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Another spring cliche: “we want to run more”

Mar 18, 2011, 9:41 AM EDT

Marco Scutaro, Jason Bartlett, Paul Emmel

“Best shape of his life” is so last month.  “I’m just working on stuff, just trying to get my work in,” is old hat.  The new one — and it may not be new; I’m just noticing it now —  is “we’re gonna run some more.”  The Royals are saying it. The Pirates are saying it too:

One of the stated objectives for the Pirates during spring training has been to run more.

Whether it be a straight steal, taking off after a pitch hits the dirt or not breaking stride and going from first to third on a base hit to the outfield, manager Clint Hurdle has said — numerous times — this edition of the Pirates will put a heavy emphasis on taking extra bases.

And of course, this is accompanied by the essential “but we’re gonna run smart,” and “we’re gonna pick our spots” talk.  Which, when the team only has a few dozen stolen bases in August, will provide the out for the manager when he’s asked whatever happened to the running game.

Notice you never hear good teams talking about wanting to run more?  Notice how you never hear anyone talking about how they’re “gonna hit more homers” or “we’re gonna strike out more guys”?  Stolen bases, like those things, are just as much a function of talent, but for some reason no one ever scoffs at the “we’re gonna run more” comments like they would at similar comments about home runs and strikeouts.

  1. klbader - Mar 18, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Craig, you say that good teams never talk about wanting to run more, but that is not true. The Twins are a good team, and Gardenhire has been talking about running more since the Yankees bounced them out of the playoffs for, what, the 134th time in a row. And unlike these other teams, this was not just idle chatter. The Twins traded JJ Hardy, a great defensive shortstop with better-than-average offensive ability, but below average speed, and handed the starting gig over to Alexi Casilla, a less than stellar defensive player and a pretty downright abysmal offensive player. Oh, but he can run a little, so there’s that. Too bad he probably won’t be on base that much. That will be Gardenhire’s out come August.

  2. yankeesfanlen - Mar 18, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    When Frenchie steals home to win game 7 of the World Series vs. the Pirates, he’ll say “I told you so!”

    • Utley's Hair - Mar 18, 2011 at 10:16 AM

      Nah. He’ll get hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

  3. ja4ed - Mar 18, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    The Cubs are going to run more too.

  4. proudlycanadian - Mar 18, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    The Jays will definitely run more if Rajai Davis stays healthy.

  5. Utley's Hair - Mar 18, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    Nyjer Morgan wants to run more.

  6. cur68 - Mar 18, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    I always thought the reason good clubs never use that line is because they ALREADY have certain players that run a lot. Look at Jeets; anytime on base he’s a threat to steal, same with Gardner. Same with the the Bo-Sox. They didn’t just get Carl Crawford to play defense and bat; that guy can grab a bag or two. In the absence of an elite bag stealer you can try to to grab a bag or two with the unexpected steal. IMO not a bad idea, providing you don’t turn it into a free for all (a la Nyjer Morgan). In the mean time you get your slow footed guys working on their quickness and give the oppo something else to think about. I’ve seen a lot of pitchers serve up walks because of that.

  7. yankeesgameday - Mar 18, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    you hear it in Spring because deciding to run more is one of the few strategical, and even, philosophical things a manager can do to affect a game and energize his players.

    Whether running more works, over the course of a season, has been debated for 140 years. Look, as we know, I come from a Yankee fan view of the world, so with all of this debate about Jeter or Gardner at the lead off spot I started thinking that it doens’t matter if Gardner leads off because ulitmately what he does when on first is up to Girardi and how he wants to play the game.

    Does he want to “run more” like Whitey Herzog, or does he want to wait for the three run homer like Earl Weaver? So I went and did some research on how the most iconic managers of all time would approach that situation. I’m pretty proud of this piece if anyone wants to check out something about how and why certain managers decide they want to “run more”.

  8. macjacmccoy - Mar 18, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    The Phillies say that every single year.

    • Utley's Hair - Mar 18, 2011 at 10:55 PM

      As do the Eagles.

  9. fatcatt - Mar 19, 2011 at 11:02 PM

    the reason bad teams dont run more is because there never in position to when your always trailing. You cant be getting thrown out on the bases when your down. That goes for any team. But u see why poorer teams dont steal a ton of bases or at least the “team theft” concept goes out the window.

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