Friday, June 02, 2006

Tigers 7, Yanks 6 -- Howdy Ho, Kyle!


Another winnable game; another set of decisions based on shaky logic; another bullpen meltdown.

It sounds downright greedy of me to get pissed over not sweeping the Tigers. But once again, it was a winnable game, so winnable that we were within two outs of calling Scruffy the Janitor out onto the field. But Professor Farnsworth had other ideas.

[MORE]After game, a reasonable reaction would be to lambaste Farnsworth, as this is the third game he’s blown in a week. And while I think 80-90 percent of the blame rests on Farnsworth’s slider-throwing arm, Joe Torre is certainly a culprit as well. This was The Professor’s seventh appearance in 10 days. Even the most badass guys have their limits with fatigue, and it appears Farny is well past his threshold. The sooner we see Octavio Dotel, the sooner we see Farnsworth’s appearances and innings decrease, the sooner we see a spike in his performance. Or at least that’s how my theory goes.

The saddest part of the night was that Chien-Ming Wang once again proved himself unreliable, twice loading the bases with none out. The second time was the most deadly, as it resulted in the Tigers pulling to within one. And while Darrell Rasner was the man who surrendered the two-run single (to Magglio Ordonez, whom I hate), he went on to retire the next five in order before being inexplicably removed in favor of Mike Myers. I like Myers and all, but Rasner was rolling, and he had the bases empty with two outs. Why not let the kid – a guy we need to evaluate on the Major League level – toss to Granderson? If he gets him out, Myers is saved for a later inning, higher-pressure lefty-lefty matchup. But instead, Joe’s lack of trust in young arms proves hurtful, as Scott Proctor is necessarily summoned to complete the sixth. And seventh. And eighth.

Where was Ron Villone? And where was Ron Villone on Tuesday night? The guy is pitching very well, sans some control issues. You know how you work through control issues? You work consistent innings. Unfortunately, no matter how much Joe tells the media he’s going to use Villone more often, the latter still sits in the bullpen with the scarlet “distrusted” embroidered on his uniform. The ninth inning should have been his, and that’s not just some two-bit second guessing. Farnsworth needs rest; Villone needs work. How is Torre not making this connection?

I know it sounds borderline ridiculous for a Regular Joe fan to be questioning the manager’s decisions so feverishly. But the truth is that we’ve known Torre’s strategic weaknesses for quite some time now. His “trust” and “distrust” of certain relievers, and his ridiculously ineffective “bullpen formula” make no sense, and have hurt the team on multiple occasions. Take, for instance, his usage of Mariano Rivera for three innings on Tuesday night:

“If I put him [Villone] in and he gets wild or something, I have no one to go to.”

Okay, so I understand that he was trying to give Villone a day off because he had tossed two the previous game. But to blatantly distrust him like that is just outlandish. Further, what Torre COULD have done was put – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – Scott Erickson into the game. I realize that he’s not a very good pitcher, but I don’t think he’d surrender five runs in an inning. Over six appearances and 7.2 innings this year, he has allowed two runs once (in a two-inning appearance vs. Texas), one run twice, and no runs thrice. Why unnecessarily burn out Mo? And why show such concern for Villone getting a day off when you don’t show the same regard to Kyle Farnsworth’s rest?

I just hope Mo is available for the weekend.