Thursday, October 25, 2018

FenwayNation Interviews Giants 3B Coach Ron Wotus On Dodger Strategy    

Ron Wotus (Getty Images)
FenwayNation was thrilled to have the opportunity of interviewing San Francisco Giants third-base coach Ron Wotus on strategies that might be deployed against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Wotus is a three-time World Series coach himself and can offer tremendous insights on these issues—from the unique perspective of a fierce Dodger rival. What follows is our question-and-answer session:

FenwayNation: Hi Ron. Thank you for taking our questions. Our first one centers on the Red Sox sort of "check-mating" the Dodgers in Games One and Two—by throwing lefty starters at them—and keeping 109 HRs on the bench (Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, Joc Pedersen, Yasmani Grandal). It seems like one of LA's biggest strengths in 2018 was the long-ball—and they basically were forced out of their best line-up by Alex Cora. By contrast, the Red Sox started lefties Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers in both games against two Dodger LHPs—and they both did well. Any thoughts?

Ron WotusThe Dodgers have used this platoon approach for a while now, and it has worked for them. One could make the argument they are too deep. They have tremendous flexibility in the field and they have more options than any other team in their left-handed line up vs their right-handed line up. As it is on paper, you are getting the match up you want, but on the flip side, it takes your best players and most dangerous hitters out of the flow of the game and limits their at bats. When we won our three World Series our line ups were made on more than offensive match ups. We considered which players could we trust in particular moments. The value of defense, not wanting to beat ourselves was considered, especially in game 7 scenarios. There is a lot of baseball yet to be played. Let's see what happens in LA.

FenwayNation: Do you agree that Yasiel Puig may have been positioned too deep in RF on the J.D. Martinez flair single in Game Two (that knocked in two runs)? Even though we dislike Puig in general, we sort of feel that it's an unfair criticism—since J.D. has such tremendous power to the opposite field (and RF in Fenway is so quirky, with so much ground to cover).

Ron WotusEven if Puig was playing a few more steps in, he would not have been able to catch the flair by Martinez. Martinez has big power with power to right field. Puig's depth has been questioned by some, but with all the analytics today, I can guarantee you Puig was playing the proper depth.  Martinez is a fly ball hitter with above-average power. With that type of hitter at the plate, you are not going to try and defend a flair.         

FenwayNation: It looks as if Dodger manager Dave Roberts is getting a lot of criticism for not going longer with Pedro Baez in both Games One and Two. While Baez did seem dominant, it looked to us like the Red Sox got better swings against him in Game Two. In general, we think Roberts is getting a little bit of a bad rap on this—although Baez has really good numbers against lefties.     

Ron WotusThat’s the beauty of baseball. The second guess. Both Baez and Madson have pitched very well for the Dodgers. Madson has been their guy down the stretch, not Baez. When the stats don’t match-up and the decision does not work out, you’re always going to be questioned. Dave has two good options in Madson and Baez. It’s an easy second guess. But, Madson has been a closer, he is used to pitching with men on base. He can handle the moment and it was a big moment in the game. I also know in a short series you have to manage by what you see, not on what they have done in the past, even though that is always considered. Dave went with his best. Madson didn’t execute. One thing is for sure, Dave and Rick Honeycutt know their guys better than all of us.    

Thanks, and good luck to the Giants in 2019!