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A Torborg Article


Sep 2, 2002
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Here is another torborg article on his decisions....

HYDE: What's on your mind, Skipper?

Maybe you haven't noticed, but second-guessing coaches for split-second decisions isn't my favorite topic. Fans write in all the time after close games, asking in angst-filled, capital-letter-ridden e-mails things like WHAT IDIOT COULDN'T SEE THAT WAS A TERRIBLE MOVE?

But coaches often know something the fan on the couch doesn't about a player, an injury or a situation. Beyond that, some decisions are percentage plays. Some work. Some don't. That's sports. You want to barbecue a guy based on that?

And so, with that introduction, WHAT WAS JEFF TORBORG THINKING IN NEW YORK?

The Marlins manager made a couple of decisions that were so strange, and so questionable, they left you scratching your head and raising a red flag. Decisions, after all, must be a strength of the Marlins' season if it is to go anywhere.

Their retro blueprint of winning with speed, defense and pitching demands tight games -- and smart managing -- even as the foundation is already showing cracks as they start a homestand tonight against Milwaukee.

The Marlins, for instance, lead the majors in steals with 38. The next-closest team has 15. Yet they've won 9, lost 11. Not terrible, considering the NL East competition.

But not great, either. If anything, these first 20 games show how irrelevant steals are in this era. They're fun. But unfortunately irrelevant.

Still, for the Marlins' SmallBall to win out, everything has to align -- especially the managerial decisions. And that's why the weekend merited such focus.

Why did Torborg bring in struggling reliever Vladimir Nunez on Friday against the Mets -- and not Tim Spooneybarger, who had retired 21 of his previous 22 batters? Why pull a double-switch on Saturday that took out one of your best hitters and fielders in Mike Lowell to insert Andy Fox, who hadn't played in five days and was playing his least-used position of third base?

And Sunday?

Well, Torborg was right in Sunday's loss. So call off the e-mails. Josh Beckett had thrown 107 pitches. You take him out there and protect his arm, even if it means bringing Nunez in to start the seventh. That's the right place for Nunez -- or it was until another bad outing.

Still, the skipper sure picked a lousy weekend to show how much a manager matters in baseball. This is one of those classic sports debates. Joe Torre wasn't considered a great manager until he got the New York Yankees' payroll. Bobby Cox won for years because he got to write down Atlanta's starting pitcher on the lineup card day after day, season after season.

But the Marlins don't have the Yankee payroll or Brave pitching. And, again, Torborg's decisions will get magnified on a team that hopes every game is tight.

Torborg said after Friday's game that he didn't go to Spooneybarger because he had pitched the night before. That was true. He pitched an inning, threw 24 pitches. He was off the night before that, Wednesday. And threw 11 pitches the Tuesday before that. And had another off day before that.

So you can't expect a young reliever to throw back-to-back nights when he has rested two of the previous four games? Is that such hard work? Especially when he was up and throwing in the bullpen during Friday's game -- in other words, he wasn't exactly resting.

Nunez allowed the tying run on Friday, then the winning home run. It happens. It just is happening a lot to Nunez, who after giving up another home run on Sunday has given up six in less than nine innings work this year.

On Saturday, the double-switch still looks baffling. Torborg, remember, double-switched Pudge Rodriguez in his first game as a Marlin, showing anything is possible. But still. To take out Lowell, a great fielder and top run producer? And to bring in Fox to a game-on-the-line situation for his first action in five days?

Fox threw an eighth-inning-ending double-play possibility into right field, the Mets went on to take the lead and only a commendable comeback put that strategic question to rest.

This weekend wasn't as bad as a couple years ago, when then-Marlins manager John Boles allowed then-Mets manager Bobby Valentine to yell his way onto center stage. That caused Marlins reliever Dan Miceli to question Boles. And that caused Boles to be fired.

You have to like Torborg. You do. He's upbeat. He's friendly. He's the kind of person you hope succeeds in sports.

There's so much season left that no one can overreact. But what can you say? The Marlins' strategy puts a premium on decisions and the weekend sent up a couple red flags.


Oct 24, 2002
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great article.. you gotta question Torborg's managing skills :mischief2

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