Dodgers Phillies Baseball

One thing that has been really bothering me ever since Joe Torre took over as manager of the Dodgers last year is that he basically never ever uses the double switch.

A perfect example was tonight’s game on the road against the Chicago Cubs.  In a very tight game with the Dodgers leading 2-1, Torre yanked starter Randy Wolf after he allowed a leadoff homer to start the eighth, and brought in relief ace Ramon Troncoso.

With closer Jonathan Broxton having thrown a ton of pitches the day before, Torre was obviously hoping that his second-best reliever Troncoso would be able to go two innings for the save (which was why he had even allowed starter Wolf to come out for the eighth).

But the pitcher’s spot was also due to bat 5th in the top of the ninth.  This meant that there was absolutely no reason not to make a double switch, because if the pitcher’s spot came up in the 9th, it would almost certainly mean there were runners on base and in scoring position, and in a one-run ball game you would certainly not want to have to bat a relief pitcher in a situation where runs were definitely needed.

But sure enough, as he has done ever since he returned to the National League, Torre did not make a double switch of any kind, and sure enough Troncoso made it through the 8th just fine, and sure enough the Dodgers got something going in the 9th, and sure enough Torre sent a relief pitcher up to bat with two runners on base and two outs, and Troncoso struck out swinging to end any chance of scoring further insurance runs.

Now, Troncoso was able to close out the Cubs in the bottom of the 9th for the save, but that is almost besides the point, because he did so in spite of some flat-out terrible managing by Torre.

There was absolutely no excuse not to make a double switch in the 8th inning, as the game was almost over, Torre was *clearly* planning to go with Troncoso for two innings, and he had his entire bench available.  Torre clearly never even considered it, however, nor did any of the Dodger coaches suggest it.

An artfully executed double switch is not only one of the most beautiful strategic maneuvers in baseball (and one of the main reasons why the DH is an abomination), but it is also a crucial tool in an NL manager’s toolbox to ensure that he maximizes his teams ability to score runs and his own ability to get more innings out of his best pitchers.

I’m not sure if Torre just spend too long in the AL, is getting too old, or if he never used the double switch, even back when he managed in the NL before, but it is shocking and simply unacceptable how many times this season (and last year as well) he found himself having to send a reliever to the plate just to keep him in the game, or found himself having to pinch hit for a reliever who was pitching really well, when these problems could have easily been avoided with a simple double switch.

But Joe Torre never makes double switches.

11 Responses to “Joe Torre apparently has never heard of the double switch”

  1. No one — least of all we Yankee fans — ever said Joe Torre was a good strategic manager.

  2. Jerry-NJ says:

    more info, please — which defensive player should he have subbed in? who would he have replaced? defense is more important at that point since you have the lead, so unless the double switch improves the defense, I’m not sure you do it…

  3. Nick Kapur says:

    Well Jerry, since James Loney had made the last out, I would have put Mark Loretta in at first base, hitting in the 9th slot. Loretta, who is normally a middle infielder, is quite capable of handling 1B, and in fact has already played 1B in several games this year.

  4. Hatred of the DH and lovin’ the double switch!!

    I’ll try to stay away from the man love, but I have a tear in my eye now.

  5. Jerry-NJ says:

    ok, maybe i can see that, Loretta is capable at 1B – but i also see the side of going with your regular defense, so maybe “shocking and totally unacceptable” and “absolutely no reason” might be a bit strong??

  6. Nick Kapur says:

    Jerry, consider for a moment what you are kind of almost maybe saying here. That you would rather have a *relief pitcher* have an at-bat in a 2-1 game with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs in the 9th inning, than have Loretta at 1B on defense instead of James Loney for 1/2 inning.

    Mark Loretta, who is a middle infielder, and who is considered good enough by Joe Torre to have already played several *entire games* at first base this season.

  7. LAprGuy says:

    First, the Dodgers have only 4 bench players, and two are Ausmus and Castro. Loretta is their only competent pinch-hitter, and Wolf, who Torre has used to pinch-hit, already had played. Really limits your ability to double-switch when you’ve no back-ups.

    Now … that might be a “cause” or it might be an “effect” … does Torre have no bench because he disdains the double-switch, or does he disdain the double-switch because he’d prefer to play his starting eight. Worth exploring.

    But as for last night, Loney is arguably their best defensive player, so I’m not sure there’s any situation in which you’d pull him out in a double-switch.

    Now, why he didn’t hit for Trancoso: THAT’S a question worth asking.

  8. Jerry-NJ says:

    I just think that when you have the lead, defense is premium – and you don’t know what the offensive situation will be the following inning – sure, maybe you’ll have 2 on 2 outs and he comes up, but there are a lot of other scenarios too (he’s way more likely to not even bat if he’s hitting fifth). I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk that the double-switch is the right move… and it’s hard to know if he considered it or if his coaches thought about it without being in the dugout…

  9. Jerry, it is hard to know if he considered the switch. But look at it this way: if he considered it and didn’t order the switch, then he’s not very smart. If it never occurred to him to order the switch, then he’s asleep at the wheel.

  10. melissa says:

    I was watching the game and found it strange that Torre didn’t make the double switch considering Broxton wasn’t available. I don’t buy the argument that you can’t take out your 1st baseman for defensive reasons. It certainly gave the Cubs a better chance of winning when the relief pitcher (near automatic out) had to hit with runners in scoring position and 2 out. The Cubs had runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1 out in the 9th and 2 guys they just called up from AAA struck out. Torre got lucky. The double switch was the definite right call and he blew it. I also wonder if his bench coach is reminding him to consider these kinds of moves.

  11. LAprGuy-Loney is not a great defensive first baseman yet. He’s probably around average.

    That aside, besides replacing Loney with Loretta, he also could have replaced Furcal with Castro (who is hitting now but is a shitty hitter overall) or Pierre with Hoffmann.

    Loretta is arguably better defensively than Loney. Castro IS better defensively than Furcal. Hoffmann is easily arguably better defensively than Pierre, especially throwing wise.

    All 3 are better hitters than Troncoso.

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