Missing Fundamentals; Eaton The Epitome Of The “Sunk Cost”
- Screwing Up Spring Training Basics:
It’s amazing how many routine plays that are repeated in torturous spring training drills are being screwed up so routinely. Last night, Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda threw a ball to third to try and get the lead runner on a bunt play and pulled the Blake DeWitt off the base making everyone safe; on Sunday, Conor Jackson threw a ball into left field trying to start a 3-6-3 double play; again and again we see pitchers throw the ball off line to second base after inducing a comebacker for a routine double play; last week, in that embarrassing, mistake-filled game against the Pirates, the Mets made a debacle of a simple rundown play. It would be one thing if these were unusual plays that rarely come up during a game, but these are the exact things that are worked on over and over again in spring training. Bunt plays are practiced; double plays are replicated; pickoffs and rundowns are simulated—-and still big league players are looking like something out of The Naked Gun. What’s so hard about throwing a ball directly to the base on a comebacker? The pitcher is supposed to turn and fire directly to the base and it’s the responsibility of the designated middle infielder to cover the base; what’s so hard?
It’s this attention to fundamentals that allowed teams managed by the likes of Earl Weaver, Billy Martin, Buck Showalter, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox to win so consistently. If the manager isn’t paying the proper attention to these relatively straightforward plays and making sure the intricacies are drilled in, how are they expecting the players to get them right when the time comes?
- Eaton away at the Phillies chances to win:
As a rule, I avoid using economics terms when discussing baseball because I find the trend incredibly annoying and pretentious, but with Adam Eaton, I find it to be appropriate because the pitcher has become the epitome of the “sunk cost”. There’s nothing that can be done about his contract for which he’s making an average of $8 million for this year and next, so the Phillies should either yank him from the rotation or make him the long man out of the bullpen because he is non-competitive in the games he starts.
After last year’s woeful campaign, were the Phillies expecting anything more than what he’s given them so far this season? He’ll pitch perhaps five, maybe six innings; walk a few guys; give up a homer; and leave the game having allowed at least three runs. Last night, he walked the opposing pitcher, Diamondbacks starter Randy Johnson, on four pitches with the bases loaded. It’s not as if Eaton’s providing anything of value; the Phillies could assuredly find someone on the waiver wire to pitch more competently than Eaton has since joining the Phillies, so how much longer are they going to continue trotting him out there? My guess is when (and if) Kris Benson is ready to join the big league club, that’ll be it for Eaton in the Phillies rotation and it won’t be a moment too soon.