Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 6/29/14

  • June 29, 2014

This isn’t a sour grapes rant, as I ended up winning the bet. And there’s no second guessing taking place here, as this was all right there to see on my Twitter (@davecokin) timeline with the commentary preceding what took place. Just want to get that out of the way before getting to the nuts and bolts of what set me off.

Bryan Price completely mismanaged the last couple innings of the Reds-Giants game on Saturday night. The fact the Reds won the game in spite of his blunders means nothing as a one-game sample is random. But Price needs to get his head out of a place it shouldn’t be if he expects to produce the long term desired results in Cincinnati.

Let’s start with the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Reds now leading 2-1 following a Brandon Phillips two-run tater in the top half of the inning. Normally, this is where Aroldis Chapman comes on, overpowers three hitters and nails down a save. But my tweet was pretty clear. I felt Jonathan Broxton needed to get this save opportunity. Chapman had worked three straight games, and if I have an even reasonably effective alternative, I’m going that route here. Broxton qualifies on that count, and he was also very well rested, not having pitched for a few days. But Price went with Chapman, who was not at all sharp. The Giants easily tied it, and it was just good luck for the Reds and me that they didn’t win it right there.

Move to the top of the tenth. Reds get the leadoff guy on, and Price knee jerks to the sacrifice bunt with Chris Heisey. I am about as anti-bunt as it gets, so naturally I disagreed with the move. But with the top of the order due up, it was at least barely acceptable. But Hamilton had a lousy AB and the Reds failed to score.

Fast forward to the 11th and here’s where I pretty much lost it. Joey Votto doubles to start the frame, which is awesome. The Giants opt to walk Phillips with first base open, and that makes sense as he’d just homered in the prior AB, and they want to set up a potential DP. Next up, slugger Jay Bruce. Price decides to once again sacrifice. This is a staggeringly awful decision. And it doesn’t work, only it does, sort of. The bunt wasn’t especially good, and the Giants had Votto toast at third base. But for reasons only he knows, Giants pitcher Javier Lopez takes the easy way out and tosses to first base.

So it’s second and third with one out and Devin Mesoraco is now due. There is no way the Giants pitch to that guy with a base open, so four balls later, it’s bases plugged for….Ramon Santiago! Santiago whiffs (shocker) and the Reds proceed to then get very lucky when Zack Cozart singles to shallow center. The floodgates then opened and Cincy ended up with a five-spot to break it open.

But the point is this. Taking the bat out of the hands of Jay Bruce and Devin Mesoraco and putting the game effectively on the line with Ramon Santiago is just plain moronic. That’s what was put in place when that asinine sacrifice bunt was again unitized in typical old school, by the outmoded book managing.

I will again bring up the fact that the team with the best record in baseball almost never bunts. That would be Billy Beane’s Oakland Athletics. Further note that on Friday night, ninth inning, tie game, man on first no one out, the A’s went hit and run rather than just give up an out. Base hit and a big inning ensued. That’s smart baseball. What Price and the Reds did last night was just the opposite. I’m glad they got lucky and won the game, but it doesn’t excuse brainless decision-making that could and perhaps should have cost them the game.

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Another good day here with the Mariners the only miss. I’m never satisfied, but I’m okay with the way it’s going for the most part right now, and I’ll be on at least three Sunday skirmishes.

Just a few days left to score the guaranteed 30-day special, which again includes what I believe is the best guarantee you’ll find in this industry. Just send an email my way at cokin@cox.net for complete details, and as always all correspondence is strictly with me and is not shared with any third parties at any time.

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As noted, the free play on the Mariners was my only Saturday loser. No doubter on that one, wrong side from the very first inning. Great pitching by Indians righty Josh Tomlin, by the way, as he missed a perfect game by just one at bat. I’m going pretty much on the eye test for today’s comp.

06/29 01:10 PM   MLB   (911) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS  (912) SAN DIEGO PADRES

Take: (911) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS +110

I try to make it a point to watch as many big league pitching debuts as I possibly can. It’s one things to gather all the available data on first-time starters, but there’s much more that can be learned by actually viewing the pitcher in action. So I was a very interested observer on Monday night when Odrisamer Despaigne took the mound for the Padres at San Francisco.

On paper, it looks like Despaigne was an impressive winner against the Giants. Four hits and no runs in seven innings is a great debut. But I’m not buying Despaigne off what I saw. I’ll have to give him points for deception, as he has a substantial array of pitches and comes at hitters from a variety of arm slots. But he’s more style than substance. The sinker is probably his best offering, and he’s going to throw his variety pack of offerings from the high 60’s to the low 90’s. I won’t argue that he could be deceptive to hitters unfamiliar with him. But my take is that once there’s a book on Despaigne, he won’t be much of a mystery to big league bats. I actually see him having a better future in the bullpen than as a starter, as I just can’t see how he’ll be much more than a once through the lineup guy.

Despaigne’s opponent here will be Mike Bolsinger, another rookie who I would say has qualified as a mild surprise thus far. It doesn’t show in his base stats, as Bolsinger is only 1-3 with a 4.78 ERA. But he’s a strike thrower and while he’s certainly not a dominating type, I’m starting to believe Bolsinger might be capable of holding down a back of the rotation spot. Bolsinger does need to find a way to avoid getting destroyed by the long ball. But it’s also likely that his HR/FB rate, which is absurdly high right now, should get at least some correction.

I see Bolsinger as the better option here, and there can’t be much doubt as to which team has the offensive edge. If it’s tight late, that would favor the Padres as they’ve got a very strong bullpen. But with the Snakes having already captured the first two in this series, and with the Padres back into another dreadful offensive funk, it looks to me like there’s a legit case to be made that Arizona ought to be favored here. At a small plus price, I’m willing to side with the Diamondbacks.