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Dale Sveum Knows Better

By bullpenbrian at 05.16.2012 4 comments.

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.

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4 Comments

  1. Kyle Johansen says:

    Do we have a quote from Sveum on this bone-headed mistake?

  2. Spoda17 says:

    Good post Brian, I totally agree. It actually is kinda funny, I just had to write a paper in my MBA class about analytics in decision making, and I used Sabarmetrics as an example. I am all in favor of metrics, and the defensive shifts have saved our asses more than a few times this year… But come on man! We still have a manager for a reason.

    I like Sveum, but as I have said here before, at the beginning, the constant lineup shifts we killing me, I know that cost 3-5 games at the beginning. And now some of the bonehead calls he has made lately. I know it is a learning season, and that goes for Sveum as well, but he needs to learn a lot faster than the players… I like Sveum… but he needs to improve as well. I’m sure he will.

    • bullpenbrian says:

      Sometimes having too much information at the ready is costly. It can hide the obvious and simple answers, and not just in baseball! Pitching to Molina with the game on the line is a clear example.

      It’s true Sveum is learning on the job, as is the case of any first year manager. And it’s fair to criticize some of his decision making, which never slips through the cracks of a passionate fan base like the one following the Cubs.

      Overall, however, I like the direction and leadership Sveum’s providing the team, and I’m confident he’ll develop into a very good manager in the coming seasons.

      All good teams need a good manager and the Cubs can’t get to where they want to go without him. I guess it’s best for Sveum to take his lumps now while the team’s still growing into a competitive club.

      Good luck with that paper, eh!

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