Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Game of Adjustments

All right! After spending a couple hours on a column and getting it posted (I swear, it was up!), it seems that Blogger has deleted the whole thing while I tried to republish an edit.

Oh, what a beautiful morning!

Long story short: yes, it's too bad the Twins couldn't get much going against D.J. Carrasco (who did have a 3.67 ERA coming into the game, it should be noted, and even that was inflated by a bad day in Coors Field). But spare me the sob story about Radke's hard luck. Brad had a decent game on the whole, but once again he was his own worst enemy in the first inning. And the reason he once again put his team in a hole to start the game is because he refuses to make adjustments and try to bust hitters on the hands or even make them move their feet.

I wrote up a pitch-by-pitch analysis of his 1st inning yesterday which showed his pitch patterns were ridiculously predictable, served to the batters' strengths, and that he threw exactly ONE inside pitch to move someone off the plate in an inning where he faced 7 men. In the case of the Matt Stairs at-bat, I think it's fair to wonder if the pitcher had his brain engaged in the situation of the game at all.

Down 1-0, with runners on the corners and 1 out (from a sacrifice bunt), Radke was faced with the most dangerous hitter in the Royals lineup: a veteran lefty bat who has made his living by raking righthanded pitchers like Radke. Given that Radke had been working the outside half of the plate with every prior batter in the inning, serving up hits just as in the 1st inning of nearly every other start this season, do you think the staff ace might try to bust Stairs on the hands or at least make a show of moving his feet off the plate? No, of course not.

He started Stairs low and away (are you shocked?), just off the corner for Ball One. Then the next pitch, he delivered to the exact same location--and the veteran professional hitter was comfortably waiting on it, slapping the ball into Leftfield to plate another run. What's more, even after that happened, he started the next batter, the lefty Mark Teahen, in the exact same way--except then the rookie dove after the first pitch and tried to pull it, grounding to the 2nd baseman for a fielder's choice.

Go look at the pitch charts at CBS Sportsline and see for yourself. Radke was starting the game from a rote script, pump strikes down the middle and on the outer half of the plate: the same script that has tagged him with an 11.12 ERA while allowing batters to hit .386/.391/.783 in the 1st inning all season. In a game of adjustments, the leader of the rotation stubbornly refuses to adapt to the reality of game situations in the 1st inning. Even in what might be called a "quality start" because he held a lousy team to 3 runs in 7 innings, his ongoing failure to make necessary adjustments is still hurting the team.

That's what is so aggravating about even this generally decent statline he turned in yesterday. It's not so much that the team finally lost a game to the Royals, which was going to happen eventually. It's that the team lost in part, yes, because the so-called staff ace continues to start off games with the same lousy game plan that hasn't worked all year--and what makes him think the results are going to be any different?

And, I swear, the original full column I posted was so much better than this. More eloquent and reasoned in my ranting, I'm sure you can imagine! Blogger, I curse thee.


At 6/30/2005 7:58 AM, Anonymous Jim H. said...

Excellent analysis, even if it was a mere shadow of the lost post. One minor gripe: "plate" is not a verb.

At 6/30/2005 9:30 AM, Blogger SBG said...

Sorry, Jim, plate is most definitely a verb (and a noun) having multiple meanings. From, an online dictionary.

Main Entry: 2plate
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): plat·ed; plat·ing
1 : to cover or equip with plate: as a : to provide with armor plate b : to cover with an adherent layer mechanically, chemically, or electrically; also : to deposit (as a layer) on a surface
2 : to make a printing surface from or for
3 : to fix or secure with a plate
4 : to cause (as a runner) to score in baseball

At 6/30/2005 9:49 AM, Anonymous Jim H. said...


You're right. I change my statement to this: I don't like the verb "to plate" in this context. I prefer something simpler, like "Stewart's high bouncer scored Rodriguez from third."

Plait: now THAT's a verb!

At 6/30/2005 11:06 AM, Anonymous Just Beth said...

No, it's not good that the Twins are always coming from behind with Bradke on the mound. On the other hand, the offense really shouldn't be concerned with the score of the game. At any point, they need to be scoring more runs. The offense has a legitimate complaint about the first inning. Bradke has a legitimate complaint about the offensive support. But there's nothing either can do about the other, so they just need to move on.

At 7/01/2005 12:01 AM, Anonymous Kristi said...

Blogger needed a snack. Write your columns offline (in something like Word or an email program) and then copy & paste the final draft into the Blogger window. If Blogger eats your column you can copy & paste it again. Yay! I started doing this after a fussy web forum ate a lot of my posts and now I don't have to worry about it.

A nice bonus is that I have all my message board/forum/blog posts saved in my Eudora (email) outbox so I can easily find something I wrote 2 years ago with the Eudora search feature. So if someone asks a question I think "Hey, I have an answer already written about this very topic." Handy!

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