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Voice of the 'Fan

Even managers have to develop

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The NY-Penn League's Tri-City Valleycats ended the home half of their season Sept. 1 with a 4-3 loss to Abderdeen, ensuring a 3rd straight last-place finish in the Stedler Division. In the majors, a last place team can't draw, and even if you're a playoff contender, such as the Florida Marlins, the locals are indifferent because management has squandered the talent that brought the city 2 World Series titles (1997 & 2003) and don't want to deal with it again, even though the Marlins are getting a new ballpark down the road.

However, you were lucky to actually have room to breathe before you got to your seat at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy on Tuesday night. The home finale drew nearly 6,000 fans, most of whom congregated on the concourse, mostly to keep the concession stands busy. Coincidentally, the Yankees-Orioles game was shown on a TV monitor in the lobby, which enabled some cheers from the Yankee fans while the 'Cats were losing. Aberdeen is the Orioles' NYPL team.

Valleycat manager Jim Pankovits, in his first year as a manager, made a tactical blunder that punctuated the 'Cats' woes all season. Second baseman Jose Altuve was hit by a pitch in the 3rd inning, and had to leave the game. Pankovits had only one other player available to play the position, Barry Butera, but Butera was the DH. Pankovits further crippled his bench by using Nick Stanley to pinch run, then pulled right fielder Renzo Tello from the game, replacing him with Jake Goebbert. Tello finished the game as the 1st base coach for Tri-City. By moving Butera to second base, Pankovits forfeited the use of the DH for the rest of the game.

It's a common occurence in the American League---we saw it happen with Tampa Bay earlier this year---but not quite so common in the minors, insofar as I know. Pankovits could've held Butera in reserve and had Stanley be the DH to give him one extra power bat in the lineup, but by pencilling in Butera at DH, Pankovits set himself and the Valleycats for yet another heart-wrenching defeat.

Bear in mind, again, that Pankovits, who was a premier pinch hitter for Houston in his playing days, is a novice as a field general. Like the players, he has to undergo growing pains if he wants to manage in the bigs. In all probability, he'll be back next year, and if he & the 'Cats improve---by that, I mean escaping the cellar--he will move up the ladder. The only other option would be to let him go, and I don't see it happening yet.
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