I don’t know about you, but I feel like Charlie Bucket, standing outside the chocolate factory, wondering what confection is being fashioned inside. Or perhaps I’m feeling more like one of those unwashed children in a Charles Dickens novel, hands outstretched, offering a simple plaintive wail:
More starting pitching please, sir. “Sir” being GM Walt Jocketty.
Jocketty is ever the mysterious Wonka to me. I have no idea what he’s thinking. Ever. He says nothing. He sits high above the action in his Ray-Bans and Tommy Bahamas shirt, cell phone at the ready. What’s going on up there? Why is he talking to Coco Cordero’s agent? Doesn’t he know that teams have been winning games in the 9th inning today with essentially the same consistency as they did in the 1950s when the word “closer” meant you were a successful aluminum siding salesman? Surely he knows Cordero’s peripherals are heading south. Why are we even thinking of extending the contract of a player whose best years are almost certainly behind him?
At the very moment I’m composing this, two guys who played the game at a very high level, Ron Darling and John Smoltz, are yakking it up on TBS, lobbying the Tigers leadoff hitter to give C.C. Sabathia a free out by bunting with nobody out and a man on second, even as the overstuffed Yankee hurler, who can’t find home plate with a GPS and a sherpa, having already walked five men in the first two innings, is in the process of blowing his pitch count sky high. Bunt? Really?
The whole exchange leaves me bummed. Because, if these two former players and a revered guy like Jim Leyland can’t get it right, is it too much to expect a 60-something old school GM to embrace the BABIP numbers of Johnny Cueto and see the urgency in finding someone else who can get into 8th inning with consistency?
If I could get a private audience with Cincinnati’s Wonkanator, here would be my Charlie Bucket List of questions:
Now that the Cuban Missile will finally be launched in the first inning instead of the seventh, what’s the plan after he’s shut down in August?
2012 is surely DatDude’s swan song in a Reds uni, right? We’re not going to do Bronson Arroyo’s contract all over again at second base, are we?
You and Dusty are fully committed to the kids, right? No more old guys as shortstop when Cozart goes into a slump? Correct?
Does Chris Heisey ever get the kind of look Gomes got last season? Or has the organization decided he’s never going to be an everyday player?
Hernandez or Hanigan?
Whose head is closest to the chopping … er, trading block? Volquez, Bailey or Wood?
Will you stand up to Bob and insist “no more Dusty Baker after 2012?” And do you have Pete Mackanin on your speed dial?
“Yeah, I always look to improve the club the best I can – whether it’s starting pitching, a bat, bullpen, whatever it is,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “As I told Mr.Castellini. I want to make sure that we build this thing into a first class organization, so people want to come here to work and come here to play. We’re not that far away.”
Not that far away. This is classic Walt Jocketty-speak. It tells you absolutely nothing. You could waterboard the guy and all you’d get is “We’re close.”
I’m a Starting Pitcher Kinda Guy. It’s a role that has more impact on wins and losses than any other aspect of the game of baseball. So, my golden ticket comes in the form of a top-of-the-rotation guy, somebody the Reds can afford, a ground ball pitcher who can throw strikes. Everything else is just dessert for me.
How about you?