So that wasn't easy to see coming, was it?
Those of us who took part in the gameday thread did a lot of first-guessing of Trey's managerial decisions as the Royals' chances to win slowly spiraled down the drainage pipe of doom. However, there were others who stood up for the Porn Stache and his moves from the dugout. While I'm still steaming after the loss, I'm going to try and make a somewhat-analytical look back at the moves he made to try and see what he was thinking from the bench.
Decision #1: Lineup
--We'll give Trey some credit for the lineup. Compared to some of the other ones he's ran out there, this one may be one of his best--considering our current roster.
Decision #2: Coco bunting in the top of the third
--I'm willing to cut Trey a little slack here, since it's unknown whether Coco bunted on his own, or if it was called from the dugout. The bunt ended up "working," I guess, since Maier ended up scoring, but the entire scenario just stinks of nitwit-edness. First of all, it's the top of the 3rd....in Texas....against Vicente Padilla....not exactly a pitcher's duel or late-game scenario. Secondly, it's not like Davies was throwing up zeros on the scoreboard at this point in the game either. Thirdly, Padilla had just walked Maier on four straight pitches. Not exactly ideal bunting time. Also, Aviles and DeJesus (at this point) hadn't been squaring the ball up that great themselves. It was a curious move at the time, and still is.
This may have been Trey's last good move of the entire game. In the top of the 7th, Mike Aviles had recorded the second out. Unless the Royals got two runners on base during the 8th/9th innings, Aviles' spot in the lineup was not going to bat again. The only other Royal who probably wouldn't see another at-bat was DeJesus, and he wasn't going to need a defensive replacement. However, if you want to have TPJ on the roster, this is EXACTLY how he should be utilized. Thus, the decision to enter TPJ for defensive purposes was a smart move. As it turns out, I don't think TPJ even touched the ball (
enter line about how the ball always "finds" someone when they enter the game for defense), but this was a solid decision.
Texas had the 9/1/2 hitters (Andrus, Kinsler, Young) scheduled to bat in the 7th, and with Davies at the end of his line, Trey called on Juan Cruz, he of the 5 innings pitched, only ONE hit allowed, three strikeouts, and two holds. As Charles Montgomery Burns would say, "EEEEEEEEEEEXXXCELLENT." This was the logical move, right? Cruz for the 7th/8th, Soria for the 9th? No Royals fan would've argued with that logic, if that had been the gameplan. Cruz struck out Andrus, walked Kinsler (on a very close 3-2 pitch), and proceeded to strike out Young. Enter Josh Hamilton, hitless for the series, and entering Miguel Olivo's territory of strikeouts.........
Decision #5: Bringing in "not a situational lefty" Ron Mahay
--This is where the fanbase started to go berzerk. Juan Cruz should not have come out of the game at this point. The man has pitched to 18 batters so far this season. Only two have reached base--Kinsler, who was currently on first; and Victor Martinez, who was subsequently pinch-ran for with Josh Barfield, who got thrown out as a part of Buck's strike 'em out-throw 'em out double play. Yeah. That's right. He'd faced the minimum (plus Kinsler) at this point of the season.
Ron Mahay, on the other hand, had retired eight batters and allowed four to reach base so far this season. Trey just got destroyed in the media for saying he's "not a situational lefty," but NOW he's going to bring him in for exactly this type of situation? Puzzling. What makes it more puzzling are Cruz's splits vs. lefties. They hit .159 off of him last year, with 0 HRs in 24.1 IP. 2007 and 2006 he wasn't as good (.269 and .263, respectively), but that puts him closer to the Mahay vs. Lefties territory (2008: .255, 2007: .189, 2006: .240, 2005: .302).
Now, Mahay did the job by retiring Hamilton, but there's a pretty good chance a lot of people could have retired Hamilton in that spot with the way he's swinging the bat right now. In my opinion, this is where the game was critically mis-managed. You burned your most dominant reliever so far this year (including Soria) for two outs, and then pulled him in a situation where it wasn't blatantly necessary to relieve him?
