Sunday, May 25, 2008

Padres 12, Reds 9, 355 Innings; Dusty Baker Is Opposite Of Smart

11th inning, Reds up, 9 points to 7 points...

With two relievers remaining, Josh Foggstein (the designated "long guy" on the team) and Bill Bray (more or less a one inning pitcher), Dusty Baker elects to roll with Foggstein. At the time, I'm thinking, "Okay, this stinks, because Foggstein is one of the worst pitchers in the history of pitchers, but whatever...all he needs is to record three outs without giving up two runs and the Reds win their third in a row. It's too bad Bray isn't available, though, because he is obviously better suited to close out games."

Fast forward a bit...

Two outs and one run later, Foggstein is out of the game in favor of Bray, who was left a runner on second base. In case you missed what I just said: BILL BRAY WAS AVAILABLE! ARRRGH!

So now I'm thinking, "I really hope Bray can clean up Foggstein's mess. Either way, Dusty Baker is going to take a beating on sports talk radio tomorrow."

What happens? Base hit, tied game. Of course. Bray gets the third out and we head to the 12th. (Me throw remote control at wall. It don't work no more. Me drink chocolate malt. Because fat girls consume chocolate when stressed.)

A big deal was made out of Baker's lineup card fiasco a few weeks back--to me, this is a billion times worse (I was thinking a trillion but didn't want to go overboard). How shortsighted can one man be? Apparently the answer is, um, very. Baker can be (and is) very shortsighted. Why not roll with Bray for an inning, maybe two, and sink or swim with Foggstein until game's end? Isn't that why Alexander Graham Bell invented the long reliever?

Dusty Baker butchered this game, plain and simple.

What I won't take him to task for, however, is his use of Edinson Volquez in the 17th and 18th, even though he started Friday's game. Johnny Cueto pitches Tuesday--after Monday's much needed off day--and it was clear that Baker would only use Cueto if he truly was out of options. My guess is Baker would have used a position player to pitch instead of Cueto. Who knows?

(By the way, of all the times I've wished to have Josh Hamilton back on the roster, Sunday's game took things to a different level. It would have been the height of awesomeness to see him on the mound, throwing 95 MPH.)

But anyway, we (and I count myself as part of we) need to stop considering Volquez a kid. Sure, he's The Future, I get that. But he's also a non-boyish 25-years-old, and he hasn't been worked to death in the past (he never exceeded 180 innings--minor and major league combined--in any one season with Texas). So the guy pitched two innings of relief on very short rest...big deal. The chances of it ever happening again are beyond slim (think Nicole Richie on an Adderall binge).

How about this: Greg Maddux threw 263 innings at age 25; Roger Clemens, 281; Andy Pettite, 240. Steroid jokes aside, those guys have been remarkably durable.

Throwing 200-plus innings isn't always a big deal at age 25. It can be a big deal for younger guys, though. Dontrelle Willis, by the age of 23--and this doesn't count anything that happened in his minor league career--logged over 600 innings in his first three years in Florida. His velocity and control haven't been the same since.

That might explain the caution with Cueto (age 22), who was easily the freshest of the available pitchers once the 17th rolled around. It's possible, though, that Baker simply forgot Johnny Cueto was even on the roster. Again, who knows? It appears anything is possible with Baker at this point.

That's all for now, boys and girls. I gots to get me some sleep, as I have a long day at the office Monday. But I would suggest checking out Jayson Stark's blog for more information on this epic battle between the Padres of California and the Reds of Ohio. I could be wrong, but I can almost guarantee he'll have something on this game. His stuff is always nerdy, but usually interesting. (Note: I like Stark because he's keenly aware of Barry Larkin's greatness.)

Also, I'm still having trouble with the podcast player. I have tons of goodness just waiting to be unleashed. As Ray Pruitt (and Wilson Phillips!) once said, "Hold on."

(One other thing: Manu Ginobili's 2nd Qtr performance was spectacular. 19 points in ten minutes, with an injured shooting hand and a bum ankle...are you kidding me? He's one of my ten favorite players of all time. One of those special athletes who would have excelled at any sport he wanted. Imagine Ginobili, at 6'5, outleaping defenders in the endzone on jump balls, or contorting his body to make one-handed catches...)


-Brad Spieser (