Ferdinand Cesarano

Red Sox manager does not understand how lineups work

Recommended Posts

I have mentioned a couple of times that I haven't paid attention to day-to-day baseball in more than twenty years.  My interest extends only as far as the uniforms.  So I will admit that I didn't know that Alex Cora was the manager of the Red Sox.  To be perfectly honest, I don't think I was fully aware of the very existence of Alex Cora, though I certainly knew his brother Joey Cora, the former White Sox second baseman. My greatest memory of Joey Cora was that Yankee announcer Phil Rizzuto liked him because Cora's surname was the same as the Scooter's wife's first name.  Anyway, I sure know now that Alex Cora is the Red Sox' manager, on account of stories that indicate that Cora does not know how lineups work.

 

It seems that the Tampa Bay Rays moved their pitcher at first base and brought in a new pitcher,.  And, somehow, this confused Cora so much that the game was held up for twenty minutes while the umpires tried to explain to him who was batting in what position in the order. 

The rule is simple: when the pitcher moves to a defensive position, the team loses the DH, and the pitcher enters the spot in the batting order formerly occupied by the DH. But Cora was claiming that the Rays' manager didn't say which player was hitting in which spot in the order.  However, the Rays' manager didn't need to make any such declaration.  As soon as the pitcher went to a defensive position, he entered the line-up in the DH's spot.


The umpires also got it wrong.  Crew chief Angel Hernandez gave an interview in which he cited a rule that says that, if a manager doesn't say who is hitting where in a double-switch, then the umpire makes the decision.  But there was no decision to make about the batting order, as the pitcher who went in to play a defensive position, Kolarek, had to enter the batting order in the no. 3 spot (the former spot of the DH), and the new pitcher who came into the game to pitch, Roe, had to enter the order in the no. 9 spot (the spot of the first baseman who had been removed).

 

The players actually did end up in those spots in the order; the umpires used the wrong reasoning, but they bungled their way to the right result.  Cora lodged a protest; but it is completely unfounded. 

 

I wonder — have managers gotten a little dimmer since I've been away?  I once read an article that suggested that teams are hiring lower-quality people to manage, on account of the extensive work done by front offces in the area of analytics. The piece (which I'd love to find again) cited Aaron Boone; but Cora might be another good example of this phenomenon. I can't imagine Ralph Houk or Dick Williams getting confused on this matter, even though they, unlike Boone and Cora, came up before the DH.

Indeed, Billy Martin once out-thunk the DH rule!  In a 1976 game in which Catfish Hunter was the starting pitcher, Billy elected to send Catfish to the plate in place of his starting second baseman Sandy Alomar in the top of the 6th of a tie game, with a man on first and two outs.  He got away with taking the pitcher who was already in the game and using him as a pinch-hitter, simply because no rule said that he couldn't do it. Though why Billy thought that Catfish had a better chance to keep that particular rally alive than did Alomar, who had already had an RBI single earlier in the game, is something that only Billy's own pickled brain could conceive.  It was thus simultaneously an example of Billy's genius and his stupidity. After the season that loophole in the DH rule was closed, and we got the current rule that limits the pitcher in the game to hitting for the DH.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I’m in an NL city, I’m not exposed to most things involving DHs, but I’ve never heard this rule and don’t quite understand it. 

 

i would expect that if a pitcher gets moved to 1B, he would assume the 1st baseman’s spot in the order, and the DH would be batting for the new pitcher. If the first pitcher was then moved back to pitcher, he’d stay in the former 1Bs spot in the order (since he’s now actually in the lineup), the DH would be removed, and the new 1B would assume the DHs spot. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As usual, the right answer is to ditch the silliness of the DH, but we know we can't have nice things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, BringBackTheVet said:

As I’m in an NL city, I’m not exposed to most things involving DHs, but I’ve never heard this rule and don’t quite understand it. 

 

i would expect that if a pitcher gets moved to 1B, he would assume the 1st baseman’s spot in the order, and the DH would be batting for the new pitcher. If the first pitcher was then moved back to pitcher, he’d stay in the former 1Bs spot in the order (since he’s now actually in the lineup), the DH would be removed, and the new 1B would assume the DHs spot. 

 

 

 

Also as an NL fan I had no idea that any of this was a thing. I've never cared to learn the rules of the DH because, frankly, I'd rather it not exist.