Simply put, if you go into this inning dead-set on bringing in Mahay to face Hamilton, then don't use Cruz to get Andrus/Kinsler/Young out. Robinson Tejeda has been filthy, Jamey Wright has been solid as well so far this season...use one of those guys.
--Remember when I said it was a smart move to sub in TPJ for Aviles, since he wasn't likely to bat again? Yeah, well the EXACT same scenario happened with Jacobs in the 8th. He batted in the top half of the inning, and while we don't have a stone-cold lock as a defensive replacement here, it's obvious that he is the worst option to play first base for KC. Butler was already the DH, so the only way he could've played first is if you wanted to lose th DH and have the pitcher's spot bat. That would've been unconventional, but it would've been smarter than what we did. Butler wasn't likely to bat in the game, either. I've seen LaRussa do this when he plays inter-league games before. But say you don't want to have Billy at first.....go ahead and enter the Spork.
You could've slid Bloomy to 3B and Teahen to 1B, or let Bloomy play 1B and have Teahen stay at 3B, since Trey has some irrational fear of moving two players' positions. (remember entering Bloomy in RF and letting Teahen stay at 3b....or last year when he entered Gload in RF and kept Teahen at 1b?) Another option would have been to move Callaspo to 3b, let Bloomy play 2b, and have Teahen play 1b. That would've blown Trey's mind.....but those are four possible defensive alignments---all of which would have resulted in better defense (without hurting the offense), and would have put the Royals in a better position to win the game. That is, after all, your job Treydaddy. And we didn't even mention Brayan Pena, who was being touted as a guy who could play corner positions other than catcher (presumably first base). While he hasn't played out there yet, maybe he was even a better option.
--After the wheels start to fall off with Jones' double and Jacobs' error, Hillman calls on Wright. But don't think he panicked and called on Wright....that was his plan all along. He had Farnsy and Wright warming up the entire inning. I think his plan was to use Mahay to retire Jones/Blalock, and go to the 'pen if necessary. I'll give him the most minute piece of credit for not bringing in Farnsy here, but not much. It's a no-brainer. Wright is a ground-ball pitcher, and with runners at first and third, you'll give up a run to get the DP. Wright did his job...inducing ground balls, but not where the Royals could've turned a double play. In the post-game interview Trey blamed Callaspo for not getting the lead runner on the first ground ball, and while it would have been a close play, I think he had time to get him with a backhand flip to TPJ....who's still waiting to touch the ball at this point.
However, in the sense of "taking the sure out," and considering he had his momentum already headed towards first---I don't think taking the out at first was as critical of an error as say....not having Cruz /Soria in the game at this point.....or having a different defensive infield.
Decision #8: Entering the Gas Can
---What more needs to be said at this point? Of course, Trey did the "conventional" move, saving his closer Soria until the Royals had taken an imaginary lead against the Texas bullpen's next imaginary pitcher. This entire plan, however, is contingent on Kyle Farnsworth holding the lead against the heart of Texas' order: Young, Hamilton, Jones, Blalock. Who am I kidding? Everyone knew it wasn't going to make it to Jones or Blalock....even Hamilton probably would've gotten out of his slump against Farns. While I was surprised it only took him two pitches to blow this one....the fact that he gave up a gopher-ball (Young's first career walk off) was not hard to see coming. I LOVED how DeJesus didn't even try to run back to the wall. He just took a couple steps and then was like "screw it," and started the walk of shame.
Obviously anyone would've been a better choice than Farns---even TPJ. He's blown three of our losses already this year....and he was decent in two games--one of which was the Yankees game where the hitters were being blinded by shadows. And I love how Trey was quoted after the game "...obviously Kyle is not pitching well right now....but we have seen some good things from him this year--in Spring Training..." UGH. Farnsy.................Hillman..........