Discussion over Friday night’s events in Florida have come to center on whether third base coach Scott Ullger should have sent Morneau home on Kubel’s double into the left-field corner, rather than a poor bench decisions by Gardy and his staff that Gardy took the blame on afterward.
There was definitely a problem at third base, but from what I saw it didn’t have to do with whether Morneau should have been held up as much as the slow reaction to what was happening on the field.
Here’s what I mean:
Watching the replay, it looked like Morneau didn’t accelerate until AFTER the left fielder dropped and picked up the ball in the left-field corner. If Morneau had accelerated AS SOON AS Josh Willingham, the left fielder, dropped the ball, then he’s safe at home without much of a contest.
The more relevant question is: Why didn’t Ullger get Morneau’s attention immediately when the ball was dropped?
Was Ullger out of position for Morneau to pick him up? Was Ullger assuming the play would be made in the outfield? Did Morneau fail to pick up the third-base coach’s sign as quickly as he should have? Was Ullger late in telling Morneau to get his butt in gear?
With two outs, an aggressive team is going to err on the side of taking the extra base in a situation like that. But if the execution is made with tractor-like quickness it can be a recipe for disaster, no matter whether the error is mental or physical.