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Cash Considerations: Rock and Roll Bland

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Our fearless skipper is inconsistent in Boston.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, that five-dash-two sure was fun, wasn’t it? We should get back to that.

April 14: Rays 10, Red Sox 5

Starting Shene Paterson Shane Peterson

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Cash’s response to an early post-game presser question about throwing Shane Peterson right into the fire: “I’m really smart for putting him in the lineup?”

And then everybody laughed! Kevin Cash got jokes!

But little does Kevin know (or does he???) that the quickest way to a nomo’s heart is to get the newbie right into the mix. It’s something that Joe Maddon did frequently, and it worked surprisingly well then, despite the relative talent of the kids and has-beens that were being thrust into action. I even had a name for it, back when I was a young, green DRBer: The Joe Dillon All-Stars. In fact, the first ever post I wrote for this illustrious site was on this phenomenon.

So while the rest of you might have been taken off guard by Sugar Shane’s offensive outburst, the nomo household nodded knowingly (nomoingly?). Kevin Cash is indeed “really smart.”

At least about this.

Verdict: Kevin, you sly devil...

Enough With the Gambits

It would have been really nice to have gotten more innings out of Archer in this blowout. But after breezing through the order the first time, Chris labored and nibbled the second and third times through the order, throwing what felt like 80% sliders because he was having trouble commanding the fastball. This despite the at bats being some of the lowest leverage at bats you’ll ever see in a Rays’ game that we’re winning.

Finally, with an 8-1 lead, Archer was pulled with two outs in the sixth, after a single by Pablo Sandoval. He was at 102 pitches. And yeah, Cash could have pushed him to finish the inning. But after back-to-back dicey innings, turning it over to Jumbo Diaz to prevent another one from flaring up was more than fine.

And handing the ball to Austin Pruitt after we tacked on two more in the bottom of the inning to push the lead to 10-1? Well, if you aren’t comfortable with Pruitt in a nine run lead in the seventh, you never will be.

Er ... make that an eight run lead in the seventh. But still. Everything is still fine! Calm down.

Um, seven runs. But it’s the ninth now. Just cool yer jets, people. Geez. Can’t you see how unlucky he’s been? And it’s not like that defense is helping poor Austin out at all.

Wait, six? Um...

Five? Oh, for Pete’s sake, get me Colome.

Exhale.

Yes, it’s frustrating that we couldn’t get through a game we once led by nine without using our closer. But that’s not on Cash. And I’m not even mad about his little smoke-blowing exercise after the game of “we wanted to get Colome some work.” Was it complete and utter bullshit, solely intended to deflect from Pruitt’s struggles? Indeed. But ... so what? You think Pruitt didn’t know he sucked? That he needed his manager to point it out to everybody?

And there’s also the fact that he was only sort of lying. Sure, you definitely want Pruitt to work all three innings and finish it out. But working Colome to a few hitters in the ninth really is the next best scenario. He hadn’t pitched in a week. Farq and Erasmo — and heck, everybody except maybe Tommy Hunter — had been used frequently against the Yankees. Those are the guys needed the rest more than Colome at that point.

Using your closer in a blowout is not ideal. But in context, it’s not the end of the world either.

Verdict: Context matters, but for the love of overripe bananas, Austin, miss a bat once in a while.

April 15: Red Sox 2, Rays 1

Tax day sucks. Also, this game.

KK Not in the Two-Hole!

I’ve griped several times about KK in the two-hole against lefties. And finally, we were granted a reprieve! We get ... Peter Bourjos? Really???

Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

For those of you who aren’t into lineup optimization, this old piece by Sky Kalkman is still one of the best. But the tl;dr version is this: holy crap, I’ve been wrong about the two-hole! It’s actually a really important slot where you want, like, a good hitter!

Now, if this new information to you, congratulations. You too can get all crotchety when you see some schlub who “handles the bat well” and has decent speed in that slot, with all the patience and tact of an ex-smoker.

Look, probably Peter Bourjos is a slightly better option there against lefties than Kevin Kiermaier. He’s also probably the worst non-dreamy-eyed baseballer option you could pencil in there.

Did it cost us this game? Come on; it was Chris Sale. A lineup of Longos would have had a tough day. But that’s no reason to forfeit one of the most important slots in the lineup.

Give me Derek Norris. Or TBex, he has a solid history against lefties, even if at times this season he has looked more lost than Chris Christie’s dignity. Because at least the process would make sense. If you’re feeling hunch-y, Kevin, I’d even allow DRob.

But Peter Bourjos? Waiver wire Peter Bourjos? 245/.297/.378 versus lefties Peter Bourjos? .295 wOBA, 86 wRC+ against lefties Peter Bourjos?

No.

Verdict: Good job, good effort.

Cedeno?

