Monday, April 24, 2006

Monday morning rant

So I know second-guessing the manager has been around for as long as baseball has - there have always been fans who are pretty sure they could win 162 games if they just had the chance. But it seems to me that lately the second-guessing in RSN has reached record-high levels. I'm not sure if it's all the new fans, or simply the fact that the internets let people express their opinion publicly (probably some combination of the two), but it's gotten bad. For example, people are still complaining about Tito's decision in Friday's game to let Beckett pitch in the 8th (despite the fact that he had only thrown 78 pitches, and was hitting 96 mph). But I can't find a single game thread where anyone had a problem with sending him out there at the time. And can you imagine the outrage if Beckett didn't come out? Timlin was pretty bad (as he had been for the previous couple outings...though yesterday he looked good), so might've tied it then and there. And everyone would've blamed Francona for not sending Beckett out there. It's ridiculous.

Of course, you can never prove that such fans are hypocrites, since we don't have an "alternate reality" machine. A machine where we get to see how people would react if Lowell or Varitek got hurt by starting every single day, or if Manny or Wily Mo made some ridiculous baserunning or defensive gaffe instead of Nixon. But that's just the point: in baseball, we don't have such a machine, and it's stupid to pretend that we do. If a particular gamble has a 55% chance of working, and a 45% of failing, you go for it. Every time. (Assuming the cost:benefit ratio is about 1:1). It won't work out nearly half the time, but over the course of the season, it will: 55% is almost enough to get you in the playoffs (more than enough if you're the NL West). Really: what were the odds of Beckett giving up 2 homers, and Lowell committing an error, in that one inning? Unless you honestly think they were better than the odds of the bullpen screwing up (and if that's the case, I'd argue you haven't been paying attention), then you'd be wrong to complain.

And on top of just the stupidity of armchair managing with the benefit of hindsight, there are other considerations as well. Who knows what's really going on in the clubhouse? What players are in pain, which ones have the trainers worried about potential injuries, etc. Only the coaching staff and the front office knows for sure (hopefully). And people need to stop pretending that Francona does everything in a vacuum - one reason he's a good match for the Red Sox is that not only that is he a players' manager, and deals with the media well, but also he listens to our statistically-minded front office. Does anyone really believe he and Theo don't talk about lineups, and defensive replacements, and use of the bullpen? And also: what about the ban of greenies? I can't say I agree with Tito's "JV squad" approach towards giving guys rest, but my guess is he, and the front office, are very concerned about players' energy levels dropping precipitously in August and September. If our best players are ready to go in those months, and other teams' best players aren't, I'm all for all the extra rest.

Okay, I'm done ranting. That felt good.


  1. Can't really disagree with anything in there, but I will add two items:

    1. Second guessing is not new or even worse. The internet is just the latest medium. And keeps a permanent record of it. Prior to that, we had WEEI.

    2. AND with respect to Beckett staying in the game (which as you aptly pointed out WAS the right move based on pitch count and how he had been pitching), another contaributing factor was that DiNardo was going the next day. Giving the pen a night off or limited work would have set them up well if Lenny struggled.

    If anything sticks with me from Friday is whether rios was hit on purposes. Beckett is the tough guy and it would not surprise me 100% if he sees his guy get struck and decides to even the score. Of course with things turning out the way they did, he will NEVER even give a hint of it. I can't help but wonder if the Sox had hung on and won (before X-tra innings) would we have heard more veiled references to protecting his players or protecting the plate.

    But alas, there is no alternate reality machine.

  2. There absolutely is an alternative reality machine! I can't believe Earl channeled Grieve-sucks for an entire post. That was a amazing. Now I'm just wondering what Earl would have posted!

  3. IF Lenny struggled? Boy, there is no zip whatsoever with Mr. DiNardo's pitches, so I think it was preventive medicine. Hey, a day off such as today after the win hurts a lot less than it could have. Good post!

  4. I might add about the rest that it is entirely possible to not rest everyone on the same day...The full-out lineup changes drive me crazy.

    You have to feel that Halladay v. anyone but Schill or Beckett (on Saturday) is a loss.

    Friday's loss was terrible. I now am a firm believer that Timlin should not come in during an inning. He obviously needs to loosen on the mound (in-between innings) to get comfortable.

    Seanez has to go and should never, ever pitch in the AL again. Trade him to Pittsburgh (with cash) and some prospect and get Jack Wilson to play short...(never will happen...even the Pirates aren't that dumb).

    And speaking of SS, what would cause a guy who hit a bunch of HRs only 2 seasons ago to hit .211 now? Even if it is (was) the obvious answer, he should still be getting some singles.

    Other than those few things I am very pleased with the Sox so far.

  5. I totally agree - Timlin needs to start innings, Seanez is practically useless, and the JV squad has to go. I'm all for resting the players, but can't that be done one player at a time?

    Other than that I've been reasonably happy with Tito's job so far.

  6. Holy Crap - Pujols just hit his 12th HR.

    Baseball season is 6 months.
    12HR per month......