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Bone Headed

After crafting a lineup which featured Shea Hillenbrand batting cleanup and playing third base, Grady pulled one of the most bizarre moves of his tenure.

In the bottom of the eighth with runners on first and second, James Loney was coming to bat. In response, Clint Hurdle sent the lefty Jeremy Affeldt to the mound. Seeing this Grady decided to pull Loney and put Jeff Kent into the game. Now, in his brief big league career Loney has hit lefties better than righties, but that's only a brief 75 at bat sample. Since 2005 in the minors, Loney had an OPS about 150 points lower in 230 at bats, so it's fair to say that Loney is a better hitter against right handed batter than lefties.

What makes this move bizarre is that the next batter, Ramon Martinez, was allowed to hit for himself. Unless Grady thinks Ramon Martinez is a better hitter than Loney, this makes no sense. Kent could have simply taken over Martinez's position in the next inning and all would be well. I guess Grady could have been playing the percentages by not having a lefty face a lefty, but that still doesn't make much sense. The only possible explanation is that Grady thought Loney was less likely to get a hit than Martinez, which is just plain wrong. Of course, Martinez did get that hit and win the game, but it still doesn't make this a good decision.

Another thing that seems very off is Grady's inability to use Olmedo Saenz and Mark Sweeney correctly. It's pretty simple. Saenz can't hit righties, and Sweeney can't hit lefties. There are completely clear cut cases about when both of these men should be deployed. Nevertheless, Saenz hit against the righty Ramon Ortiz, while Sweeney hit against the lefty Affeldt. These two players can really only do one thing well, and when you don't use them in that exact role, it takes away whatever value the "professional pinch hitter" may have.

Of course, both these moves worked out so me complaining about them a day later seems rather pointless, but it does seem like Grady is coming up with more and more bizarre decisions as the season wears on.

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I did another round table for Jon Weisman's blog entry on SI.com. In this, I pretty much proclaim the Dodgers dead in the NL West.