Yadier Molina commits the choke job of 2012

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“You need to trust your teammates,” Yadier Molina said afterwards. Because he obviously didn’t trust himself.

The Cardinals were down 3-2 in the top of the ninth Wednesday against the Padres. Allen Craig opened the frame with a double off Luke Gregerson, putting the tying run in what most of us consider scoring position. The Cardinals pinch-ran with Adron Chambers to make it even more likely that a hit would score a run. Molina decided it wasn’t position enough, so the league’s fourth leading hitter dropped down a sacrifice bunt.

Such a decision would have been defensible if the game was tied. Or it would have been defensible if the Cardinals were down 3-2 at home instead. Maybe it even would have been defensible with a .215 hitter at the plate, though I still would have been strongly against it then.

As is, the decision was indefensible. It was ridiculous. It was a case of Yadier Molina — a four-time All-Star, a two-time world champion and one of the NL’s 10-best players this year — flat-out choking.

Of course, the decision didn’t work out. And I wouldn’t be writing this if it had. But regardless of how it played out, it was a boneheaded move. Playing for the tie on the road is foolish. If Molina’s bunt incrementally increased the chances of the Cards going to the bottom of the ninth even, it also upped the likelihood that the team would lose a 15-inning game at Petco and burn out its bullpen ahead of a huge four-game series against the Dodgers that starts Thursday.

One would think a guy with a neck tattoo would know a bit more about going for the jugular.

No, the catcher who signed a $75 million contract earlier this year passed the buck on to a guy making $508,000. David Freese grounded out for the second out of the ninth with Chambers holding at third. After Carlos Beltran walked, Skip Schumaker grounded out to end it. It was an opportunity lost for the Cardinals, as they were swept in a three-game series in San Diego.

Look, it’s a long season. I don’t think Molina made his decision because he was scared. But he wasn’t mentally where he needed to be tonight. I know it’s tough for the Cardinals to give him much of a breather this time of year, but he seems to require one.

Andrelton Simmons is absolutely freaking ridiculous

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I’ve been watching Andrelton Simmons play shortstop since he came up with the Braves back in 2012. From the moment he burst onto the scene it was clear that he was an otherworldly defensive talent. His arm was incredible. His range was astonishing. His sense of where he was on the field and his instincts about what to do with the ball were unmatched.

I’ll admit, however, that I’ve seen him less in the past couple of seasons than I used to. It’s understandable: he no longer plays for my favorite team and he now plays most of his games after old men like me go to bed back east. The numbers have shown that he’s still the best defensive shortstop around and the highlights which get circulated are still astounding, but I’ve not appreciated him on a day-to-day level like I once did.

But that just makes me more grateful for the highlights when I miss him in action. Like this one, from last night’s game against the Astros. You can see it in high resolution here, but if you can’t click over there, here’s the play as it was tweeted around:

I didn’t see last night’s game, but my friend Dan Lewis tweeted this out a bit. His observations about it in this thread explain why what Simmons is doing here is so amazing:

The lay-outs, the bobble-saves, the jump-throws and all of that spectacular stuff are understandably appreciated, but the various skills Simmons displayed in just this one play — not to mention the freakin’ hustle he displays backing up third base after it all — is just astounding.

There hasn’t been one like him for a while. We should all appreciate him while he’s still in his prime.

The Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager

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Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported over the weekend that the Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager. Part of that comes after team meetings between Snitker and top brass. Some of it, however, is likely attributable to player sentiment, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting this morning that Freddie Freeman and several Braves players have told the Braves front office that they want Snitker back.

Is it a good idea to bring Snitker back? Eh, I’m leaning no, with the caveat that it probably doesn’t make a huge difference in the short term.

The “no” is based mostly on the fact that Snitker has had a disturbing trend of preferring veterans over young players, as Bradley explains in detail here. For a brief moment this summer the Braves seemed surprisingly competitive. Not truly competitive if anyone was being honest, but they were hovering around .500 and were arguably in the wild card race. Around that time he made a number of questionable decisions that favored marginal and/or injured veterans over some young players who will be a part of the next truly competitive Braves team, likely messing with their confidence and possibly messing with their development.

These moves were not damaging, ultimately, to the 2017 Braves on the field — they were going to be under .500 regardless — but it was the sort of short-term thinking that a manager for a rebuilding team should not be employing. Part of the blame for this, by the way, can be put on the front office, who only gave Snitker a one-year contract when they made him the permanent manager last year, creating an incentive for him to win in 2017 rather than manage the club the way a guy who knows when the team will truly be competitive should manage it. Then again, if Snitker was so great a candidate in the front office’s mind, why did they only give him a one-year contract?

I suspect a lot of it has to do with loyalty. Snitker has been an admirable Braves company man for decades, and that was certainly worthy of respect by the club. That he got the gig was likewise due in part to the players liking him — the veteran players — and they now are weighing in with their support once again. At some point, however, loyalty and respect of veterans has to take a back seat to a determination of who is the best person to bring the team from rebuilding to competitiveness, and Snitker has not made the case why he is that man.

Earlier, of course, I said it probably doesn’t matter all that much if they do, in fact, bring Snitker back. I say this because he will, in all likelihood, be given a short leash again, probably in the form of a one-year extension. It would not surprise me at all if, in the extraordinarily likely event the Braves look to be outclassed in the division by the Nationals again in 2018, they made a managerial switch midseason, as they did in 2016. If that is, indeed, the plan, it seems like the front office is almost planning on losing again in 2018 and using the future firing of Snitker as a time-buying exercise. Not that I’m cynical or anything.

Either way, I don’t think Snitker is the right guy for the job. Seems, though, that he’ll get at least an offseason and a couple of months to prove me wrong.