#1: Your best relievers. When you don't have a lot of relievers you can count on -- and this is usually the case -- you cannot burn good relievers to get one or two outs. In today's game, the A's used their 4 best relievers (Breslow, Ziegler, Wuertz, Bailey) to get all of 6 outs. That's absurd. Most notably, even though only Breslow and Bailey have been throwing at all well the past few weeks, Breslow was yanked after facing one hitter, Bailey after facing two.
#2: The intentional walk. The intentional walk only makes sense when it trades a very good hitter for a poor hitter. No matter what the situation -- whether a walk will set up a DP, whether the batter or on-deck hitter is LH or RH -- it never makes sense to walk a bad hitter like, say, Koyie Hill, nor is it good practice to issue a walk in order to face another good hitter. Walks are generally bad. More baserunners are generally bad.
#3: The bunt: The bunt only makes sense when it "sacrifices" a poor hitter and sets the table for two better ones. Asking Mark Ellis to bunt today was a bad idea because Ellis is a better hitter than Cliff Pennington or Gabe Gross.
The mistakes made today with the bullpen are too numerous to count, but let's count them anyway:
* Breslow absolutely should have started the 8th inning, since he finished the 7th having faced (and completely dominated) only one hitter and he is almost alone in being an A's reliever who is actually pitching well this month.
* Having pitched exactly 3 times in the last 12 games, Andrew Bailey should have been brought in -- if not to start the 8th -- at the very, very latest to face Derrek Lee with two on and one out, where if he could get two outs any which way he could preserve the lead. Bringing Bailey in where a sac fly would tie the game was like closing the barn door while the horse is halfway in and halfway out Well it's different in that one involves losing a lead despite pitching well and one involves a lot of squealing and tampering of evidence before the SPCA arrives, but you get the point.
* Given that Bailey was leading off the 9th because, well, Bob Geren forgot that Ryan Sweeney doesn't throw a 91MPH cutter, under no circumstances should Bailey have been pinch hit for to start the 9th. At that point the A's knew that if they didn't score they HAD to shut the Cubs out in the bottom of the 9th and that even if they did score they had to preserve the lead in the bottom half. Either scenario urgently called for Bailey, especially since -- thanks to violation of point #1 above -- Breslow, Ziegler, and Wuertz were, unnecessarily, all out of the game.
And this list of grievances doesn't even include the well documented blunder of not doing a double-switch that could have avoided the "Bailey problem" altogether.
Conclusion: Bob Geren is overmatched by the demands of National League managing. Unfortunately, he also happens to be largely overmatched by the demands of American League managing, where you try to avoid intentionally walking the winning run when the winning run is just trying to keep his breakfast down. Even more unfortunately, Billy Beane appears to be blind to the limitations of two people and they happen to be Eric Chavez and Bob Geren, so expect more of the same until further notice.