Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bad Decisions and Blown Saves

I’ve always thought of Tony Pena as kind of a benign manager. It’s probably because his teams have rarely played in games that matter. That and everyone seems to think he’s such a positive thinker and a character to boot. Ten games under .500? “We will win this division!” Five game losing streak? Why, shower with your uniform on. Fun stuff like that.

But I’m starting to tire of this, especially since he’s making some very questionable baseball decisions. Today:

• The Royals bunted three (three!) straight times in the sixth inning. Ruben Gotay reached on a drag bunt, went to second on a balk, went to third on a David DeJesus sacrifice bunt and was out caught stealing when Tony Graffanino missed a squeeze bunt attempt. The Royals were facing their third pitcher of the afternoon in a tie game and giving up outs playing Mickey Mouse baseball. The guys are at the top of the order for a reason…They can make contact and get on base. Why take the bat out of their hands in that situation? I wasn’t happy with the DeJesus sacrifice, but I was livid with the squeeze play.

Angel Berroa got thrown out at third on a steal attempt to end the ninth inning. As any T-ball coach can tell you, you don’t end the inning with an out at third. I’m going to pin this one on Tony because of the circumstances. The Royals just took the lead with a Berroa single that scored Mike Sweeney after a nasty collision at home plate. The Twins Mike Redmond had to leave the game after taking the business end of the hit, so they turned to Corky Miller. I’m betting Pena gave Berroa the steal sign because the third string catcher was in cold off the bench. A bad gamble that backfired. Especially when you consider hot hitting John Buck (4-4, HR at that point) was at the plate.

Tough loss today. If you score nine runs, you naturally expect to win. A couple of things that prevented the Royals from picking up the W today:

• Berroa committed an error in the fourth on a double play ball that led Brian Anderson being chased from the game.

• Sweeney looks shell-shocked in the field. I know he’s struggled defensively, but now he seems to have no clue with what he’s doing out there. He just looks lost.

• Anderson looked like the ’04 version rather than the as-advertised, new and improved ’05 version. Ten hits, eight runs and no strikeouts in three innings will get you chased in a hurry.

A couple of positive notes:

• Buck went 4-5 at the plate today with a home run. You know that things were tough when a 4-5 day raises you average to .214.

Calvin Pickering was in the lineup against a lefty and went 0-3…But he had TWO WALKS. I’ll have to check, but this could be the first time any Royals player drew that many walks in a game this season.

• Andy Sisco was nails once again and in line to pick up his first big league win before Mike MacDougal blew the save in the ninth. Sisco is quickly becoming my favorite Royal.

Perhaps most positive of all, after scoring only 19 runs in their opening eight game homestand, the Royals positively exploded in the two games at the Metrodome, scoring 13 times. And that included four runs yesterday against Johan Santana. Maybe, just maybe, the bats will come alive. As we saw today, that might not translate to wins, but they'll sure as hell be more interesting to watch.


At 12:57 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Actually, John Buck had a two-walk game the last time he played -- you know, before the Castillo walk-off game, and then the you-just-hit-a-walk-off-so-now-you-get-to-play-again game Castillo played yesterday.

And the Pena dumb bunts follows up the dumb non-move in the first game vs. the Twins, where he failed to pinch-hit Pickering for Marrero in the 9th and down by one run, despite the fact that Joe Nathan and Marrero are righties, and Pickering is a lefty with more power than Marrero (and more ability to get on base via the walk).

I really think if Pena shaved his mustache, everything would be okay. Really.

At 1:00 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

By the way, I am a Royals fan, although I run a Giants blog. I like what I've seen of your writing to this point, so I'll be back -- and I'll link you, too.

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad someone noticed pickles walks....The move to crucify him after a slow start appears to be building into a mob scene...


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