That was a very enjoyable game last night. A reminder, for me at least, why I watch baseball.
There were lots of great moments. Donaldson following a Bautista leadoff walk with a home run, just the way it’s drawn up. Smoak hitting one out the other way. And several great at bats in the bottom of the 12th. Barney’s double. Travis’ long long at bat. Bautista taking close pitches to take a walk.
But the moment I wanted to talk about was Gibby’s decision, after pinch hitting Melvin Upton for Justin Smoak, to use Edwin at first base, losing the DH for the rest of the game.
Many of us expected him to bring Jose Bautista in to play first and keep Melvin in the game playing right. I imagine that this was a pretty close decision, I’d guess that if Gibby had that choice 10 times, he’d likely go 5 one way and 5 the other.
Reasons not to use Bautista at first:
- He’s only played 3 innings at first this season.
- He’s just off the DL, and odds are they haven’t had any time to work with him at the position since before he went on the DL.
- It was a tie game and Gibby likely didn’t want to lose the game on a mistake by Jose at first.
Of course, Gibby knows better than you or I do about how comfortable Jose is at first. As much as we’d like to think it is an incredibly easy position to play (right Wash?), there is a bit to it.
I’d like, if we re-sign Bautista, for the team to move him to first in the future. But, I think the best way would be to have him work at the position in spring training. I think moving a player mid-season is a recipe for failure. Especially with someone like Jose, I think if he made a couple of mistakes, and got booed, he might decide he doesn’t want to do it anymore. I’d really want him to buy in.
I’m reminded of the season, 2011, when the Jays announced, at the start of spring training, that Jose would be playing third that season. I was at spring training, and I watched Brian Butterfield working with him at the position and I could see that Jose wasn’t enjoying himself. And I said this isn’t working.
The last weekend of spring, the team announced Jose was going to play right and Edwin Encarnacion would play third. Now Edwin didn’t get time to work on the position , in spring training, and, if there was ever a guy that needed time to work at a position, it was Edwin.
It didn’t go well.
Anyway, last night, Gibby went with the safe choice.
Adding into the decision was that it was late in the game, and, unless the game went deep into extra innings, he had bats on the bench to pinch hit when the pitcher came around. And, as it turned out, Darwin Barney had a huge hit, pinch hitting for the pitcher in the 12th.
And, as it turned out, Edwin had 2 or 3 plays that I doubt Jose would have made had he been playing first.
Of course, there was a play in right field that I’m pretty sure Upton would have made that Jose didn’t, the double off the wall, that, if caught would have been the 3rd out and would have saved us from watching Jesse Chavez give up a 2-run homer.
So it all worked out.
I’d imagine, next time, Gibby might make go the other way, but with Jose just off DL, I can understand the choice he made.