Friday, September 11, 2009

Baseball In The Daytime: 11 September 2009

Let's all take a moment to remember the 2,998 that lost their lives in the senseless attacks that occurred eight years ago today. Then let's leave work, buy some beer, and enjoy the fruits of American liberty. Baseball In The Daytime--something al-Qaeda can't take away.

Your daily stick of Wrigley, after the jump...

Cincinnati @ Chicago Cubs, 12:20 As we watch Dusty Baker's two most recent employers face off today, let's debate: Does Dusty have any clue what he's doing as a manager?

The short answer is no, but we'll get into a longer version of no as well. In two years commanding the Reds, Dusty will soon have two fifth-place finishes to show for it. This team is worse than the '08 model, and if you choose to make excuses you could point to the injuries that have kept Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez, Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto out of many games this season. Those aren't Dusty's fault--except with his young starting pitchers maybe they are--and neither is the career nosedive of Aaron Harang. Dusty's also not responsible for the little joke of a bandbox the Reds play in, the one that makes it virtually impossible to develop effective pitching.

What Dusty is on the hook for is a teamwide philosophy of playing the game the wrong way. We've all heard about Dusty's loathing of OBP, walks, Moneyball and "clogging up the bases." We've seen him attempt to change the hitting philosophies of guys with great plate discipline, like Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey and Votto. We've seen him give prime spots in his lineups to awful veterans instead of promising kids--how come Neifi Perez, Wily Tavares and Corey Patterson follow Dusty from job to job when no one else will hire them? We've seen Dusty ask meathead sluggers Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion to lay down sac bunts, fail, and then watch those meatheads hit walk-off homers. And we've seen Dusty shred the arms of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, then overwork the fresh tissue of Volquez and Cueto.

I know a lot of baseball men think today's game and today's players are soft. That if we could get back to playing the way we did when Dusty was an active baller that baseball would be better. While there's some romantic merit to this nostalgia, I think it's mostly bullshit. Players are better conditioned and better prepared than ever. The game is played on a higher level by more players than ever before. Scouting, research and statitical analysis add to this ongoing improvement. The game is simply better than it was in the 60s and 70s, but Dusty is stuck in black and white TV. Just because you stood in the on-deck circle when Hank Aaron hit No. 715 does not mean you have any clue how to win a ballgame in 2009.

Dusty values speed, which is great. Speed makes everything better. But Dusty also prioritizes fast players with no other baseball skills (like Tavares and Patterson) over slower players who can actually see and understand the game. And this is one reason the Reds can't get any better. If I'm running that team Baker is gone. But what do I know? I'm just blogging in my Fruit of the Looms in Mom's basement. Dusty assigns Dustin Lehr to pitch for his woeful Reds today, while Lou Piniella asks Rich Harden to jab and thrust. Put some pants on and Play Ball!


bankmeister said...

Someone told me last night that Charlie Sheen, or some other generic actor, is openly saying that he believes that the 9/11 attacks were a government conspiracy. We've all obviously heard this claim cycled through the mills before, but a popular figure?


old no. 7 said...

The truthers movement is going mainstream.