It’s easy to forget that amongst the 712 rookie the A’s have employed on the 2022 roster, their manager is included. With a rookie, you expect and forgive the “rookie mistakes” and “growing pains” that come with being a fresh faced rookie of ... 46. Hey, he’s not even old for his league considering that Tony La Russa is 77, Dusty Baker 73.
That being said, Kotsay is making what we hope are rookie mistakes and not decisions he will continue to make as the A’s skipper moving forward. And let’s be honest here: the guy in charge of rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic had a better chance of success than Kotsay ruminating about whether to go with Kirby Snead or something called a Collin Wiles, or whether to have his terrible hitter bounce into a DP or bunt two pitches foul before hitting into a DP.
Still, poor moves are poor moves and today I want to highlight a troubling trend that I hope the A’s skipper will “get over”. Kotsay seems obsessed with platoon matchups for his pitchers and is far, far, far too eager to issue intentional walks even though IBBs are usually a terrible idea.
If anyone should know that IBBs aren’t generally a great strategy it’s the Oakland A’s, whose understanding of the value of “not making an out” was so scintillating they had to make a movie. There are times when setting up a DP, or passing on a great hitter in order to pitch to a bad hitter, make good sense, but usually what an IBB means is that you let another batter reach base and you increased the run expectancy for the opponent for free.
This week’s head shaking moment occurred Thursday afternoon with the A’s and Mariners tied 5-5, Ty France at 3B with two outs, and Dylan Moore coming up with Adam Frazier on deck, Kirby Snead on the mound.
The key clue here as to what to do was not Frazier, who is a LH batter, or Snead, who is a terrible pitcher, but rather Moore. You don’t walk Moore because he simply isn’t a good enough hitter to warrant ignoring the value, to the other team, of “not making an out”. But fond of his “left on left” matchups, Kotsay issued the dreaded four-finger salute.
What ended up happening? First, the speedy Moore stole 2B because Snead is about as good at holding runners as he is stopping them from reaching in the first place. Then Frazier slapped a base hit that scored two runs. Keep in mind that a base hit by Moore was only going to score one, but in his quest to get the platoon matchup Kotsay put a second runner on base rolling the dice that Snead couldn’t possibly fail to get a LH batter out.
Oh, and LH batters are hitting .328/.405/.500 against Snead, by the way. (Not that RH batter mind facing him: they’re hitting .311/.393./500.) And it was the 6th inning, where it actually matters quite a bit whether you give up 1 run or a crooked number because more than 1/3 of the game is still ahead of you.
Had it been the 9th inning, with France due to bat, Frazier on deck, and Sam Moll (against whom LHs batted .169/.220/.299 this season) on the mound, sure. There’s a place for the IBB and here’s a hint: it never really happens with Dylan Moore striding to the plate.
It’s cool, Kots, you’re a rookie. Learn from it, though, please. Putting people on base, on purpose, should be a rare card played at an exact moment where a confluence of factors all align. But like the suicide squeeze, it had better not be a casual “go to” just because some non-descript hitter bats from a certain side of the plate in the middle of a game.
Yes, Cyr, That’s My Baby...No, Cyr, I Don’t Mean Maybe...
The A’s have paraded a bevy (or is it a flock? A herd? A murder? Hey, that’s it!) of relievers to the mound in 2022 trying to find a couple who might stick. Predictably, most of the recent “fliers” have shown why they were so available in the first place.
To the Eyeball Scout, though, one has stood out as maybe being a “keeper,” even though common sense says probably not. It’s the 29 year old Tyler Cyr, who reached the big leagues for the first time this season only to be DFA by the Phillies after one appearance.
Cyr doesn’t have impressive pedigree — he was a 10th round pick of the Giants back in 2015 — and rookie 29 year old relievers aren’t famous for being “hidden treasures”. But what I have seen has impressed me enough to give hope that Cyr might be good enough to join Dany Jimenez, Zach Jackson, A.J. Puk, and Sam Moll as relievers under contract control who have a chance to contribute in “plus situations” going forward.
Cyr’s fastball is legit, averaging 94.4 MPH, and his changeup (86.3 MPH) has had good action that hitters have not easily been able to pick up out of his hand. The cutter is Cyr’s third pitch and it hasn’t been all that effective, but over time either he may be able to locate it with more success or he may be able to replace it with a more effective slider.
Regardless, a reliever can thrive on 2 main pitches if both are good enough and Cyr’s fastball/changeup combo play well as a strong foundation for a developing third pitch. Essentially right now he is Adrian Martinez with only a “good” changeup but with the ability to not give up dingers every 4 innings or hits every other second.
What have y’all thought of Cyr, so far? Assuming you haven’t blinked and missed his 8.2 IP. Has he, or any other reliever, stood out to you? And what are your thoughts on Kotsay’s tactical skills in a rookie campaign in which any move he makes is likely to fail because his players aren’t very good? Weigh in, and we’ll see you at 1:05pm each day this weekend for more fun with the Mets!