Monday, April 25, 2011

Clint Hurdle's First Strike of 2011

In his first two months as the Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has brought credibility and accountability to a franchise sorely lacking in both. Hurdle is a strong personality and a vocal leader and his honest and accurate assessment of the Pirates performance, good or bad, through the early part of the season has been refreshingly different from that of his predecessor John Russell. Until yesterday.

With one out in the ninth inning of a 6-3 game, the Pirates had Jose Tabata batting and Andrew McCutchen on third. Tabata hit a fly ball to right field. Jayson Werth camped under it and made the catch. McCutchen tagged from third. That's all you need to know. Results-based analysis is bad analysis. It's more important to analyze whether the thought process was a good one. In this case it wasn't.

Of course, in this case, McCutchen was out on a bang-bang play and the game ended with the Pirates on the wrong side of a 6-3 scoreline. After the game Hurdle was asked about the decision by McCutchen to try to score a meaningless run when the team was down three.
We get one there who knows where it takes us? But we're going to send that guy....A little shallower, probably not. But where it was? Look what kind of throw it takes. There might be two guys in the league that can make that throw, he's one of them.
Hurdle went on to say that he wanted his players to be aggressive and that the only reason the media was talking about it is because he was out. Nope that's not why.  People are talking about the play because it was a bonehead move. The media wanted to hear what the manager had to say because up to this point he has been very forthright in assessing such moves. He wasn't yesterday.

McCutchen's run was meaningless. The Pirates needed three runs to tie. If they are getting those runs, McCutchen obviously will score easily. Instead he takes a needless risk and the game ends. By identifying Werth as one of maybe two guys who can make that throw, Hurdle actually acknowledges it was a bad decision, but he didn't say that publicly.

Last season manager John Russell repeatedly protected his players when they performed poorly, failing to acknowledge either mental or physical mistakes. Russell lost credibility with the fans as a result. This year Clint Hurdle has had a different approach and the fans have embraced it. Yesterday he defended his young star's poor decision. There were a lot of was to handle it. He could have said, "Aggressiveness is good, but we probably want to stay put in that situation," or something along those lines. He didn't.

Let's hope it isn't a sign of things to come.


AMK said...

What about those Blackhawks???

Wamjr said...

I agree with you but I have never seen anyone slide quite the same way that McCutchen did there. He had both of his knees bent under him. If he had slid in the normal manner with his legs stright he would have been safe. No one commented on his strange slide. Bill