Games » Chicago White SoxJun30
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Who knew Charles Dickens had seen José Guillen play the outfield?
After Wednesday night’s game, Guillen was bragging about the catch he made in the ninth inning. It was a wonderful catch; he went a long way, banged off the fence and saved the ballgame. Guillen said it showed the people who say he can’t play the outfield a thing or two.
As you might suspect, Guillen also left a thing or three out. Like misjudging his route on a ball and letting it get past him. Like allowing a pop fly to fall when he didn’t take charge. Like failing to run out a pop fly of his own.
Guillen is a very talented ballplayer, but he runs hard only when he thinks he has to and isn’t always right about when that is.
He can dominate a game when he gets a pitch to hit and doesn’t overswing, but he spends too much time trying to pull the ball with the type of hacks that keep a chiropractor in business.
And just to keep things interesting, every once in a while he’ll throw his teammates under the bus. He complained to Fox Sports Kansas City about his teammates’ fundamentals, their obsession with hitting home runs and their poor approach to situational hitting.
So does he have a case?
Everyone I’ve talked to has agreed that the Royals are better fundamentally this season. According to the team’s inside stats on quality plate appearances (hits, walks, hard-hit outs, etc.) the Royals’ average is .436. Anything above .425 is considered excellent.
Their situational batting average (succeeding in moving runners, driving them in, sacrifice bunts, etc.) is .641. Anything above 60 percent is considered outstanding. (As long as I’m throwing out stats, take a wild guess who leads the team in strikeouts.) It seems to me that team speed is the problem, not their approach at the plate.
The No. 1 rule for a successful ballclub at any level is team first. If you can get all the players to buy into that, there’s no telling what they can do. Get one who doesn’t, and you’ve got a problem. The Royals have a problem.
As I mentioned earlier, Guillen took a bad route on a ball that went to the wall. The correct technique is to run to a spot deeper than the ball and start to curve back toward the infield. (It’s called a ‘banana route’ because of the shape.) Misjudge the ball and you do the opposite: run to a spot too shallow and then curve back towards the fence.
Jose went too shallow, but there’s a fine line between a misjudgment and a mental mistake, so he didn’t get one. Not running out a pop fly is a mistake and, unless you’re on crutches, I guess it’s mental. He also let a ball drop when he didn’t take charge on a pop fly and run Getz off. The rule for the infielder is to go back until he hears the outfielder call for the ball. If the outfielder can get there and the infielder is still moving back, the outfielder takes charge because he’s moving forward. It’s an easier play for him and also allows a better throw back to the infield.
Jose had an attack of low-blood sugar and slowed down just in time to let the ball drop at his feet.
After the game Ned Yost said he saw no reason to replace Jose Guillen on defense in the 9th inning. (No word on pending ophthalmologist visits.)
Rules for a pitching change…
Coming into the 8th inning Zack Greinke was in control: he’s given up one run, four hits and had thrown 87 pitches. I was thinking if he kept his pitch count low, he had a shot at a complete game.
Five batters later I was thinking, where the hell is Ned Yost?
Here are the rules for a pitching change as explained to me by Clint Hurdle and Bob Apodaca:
• Never let them struggle after the 5th. They’re tired, may not be physically able to make an adjustment and have given you what they have to give. • Get them the third time they struggle. Too much stress on the arm. • If three hitters in a row square a pitch up, it’s not an accident. • Better an inning too soon than an inning too late, better a batter too soon than a batter too late, better a pitch too soon than a pitch too late. • If you’re thinking about it…do it. There’s a reason you’re thinking about it and you should pay attention to that.
Every time I’ve violated one of these rules I’ve regretted it. Zack’s situation violated four of them (all but the third struggle rule). Yost counted on Zack Greinke being Zack Greinke and ultimately, Ned was right. Zack adjusted after five straight hits and got the 3,4 and 5 hitters in a row. It all happened rather quickly and getting a reliever up in time might’ve played into the decision to leave Zack on the mound.
(By the way, if you get irritated when your computer corrects your grammar…and this one has smoke coming off it from the strain of correcting mine…remember this: when I typed in the opening quote for this piece, my computer tried to correct Charles Dickens.)