Baseball Needs Instant Replay

Sure it helps that ESPN has been brainwashing me with constant replays of every single questionable home run call over the past week, but hey, I’ve felt strongly about this subject for a long time. I’m not saying we should review pickoff plays, dropped third strikes, balk calls, whether or not a batter went around, and certainly not balls and strikes, but come on, when it comes to a call that changes a ballgame by anywhere from 1-4 runs, we need to get it right. This really came to my attention last year when I wrote about Rockies’ manager Clint Hurdle getting upset over some of the unfavorable calls his team had received. I thought about it then and feel even more strongly now that just to review whether or not a ball went out of the park, instant replay is a useful tool.

I just can’t even fathom why the unimaginative purists would want to keep the game free of instant replay. Why, will it slow a game played at Bengie Molina-like speeds by 150 seconds? Oooh, that’s just too much for us to handle. Big deal — the people in the crowd pop open their phones to blast off a few texts and catch up on some scores around the league on their blackberrys. What’s the problem? Isn’t it worth it to get it right when it’s something that significant? Moreover, all you need is two minutes reviewing a potential home run ball to get the call right. It’s not like in football where you can deliberate and still get a call wrong because of funny angles and stuff; this is pretty easy, if the ball clears the yard, it’s gone. Then again, I’m not really sure why I’m ranting to you about this — it’s probably the people who still haven’t warmed up to the idea of computers that are against instant replay in the game, anyhow.

Managers Explain this One to Me

I made it pretty clear a few weeks ago that I love creative managers. Ones who don’t just play by the book, but guys who actually try something new to give their team advantages. I like ones that use common sense like bring in their best reliever (the closer) into the game in the 8th if it’s necessary rather than just letting him rot on the bench. That’s just one such example. But here’s one thing that’s been floating around in my head after a baseball conversation earlier in the season. Riddle me this: why don’t managers of poor teams throw their top pitchers in the bottom of the rotation to create favorable matchups? Why do all teams set their pitchers up 1-5 in order of best to worst?

Just looking at the MLB schedule for the day, if you’re Charlie Manuel and the Phillies for instance, why would you throw one of your better starters like Brett Myers against Brandon Webb who’s 7-0 and a perennial Cy Young contender, instead of say Adam Eaton or Kyle Kendrick? Wouldn’t it be in your best interest to set up Cole Hamels and Brett Myers against Micah Owings or Edgar Gonzalez instead? That’s not even a top example because we’re talking about two good teams. If you’re a poor offensive team like San Diego or San Francisco, this seems like it would be absolutely ideal. Your teams can’t hit so your aces lose matchups against other aces. Why not throw Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain against 4’s and 5’s, ditto with Jake Peavy and Chris Young? At worst, you probably end up with the same record. At best, you’re getting yourself more wins, which sounds appealing to me.

It’s not like it’s the playoffs where it’s a best of seven and there’s a need to win games early on. It’s not like the number one starter gets a whole lot more opportunities to pitch than fours and fives — they all usually get between 32 and 34 if they stay healthy. And if you wanted your aces to get one more start in, you could adjust the rotation to make it happen. So answer me this one: why don’t managers of inferior teams start creating mismatches by throwing their aces against other team’s worst starters, exploiting weaknesses? I can’t figure out why not, so maybe you can.

Bobby Cox Displays Creative Genius

I love it when managers think outside the box. Too much of baseball is “by the book.” Guys playing percentages, playing Juan Pierre every day while benching Kemps and Ethiers. You just wish there was more creativity. Mike Scioscia is one of these guys, but even he took it too far when he put on the hit and run with the Molinas. Anyway, Braves’ manager Bobby Cox pulled off a stunt worthy of our attention. I’ll defer to the AJC for the details:

[Braves reliever Chris] Resop walked two of the first three batters in the 10th inning, and one advanced to third on a passed ball, before Cox brought in left-hander Royce Ring to face Adam LaRoche, who struck out.

Resop was sent to replace Matt Diaz in left field when Ring entered the game, so that Cox could then bring Resop back to pitch after the LaRoche at-bat. The right-hander returned to the mound to race Nady, who drove in the go-ahead run with his sixth hit and seventh RBI of the three-game series.

Cox said he made the move because he wanted Resop to be available to come back and pitch beyond the 10th inning, if necessary, so that reliever Peter Moylan could be assured of having a night off after pitching in each of the first three games of the season.

Even though the move didn’t work out — and let’s be real, no pitcher can stop the force that is Xavier Nady — I like where Cox’s head was. Word on the street is that Resop used to be an outfielder when he first came up, so it wasn’t a stretch to have him out there. Makes complete sense to me. Like I said, I really enjoy seeing managers think outside the box, even if it didn’t work out in this case.