The analytics said to take Blake Snell out. Recall manager Kevin Cash did essentially the same thing in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against Houston, pulling starter Charlie Morton after just 66 pitches. That time, it worked out for the Rays skipper. This time? Not so much.
Cash has been getting all kinds of heat and rightfully so after tempting fate one too many times in the Rays’ season-ending loss to the Dodgers Tuesday night. Some see the logic in what Cash did—Snell had an ERA over six (6.35) in his third time through the order this year. But not Alex Rodriguez, who claimed he couldn’t sleep last night thinking of how Cash’s tinkering may have cost the Rays a title.
“I think these front offices are really ruining our game,” said a frustrated A-Rod during Tuesday night’s postgame show on Fox. “It hurts me because Snell is such a great young man. He does not want to be a chess piece. He wants to be a baseball player.”
The former Yankees third baseman wishes teams had embraced analytics sooner to bail him out against challenging rivals like Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. “I wouldn’t have had to face Pedro for the third time or Curt Schilling. They dominated me. I needed sabermetrics to bail me out the way Tampa Bay’s front office bailed out the Dodgers.”
Pulling the plug on Snell was a definite miscalculation on Cash’s part, but Rodriguez may be taking it a bit far with some of his anti-sabermetrics rhetoric. “Ivy Leaguers continue to get an F year after year in a class called postseason baseball,” the 45-year-old tweeted in defiance of the Rays’ analytics-leaning approach. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy offered similar criticism of the Rays last week, decrying their lack of star appeal and agonizing affinity for “spreadsheet baseball.”
Can’t Cash be wrong without us dismissing analytics in their entirety? After all, innovative Dodgers executive Andrew Friedman got his start in the Rays’ organization, leading Los Angeles to World Series glory using many of the same methods and techniques first popularized in Tampa Bay. Number-crunching got the Rays where they are, but a good manager knows when to trust his gut and Tuesday night, Cash either didn’t do that, or his gut gave bad advice.