It’s impossible to imagine an outcome more befitting the game after Bryan Price’s dim-witted press conference this afternoon. Price was asked whether he was considering making a change at the top of the batting order. Billy Hamilton, after all, is the worst hitter in the Reds lineup and he receives the most plate appearances.
“I don’t really even think about it.” (Zach Buchanan)
That’s quite a statement from the manager of a major league ball club. He doesn’t think about his lineup, so positive is Price that he’s got it right.
“I don’t entertain that thought because he (Billy Hamilton) is influencing our offense in a positive way. I think there is room for him certainly to improve, but he’s not undercutting in any way our ability to score runs.” (Buchanan)
What’s the opposite of thoughtful? Of circumspect? Price can’t (or won’t) conceive how his choice of leadoff hitter could be hindering the Reds offense. He won’t entertain the 15 years of new thinking about how to score runs, that the Reds might have a better leadoff hitter than Hamilton. Price is dug in.
The Reds manager, of course, channeled vintage Dusty Baker before he finished.
“(Hamilton) creates a certain sense of panic when he’s on base, even if it’s at a 30-percent rate.” “When he does get on base, he tends to score.” (Buchanan)
Panic. Chaos. Whatever. I suppose if a major league manager wants to stick his head in the sand and ignore a decade-plus in the development of baseball strategy, that’s his prerogative. If he wants to believe that a fast runner causes other professional baseball players to “panic” well, it’s a free country.
Wonder if it’s crossed his mind that the actual reason Billy Hamilton “tends to score” is because Zack Cozart, Joey Votto and Adam Duvall hit behind him?
Believe it or not, none of that is the most inane thing Price said on the subject.
He said he’ll move Hamilton from the leadoff spot “when we’re struggling to score runs.” (Jeff Wallner)
That right there is a frontal assault on logic and reasoning. Any time the Reds lose a game, they could have used more runs. With the pitching they have, they shouldn’t be satisfied scoring a bushel of runs. They should be relentlessly figuring out how to score a second bushel. Get this, the Reds have lost 21 – twenty-one! – games this season when they’ve scored at least 5 runs. Does Bryan Price just shrug off those games because they didn’t “struggle to score runs” ??
Look, the Reds biggest problem this year, by far, has been their pitching. But I’m pretty, pretty sure that major league managers have enough time, and really should consider it part of their job, to be thinking about both run prevention and run production. It isn’t either-or. Bryan Price should be THINKING ABOUT HIS LINEUP every single day. What a dim way to approach winning games, if true. To be satisfied and stop figuring out ways to improve.
Meanwhile, Price’s leadoff hitter tonight: Bunted foul into a strikeout, hit a soft fly ball to short left field, popped up another bunt out to the pitcher, and hit a routine ground ball to second base. Billy Hamilton didn’t lose the game tonight. But he sure didn’t win it, either.
I’m so ready for this era of braindead baseball to be over.
Ah, but there’s the glorious future. Luis Castillo was crazy dominant tonight. He struck out 9 and walked only 1. Castillo gave up three hits. The sole blemish was a home run by Gerrit Cole, who lined a 95-mph Castillo fastball into the left field bleachers. Otherwise, the Pirates barely hit a ball hard all night. When Luis Castillo masters his slider, he’ll be an ace. Castillo’s future is bright, bright, bright.
The Reds bats were largely silent against Cole and two innings of Pirate relief pitching. Scott Schebler had two shift-busting line drives to left field. That’s about it. The Reds didn’t draw a single walk.
Adam Duvall really has the thing down where he throws out base runners at home plate. He fired a strike in the fourth inning to nail Josh Bell, preserving a 0-0 score. Duvall has been outstanding in left field for the better part of two seasons. He leads the majors in OF assists. Jose Peraza had the second-best defensive play tonight. He was playing shortstop for Zack Cozart and dove on a ball hit over the middle. He grabbed it fully extended, got up and threw out Andrew McCutchen at first base. If Peraza could develop to play a league-average shortstop (he doesn’t yet), it would provide a big old piece of the puzzle for the Reds.
Never heard of the Avett Brothers. They were playing a concert at GABP after the game. Judging from the long line of people waiting to get in the park as the Reds game ended, I’m guessing they have more hits than the Reds had tonight.
Sorry this recap was so late. It was one of those rare nights when it wasn’t easy for anyone here at RN to do it. As you can tell, I went to the game and stayed until the last 100-mph Filipe Rivero fastball. The drive home isn’t short. And I had a thing or two to get off my chest.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.