"Despite managing in the NL, Alou loved the designated hitter because it made managing the offensive side of the game more interesting.That cuts right to the heart of the matter. There is little strategy involved when the decision is dictated by the player's limited skills. Pitchers are OPSing a sub-sub-McGlovin .358 (ironically, their AL counterparts are doing slightly better, .369). This is better than having a NPH (nondescript professional hitter) in the lineup why?
" 'Strategy,' he told me one time with a frown. 'What's the strategy in having a guy with a bat in his hand not knowing how to use it? What play can I put on besides a bunt?' "
As Bob Elliott noted, it was not the first time the Jays won a game in Philly despite Gaston not making a move out of Baseball 101, to use Mike Wilner's term.
A lot of the in-game decisions managers make comes out in wash, regardless of how much Seamheaded analyzing-to-death occurs after the fact. The Jays got out of it after going into the bottom of the ninth with only two pitchers left and a slim lead against a team which was very capable of forcing extra inings (the Phillies are far and away the NL's best-hitting team). The rub is you cannot logically credit Gaston just because it did not blow up in his face. It's like ascribing genius to someone who forgets to lock the front door of his apartment, goes out for a few hours and returns later to find out his place did not get burgled.
Gaston, via Blair, admitted as much:
" 'I thought about it, and then after I went to the mound, you couldn't do it,' Gaston said Friday night before the first game of a three-game series against the Nationals. 'You have to approach the umpire first and I went to the mound first. I had intentions of it (a double switch) but I screwed it up.One can only imagine the fallout if Boston's Terry Francona or the Yankees' Joe Girardi goofed by not going to the umpire to make the substitution. Incidentally, both of those managers, as did Gaston, played in the National League, so they should be familiar with how it's done. Baseball is not as widely obsessed over in Toronto and we just figure, hey, Cito knows what he's doing, even when he admits he did not know what he was doing.
" 'The way it turned out was okay. But it's something you think about."
(The other time in Philadelphia, as you likely know, was that famous 15-14 slugfest in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series. The Blue Jays, aided and abetted by a near-historic meltdown by Mitch Williams, won a game where they were down by five runs with only five outs remaining.
Gaston just knew his guys would pull off greatest late-inning comeback in a World Series since 1929 in the eighth inning, so that is why he let reliever Tony Castillo bat for himself one inning earlier. Of course, if you were 16 years old, a Jays fan, and had been watching Mitch Williams self-destruct throughout the 1993 playoffs, you probably figured the good guys still had a chance.)
It's a couple days old, but FanGraphs' Dave Cameron has a look at the Jays' first-round draft choice, righty pitcher Chad Jenkins:
"The Blue Jays love groundball pitchers almost as much as I do, but the ones they've had success with have developed good secondary stuff. That's going to be the key for Jenkins as he gets into Toronto’s system. If he can refine his change-up and make it a real weapon against lefties, he has a chance to be one of my favorite pitchers in a few years. If he can’t, I hope he likes hanging out in the bullpen."Related:
Second-guess Cito Gaston at your peril. Even when he appears to be wrong, things tend to work out for him (Bob Elliott, Sun Media)
Of double switches and Expos nostalgia; Cito Gaston's mistake on Thursday afternoon in Philadelphia ended up working out for the Blue Jays (Jeff Blair, globesports.com)
Felipe Alou is wise (Sports And The City)