The Chess Master Versus another Checkers Player

I’ve called Bruce Bochy a chess master in the past, and it still stands. Well, now we get to face him in the NLCS. Frankly, from a managerial standpoint, I’d much rather have faced Matt Williams. The Nationals were the more talented team, but Bochy managed his team better. I wouldn’t necessarily say the same thing about our series with the Dodgers. With that series, Mike Matheny simply screwed up less than Mattingly, there’s a big difference.

Lineup Management

Things have gotten better lately (although Pete Kozma starting in place of Kolten Wong in a NLDS game nearly set Twitter on fire) but throughout most of the season, Matheny was lambasted for starting “his guys” IE veterans who’d been around a while, guys like Allen Craig and Mark Ellis, who struggle, while the young talent in need of at-bats to develop (Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong come to mind) rode the bench. Matheny’s hand was forced a little when Craig was traded and Ellis was injured, but he still made some questionable lineup decisions.

Bochy, on the other hand, kept his team afloat despite injuries to key position players. Such as Michael Morse and Angel Pagan. He’s got a relatively deep lineup, but he’s filled his holes well when they’ve popped up. Particularly helpful has been the emergence of Joe Panik at second base, filling a position that was a black hole for the team.
Bullpen Management

Matheny has a stubborn streak when it comes to his bullpen. When Trevor Rosenthal was struggling, he stuck with him, when many people (myself included) believed Mike should’ve given somebody else a shot. Rosie has stabilized a bit, but it’s worth noting that in his last two games against the Dodgers, he allowed runners to get into scoring position both times before pulling an escape act. One wonders if his Houdini act will finally fail against the Giants.

In contrast, when Bochy, had a struggling closer in Sergio Romo, he replaced him with Santiago Casilla, who did a much better job. Sounds simple right? Apparently not. Sure, it helps that Casilla had prior experience as a closer in 2012, but even if we didn’t have a former closer on our staff, we had options, like Carlos Martinez or Pat Neshek, to name two.

In short, Bochy manages his team better, while Mike does ok, but is often carried by the talent of his team. We’ll see if that continues in the LCS.

As always, thanks for reading.


One thought on “The Chess Master Versus another Checkers Player”

  1. Was thinking more like Chess Master vs. Grasshopper. I don’t know if Mike is the worst or best manager or somewhere in between. I know he’s not the best lineup/roster manager in the league. Tony Cruz didn’t hit. We needed him to hit twice in the NLDS and both times we used Oscar Taveras, although OT did deliver a PH that lead to the tie game that was later lost. But Mike could have sent Cruz up IF he’d put AJ Pierzynski on the roster instead of 12 pitchers, 3 of which faced nobody. Nobody here will agree, but imagine the fallout if, for example, Rosey had blown the lead last night and we’d gone back to LA to face Greinke in a game 5. Maybe Mike is better than I give him credit for, maybe he’s been very fortunate, or maybe he’s underachieving with a talented group. Whatever it is, he’s doing well but he’s not Bruce Bochy in game strategy.

    Great choice of topic. The players have to play, but managers have to put guys in the right spot to succeed.


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