I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know about you, but I feel like Charlie Bucket, standing outside the chocolate factory, wondering what confection is being fashioned inside.Ã‚Â OrÃ‚Â perhapsÃ‚Â I’m feelingÃ‚Â more likeÃ‚Â one of those unwashedÃ‚Â children in a Charles Dickens novel, hands outstretched, offering a simple plaintive wail:
More starting pitching please, sir.Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“SirÃ¢â‚¬Â being GM Walt Jocketty.
Jocketty is ever the mysterious Wonka to me.Ã‚Â I have no idea what heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s thinking.Ã‚Â Ever.Ã‚Â He says nothing.Ã‚Â He sits high above the action in his Ray-Bans and Tommy Bahamas shirt, cell phone at the ready.Ã‚Â WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going on up there?Ã‚Â Why is he talking to Coco CorderoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s agent?Ã‚Â DoesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t he know that teams have been winning games in the 9th inning today with essentially the same consistency as they did in the 1950s when the word Ã¢â‚¬Å“closerÃ¢â‚¬Â meant you were a successful aluminum siding salesman?Ã‚Â Surely he knows CorderoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s peripherals are heading south.Ã‚Â Why are we even thinking of extending the contract of a player whose best years are almost certainly behind him?
At the very moment I’m composing this, two guys who played the game at a very high level, Ron Darling and John Smoltz, are yakking it up on TBS, lobbying the Tigers leadoff hitter to give C.C. Sabathia a free out by bunting with nobody out and a man on second, even as the overstuffed Yankee hurler, who can’t find home plate with a GPS and a sherpa, having already walkedÃ‚Â five men in the first two innings, is in the process of blowing his pitch count sky high.Ã‚Â Bunt?Ã‚Â Really?
The whole exchange leaves me bummed.Ã‚Â Because, if these two former players and a revered guy like Jim Leyland canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get it right, is it too much to expect a 60-something old school GM to embrace the BABIP numbers of Johnny Cueto andÃ‚Â see the urgencyÃ‚Â in finding someone else who can get into 8th inning with consistency?
If I could get a private audience withÃ‚Â Cincinnati’s Wonkanator, here would be my Charlie Bucket List of questions:
Now that the Cuban Missile willÃ‚Â finally be launched in the first inning instead of the seventh, whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the plan after heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shut down in August?
2012 is surely DatDudeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s swan song in a Reds uni, right?Ã‚Â WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not going to do Bronson ArroyoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s contract all over again at second base, are we?
You and Dusty are fully committed to the kids, right?Ã‚Â No more old guys as shortstop when Cozart goes into a slump?Ã‚Â Correct?
Does Chris Heisey ever get the kind of look Gomes got last season?Ã‚Â Or has the organization decided heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s never going to be an everyday player?
Hernandez or Hanigan?
Whose head is closest to the chopping … er, trading block?Ã‚Â Volquez, Bailey or Wood?
Will you stand up to Bob and insist Ã¢â‚¬Å“no more Dusty Baker after 2012?Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â And do you have PeteÃ‚Â Mackanin on your speed dial?
“Yeah, I always look to improve the club the best I can – whether it’s starting pitching, a bat, bullpen, whatever it is,” general manager Walt Jocketty said.Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“As I told Mr.Castellini. I want to make sure that we build this thing into a first class organization, so people want to come here to work and come here to play. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not that far away.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Not that far away.Ã‚Â This is classic Walt Jocketty-speak.Ã‚Â It tells you absolutely nothing.Ã‚Â You could waterboard the guy and all youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d get is Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re close.Ã¢â‚¬Â
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a Starting Pitcher Kinda Guy.Ã‚Â It’s a role that has more impact on wins and losses than any other aspect of the game of baseball.Ã‚Â So, my golden ticket comes in the form of a top-of-the-rotation guy, somebody the Reds can afford, a ground ball pitcher who can throw strikes.Ã‚Â Everything else is just dessert for me.
How about you?