Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring Training IBB

There's nothing more pointless in spring training games, especially early spring training games, than an intentional walk. Yet each season sees its fair share of free passes. Baseball has only been played for three days this year and already two guys have been intentionally walked. More will follow, but come on, what's the point?

The first IBB of 2009 came on Spring Training Opening Day. Oakland and Milwaukee were tied at 3 in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Brewers had a runner on second with one out and lefty Brad Nelson stepping to the plate. Oakland's 2008 2nd round pick, RHP Tyson Ross, was on the mound. Nelson was intentionally walked, Chris Duffy struck out, Mike Rivera popped out to first, and the game ended in a tie. If it was the regular season, I can kind of understand walking Nelson and setting up the double play, but it's the first game of spring.

The second IBB took place yesterday in the Philadelphia @ Cincinnati game. Cincinnati was ahead 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh and another rally was starting. Due to a single and an error, LHP Sergio Escalona had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no one out, but recovered to strike out switch-hitter Wilkin Castillo. With one out, Escalona intentionally walked Darnell McDonald to face Luis Bolivar, who promptly doubled in two runs. Cincinnati eventually scored four and Escalona was replaced. Again, the IBB set up a double play to get out of the inning, but...meh? Both IBB's also delayed R-L and L-R matchups, but...so? I still don't get the point so early in spring. Maybe their teams just want to make sure these pitchers aren't prone to something like this.

1 comment:

Devon said...

I think the point of spring training IBB's is to help a pitcher get his mind back into the gear of dealin' with the pressure of a situation that demands adding a base runner for strategic reasons. Which makes it very sensible in spring training games. If I'm a manager, I want to make sure my pitchers are mentally prepared and not just physically.