This is getting ridiculous. Seemingly every single game lately, Reds manager Dusty Baker makes a decision that not only angers the fans, but potentially costs the Reds a run or a victory.
Before we get to the move (or non-move, depending how you want to look at it) by Baker in the 9th inning of a one-run ballgame last night, we’ve got to touch on the fact that the Reds manager has been and will continue to be VERY stubborn with his batting order–in particular, the 2-spot.
Dusty continues to place shortstop Zack Cozart in that 2-spot, despite the fact that he makes the most outs of anyone on the team (.261 on-base percentage). Here is a more in-depth breakdown of why that simply makes NO sense.
And by the way, if you’ve been wondering if Baker will make a change…it ain’t gonna happen, according to John Fay.
Think about how dumb of a decision it is to continue to bat Cozart second. You’ve got a guy who gets on base the third least amount of time of anyone in the entire major leagues…hitting in between two guys (Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto) who get on base more than anyone else in baseball not named Miguel Cabrera.
What you’re basically doing is this: Letting the opposing pitchers off the hook. That’s what the hell you’re doing. This batting order has the potential to eff you over in two ways:
1) When Choo reaches base with less than 2 outs, you virtually automatically give the opponent an out right after that.
2) When Cozart comes to the plate with 2 outs and runners on base, you are, for all intents and purposes, ending your threat with your best hitter in the on-deck circle…
Which brings us to last fuggin’ night.
It’s the 9th inning in Atlanta, with the Reds trailing 6-5 (I’m not even going to delve into the myriad reasons why the Braves should have had less than 6 runs in that goddamn game). Braves closer Craig Kimbrel (a right-hander) enters the game. Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco leads off the inning with a broken bat single to left.
Baker pinch runs Tony Cingrani, a starting pitcher who just so happens to be the only real option to fill in for the injured Johnny Cueto–yeah, I know; real smart, right?
Xavier Paul pinch hits…Dusty lets him swing away…he strikes out. Would you have bunted there? Some managers would have. Especially after using a faster pinch runner, and especially with a dead fastball hitter at the plate that likely wouldn’t be seeing fastballs (the Braves ain’t stupid)…regardless, there’s now one out and still, the leadoff man stands on first base.
Choo comes up next with that man on first and goes down swinging on one of the nastiest breaking balls I have ever seen. Tough to fault him there–sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap to the pitcher.
So now there are two outs, and who comes to the plate? Who else, the most scrutinized 2-hitter in baseball, Zack Cozart. Kimbrel’s first two pitches were so far out of the strike zone that Cozart didn’t swing. Kimbrel may have been trying a bit too hard to make sure he retired Cozart so he wouldn’t have to face Votto.
Now we’ve got a 2-0 count. All we want is for Cozart to not make an out so we can get Votto to the plate with the tying and go-ahead runs on base. Don’t phuck around, Dusty–give Cozart that “take sign,” as in, do not swing at this pitch.
I’m watching the game thinking two thoughts simultaneously: 1) Take sign!! and 2) Bet you a million bucks he swings at this pitch.
And that’s the problem right there. The Reds are managed by a man who constantly does things that I, you and 1,000 writers and commentators would never ever even think about doing.
Kimbrel delivers the 2-0 pitch, a fastball high and inside…Cozart swings away! Of course he does! And he pops out weakly to the left side.
I reached for my phone to call my dad…but it had already started ringing…it was my dad calling. He was irate, as was I.
Look, I know Dusty’s a good guy and players like to play for him and all of that…but this is too much. You can’t continue to be stubborn with your lineup when your team is struggling to score runs, and you can’t keep making decisions that a 3-year-old wouldn’t make.
The worst part? How can GM Walt Jocketty fire Baker? He’s won two division titles in three years, and the Reds currently hold a playoff spot right now. So, unfortunately, Baker can keep committing fireable offenses without being fired.
Feel free to yell a bunch of cuss words and punch something really hard.