 

However, I think the real rule does make sense as far as the DH goes. When the DH is in the lineup he may be batting for the position of the pitcher, but he technically is batting for the specific pitcher who is in the game at that moment (because the lineup is composed of an order of specific players, not of positions). So if that pitcher who was already in the game switches to a different position he doesn't magically take over the batting position of the former first baseman because the pitcher was already in the game and technically already a part of the lineup - he just had someone else batting for him in the lineup. Once that pitcher moves out of role of pitcher and becomes a defensive player, he resumes his spot in the lineup because he was always in that spot in the lineup, but he has lost the privilege of having a DH hit for him because he's no longer a pitcher, but rather a position player. When the new pitcher is brought in, having replaced the position player who was taken out of the game, he should take the place in the lineup of the player he replaced.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think the basis for this topic is correct. I believe the sequence was:

 

1. TB brings in Kolarek to pitch for one batter.

2. TB moves Kolarek to first base, brings in Roe to pitch for one batter.

3. TB removes Roe, moves Kolarek back to pitcher, brings in Choi to first base for remainder of inning.

 

It was only after that final substitution that Cora caused a scene, not that that move was illegal but apparently over confusion over the subsequent batting order, which even the umpires couldn't give a straight answer on.

 

I don't see why the removal of the DH has to involve a manager specifying who goes where or "umpire's discretion" otherwise. Seems like a weird loophole. Once Kolarek became a field player, he should be in the DH spot, and Roe (then Choi) would take the substituted first baseman's spot in the order, no? Why should this be a choice for anyone?

 

Also this whole thread is weird and mean-spirited.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Maroon said:

When the DH is in the lineup he may be batting for the position of the pitcher, but he technically is batting for the specific pitcher who is in the game at that moment (because the lineup is composed of an order of specific players, not of positions). So if that pitcher who was already in the game switches to a different position he doesn't magically take over the batting position of the former first baseman because the pitcher was already in the game and technically already a part of the lineup - he just had someone else batting for him in the lineup. Once that pitcher moves out of role of pitcher and becomes a defensive player, he resumes his spot in the lineup because he was always in that spot in the lineup, but he has lost the privilege of having a DH hit for him because he's no longer a pitcher, but rather a position player. When the new pitcher is brought in, having replaced the position player who was taken out of the game, he should take the place in the lineup of the player he replaced.

 

Exactly right. 

 

56 minutes ago, Digby said:

Once Kolarek became a field player, he should be in the DH spot, and Roe (then Choi) would take the substituted first baseman's spot in the order, no? Why should this be a choice for anyone?

 

Correct.  It's not a choice.  Cora was talking nonsense, and the umpires muddied the situation by not explaining it correctly.

Contrast this to a traditional double-switch, done usually to keep a pitcher from coming to bat in the next inning.  If the no. 8 hitter has made the last out, then a manager might bring in a new pitcher and a new player at another position, and inform the umpire that the new pitcher is batting not 9th but in the spot of the other replaced player.

 

 

1 hour ago, Mockba said:

As usual, the right answer is to ditch the silliness of the DH, but we know we can't have nice things.

 

Wrong.  The answer is to treat the DH as a normal position, one that players can be switched into and out of, just as they can with the defensive positions.  A manager should be able to swap his first baseman and DH just as he can swap his right fielder and left fielder. (Under existing rules, if the player listed as DH takes up a defensive position, the team loses the DH and the pitcher enters the batting order.) And, while a team could elect to play a game without a DH and with the pitcher hitting, there should be no way to lose the DH during a game, just as you cannot lose your shortstop.

If the rule followed that sensible approach, then the Rays could have moved Kolarek to DH and brought in Roe, and then could have brought Kolarek back to the mound and named a new DH.  That would be so much simpler.  It's a shame that the DH wasn't always done this way.

 

 

56 minutes ago, Digby said:

Also this whole thread is weird and mean-spirited.

 

Now that's a bizarre take!  The details of the rules make for a very interesting topic.  (And I'll bet that very few people knew that Billy/Catfish story.)

 

Moreover, when a Major League manager is clueless about a rule that has been around since before he was born, and when the umpires' crew chief cannot even explain it adequately, this is a noteworthy development. Putting a pitcher at a defensive position and then bringing him back to the mound is a move that will be used occasionally. The Mets famously did it once in 1986, switching a couple of times between Orosco and McDowell. 

 

 


And in 1987 the Cardinals shifted righty Todd Worrell to left field to finish a playoff game, storing him there while lefty Ken Dayley got the final outs, just in case they needed Worrell to return to the mound. 

