Why Does Manager Dusty Baker Refuse to Play the Hot Hand?

Cliff EasthamSenior Writer IIAugust 17, 2011

PITTSBURGH - JULY 19: Manager Dusty Baker #12 of the Cincinnati Reds watches batting practice prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 19, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Am I the only person who wonders why Dusty Baker refuses to play the hot hand? It is as though he has lost his short-term memory, reminiscent of the character played by Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates.

I have mentioned it before in comments on some of my other pieces, but I felt it justified to craft an article dedicated to that sole purpose.

My first example takes us back to when Jonny Gomes was going through troubled waters. He had gone through a hitless streak of six games and was batting just .168 on May 28.

During that game he was 4-for-5 and scored two runs. For one reason or another, Gomes was not in the lineup the next day. Fred Lewis played left field that game and was 1-for-4.

On the first game of the year, shortstop Paul Janish was 2-for-4 and was idle the next game. That game Edgar Renteria started at shortstop and wore a size three collar. What gives?

On April 6, Janish was 3-for-5 but sat out the next game. Oddly, Renteria played and was 3-for-4, and guess what? If you said he warmed the bench the next day, you win the cigar.

Janish played on June 11 and went 2-for-5. Renteria played the next game and put that same size three collar back on.

This screams at me to make an observation. If I were the manager of any team in any league, and a guy gets two hits, he will play the next day unless he is banged up. I don't care if he would be facing a lefty, a knuckleballer or the resurrection of "Big Train" Johnson.

You would have to drop back down to hitless before you would take a seat again.

At one point this season Janish was playing poorly on both sides of the ball that he was sent to Triple-A Louisville and replaced by Zack Cozart. The rookie played until he was placed on the DL and eventually was forced to have a season-ending Tommy John surgery.

The first game Janish returned to the Reds on July 25, he went 3-for-4 against the Mets and sat out the next game. Renteria had a 1-for-5 game, though he did knock two runs in.

Rookie left-fielder Dave Sappelt has had a rough going in his first couple of weeks in the big leagues. He hasn't quite found the groove yet. However, he was 3-for-9 in his past two games, prior to the Washington game, when Baker decided to give the "Son of Dr. Strangeglove" another chance in left field.

Yonder Alonso's speed would not allow him to catch the first ball hit by the Nationals in the first inning last night. His hot hitting did continue however as his 2-for-4 performance raised his slash line to .435/.500/.652 with an OPS+ of  211.

It does not take a sabermetrician to see than Alonso needs to be put in the lineup someway, somehow. Where would he inflict the least collateral damage? Left field is a big ol' place out there. Many things can go wrong. Will his hot bat override the defensive liability?

He played third base in high school. All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner Scott Rolen said he thinks the man has the skills to play third. The season is over for all intents and purposes.

What harm will it do to put him at third base? He could platoon with Todd Frazier if nothing else. He doesn't need to go to Louisville to learn the position. We tried that game this year with left field to obviously less than satisfactory results.

If it sounds like I am picking on Baker, it is because I guess I am. The Reds cannot even beat the teams they are supposed to beat at this point. Move some stuff around. Utilize the hot bat when it's hot.

Maybe it's just me, but I am getting tired of watching games that look like some type of hybrid International League game.

Tell me what you think.

You can see more of my writings at RedsToTheBone