As you know, the Cincinnati Reds play in the National League where pitchers are required to bat. Today, the Reds are assigned to compete in a baseball game that takes place in Boston, which is an American League city. In games played in American League ballparks, teams are allowed to designate a hitter to bat in the place of a pitcher.
This is not a new rule. The Designated Hitter rule was passed in 1973, when Reds general manager Walt Jocketty was 22 years old.
Nor is this the only game the Reds will play using the DH rule. Nine other times this season, or six percent of their schedule, will the Reds play in American League ballparks, not counting a possible World Series appearance. Important things, these DH games are.
The Boston Red Sox DH today is David Ortiz. His career batting line (.286/.381/.547) is quite impressive, lifetime OPS (.928).
The Cincinnati Reds DH today is Neftali Soto, who’s career batting line you’ll find in the title of this post, lifetime OPS (.240).
I think we’ll give the edge to Boston.
You might want to wait just a second, while you finish trying to grasp the sheer magnitude of the gap between Ortiz and Soto at the plate, before you consider the next point.
Which is this: The two Reds starting pitchers for this series, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake, are batting a combined .216/.216/.349.
I don’t want to hear about the excuse of injuries. Obviously, injuries. But every single team in the history of baseball has played with the risk of injuries. That’s why you build roster depth at the major league level. And build your farm system. It’s also why, so I’ve heard, general managers stay prepared for such adversity with ideas of what trades could be made in a pinch. General managers are supposed to protect their teams from situations like this.
Situations where your organization is embarrassed on national television by starting a Designated Hitter who’s a worse hitter than the pitcher he’s replacing. That kind of situation.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be pulling for Neftali Soto to go 4-for-4 tonight. And I’m certainly not blaming the player for this unfortunate circumstance. This is entirely on the people whose job it is to build Mr. Castellini that winning roster he’s paid for and deserves.
[Update: Meanwhile, Billy Hamilton remains unavailable to play the field. Hamilton has been sidelined since April 30, with two sprained knuckles. The Reds centerfielder failed an examination today, unable to hold a bat when he swung. If the Reds had put him on the DL when he got hurt, he'd already be almost half way through the 15 days. As it is, the Reds keep resetting the clock every time they use him to pinch run. When Walt Jocketty was asked if Hamilton was headed to the DL, his response (Mark Sheldon) was: “Not yet. I don’t know who we’d replace him with.” Not making that up, nor did I find the quote in The Onion.]
If this is what the New Accountability looks like, I’ve been under a misimpression about what that means.
Because to me, this situation looks exactly like Old Unaccountable Organizational Failure.