Posted by Steve
A surprising move today, as Ned Yost was fired in a desperation move to shock some life into the team. To be honest, as much as I disliked Ned’s in-game decisions, this has an odd feel to it. This is not really Doug Melvin’s M.O. He has never been one to make knee jerk reactions. I’m not saying Ned’s firing is a knee-jerk—it should have happened after last year—but for it to come with 12 games remaining in the season seems like this may have come from Mark Attanasio. This could very well be the best team he’ll have as owner, so I don’t blame him for it.
While I like the move overall, there are a few things about it that don’t sit well. The team is losing in September because they aren’t hitting at all. It’s not like they’re losing a bunch of close games because of Ned’s mismanagement (save for game one yesterday); they’re getting crushed. In other words, this collapse is the players’ fault much more than Yost’s. It’s really completely unfair to Yost (and no, I am not feverish or drunk). If he would have been fired in Boston and then the team still took off, it would have been because Yost was gone. Yet when they lose now, it’s his fault. Doesn’t add up.
Secondly, I just assumed when I heard the news that Ted Simmons would be taking over. Dale Sveum does not excite me at all, and I cringe at the idea of him being hired full-time next season. I want someone who won’t let Kendall hit late in a game when trailing, won’t let Shouse face slugging right-handers and will pitch Carlos Villanueva in high-leverage situations. Sveum seems too much like Yost for much of that to change.
Finally, this is a little bittersweet for me personally. Ned was just too easy to target. From the coffee intake and the git-r-done-ness to the Yost Face and the senseless attacks on unassuming reporters, there was a lot besides the boneheaded in-game moves to criticize.
I guess we’ll see what happens. It can’t hurt anything, that’s for sure, so why not try it?
One thing to add here. Here’s an excerpt from a column by Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus that sums up Yost’s bullpen ineptitude quite well. I touched on this situation yesterday, but I was too dismayed to really get into it.
Yost has to take a big part of the blame as well, after making some of the worst tactical decisions you’ll see. In the eighth inning of yesterday’s first game, the Brewers were tied 3-3. Guillermo Mota allowed a leadoff single to Jayson Werth, and was lifted for Brian Shouse so that Shouse could face Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. (Charlie Manuel‘s refusal to always put a right-handed batter between those two is a big reason why the Phillies will have trouble winning a short series.) Utley sacrificed Werth to second, setting up Shouse versus Howard.
Yost elected to walk Howard to face Pat Burrell. This was… well, it strains my vocabulary to find the right word for it. Howard cannot hit left-handers, and would be a platoon player if performance mattered anywhere near as much as reputation does. Or if he had a competent manager. Howard is at .228/.313/.458 against lefties in his career, .212/.287/.410 this year. Howard. Can’t. Hit. Lefties. Shouse, on the other hand, is in the major leagues for exactly one reason: lefties can’t hit him, to the tune of .175/.192/.289 this year, and .211/.263/.325 for his career, which includes a bunch of years when he was barely a major leaguer. Manuel sending Howard up against Shouse was a continuation of a theme for the Phillies: not hitting for Howard when he has little chance of doing something good. He was giving Yost an out, and Yost gave it right back.
That set up Shouse versus Pat Burrell, which cried out for a right-handed reliever. After all, Shouse is a pure specialist (.307/.390/.455 vs. RHB career; .293/.371/.446 this year). The only way walking Howard even might make sense is if Yost were to bring in a righty to try and get a double play out of Burrell. Burrell doesn’t have the big platoon splits he showed earlier in his career—he’s a dangerous hitter against both kinds of hurlers—but leaving Shouse in to face him was asking for trouble.
Think about this for a second. Yost had a 481 OPS pitcher facing a 697 OPS hitter. He elected to issue an intentional walk in that situation to allow an 817 OPS pitcher to face a 905 OPS hitter with an additional runner on base. That’s when you start looking around the roof of the stadium for snipers, because gunpoint is the only place where that kind of decision makes sense.
So it was no surprise that four pitches later, the Phillies were up 7-3. Burrell singled in one run, and Shane Victorino cleared the bases with a three-run homer to left.