Son of a Bench: The Risks of Starting Your Starters


With starters this good, who needs a bench?!

So, Charlie’s got a clubhouse full of Brett Favres, but the difference is, they’re not pompous hayseeds.  They’ll sit when he tells him to sit, they just don’t want to and he doesn’t really want them too, either.  Shane will give you a bit of a problem, yeah, when he flashes you those crazy Hawaiian eyes, but he’ll be obedient.

When you’ve got five guys that want to play and are able to play and are able to play exceptionally well… There’s plenty of teams that are missing just one of those factors and it results in massive implosions across the board.  I hate to bring up the Mets again, but the Mets suck.  I was going to mention that today anyway.  At least now it’s somewhat relevant.

Yes, Chase especially plays too much.  That’s why he’s worn down by the later months of the season, but think how that exchange must go.

Charlie: “You, uh, how about you take a breather today, Chase?”

Chase:  “I feel great.” *hits home run*.

Charlie:  *Watching home run* “Uh huh… well, you’ve played in 117,000 straight games.  Everybody needs a break now and then.”

Chase:  *Hits four home runs at once somehow* “Chuck, if you want me to sit, I’ll sit.”

Charlie:  “I…” *Chase hits line drive that explodes Juan Castro’s knee cap into bone chips* “All right, see you out there.”

Sitting one of these core players is like promising to quit smoking tomorrow.  You know you should, but damn it… look at them play.  And what didn’t help was the underperforming bench in 2009; which was like telling your kids you’d decided to quit smoking for them, only to have them blow a sweet, sweet Nicotine cloud back in your face.

Greg Dobbs had a dead rat of a 2009 in the same vein as Cole and Brad.  Greg came off the bench in ’07 to play first for an injured Ryan Howard, and when you look at the two of them… “I’m sorry, sir, we’re all out of the porterhouse, but we can offer you this complimentary bread basket.”

But the bread was the most slamming bread ever, and more then made up for it while somebody slaughtered up another cow.

What I’m saying is, Dobbs was the best PH in baseball.  After playing in only 23 games in Seattle in 2006, Charlie had him show up in 142 games for the Phils in ’07, in which he hit .272, and 128 games in 2008, batting .303. Last year he didn’t even make it into 100 games (97) and cashed in with a childlike .247 BA.

Matt Stairs also failed to do the thing we needed him to do as well, which was “hit home runs on command.”  Not an envious team role, but you put the parts where they fit.  So when you consistently drop guys in the spots where they flourished the previous year, only to see them falter and stumble, well, damn.  You tend to lean on them a little less.

So there was a reason Ruben Amaro dumped the bench out this year and refilled it with guys who could do similar jobs without being the exact same weathered players, though yeah, he did keep Dobbs around.  Which I think is good; the guy’s only 31, his talent’s still in there.  I’m way more confident with Juan Castro playing in Chase or Jimmy’s stead, at least, way more than I was with Bruntlett, and Ross Gload as a power hitter off the bench will be a handy bit of ignition at some point.

The temptation to use the best you’ve got everyday is probably monumental for Charlie, a manager who just wants to win.  But they’ve got to trust what Ruben gave them on the 2010 bench, at first, anyway, and realize that staying on the ball through the season and post-season is more important than catching fire in July only to burn out in September.

Also, for god’s sake, will somebody please smother the Orioles with a pillow?  This is getting hard to watch.