 

 

This strategy should be equally available to American League teams without any undue controversy.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

Now that's a bizarre take!  The details of the rules make for a very interesting topic.  (And I'll bet that very few people knew that Billy/Catfish story.)

 

 

Well, I can definitely say that I find this to be an interesting topic, largely because it's forced me to consider the intricacies of the DH, which as I said I've always ignored because I don't like that the DH exists. I'm actually really glad to know that the AL at least maintains the concept that the DH is tied to a particular player rather than simply the pitcher's spot, which I did not know.

 

My perspective is that the fundamental concept of baseball is that you have nine players on each team, and each of those nine players plays both offense and defense (unless they're taken out of the game, obviously). The DH deviates from this concept by (1) allowing one defensive player to not bat, and (2) allowing one player to be in the lineup without playing defense. I, like @Mockba, also think that the DH needs to be rid of for that very reason, but this thread is still very interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

Wrong.  The answer is to treat the DH as a normal position... (bunches of words about fixing dumb rule)

 

Nah.  Axe the DH and it becomes much simpler.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/25/2019 at 5:06 PM, Maroon said:

My perspective is that the fundamental concept of baseball is that you have nine players on each team, and each of those nine players plays both offense and defense

 

In baseball, pitching is not just a defensive position; it is a specialty. If you want to see what baseball would be like if the pitcher were just a defensive position, look at slow-pitch softball.

 

The use of a DH is often called a step towards offensive and defensive platoons, a characterisation which is an obvious straw-man. In fact it is a reasonable accommodation of the fact that pitchers generally do not work on their hitting.  Furthermore, most minor leagues use the DH, often even when affilliates of National League clubs play each other.  The result is that the majority of pitchers haven't batted regularly since high school or college.  The very rarity of an Ohtani throws into sharp relief the general incompetence of pitchers at hitting.

 

 

 

On 7/25/2019 at 5:50 PM, Mockba said:

Axe the DH and it becomes much simpler.

 

The concept of removing the pitcher from the batting order is a worthy one, even if the application of the DH rule that the American League adopted has the flaws that managers cannot switch players in and out of that role just like any other position, and that the role can be lost for the game if the pitcher moves to a defensive position or pinch-hits for the DH.  More sensible than making the DH a weird half-position would have been having 8-man lineups (even if that would mess with the mathematical connection between a 9-man lineup and 27 outs).

 

The major advantage of the DH is that it opens up strategic possibilities, in that it allows managers to pinch-hit for other players, and also to pinch-run.  And it benefits the competition by ensuring that a pitcher be removed only for his pitching, and not be sacrificed for a pinch-hitter in an effort to keep a rally going.  (I'm looking at you, Bob Lemon in the 1981 World Series.) 

But the best thing about the DH is that it exists in one league and not the other.  Notwithstanding my strong preference for the DH, I really enjoyed watching National League games, mainly in order to see some bunting.  (Pitchers as a group cannot be expected to work on hitting; but they sure can be expected to work on bunting!)   It was fun also to see the performance at the plate of pitchers who fancied themselves good hitters, and who might have become good hitters if they had had the time to work on that skill, such as Dwight Gooden. Rick Sutcliffe's monster home run in the first game of the 1984 playoffs is one of the biggest moments of the decade, in that it furthered the prevailing perception that the Cubs were the team of destiny (a perception that was about to come crashing down).  So I hope the American League never drops the DH; and I equally hope that the National League never adopts it.  Having both varieties is the ideal condition.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

 

In baseball, pitching is not just a defensive position; it is a specialty. If you want to see what baseball would be like if the pitcher were just a defensive position, look at slow-pitch softball.

 

The use of a DH is often called a step towards offensive and defensive platoons, a characterisation which is an obvious straw-man. In fact it is a reasonable accommodation of the fact that pitchers generally do not work on their hitting.  Furthermore, most minor leagues use the DH, often even when affilliates of National League clubs play each other.  The result is that the majority of pitchers haven't batted regularly since high school or college.  The very rarity of an Ohtani throws into sharp relief the general incompetence of pitchers at hitting.

 

 

If the pitcher isn't a defensive position, but rather a specialty... then why can they field the ball? My assertion is, and always has been, that if the pitcher is so specialized that they can't bat for themselves, then they shouldn't be able to field the ball either. Make them a position that is entirely specialized and not a part of the defense or offense whatsoever. Because if they aren't actually a specialty position as you've just said, then they are a defender - because if a position can field the ball, it is, by definition, playing defense and therefore should also have to play offense in the game of baseball.

