Monday, June 19, 2006

The Villone Effect

There's a ripple effect to not using Ron Villone that I'll spell out here. I'm not talking about using Ron Villone to close out the final game in the Washington series, because Chien Ming Wang is fully capable of going 9 and bringing it home. He just threw one bad pitch and we lost. That's not something to second guess.

The thing to second guess is why Torre didn't use Ron Villone in Game 2. Think about it for a second. By mixing and matching Proctor and Rivera with other relievers in that game he overworked two arms that need to be spaced out more. Mariano had pitched two innings the previous night, and Torre was going to ask him to do it again. He coughed up the game and it's no wonder. Proctor had surrendered another of the 9 unanswered Washington runs, and didn't look too good in his brief appearance. What if Ron Villone had come into that game? Let's re-examine what happened.

T.J. Beam came into Game 2 in the Bottom of the 6th. It is his first Major League appearance after dominating AA Trenton this year and having a cup of coffee(9.2 IP) in Columbus. He records three outs with only a tough Soriano at bat resulting in a single against his record. Nice work. He's up in the Top of the 7th. Pinch hit, right. The kid's done his job. He leaves the game with a quality inning of work in his first ever big league game, and his 10th inning above AA. Nope. Torre lets him hit to "give his overworked bullpen a break". Problem is, Ron Villone has thrown 2.1 innings after his June 5th appearance, and probably could give you a couple of innings before the pitcher's slot comes up again.

You can't assume that Villone would have pitched well. For all we know he may have choked and given up 5 runs all by his lonesome. Let's just assume that he pitched well though. Let's assume that his .198 BAA/.319 OBA/.260 SLGA held up and he goes a scoreless 7th and 8th. The Yankees would have been up 9-6 with only the 9th inning to go. You would have never blown T.J. Beam's confidence. You would have never needed Mike Myers. You would never have needed Scott Proctor. Mariano could have earned a one inning save that also clinched the series and kept the pressure on Boston.

That's a big "IF" because Torre didn't use Villone. Beam wore out. Myers was brought in. Proctor threw 20 more pitches. Mariano came into the game in the 8th looking for consecutive 2 inning saves. Tell me what part of that makes sense. To bring Game 3 of the series back into the picture, maybe Wang pitches the 9th anyway and loses the game. We would have likely had the series in the bag already and you could shrug the whole thing off as an unfortunate turn of events. Maybe you even ask Mariano to pitch 3 days in a row with the plan to sit him against Philly on Monday. Maybe you ask Proctor to close out the 9th. The point is, you may have had additional options to think about had you just used Ron Villone for a change. Is that so wrong?