Games » St. Louis CardinalsMay21
The cost of doing business
Two more Royal base runners got picked off in this game, and radio talk shows are swamped with outraged fans. They feel the Royals must stop what they’re doing. Can’t the team see this philosophy isn’t working? Short answer: no.
This is not a failure of philosophy. It’s a failure of execution. The offense has improved, it’s fifth in the league in runs scored. The Royals lead the league in stolen bases, and fans simply can’t have it both ways. You can’t ask the Royals’ base runners to be aggressive when they’re going to be safe and passive when they’re going to be out any more than you can ask your stockbroker to only buy stocks that will go up in value. (But if you figure out how to make that happen, let me know.)
This is the Royals’ philosophy and they’re going to stick with it. Maybe I’m more sympathetic than the average fan because I went through the exact same thing in amateur ball. We instituted a “go soon, go often” approach, and everybody loved it until a guy got thrown out. Then it was the dumbest thing in the world.
Once I convinced my guys it was the way to play, we embraced it and stole the league blind. We were pretty high on ourselves and our high base-stealing percentage until I checked the opposition and found out that they stole bases at about the same rate we did. The difference was attitude. We didn’t stop because we had a guy thrown out, and the other teams did. That gave us an advantage.
Having said all that (and once again dragging in my beer-and-a-shot league experience … but frankly, I don’t care, the principle’s the same), Ned Yost and the Royals are not OK with guys getting thrown out. The Royals aren’t going to change their philosophy, but they are going to try to improve its execution.
Ned will never throw a player under the bus, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have private meetings about what they need to improve. If the reads aren’t right, the coaches need to fix that. If the players aren’t reading the reads right, then they need to fix that. But if the Royals (and probably every other major-league team) are doing something, it’s because they have information that makes them think it’s the right thing to do. And it’s often information that is not available to the public.
Look, we’re all pleasantly surprised that these guys don’t suck. What they’re doing has them one game under .500 and playing very entertaining baseball. Nobody should panic, least of all the fans who should be thrilled that things have gone as well as they have.
More of that irritating Baseball 101 you guys really don’t need
OK, there was a bit of back-and-forth on this issue, and I was accused of being a homer because I didn’t score a Melky Cabrera out as him being picked off. Here’s the way it works: If the runner is trying to get back to the bag and doesn’t make it (Alex Gordon and Mike Aviles come to mind), that’s scored a pick off. If the runner is trying to advance, that’s scored a caught stealing.
Melky’s out was scored as a caught stealing by me and the official scorekeeper who made the announcement in the press box. Even so, Doug Sisson said that while it was officially scored a caught stealing, Melky’s out wasn’t a very good caught stealing. Doug wants the base runners to have a chance, and that means being thrown out by the catcher, not the pitcher. So I’m sure he wasn’t very happy with the job the Royals did in this game. It probably means more frame-by-frame study of pitchers to make sure the reads are correct and the players are interpreting those reads correctly, as well.
Staying above it all
Robinson Tejeda had two wild pitches, but it looked as if Brayan Pena had his chest protector in a vertical position when the balls arrived. Even though Brayan got in front of the ball each time, the position of his chest allowed the ball to bounce away. The idea is to have your chest over the ball so that when it bounces up, it drops straight down. This may be unfair. Those were pitches were bounced a long ways out in front of the plate. I didn’t get a chance to ask Pena about the plays because he was in conference with Jason Kendall after the game. I’ll try to find out if that’s what they were talking about.
When does Ned Yost use a 3-0 green light?
It depends on the score, the batter and the pitcher, but short version? The tying, winning or tack-on run needs to be on base or at the plate. If the pitcher is really tough, a 3-0 “cookie” (fastball down the middle) might be the best pitch the hitter will see (which is why Hosmer had a 3-0 green light Friday night). The hitter needs to be going well, selective and have some pop … unless the desired run is in scoring position. Then a singles hitter might get the green light.
Matt Treanor’s 1946 glove
Matt Treanor has a replica glove based on a model from 1946 that he uses to shag flies during batting practice. It looks like a hemorrhoid cushion with fingers (now try getting that image out of your mind), and you wonder how anyone ever caught anything with it. When I commented on it, Matt said, “Gloves like that are why DiMaggio had a 56-game hitting streak.”
Never thought about it before, but it had to be a factor … and one more reason we probably won’t see that record broken.
How Chris Getz calls for the ball
Friday night Chris Getz snuck in behind the runner at second and stuck out his bare hand. This was a signal to the pitcher that Chris wanted the ball. He does that when he thinks the Royals have a realistic chance of picking off the runner. So if you see that, Getz isn’t just trying to shorten the runners lead, he’s going for an out.
Another one of those signs you may not have noticed
When the pitcher is done warming up, he flicks his glove back over his shoulder to let the catcher know it’s time to throw down. The catcher then flicks his mitt or hand (Matt Treanor does both) to let the second baseman know the throw is coming. The second basemen then flicks his glove or hand (Chris Getz uses his hand) to acknowledge responsibility for taking the catcher’s throw.
And all this happens so you’re not treated to the sight of a throw sailing into centerfield to start an inning.
If you tell your kids stories about how it used to be when you went to see the Royals play, get out to the K for the final game against the Cardinals. Big crowds, playoff atmosphere and good baseball (so far). It’s been fun to watch.