Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ALCS - thoughts on a 3-1 deficit

Cleveland's 7-3 win has the Indians on the verge of going to the World Series and the Red Sox on the verge of golfing.

And it has "idiot nation" up in arms, calling for the firing of the only manager to win a World Series for the Red Sox since Woodrow Wilson was in the White House. It is, of course, preposterous, but that's the way it goes around here.

  • I just heard one of the dumbest comments ever made by a Francona bashing caller to WEEI. "He made a mistake bringing in Papelbon in game 2, because then he had no one left in the 11th."

    Who, exactly, does this nimrod think Francona SHOULD have brought in in the 9th? Gagne? Lopez? Lester? They pitched so well later... I suppose that would have resulted in earlier bedtimes, but it's tough to see how it would have improved Boston's chances of winning that game.

    Once you reach the 9th inning of a tie game, especially at home, you should be using your pitchers in DECREASED order of effectiveness. You don't save your best for later, because then you are far more likely to lose with your best pitcher still sitting in the bullpen. Barring significant match-up issues, every time you make a change, you go with the best pitcher you've got left, because that increases the chances of you scoring before you give up a run.

  • Francona managed game 2 just fine, he managed game 3 just fine, he managed game 4 just fine. The players haven't gotten the job done - that's life - it happens. It's baseball. The idea that this 7 game series tells us anything about these teams that the 162 games of the regular season didn't is laughable. It determines a "champion" but it doesn't pick the best team - just the one who plays the best in 4 of 7. It is frustrating, and we would much rather see them win than lose, but the other team gets paid, too, and sometimes that's just what happens. The Red Sox certainly aren't out of this series, but the odds of them winning are not good. Whether they come back and win, or go down in game 5, this is an excellent team, with a good manager, that had a very good year. Winning the World Series is special and important, but the post-season is a crapshoot - the organization has to think in terms of putting together a team that can get there consistently, because that's how you win World Series - you get to the post-season and have a good run at the right time. Going up against a team that has that good run at the right time while you don't is no reason to fire the manager, if he isn't the proximate cause, and Francona certainly isn't, the vitriol aimed at him notwithstanding...

  • I'd probably give Ellsbury a shot in center, but I don't have a problem with him not doing so. I remember a lot of abuse heaped upon Francona in 2004 for not replacing Damon and Bellhorn in the lineup while they were losing to the Yankees. That worked out. It might work out this time, and it might not, but the idea of making decisions right now based on a 3 game slump and/or losing streak is just not rational. You knew, going into the playoffs, what your best lineup consisted of - that's what you play. Period. To do otherwise is to react irrationally to a pathetically small sample of data.

  • Gagne has taken a lot of grief, too. As has Drew. But neither has been the biggest problem, and no one's blaming him. Many players have failed - certainly Gagne and Drew (and Lugo and Varitek and Pedroia and Lopez and Lester and Schilling and Matsuzaka) have all failed to make significant positive contributions. The one player who has had the single biggest NEGATIVE contribution in the series thus far is Manny Delcarmen. They brought him in with a lead in the 6th inning of game two. He promptly gave up the tying run, and no one scored again until Cleveland beat Gagne, Lopez and Lester in the 11th. He came in with a 3-run deficit in game 4, and promptly gave up a 3-run HR, and another one to boot. The Red Sox scored 3 runs in the 6th. If Delcarmen does his job in game 2, the Red Sox leave Boston with a 2-0 series lead. If he does it in game 4, they're tied after 6.

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