Specialists can be important but they can also get you in trouble. A jack of all trades is better in many cases than a specialist as long as he or she is proficient at the trades they cover.
Baseball philosophy has evolved to dictate that pitchers no longer complete their own games. Instead of taxing their arms or asking them to do that which they were trained to do a specialist reliever is brought into almost every game as it enters the late innings. This practice has taken the brain out of managing a game and placed it in the hands of efficiency experts. It is this brainless automatic thinking that has ruined teams such as the Mets for years and will continue to do so until and unless they realize their stupidity.
Merely because a ‘closer’ was hired is no reason to ask him to pitch each and every 9th inning that involves a ‘save’ possibility. And by the same token you do not have to put a so-called ‘set-up’ man in to pitch the 8th inning. What’s next a specialist for the 7th inning only? Pretty soon you will have 9 pitchers per game. Heaven forbid the game is tied after 9 innings!
The Mets threw away a beautiful performance by their 27 million dollar man, Santana by taking him out of the game in the 9th inning. He had thrown just over 100 pitches and most likely had at least another 25 or 30 good tosses left before he tired. For his salary I would expect nothing less than 125 pitches as long as he was not in trouble.
But trouble is what teams ask for when they switch pitchers merely because the inning is late or the reliever is called a closer.
A simpler – smarter solution to the stupid practice of set-up to closer to loss would be to allow the pitcher who ended the previous inning one more batter. If he gets the out then he pitches to the next batter. Doing this you have a better chance for a victory.
By the same token if your starting pitcher has been removed for whatever reason then the relief pitcher should be evaluated the same way. Just because he was good yesterday does not mean he will be good today.
Met manager Jerry Manuel committed both sins yesterday as he gave away a game he should have had in the bag by removing Santana while still strong and dominant and giving the ball to an incredibly shaky Duaner Sanchez. Sanchez immediately loaded the bases and the rest is history. Manual should be just that, manual and not automatic!
The excuse used for the trio of losing relievers was that the normal closer, Billy Wagner was out with a slight injury. The solution therefore should have been to stay with the starter until he was in trouble. But this team never takes the logical way out.
And speaking of specialists, what do you call a man whose only job is to coach runners around third base? In the case of the Mets you may call him a moron. He made 2 decisions last night and both cost the team runs as the man (Endy Chavez both times) was thrown out at home plate.
Specialists have their place in the world but sometimes others are more special.