense.
I’m all in favor of Sveum’s heavy use of scouting charts, sabermetrics and defensive shifts. But pitching to Molina appears the result of the skipper being bogged down with too much information for his own good.
Statistics tell us a lot, but not everything. And they certainly don’t account for the feel of a crucial game situation, as was the case with Molina the past two games.
There’s still a place in baseball for a manager’s gut feeling, despite what the numbers say, and facing Yadier Molina in a clutch situation isn’t the time to play the odds (which Molina’s numbers in Late/Close situations suggest the same).
If Sveum’s guilty of anything it’s trying too hard. That’s hardly a fault, but over-thinking no-brainer decisions can be.
I’m certain Sveum knows better than to pitch to Molina in the clutch. Only next time it would serve him well not to over-think the obvious–don’t pitch to Molina.