Cardinals 2, Ron Roenicke 1

Posted by Steve

It’s funny how, despite a massive division lead, poorly managed games can get me fired up as though this was still a tight race. I should be going to bed, but I just got home from the game and I have to get this off my chest.

That ninth inning was as mismanaged as it can get. After Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee each had great at-bats to draw walks, Runnin’ Ron took matters into his own hands.

This is a run expectancy matrix. It shows that bunting is the wrong move; the average runs scored is higher with runners on first and second and nobody out than it is with second and third with one out.

Even though it’s the wrong move, I suppose in a vacuum I can give him a pass, because most managers make that move (which is why it drives me nuts that managers are allowed to widely make the wrong strategical moves, but I digress). This was not in a vacuum, however, because the runner at second base was Prince Fielder. The guy bunting at the plate was Yuniesky Betancourt, who apparently has never tried to bunt in his entire life. When you combine a slow runner with a clueless bunter, it makes that decision a colossally stupid one.

I’m not just saying this in hindsight, either. I was in disbelief that Roenicke was even allowing Betancourt to hit with both Mark Kotsay and Taylor Green available (my brother wisely pointed out that I shouldn’t be surprised, because Roenicke hasn’t benched Yuni yet, so why would he now?).

The right move would have been to let one of the lefties hit for Betancourt and let them swing away. Salas had just walked a batter and looked very shaky… And he has Betancourt bunt right away? How stupid. And how poorly executed by the worst starting player in baseball, who apparently cannot play badly enough to get benched no matter how hard he tries. And if RRR was so intent on bunting, why not use Counsell instead? It’s all baffling.

Really the only possible good thing to come out of this game is if Betancourt has to go on the DL. Seriously, how can a major league baseball player not know to not wrap his hand around the bat when bunting!? That is literally the first thing you’re taught as a kid when you’re learning to bunt. Hoping for injury sounds harsh, but the baffling Brewer braintrust (alliteration!) has shown us that injury is the only way to get this poor player out of the lineup.

This game was virtually meaningless in the grand scheme, as the Brewers are 99.9% for the playoffs according to BP. But it illustrates a great concern about their manager’s poor in-game strategy that could really hurt them in the playoffs.




4 responses to “Cardinals 2, Ron Roenicke 1

  1. What do you think the baffling Brewer braintrust will do once Weeks comes back? We know what the options are, Probably the one no one wants to hear.

  2. So I agree with your stance on bunting in that situation, but here is another person’s comment on it:

    “Those are the overall run expectancies; that is, they include innings where 3,4,5 runs were scored.

    But in the bottom of the 9th down by one or two, you are more interested in scoring at most two runs. “The Book” says that with 1st and 2nd nobody out, you have a 22.0% chance of scoring one run and 16.2% chance of scoring two. With 2nd and 3rd one out, those go up to 28.5% and 22.4%.

    No, you don’t have to bunt. Yes, you should take into account the positioning of the defense. But a successful bunt in that situation increases your chances of winning the game.”

    I don’t know where he got those numbers, but what would you comment on that? Regardless, leaving Yuni in to bunt there was pretty inexcusable…

  3. The 2nd matrix actually defends RRR. There is a .698 chance of scoring at least 1 run with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Only a .643 chance with runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. Looks like he was playing for the tie.

  4. Good work guys. I admit I hastily threw this together last night, and I didn’t research this as much as I would have liked to. What The Book says makes sense, as the Brewers really only needed two runs that inning. I am fine admitting that bunting was not a bad move in that situation, but as you said yourself, the personnel was perfectly wrong for it.

    Yuni hasn’t sac bunted this year. Prince and McGehee are the slowest runners on the team. RRR even had a chance to call it off after one pitch when the Cardinals completely sold out to defend the bunt. He has become quite predictable.

    Just now I read that not only is Betancourt not injured, but Roenicke says he sees no reason to remove him from the lineup. Someone needs to save him from himself.

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