We’re going to try a new format and do a Cash Considerations after every series, assuming I can keep disciplined all season. Because that last column? Holy cow! Kudos to everybody who made it through that beast.
On the bright side, you get a nice, short, two-game review this time (as game one of the Yankee series was covered last time).
On the down side, man, was there some ugly baseball.
Kevin Cash didn’t cost us this game. He didn’t walk anybody. He didn’t commit any errors. He didn’t throw any wild pitches. He didn’t get thrown out on the bases trying to run on Aaron Freaking Hicks.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t nits to pick.
Not Pinch Hitting for Weeks in the Fifth
This one is tough. With the Rays up 2-0 and Snell cruising, Steven Souza Jr. doubled to lead off the inning. Unfortunately, rookie lefty Jordan Montgomery rebounded to strike out both Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria. Then, with Weeks due up, Girardi made a call to the pen, bringing in righty Bryan Mitchell to get the platoon advantage.
Should Cash have countered with Logan Morrison here?
The inner Earl Weaver in me screamed yes, but in hindsight, it’s not as clear cut. We were still fairly early in the game, and we had the lead. If you make the call now, there was a decent chance Morrison would be placed in a bad matchup later on in an even more important situation, what with Tommy Layne (and of course Chapman) as lefties out of the pen. Plus, that means LoMo wouldn’t be available to pinch hit in an actual high leverage spot later, should the need arise.
And no, the leverage in the Weeks at bat wasn’t really that high. It doesn’t get much more average than a 0.97 LI. Nor was the run expectancy that great. Thanks to the failed chances by the hitters in front of Rickie, the RE had steadily dropped from 1.14 runs for the KK at bat, to 0.69 for Longo, to finally just 0.33 for the Weeks. That’s lower than Souza had leading off the inning.
It actually wasn’t a great run scoring situation, is what I’m saying.
I mean, it wouldn’t have been wrong to pinch hit LoMo. I’m not saying that playing for runs is bad. It’s just that if it’s late, or if you’re tied or trailing, the case is better. And if you pull the trigger in the fifth, you do so knowing that you may have used up a bullet you’ll need for a later, more high leverage situation.
No, the real failure came in the at bats previously. Maybe you can start making the case now that KK in the two-hole against lefties is hurting us (It is obviously hurting us! No, it’s too early to tell! Are you blind? Small sample sizes!), but not pinch hitting for Weeks wasn’t an inherently wrong decision.
Oh, and Weeks reached (albeit on an error) anyway, and the run scored (before he ran into an out, and can we all agree that replay is awful?). So shut up. Yay, results driven analysis! We’re winning this one!
Verdict: High Five!
Things Fall Apart
Dude was cruising! And then the fifth happened, and we all needed a fifth to get through it.
It’s easy to second guess Cash when it comes to his timing in pulling Snell, but I think he got this one right. Blake figuring out how to put the wheels back on when things go sideways (that’s...an awkward mixed metaphor) is going to be a major part of his development as a major leaguer. These are the growing pains we will have to suffer as fans. Hopefully, we get to see the rewards down the line.
But we also have a game to win. And after the bases loaded walk to Hicks cut the lead to 3-1, Snell had made 31 pitches that inning, a lot of them pretty high leverage.
Just take that last 3.46 LI at bat to Aaron Hicks. Somehow that at bat went eight pitches, despite none of the pitches being in the zone per my Gameday feed. The only one that was even borderline was ball four -- and that was on a bounce!
So yeah, getting him out was the right call.
Danger! Caveats Ahead!
But choosing Jumbo Diaz as the fireman? With the bases loaded? Well, that was … interesting.
Cash knows a whole lot more about how his relievers are feeling and performing right now. And Jumbo has looked really solid the few times we’ve seen him. But his command over his career -- as exemplified by not-so-robust 8.7 BB% -- don’t inspire a ton of confidence with the bases juiced. Plus, his platoon splits are pretty neutral.