Y’all roasted me in the comments last time for defending Cedeno in high leverage, and I’m man enough to admit: you were right, and I was wrong.

Luckily (?) it looks like we’ll get to keep second guessing this same decision over and over all season. Woot?

Look, Kev, I know this was a rough game, what with Sale pitching and Jake going down in the second. But your pen stepped up. Erasmo was ErACEmo again. Tommy Hunter looked solid, and I get that you didn’t have great options when he got extended in his second inning of work and walked Chris Young to load the bases with one out.

But Xavier Cedeno? Against Sandy Leon?

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox

If I squint, I guess I can see what you were going for. Cedeno has a decent ground ball percentage. A ground ball with the catcher running maybe gets you out of the inning.

Except 1) Cedeno has been awful, and even more importantly 2) Sandy Leon hits better from the right side. Like, a lot better. 112 wRC+ vs 71 better.

Why would you turn a switch hitter around to his good side???

Danny Farquhar seems like the obvious choice to me. Yeah, he’s subpar on getting grounders, but the righty with reverse splits give you a double bonus here: it not only keeps Leon on his weak side, but lets Farq work to his strength.

Or maybe just ride out this tough break game and inning with Hunter, who actually hadn’t been hit hard and gets ground balls at a solid rate.

But you go with Cedeno?

So of course Xavier comes in and gets the ground ball, and it almost works, because baseball. Yeah, it was weakly hit, but Leon is slow. I still don’t know why DRob didn’t at least try to turn two. Rookie mistake, nerves, poor footwork from not playing a lot of second, I dunno.

Or maybe he was still stunned by your choice of relievers.

Because whether he got the ground ball you were playing for or not, that was ten kinds of dumb.

Verdict: Walk of Shame.

April 16: Red Sox 7, Rays 5

Happy Easter.

KK Back in the Two-Hole Against a Lefty

Sigh.

Verdict: Whatever

Bullpen Follies

I’ve seen this movie before.

Yes, the process of bringing in Cedeno against Moreland (bases loaded, one out, seventh inning, up by one, with Farq already spent) was fine, but until Xavier gets whatever is wrong with him worked out, he shouldn’t be seeing this kind of high leverage. Not even in pure LOOGY situations like this one.

And he definitely shouldn’t be staying in to get the hitters that followed. It’s a minor miracle we didn’t get blown out instead of just going one down.

Also: I get that Odor only going one inning the day before kinda messed things up, but going with Pruitt in the eighth down by just one? I mean, yeah, our Win Expectancy is way down to 12% to start that half-inning, and Kimbrell is pitching the ninth for the Sox.

But come on, man. At least act like you wanna win.

Verdict: Headdesk

April 17: Red Sox 4, Rays 3

An 11:00 AM game? This is ridiculous. And another one run loss. Also ridiculous. But at least Cedeno didn’t pitch.

Brad Miller vs. Robbie Ross Jr.

This was a huge at bat, and I’m still not sure what the “right” thing to do was. With the Rays down 4-2 in the seventh, the good guys loaded the bases for Miller against lefty Robbie Ross Jr.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

This is a 4.43 LI at bat, and there’s a 1.64 run expectancy. But it’s a terrible match up. Miller has a 71 wRC+ and .272 wOBA against lefties in his career.

So if you’re Kevin Cash, what do you do?

On your bench (beside Sucre) are the right handed bats of Daniel Robertson and Peter Bourjos, and the lefty bat of Shane Peterson. That’s not very intimidating.

In the bullpen for the Red Sox is a warm righty in Ben Taylor, ready to counter any moves you make.

Probably (?) the matchup you want to get to is Shane Peterson against Taylor. But can you get there?

You could send up Robertson. That leads John Farrell to counter with Taylor. And while you’d love to counter his counter with Peterson, who would go out and play second base for you?

Rickie Weeks Jr.? I don’t think so.

Okay, so maybe you try to force Farrell’s hand by pinch hitting Bourjos for Miller. But then you face the very real possibility that Farrell decides he’s actually quite happy with Peter freaking Bourjos up there with the game on the line, and lets Ross pitch to him.

Can you imagine the comments section after that move?

And even if you do get the move you want, with Farrell bringing in Taylor so you can counter with Peterson, you better hope this works out, because you’ve just used your entire bench to get to one marginally better matchup.

If you want to play it safe, maybe you just pinch hit Robertson for Miller and leave it at that. Let Farrell bring in the righty, and go with that matchup. Robertson’s hits RHP okay, if minor league splits are to be believed.

Or you just let Miller hit, which is what Cash did.

In the end, I think I roll the dice, pinch hit Bourjos and try to make something happen. The spot is just too big to sit tight. But the truth is, this was a hard choice because there were no “good” moves to make.

It sure would help if Rasmus and Duffy got better soon.

Verdict: Managing is hard