My morning paper read [Harden -165 Contreras] and I knew I'd be making a play Friday. Coming into tonight's game, Contreras had allowed 9 walks and 17 earned runs in his last 3 outings. The wheels were coming off the bus. The Count had lost his marbles.
Nobody has said anything, but he's had a noticeable, if not substantial, drop in velocity on his fastball. It used to be 93-95, the best velocity of anyone on the starting staff, but now it's sitting around 90. His problem on Friday didn't really have anything to do with the loss of velocity, but it's got to be in the back of his pea brain as he's throwing splitter after splitter in the dirt.
Right now, even AJ has given up trying to deal with him. He wants to punch him in the face. And that's what Count needs, a good stiff jab right in that ugly schnoz of his. He's got to wake up and realize this is the F'n big leagues. Last year he needed a trip to A-ball, and an eventual trade to begin to listen. I don't know what it's going to take this year, but I'll tell you what I would do.
Jose would not be allowed to call his own game. Obviously, Jose would not go along with this, because he is stubborn, and he knows what hitters really hate is splitters in the dirt, free passes, and wild pitches. So the key to making it work would be making Jose think he is in complete control.
Tell AJ that he is to grab first pitch strike with a fastball. Jose wants nothing to do with his fastball right now, and his 3/4 delivery has been gone for at least two games.
Surely you're asking 'what happens when Contreras wants to throw first pitch splitter?' That's simple. Contreras is slow. He shakes off everything. If AJ calls for the splitter, he'll most likely shake him off. And if he doesn't? Well, there's still about a half hour before he goes into his windup for AJ to call time.
In reality, I'd like to do the exact opposite. Have Contreras stand over the rubber, and never leave that spot. No rubbing the ball between pitches. No 45 seconds to get your splitter set up in your glove. No shaking off the catcher.
We tried this option last season, and it worked for a while. Then Jose gave up a HR, and got all pissy. He took his ball and went home. He would play the rest of the game by his own rules, loading the bases with splitters in the dirt, so they could be unloaded on BP fastballs when behind in the count. He would then be off the hook in his own mind, because, hey, he wanted to throw the splitter there.
- Punch him in the face
- Don't let him call his own game, but make him think he's calling his own game.
- All that shit we tried before.
- Take the bat with you. Punch him in the face. Then hit him with the bat.
Ok, maybe I don't advocate a baseball bat beating, but I'd applaud anyone who had the balls to punch him straight in the kisser after that piss poor effort. (I secretly hope Ozzie is the one to do it.) He didn't walk guys because of a lack of control. He walked guys because he was scared to throw strikes. THAT'S UNACCEPTABLE.
Just as frustrating as Contreras' implosion was our team's collective reaction to it.
- Ozzie threw in the towel putting the ass end of the bullpen into the game. Why is Kevin Walker here? Vizcaino? -- Jeff Bajenaru got the save tonight in Charlotte. His ERA is still in the low 1's while playing in that bandbox.
- In the three walk second inning, AJ just stopped fighting Contreras. Specifically on the Nick Swisher walk. AJ actually got Count to throw him two straight fastballs to start the AB, but Count wanted nothing to do with the strikezone, not with a runner on third base! AJ responded by slinging ball two sidearm back to Contreras as hard as I've seen him throw a ball. He wasn't even looking at Count when he did it. AJ was done.
- Once the inevitable happened, and Oakland tied up plating two runs without getting a hit, the offense went into complete shutdown.
- These guys all know the record in Oakland. They know that Count is going to throw approximately one strike per hitter for the rest of the game. They know they are supposed to lose this game. Why put up a fight?
The last time we were in Oakland, there were some extenuating circumstances(Bad umps and no infield) that led to the two losses. And even though they lost, they competed for 9 innings each time. This team did not. They all need to be ripped for it. Every Single One. Timo Too.