As Holliday dug in, the LI was a daunting 4.15. And yes, Diaz did manage to ratchet it down to 3.06. Unfortunately, he did that via a wild pitch that scored a run and moved everybody up. Then he walked Holliday, and LI was right back up there at 4.35 for Carter.
Is Jumbo your best play there? Should Cash have gone to someone else?
Danny Farquhar has looked good this year, though he has reverse splits historically. Still, wouldn’t you rather see Danny Boy out there in that high lev pressure cooker?
Or why not Tommy Hunter? Hunter has better command historically than Diaz. He has a clearer platoon advantage against righties. And with righties Matt Holliday and Chris Carter coming up, wouldn’t Tommy Hunter have been a better play?
The short answer is: I don’t know.
The long answer is:
But using Diaz here feels super sketchy. We’re watching you, Kevin Cash.
Verdict: Oh yes. We’re watching you.
April 13: Yankees 3, Rays 2
I don’t want to belabor this one, because it was tough enough experiencing it the first time. And there’s not a whole lot Cash could have done definitely better. Differently? Sure. Better? Who knows?
Swingman Matt Andriese pitched very well after giving up the first inning homer to Aaron Hicks. Running him out there for the sixth, well into the third time through the order as he pushed toward 100 pitches, is a departure from the way Cash has handled him previously. But given his performance, I think it’s fair to say that that Matty earned himself some rope. Additionally, there seems to be change in strategy as we focus less on times through the order for our starters. It’s worth keeping an eye on.
Verdict: Golf Clap?
Seventh Inning Pen
Using Erasmo Ramirez for a couple hitters after he had gone almost two innings the day before was ... peculiar. I mean, I still don’t understand his aversion to Tommy Hunter, but whatever.
And personally, I’d have rather seen Danny Farquhar — who has reverse splits — against Ellsbury and then Hicks instead of the struggling Xavier Cedeno.
But here’s the thing: If we’re going to win, we need Cedeno to get back to being one of our reliable relievers. And the only way to get there is either have him pitch, or get him a short DL stint (from injuries real or imagined).
So you can quibble with the usage, but it’s not inherently wrong. And Cedeno did get Ellsbury out.
As far as Hicks, I did some digging to see if it was indeed better to turn him around right handed. And the results were — to put it charitably — inconclusive. See, while Hicks is pretty platoon neutral over his career, the splits vary pretty widely year-to-year. It’s just that sometimes he awful against lefties (like last year), and sometimes he’s awful and against righties (like his first couple years in the bigs with the Twins). Basically, he’s a bad free throw shooter, and the fans that root for him shouldn’t be seduced by him hitting five in a row into thinking he’s now a good free throw shooter.
So until there is a day managers come up with a “don’t a hang a curve ball middle-middle” sign, this was fine. It sucked, but it was fine.
Verdict: This is fine
We give Kevin a free pass on the pinch hitting front here, what with Weeks not being available and Mallex going down with the hammy thing. Could he have pinch hit Norris for Sucre in the eighth, or LoMo in the ninth? I guess. And I’m sure Mr. Andersbot could run some sort of fancy wOBA expectation regression thingee for us. But my gut tells me that with the pinch hitter penalty, you’re not going to get any gains. In fact, it might even put you in a worse position. And Sucre is seeing the ball well, and LoMo is the 2017 AL MLP. So not making a move that likely wouldn’t have made any difference anyway was probably the right move.
What will be interesting is seeing if any call-ups result from this. Maybe you were trying to soldier on without Rickie Weeks for a game or two and avoid a DL stint, but with Mallex ailing now as well? Who knows?
Is it Casey Gillaspie time?
We have no healthy outfielders on the 40 man to call up, but maybe Patrick Leonard — who has been raking — gets added to the 40 man and gets a shot?
Or do you just roll with a dinged up bench for a couple games?
Maybe we see LoMo in front of the Monster?
I know Kevin Cash isn’t the final arbiter of these calls, but I’m sure he has some input. He’ll have some Cash Considerations of his own.
Verdict: Thinking emoji