I have gone on the record several times in my criticism of modern bullpen management. I’ve also used this space to question ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick and his professional aptitude. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered this exchange from Friday’s chat on ESPN.com:
Goose (Chicago): Why isn’t JP Howell closing in TB? Because he is lefty? Righties are hitting .169 against him and he is clearly the best reliever in that bullpen right now.
Jerry Crasnick: Goose, Joe Maddon seems to use J.P. Howell in a lot of tough jams in the seventh and eighth. If he starts closing with Howell, it’s just going to create a bigger void earlier in the game.
Mr. Crasnick appears to suggest that baseball games might reach critical junctures in innings other than the 9th, and that baseball managers should adjust their deployment of relievers accordingly. Needless to say, this suggestions makes me extraordinarily happy. I can only hope that opinions like this continue to make the transition from “unorthodox thinking” to “intelligent management.”