Thursday, September 03, 2009

What the hell was he thinking?

Everyone knows that I'm a fan of Terry Francona - I think he's done an excellent job. Not perfect, but excellent. And I don't believe in outcome-based second guessing of managerial decisions. You evaluate managerial decisions based on what's knowable at the time the decision is made. Sometimes bad decisions work and good ones don't.

So this isn't second guessing. I wasn't on-line when it happened, so I didn't write before it happened, but I was watching in disbelief when Alex Gonzalez walked to the plate in the 8th inning. With the Sox down by one. With the bases loaded and one out. And Mike Lowell (and Rocco Baldelli) standing in the dugout. And two more infielders available to play a couple of innings at shortstop.

Seriously, what the hell was he thinking? Gathright ran for Ortiz, but no one hit for Gonzalez, he of the career .247 batting average. He of the career .293 OBP. You're going to let him hit in the 8th inning of a game that you're trailing by one, with the bases loaded and one out and September rosters with multiple better hitters available? Against a competitor for the playoff spot? The night after you've had Papelbon come in with no outs in the 8th?

I can't even imagine what kind of behind the scenes situation would justfiy that decision.

Obviously, there's no guarantee whatsoever that hitting for Gonzalez would have resulted in a win. And there was some possibility of Gonzalez getting a hit. But that was a bad decision that worked out badly. And it didn't take any second-guessing to see it.

P.S. - I've never been a fan of NESN's use of "sideline reporters." I think that it adds nothing but interruptions. And Heidi Watney demonstrated her uselessness last night when she talked to Francona post-game and didn't even mention the decision to let Gonzalez hit. Only the single most obvious managerial move to ever not be made.

P.P.S. - By the way, that was one of the quietest "rallies" you'll ever see. The Red Sox sent six men to the plate in the 8th inning last night, scored one run, and never put a ball in play. Out of 36 pitches from four Rays pitchers, four of them were touched by a Red Sox bat, and they were all foul. Three walks, three strikeouts and a Wild Pitch to score a run.

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