The North Doesn’t Always Win
As a Cubs fan, I have been plagued by many things throughout my lifetime. Incompetent GMs chasing the dream the wrong way. Managers who couldn’t spell “I’m fucking stupid.” Players without fundamentals. The millions of taunts from others. You name it, we’ve been through it.
For the past ten years or so, we have been infected by managers who had this genius theory that against left-handed pitchers you have to start an entire right-handed lineup. Four managers have done it now. It’s never worked. It will never work. It’s just lazy.
I imagine managing your bench players is a tricky thing. You have to find the games to get them a start, so they’re at least somewhat sharp when called upon to pinch hit or fill in for an injured starter. And obviously, you don’t want eight guys going 160 games, because one or two or more of them will fade (are we sure this amphetamines ban was a good thing?)
However, it’s out-dated and lazy to just look at what side of the plate they hit from, and then decide they’ll start whenever someone of the opposite hand is pitching.
The main effect of these seven or eight righties against a southpaw is that the pitcher basically never has to adjust the sights. He can zone in on whatever point on the outside corner he wants to break his pitches from. He can pinpoint his fastball, because the locations never change. He gets a rhythm.
And it also renders your bench players useless. Because what if they dont’ actually hit lefties? Scott Hairston has as many years of being middling against lefties as he does crushing them. He might only be just ok against them. When he’s not hitting them, as he hasn’t this year, he gives you nothing. He’s terrible defensively, he’s in no rhythm to pinch hit, and he’s not getting on base. Essentially all he does is take up space so DeJesus doesn’t have to hit lefties.
And that’s kind of a misnomer. Kim DeJesus’s husband’s OBP against lefties is actually one point higher than Hairston’s. It’s way fucking higher than Dave Sappelt. Sure, it might not come with as much pop, but it would come with the ability to work an at bat and at least make a pitcher work.
It’s almost as if Sveum doesn’t know what to do with Sappelt, so he chucks him out against lefties and can run for the shelter of “Well he hits right handed and D.J. doesn’t.” It’s ass covering.
Worse yet, Hairston and Sappelt are not superior defenders, so they can’t be used in late-inning situations to shore up a lead. Again, their use is limited.
It feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy. This guy doesn’t hit lefties. So we don’t play him against them. He never sees them. So on the off occasion when he does, he struggles with something he doesn’t see much. Hence, he doesn’t hit lefties.
Dusty did it. Lou did it. That bald dude did it. And it’s never worked. The pitcher locks in. I know, it’s not like Sveum is blessed with a roster full of guys who can hit any pitcher. So he’s working with what he’s got.
But when he does, are we still going to have to deal with this?