Saturday, May 3, 2008

Shuffling the Cards

A team loses a player, say Josh Willingham, so what can a manager do, especially after being swept in a 3-game series? You need to do something, so you just shuffle the cards a little, and re-deal a new hand. At least that is the way some managers think, and when it works, you get the credit! Sounds simple, but it also helps when you play an inferior team with your "almost ace" on the mound.

In the case of the Marlins, winning 6-4 over the Padres last night at home, the strategy worked, or did it? Hermida went 3 for 4 in the two-spot, Uggla hit 2 homeruns in the 6 spot, and Hanley extended his streak of reaching base at home to 47 games in the 3 spot. Sounds great, but is it the shuffle or the schedule that makes the difference?

When a strategy seems to work, you stick with it, so I would expect to see a similar line-up tonight once again. The problem is that with Jake Peavy on the mound at 3-1 with a 2.09 ERA, it might take a little more than a simple shuffle to win. It might just take a great outing by Nolasco, a little more clutch hitting, and a little better pitching by the closer who again managed to get into some trouble in the ninth with a 3-run lead.

And then there is the problem of tomorrow afternoon's game, when Andrew Miller and his 9.12 ERA face Greg Maddux going for his 350th career win. Perhaps a little shuffle in the starting pitching rotation might be a good idea. At least that way, the manager can take some credit there too if the Marlins just happen to win. But there's the rub. No matter how you shuffle the cards in your deck, you still have the same number of aces in your hand when you pick them up.

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