Or rather, if you're smart about winning, you can't let Erstad face a lefty in a key situation. He's just an awful hitter, but he's essentially worthless against southpaws. So no, I don't have a problem with using Leiter in that situation (though it's hard to believe that Leiter's actually above Felix Rodriguez on the depth chart). Bring in a lefty, and you've neutralized Erstad.
And of course you're right; if Erstad absolutely, positively must be in the lineup, they could at least bat him a little lower. On the other hand, with a right-handed starter and Steve Finley and Orlando Cabrera also in the lineup, there are only so many bottom-of-the-order slots to go around. Should Scioscia have pinch-hit for Erstad in the sixth, with Guerrero on first base and the Angels down four runs?
David: It seems crazy, you're right, but you have to hit for Erstad. You have to try and get some baserunners off Leiter while you have the chance. Use Quinlan. Heck, use Jose Molina (.306 BA and five HRs in just 62 ABs vs. lefties this year). After all, the Angels have three catchers on the roster, so you may as well use the third Molina to pinch-hit.
The Angels' bench, in fact, has a big, gaping hole. The easiest thing to find should be a righty masher to hit lefties. The Angels don't have one, even though it was clear two months ago that you don't really want Erstad or Finley hitting against lefties in an important situation, and that two of your main bench players -- Jeff DaVanon and Kotchman, don't really play against lefties.
So -- shockingly! -- there actually is a place for Al Leiter in this series.
So I will hedge my comment from two graphs ago and second-guess my original second-guessing of Torre.
And the more I look at this series -- I don't see how the Angels will win. But maybe you disagree.
Rob: But Quinlan is a righty masher. In his career, he's batting .322/.371/.542 against left-handed pitchers. And while that's over the course of only 177 at-bats, it's pretty obvious that Quinlan is significantly better than Erstad against lefties.
David: But it's DARIN ERSTAD! He once hit a home run in the World Series with a broken hand!!!
Rob: You know I don't have much patience with complaints against modern baseball, mostly because I happen to think that baseball today is, in most ways, better than it's ever been. But you know, I can't help but think that an old-time manager, whether John McGraw or Casey Stengel or Earl Weaver, wouldn't hesitate to pinch-hit for a hitter like Erstad. Today, I think, too many managers are afraid of offending their millionaires. Maybe they don't have a choice, what with the players having as much power as they do. But I know if I were an Angels fan, I'd be awfully upset about seeing Erstad hitting against lefties. Feelings be damned.
Are the Angels done? They've certainly still got a shot, because John Lackey's capable of shutting down just about anybody. But if you figure Randy Johnson will be tough in Game 3 at the Stadium, then the Yanks have to win just one of the other three games (if there are three others). And that seems eminently do-able.