 

However, your assertion that we can just keep it as is, with the two leagues maintaining the status quo, is also acceptable to me even if it's not optimal. I just never want to live in a world where my only option for watching baseball involved a designated hitter.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/26/2019 at 11:40 AM, Maroon said:

If the pitcher isn't a defensive position, but rather a specialty... then why can they field the ball?

 

Game, set, and match.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Gothamite said:
On 7/26/2019 at 11:40 AM, Maroon said:

If the pitcher isn't a defensive position, but rather a specialty... then why can they field the ball?

 

Game, set, and match.

 

Not quite.  The actual comment was:

 

On 7/25/2019 at 6:26 PM, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

In baseball, pitching is not just a defensive position; it is a specialty.

 

That's a pretty important word.  This means that, while pitching is of course a defensive position, it is much more than that.  And this "much more" is what provides the justification for the DH.

 

Honestly, we're gong to deny that pitching is a specialty, which has been true ever since the batter lost the right to call for a high pitch or a low pitch?   Come on.  That is a level of argumentation worthy of the Flat Earth Society.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dusty Baker is no longer a major league manager so there is no mathematical way that today's roster of managers could be dimmer at this point in time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

 

Not quite.  The actual comment was:

 

 

That's a pretty important word.  This means that, while pitching is of course a defensive position, it is much more than that.  And this "much more" is what provides the justification for the DH.

 

Honestly, we're gong to deny that pitching is a specialty

 

Every position is a specialty.  The skills needed by a third baseman are not at all the same as those needed in right field. 

 

Your “justification” for the DH rings a little hollow. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/25/2019 at 7:38 PM, Mockba said:

As usual, the right answer is to ditch the silliness of the DH, but we know we can't have nice things.

 

As a Rockies fan, I love the NL and a pitcher having to hit. I think, certainly around the middle of the game, it brings up serious questions of strategy. But anyway.

 

The problem is, axing the DH means killing off 15 high-paying jobs. That may be only 2% of all active roster spots across the league, but I can't imagine the players' union being on board with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Gothamite said:

Every position is a specialty.  The skills needed by a third baseman are not at all the same as those needed in right field.

 

Oh, my goodness!  Please stop.

 

A typical outfielder can play any outfield position.  Many infielders play some combination of second base, shortstop, and third base.  But pitching is a separate beast; that's why we have the collective term "position player", which means "non-pitcher".  And that's why it is news whenever a non-pitcher pitches, or when there is the rare player who has Major League-calibre skill at both pitching and hitting.

 

A preference for the challenges presented by having the pitcher in the lineup is understandable.  As I said, even I as a DH-lover appreciate that.  The fact that most pitchers are incompetent at the plate can sometimes put a perverse sort of pressure on the pitcher on the mound, who is now expected to retire the pitcher at the plate with no problem.  I am sure we all have seen instances of a pitcher walking the pitcher at the plate, and then coming apart.  It's fun to see that once in a while, even if it's a bit farcical.

However, this sort of preference is very different from going so far as to deny the bedrock reality that pitching in professional baseball has been a separate specialty since the early part of the 20th century, and that the vast majority of professional pitchers abandon the hitting side of their game and just do not work on it.  (This is the kind of thing that you'd have to explain only to someone who has no familiarity with baseball. To be forced to articulate this in a forum with experienced fans is simply unbelievable.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How many players have managed to win an MVP at more than one position?  Seems like they’re not all as interchangeable as you suggest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

A typical outfielder can play any outfield position. 

 

Eh. Chuck may beg to differ on that. Since the Rox moved him to RF his defending has gone from league-average to "almost liability".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

How many players have managed to win an MVP at more than one position?  Seems like they’re not as interchangeable as you suggest.

 

That's hardly a reasonable standard, as very few players have won multiple MVPs at all.  The standard is that a Major League outfielder is typically competent to play in the Majors at any outfield position.  Even if @chrisjfinlay can cite one particular guy who is bumbling at his secondary outfiled position, it would be almost impossible to find an outfielder who played only one outfield position exclusively.

 

Anyway, the important point is that even a player who is playing truly out of position (to take the most extreme case: catching for the first time) is crossing a gulf not nearly as wide as that between position player and pitcher.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

Anyway, the important point is that even a player who is playing truly out of position (to take the most extreme case: catching for the first time) is crossing a gulf not nearly as wide as that between position player and pitcher.

 

I’m not even sure that’s true.  I’ll bet that on a given year we see more infielders or outfielders on the mound than setting up behind the plate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.