26 June 2009

Game 73 Unfair Loss Shares

In game 4 of the 2003 World Series Joe Torre made one of the most notorious decisions of his career, to bring in Jeff Weaver to pitch in a road extra-inning game rather than Mariano Rivera. At the time Weaver had not pitched in nearly a month, while Rivera was the best closer in the game. Weaver pitched a scoreless eleventh inning before giving up a home run to Alex Gonzalez to lose game 4. The Yankees would go on to lose the series in six games.

I wonder if Torre thought about that game when he brought Weaver in to pitch starting in the eleventh inning yesterday. I doubt it. Torre just isn't that kind of guy. It's pretty clear he doesn't have any doubts about how he uses his bullpen. Broxton is the closer, and closers are for leads and ties at home, and nothing else. Really. Broxton has entered 7 games with the score tied this year, all at home. All in either the ninth or tenth inning. Just once has he entered a game when the Dodgers trailed by one --- that was a game against the Phillies when the Dodgers rallied in the bottom of the ninth and Broxton picked up his sixth win. That is the only time this year Torre has deviated from his strict closer usage formula. It's pretty clear Torre never even considered using Broxton in yesterday's game. It's like he wasn't even available. Now if the Dodgers had picked up a lead, then he would have been available! It doesn't make sense to me, but I'm sure it makes perfect sense to Joe Torre.

I write all this not to complain but to simply understand. In truth I'm not really upset about Torre using Weaver instead of Broxton. First, this is just who Torre is, and it's going to be easier on me if I just accept that. Acceptance of certain flaws is vital for fans. Kemp is always going to strike out a lot. Lamar Odom of the Lakers is always going to make a few boneheaded plays per game. Kobe is always going to go into hero mode and shoot horrible shots once in a while. Vinny is going to coo over cute kids in the stands until I want to throw up. Sometimes you just have to utter the cliche phrase of our age --- it is what it is --- and move on.

Second, Weaver would have been in the game by the thirteenth inning anyway. Broxton maybe could have gone two innings if brought in, more likely one. In either case Weaver is on the hill for the thirteenth. Maybe if he starts pitching in the thirteenth the meltdown doesn't come until the fifteenth inning. Maybe.

Third, Weaver was effective for two innings. If the Dodgers had scored any runs in their four extra innings they probably would have won. I blame the Dodger offense for this defeat, more than any decision Torre made. Or perhaps I should credit the White Sox pitchers, especially Dotel. But no, I mostly blame the Dodger hitters. Kemp in particular was awful. He struck out 4 times while going 0 for 6. One of those strikeouts came when he failed to move Blake over from second with no outs in the ninth. Billingsley and Kemp each get an unfair loss share for their poor performances yesterday, that is easy. And the third --- I think that Weaver will not get it. It's a bit ridiculous to give a pitcher an unfair loss share for giving up one run in 3 innings, isn't it, even if that run lost the game, even if the shares are supposed to be in some sense unfair? No, I'm hitting Kemp with a second one. That's pretty unfair too, but his game was just awful. Kemp has arguably been the Dodger MVP so far and with that comes a higher standard. If he does his job with the bat at any point in the game, it's likely we never even have to see Weaver.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

Kemp -- 2
Billingsley -- 1

Unfair Win Shares ( White Stockings )

Dotel -- 1
Podsednik -- 1
Pierzynski -- 1

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