Monday, April 19, 2004

One By Nine, 04.18.04

Okay, yesterday was a tough one. The kind of game that is sort of over in the third inning, you feel compelled to watch, but notice around the 5th that neither team seems entirely interested in scoring more runs. And truth be told, The Ninth sensed this development and took a well-earned nap halfway through. So I could either give you six crummy notes about a depressing game, or put together one good one. Let's do that.

1. Terry Francona is getting ready to lose two games for us. Handing em over like they're hostages. We'll get to yesterday, but Monday's starting Red Sox lineup features Cesar The Great, Dave McCarty, and Gabe Kapler. Nine players, three backups. All starting on the same day. This was a Jimy Williams favorite, and it was as obnoxious then as it is now. You feel players need rest? Fine. You want to keep everyone in your lineup fresh? Sounds good. All your guys are major-league ball players? Ok, I guess. But why does it have to be all at once? Granted Francona's somewhat restricted by injuries, but if you're going to start McCarty, shouldn't it be with your best arm on the mound? Then by Monday you'll have some rested players, and you can fill your injury holes with Crespo and Kapler and not lose much. But to put in all these benchers at once is just suicide. Especially with the Brown vs. Arroyo matchup. Going into the series, this game was the worst one on paper for Boston, and now Francona's put them further in the hole. Isn't it clear to Terry's players that he is sort of throwing in the towel on this one? I'm sure Bronson felt great when he saw the lineup card this morning. "Hey sorry Bronnie, just didn't think I should waste starters on certain 'L', know what I mean?" Realistically, what chance does Boston have of winning this game? They're outmatched on the mound and are fielding a weak 9. They could win, but it would be a distinct surprise. That should not be the case for two fairly even clubs. This game counts just as much as the one on September 25th, please don't give it away. Especially when you did that yesterday.

It can not be argued that Derek Lowe lost Sunday's game for the Red Sox. It also can not be argued that his inability to retire Yankee hitters was largely due to his 10 day layoff. And why did he have the big delay? Well, Tito of course. Lowe was scheduled to start last Tuesday, until the rains came. Then, with the second rain out, Francona and company decided it was best to reshuffle the whole thing. Instead of throwing Derek on Thursday, with a more manageable 7 days rest and having Pedro and Schill on 6 days, he changed it and pushed Lowe back. Why? So Wakefield could pitch between Martinez and Schilling. A knuckler between two flamethrowers is sure to give the opponents fits, right? Well maybe, but hasn't everyone noticed that Pedro isn't really a flamethrower anymore? It's not like you're seeing 95 mph gas on back to back days with 45 and 38. In fact, Derek Lowe throws every bit as hard as Pedro does now, so how about separating him and Curt? And does any hitter really come to the park on Tuesday thinking about what he saw on Monday? Doubtful, but I'll leave that to experts. Assuming that Francona is correct about the value of Wake's placement though, shouldn't it have been done at the beginning of the season? You're going from scratch on April 4th, why not start your bald-headed schemes from the get-go? Even with off-days and rain outs, it's never easy to reshuffle a rotation, as we saw this weekend. Start the brilliance in Game 1, benefit from it immediately, and avoid problems down the road. It keeps him out of situations like this Sunday, where you're putting a starter in a position to fail. Derek Lowe's rustiness lost Boston the game on Sunday, and Francona created that rust out of thin air. For the sake of an idea. Right now, that idea owes us one game.

His other idea is losing by 3 to the Yankees in the 3rd.