Saturday, October 27, 2007

The DH Dilemma - Tito, meet Cito

The dilemma faced by the Red Sox in trying to make room for all of their bats in the NL ballpark is hardly unique. Most years, the AL champ is forced to sit someone they'd rather not for at least a game or two. But the Gordian knot that Tito Francona had to solve this year was particularly complex. (Baseball Prospectus reports that he'll ultimately sit Youkilis in favour of Papi in the field.)

Which brings us back to the Jays. (Remember way back when this was still a Jays blog?)

Back in 1993, Cito Gaston was faced with the same sort of decision when he had to choose between Paul Molitor and AL Batting Champ John Olerud for Game 3 of the Series in the Vet. Cito ultimately settled on Molitor, who rewarded his decision by going 3 for 4 with a homer and three RsBI.

Cito's plan before that game (as noted to the New York Times' Murray Chass) was to sit the eventual World Series MVP in Games 4 and 5. But Molitor's performance forced his hand into moving him to third for those games, a position he hadn't patrolled on a regular basis in four years. Then again, Cito's choice was either taking a chance with Molly, or sitting him and playing Ed Babb-Sprague. In retrospect, the decision seems so clear.

In looking back at the 1993 Series, we're impressed with how aggressive a manager Cito was. There is this erroneous notion that is floated out there that he merely filled in a lineup card full of all-stars, and let them have at it.

Armchair Managing the Sox: If we were Tito, we would have moved Youk to second, Pedroia to short, and played Papi at first. Sure, three-quarters of your infield would have been out of their regular positions, but what's it gonna matter if you're up ten runs?

(Then again maybe we've played too much MLB 2K6 lately...where we play Travis Hafner in right field and let Ryan Howard catch.)


John Brattain said...

I remember being surprised about the level of angst about playing Molly at third. The Jays had an all right-handed rotation (Guzman/Stewart/Hentgen and Toddlemyre) in the post season and the Phillies were going primarily with a left-handed lineup.

Most of the balls were being hit to the right side anyway so third base wouldn't see a lot of BIP.

Best Regards


sager said...

I was thinking about the best adjustments AL managers have made when they go from real baseball to the NL park...

What about Cito playing Winfield in right in '92, and not taking him out for late-inning defence? (So he was still in the game to stroke the winning hit in extras.) That took some stones.

Drew said...

what about in the bottom of the 11th when he left Winfield in right and carter at first?

With the lead? Johnny O would be on first in the last inning if I were in Cito's seat.

Darren Priest said...

Bet911 sure does stay on topic.