Sunday, May 18, 2008

It Seems Like A Pattern

Everybody remember when the Reds were trailing the D'Backs in the bottom of the ninth about a month and a half ago (April 2nd)? I'll give you a hint: that was the game where Edwin Encarnacion hit a walk-off homer after failing to get down a sacrifice bunt.
""Because he was 0-for-5 with strikeouts his last two times at bat, Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker flashed Encarnacion the sacrifice bunt sign, even though he had never bunted successfully in the major leagues.

“I said to (coach) Chris Speier, ‘I hope he doesn’t get the bunt down so he can hit a game-winning home run,’ “ said Baker."
Well, amazingly, it happened again.
"With the Reds trailing by one run in the ninth inning Saturday, Adam Dunn's initial intention with runners on first and second and one out was to bunt his teammates into scoring position. After two unsuccessful sacrifice attempts, a frustrated Dunn chose to swing away. Dunn's backup plan sailed 449 feet into the right-field Sun Deck for a three-run walk-off home run..."
I saw replays of the homer; it was a monster shot. They didn't show that Dunn (46-40-40-40 HR the past four years, 2 career sac bunts) failed to sacrifice. They also didn't show that Dunn was batting seventh in the line-up (ahead of Paul Bako). That is a complete waste of his .354 OBP, which is third on the team behind the injured Jeff Keppinger and the aforementioned Bako. FireJoeMorgan has a theory:
"Maybe Dusty takes these guys who have between zero and two sac bunts in their lives, and makes them try to bunt, and when he takes the bunt sign off they are so relieved they launch walk-off homers."
That sounds so crazy that it just might be true.

In other Reds' news, Corey Patterson has a .273 OBP while Jay Bruce is hitting .328/.359/.565 in Triple-A. His plate discipline leaves a bit to be desired, but it's definitely better than Corey's. This is one thing that I really don't understand. I'll admit that Dusty Baker might be good at dealing with the media; he may get the most out of his players; he might be a good leader of men. None of those things mean that he is completely qualified to be a major league manager. If you can't find a good "people person" who actually knows not to bunt with Adam Dunn (like the average 12-year-old baseball fan should), then give Dusty Baker a list of things to do and to not do. It's what Billy Beane did in Oakland - he was in charge of how things worked and who played, and Art Howe would stand on the top step of the dugout with his chin out, exuding an air of strength and confidence. Let the manager lead the "people"; the guy who knows how baseball works should lead the "players".

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