That’s my feeling anyway. Manager Dusty Baker went so far as to start Miguel Cairo at first base Wednesday, yet the Reds beat the Diamondbacks 6-2 to complete a three-game sweep in Arizona.
Cairo, who entered the game with a .168/.198/.264 line in 125 at-bats this season, went 0-for-4. It should be noted that this is hardly the first time Cairo has played first for Cincinnati this year; he’s started 14 games there and hit .200 with two walks and three extra-base hits in 50 at-bats.
But the really astonishing thing is that the last couple of times Cairo has started at first base, Todd Frazier has played third with Scott Rolen resting. So, not only is Cairo one of the game’s weakest hitters, but Baker also seems to think he’s a worse third baseman than Frazier, a guy who has never been known for his defense. In fact, Cairo has played 136 innings at first base this year and just 107 innings elsewhere (69 at third, 38 at second).
Of course, none of this has really hurt the Reds at all, considering they’re sitting pretty with the game’s best record. They could go ahead and try Chris Heisey at short if they wanted to and still finish atop the NL Central. Consider that they’ve gotten two homers in four starts from Dioner Navarro, this really does seem to be their year.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.