By now, I assume everyone's up to date on the latest controversy surrounding Bobby Valentine. I think people are calling it "Pinch Hit Gate," but that's just an educated guess.
If you haven't heard: Yesterday afternoon, the Sox and Jays were tied 0-0 in the seventh inning. Pedro Ciriaco was on first base with two outs and the light-hitting Jose Iglesias was up at the plate.
With the count at 1-and-2, Ciraco stole second (the pitch was a ball). So now, the Sox had the leading run in scoring position, with perhaps the worst hitter in baseball (including pitchers) at the plate. At this point, Valentine shocked the world by pinch-hitting Daniel Nava for Iglesias in the middle of the at-bat. The manager later said that the move was a ploy to get some run support for Jon Lester, but in the end it didn't matter. Nava grounded out.
The Sox lost 5-0.
The reaction to Valentine's decision has been predictably sour. He's been accused no longer caring about the development of his young players and once again turning this season into his personal side show. Ever the Valentine apologist, I don't see it quite the same way.
First of all, I don't buy into the argument that Bobby V.'s decision will prove to be some crippling set back in Iglesias' development. Sure, there's a chance that he could have picked up a hit, driven in a run and maybe built a little confidence. But let's be honest, there was a much, much better chance by the numbers, about a 90 percent chance that the shortstop would have come up short. What's that do for him?
Furthermore, it's not like Iglesias is just in a slump. It's not a matter of him picking up one hit and getting into a groove.
He literally can't hit at the Major League level. Not yet, at least. And regardless of whether he knocked in a run or was called back to the dugout, he'll have to work just as hard this offseason to have any chance of playing in the big leagues next year..
In the slight chance that being pinch hit for in the middle of an at-bat ultimately does derail Iglesias' progress? Then guess what: He was probably never going to make it anyway.
He'll have to withstand a lot more adversity than that to survive at this level especially if he plans on staying in Boston.
And yeah, it was an unconventional move by Valentine. It was a move that most, if not every other manager in his position would have resisted. BUT, can you really argue with the logic?
How can you constantly criticize a manager for not caring and then jump on him for making a move that indicates that he cares?
With the season all but over, and his future foggier than John Henry's rec-specs after hotly contested squash match, Valentine could just as well spend these last few games daydreaming about his years in Japan or thinking up new concepts for the winter menu at his restaurant. Instead, a move like yesterday's shows that, at the very least, he's still engaged. He's trying to win. And not even for himself, but for guys like Jon Lester.
So, what's the problem again?