I know
we went around the AL last Friday,
and I’d planned to look at the NL
today, but I’m pushing that back for a day.

I want to point out some mediocy from last night’s A’s/Royals game. Down 4-2
in the top of the ninth with no one out and Jeremy Giambi on first
base, Jason Giambi ripped a double into right-center field. A’s
third-base coach Ron Washington elected to send the younger Giambi home on
the play, an absolutely horrible risk considering the situation. ESPN2 had a
great shot of Giambi just reaching third base as Jermaine Dye threw
the ball into the infield. Under normal circumstances, it would have been a
questionable send; with the A’s down two runs and no one out, it was an
inexplicable one.

The A’s caught a break, as Luis Ordaz‘s relay throw to the plate was
brutal, not only allowing Jeremy to score, but letting Jason move to third
base. A good throw, even a decent throw, and the younger Giambi is out by a
mile, Jason doesn’t move to third and the A’s probably don’t tie the game in
the inning.

Rick Sutcliffe, calling the game for ESPN2, couldn’t stop praising the
decision to send the runner. "It’s a great play on the part of the
third-base coach of the Oakland A’s." Are you kidding me? Taking an
unnecessary risk with a slow runner carrying an unimportant run in the ninth

One of my pet peeves is this kind of "analysis," where dumb moves
that work out aren’t dumb moves that work out, but shining examples of
genius at work. Rather than evaluate the decision on its merits, Sutcliffe
gave Washington a free ride because Ordaz couldn’t make the play.

And yes, I have no way of proving it, but I just know that had Giambi been
gunned down–as he should have been–Sutcliffe’s tune would have been
completely different.

Outcome-based evaluation of decisions sucks. Repeatedly bunting with your #2
hitter in the first inning is stupid, no matter how many runs score. Trading
a great shortstop prospect for a middle reliever two months removed from
crappiness is stupid, even if the middle reliever subsequently pitches like
Walter Johnson‘s older brother. Crossing a busy freeway on foot is a
stupid, even if you make it safely.

I make an issue of this for two reasons: one, because it’s rampant in the
media, and is quite possibly the clearest example of an area that needs to
be improved. Two, because over the next week, a number of trades are going
to be made, and they should be evaluated not based on which veteran hitter
goes nuts over the next two months, but on whether they were a good idea at
the time, whether the costs and benefits are in line, and whether the
players involved can really be expected to improve a team’s chance at
playing into October.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by
clicking here.

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