If there is one word that can be used to sum up the MLB Opening Week action it would be “overmanaging.” We saw some truly head-scratching decisions from the skippers the last few days. Intentionally walking Sean Rodriguez to get to Carlos Pena. Sacrifice bunting with the second batter of the game. Chris Perez continuing to be a MLB closer. All of these are prime examples of managers self-inflicting wounds. It is time to help the managers stop causing so much damage before it is too late by way of some minor adjustments to the rulebook.
The Joe Girardi Rule – No intentional walks before the seventh inning
Intentional walks are generally a bad idea, but let’s not remove this from the managerial arsenal altogether. By preventing the intentional walk from being used early in the game, managers can only use it so much, but at least they won’t be making big messes out of the game before anyone has had a chance to break a sweat. When it comes to making smart decisions about pitching around a poor hitter to get to an established slugger simply to take advantage of a platoon split, that’s still on the manager to figure out.
The Jim Leyland Rule – No sacrifice bunts by anyone in the top six spots in the order
Statistical studies have shown that the sacrifice bunt should be used roughly never, but again, managers need something to work with tactically. What they don’t need to be doing is ordering good hitters to intentionally make outs. Leave that to the pitchers and the slappies hitting at the bottom of the order.
The Dusty Baker Rule – No pitcher may throw more than 130 pitches in a game
Roy Halladay can get grandfathered in as an exception to this rule, but generally speaking starting pitchers need to be protected against abuse from their managers, just ask, well, any pitcher that has ever been under the care of Dusty Baker. We need to get this rule on the fast track for approval before it is too late to save Mat Latos.
The Fredi Gonzalez Rule – No using a reliever three days in a row
This is the reliever version of the above rule. Did you know that Craig Kimbrel pitched on three consecutive days seven times last season? Did you also know that Craig Kimbrel’s arm is scheduled to fall off by mid-August?
The Mike Scioscia Rule – No batter with an OBP under .300 may bat leadoff
The whole Moneyball OBP craze isn’t for everyone. That doesn’t mean those anti-OBP people are right though. OBP is a good thing. A very good thing. If a player has an OBP under .300, then the player is an out machine and should not be batting leadoff no matter how fast that player is. Sorry, Scioscia.
The Manny Acta Rule – You may not use an inferior reliever as closer
This one might be a bit harder to implement since it is somewhat subjective, but it really just boils down to a simple litmus test of the manager giving his reason for naming a reliever as closer. If the only reason the manager can give is a derivation of “he is a proven and experienced closer,” then he doesn’t get to be closer anymore.
The Bruce Bochy Rule – Enforcing age discrimination laws
Not using a player because he is young and instead giving the playing time to an older player simply because he is a “veteran” is a bad idea. It is also age discrimination. MLB better make sure all managers understand this law before Brandon Belt gets in contact with an attorney at the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.