While walking out of the stadium last night, the Crack Technical Staff and I were discussing what's wrong with the Reds. Sure, the offense can't finish the job, and neither can the bullpen, but poor in-game management choices are the overeager fingernail that can't stop picking the infected pimples on the face of the team.
But clearly manager Jerry Narron is doing many things right, and though I wasn't super-psyched that they extended his contract so early, I'm not calling for his head either. What I'd like to see is for Narron to recognize his own weaknesses and call on his staff to fill in the blanks.
After all, an excellent leader doesn't always have the answers. An excellent leader surrounds him- or herself with excellent people to help come up with the answers. That's how a manager “plays the game right.”
That being said, these are three areas where I think that Narron should start looking to his team of experts for advice.
The David Ross Experiment is a Failure
The idea of continuing to send a struggling hitter up to the plate when there are stronger options available is iffy in my opinion, but considering the year that Ross had in 2006, I can understand why you'd give him the chance to work it out.
But this has gone on long enough. Ross has had the opportunity to find his swing on his own, and he hasn't done it. Continuing to do the same thing and expecting something different to happen is madness. It's time to give him a stint on the DL, in Louisville, or just a couple days off. Narron might consider talking to his hitting coach or general manager about the options.
All We Are Saying Is Give the Pitcher a Chance
The starter is doing well, but he could implode at any minute. Mike Stanton took that lefty to school, but the next batter's a righty. David Weathers got through the eighth; can he handle the ninth?
It seems like the “roles” in the bullpen have gotten too much emphasis. The effort to get work for everyone has resulted in everyone pitching to one or two batter in every game. There are clearly a lot of decisions being made, but no one can divine the reasoning behind them. Narron might consider talking to the pitching coach about in-game pitching decisions.
Stop Saving Javy; Leave Castro on the Bench
Choosing the right pinch-hitter isn't an exact science, and there's a lot to consider: the match-ups, the innings left, and who the heck is going to catch. But when you leave Javier Valentín--one of the league's best pinch hitters--on the bench to send up Juan Castro, you've messed up. When you do it in multiple games, it's time to get help. Narron might consider discussing how to use the bench with with the bench coach. Or, in the case of Castro, any random Reds fan in the stands.