I love Len Kasper more than the average man. Â I think we’re lucky to have such a good, entertaining, normal, analytical TV play by play guy working Cubs games. Â After seven seasons of Chip Caray, I never take Len for granted.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t disagree with him. Â And we disagreed last night.
Big time. Â Oh, baby.
In the Cubs loss to the Tigers last night, the Cubs looked like they were going to cut the Tigers lead in halfÂ when Addison Russell hit a two-out single in theÂ fifthÂ with Junior Lake on second.1 Â The problem, of course, is that Yoenis Cespedes lives in left field at Comerica Park and only the very foolish run on the best, most accurate arm in baseball.
Third base coach Gary Jones sent Junior, and your house was closer to home plate than Junior was when the throw got to the catcher. Â Observe:
It didn’t make any sense to me to send Junior there. Â As the broadcast went to break, Len said you “have” to send the runner there. Â I didn’t agree and I tweeted as much:
Gary Jones inexplicably sends Junior on Yoenis Cespedes. You have a 99% chance of out there. @LenKasper
â€” Desipio.com (@desipiodotcom) June 10, 2015
Len did not agree:
@desipiodotcom Nah, send him. 2 outs, gotta send him there.
â€” Len Kasper (@LenKasper) June 10, 2015
Len went on to talk during the broadcast about how it’s an “automatic send” with two outs in an inning.
That just seems asinine.
There were a lot of things to factor on that play including:
1. Russell’s the Cubs ninth place hitter, so the top of the order is due up. Â If you don’t want Dexter Fowler to have a first and third with two out situation, why do you have Dexter Fowler?
2. Junior is fast, but he inexplicably got a terrible jump and was barely to third when Yoenis was fielding the ball. Â If that send is “automatic” Junior just threw it into manual. Â And, it’s probably not all that inexplicable. Â Junior’s all tools and no toolbox. Â The fact he remembers to turn left at each base should be considered progress.
3. It’s Yoenis Cespedes in left field. Â You can make a case that the “automatic send” unwritten rule should have a codicil that states, “Unless the ball is hit to Yoenis Cespedes and he isn’t lying face first in the grass taking a nap when it rolls to him.” Â Even then, I think Yoenis would have thrown Junior out.
Len went on to defend the “automatic send” theory and to say that he knew 100 percent that the Cubs manager “wouldn’t have a problem with the send.”
I like Joe Maddon, too, but in that case, I’d tell him that he’s full of shit.
The reason you have a third base coach is to make decisions like that. Â If situations are “automatic” why do you need a third base coach?
I know Len talks a lot about analytics that say teams should be much more aggressive sending runners home on sac fly chances with one out. Â I’m all for that. Â As long as the sac fly isn’t hit to Yoenis Cespedes in medium deep left field.
It reminded me of one of Lou Piniella’s very first rants about the Cubs back in 2007. Â It was still Spring Training, but the Cubs were already doing stupid shit on the field and Lou famously said, “It’s pretty apparent this is no push button operation here.”
Very few things in baseball are “automatic.” Â Hitting the ball over the fence on a bounce is an automatic double, but that’s about it.
Maybe the automatic in this situation is, “if the ball is hit to Yoenis Cespedes and your runner hasn’t clearly passed the third base bag when Yoenis fields the ball, automatically pin his ass to the bag.”
If it’s Matt Holliday, run. Â That lumbering jackass is liable to field another one off his scrote. Â If it’s Chris Coghlan you not only send the runner from second, but once the ball rolls past him the batter will also get to score.
There’s nothing more automatic than that.