Thursday, August 12, 2010

Setting the Bar

Rough 24 hours. As I wrote in the comments section Thursday morning, I went to bed at a reasonable hour last night (tonight, as you can tell by the time stamp, not so much). Life was looking good. The Red Sox scored ten runs, JD Drew is starting to look like he wants to play baseball a couple times before hunting season, and Buchholz bailed out the bullpen. Also, the Yankees were getting blown out.

Then I woke up this morning and saw the guaranteed four-game deficit was now a five-game deficit due to a Marcus Thames-induced comeback. What the F.

The day game progressing well and John Lackey pitching as well as he thinks he always pitches was a nice experience on MLB.com's Gameday, and was starting to counteract the fact that Marcus Thames wrecked my morning. Then Jonathan Papelbon wrecked my afternoon.

It doesn't matter which way you massage the stats: Papelbon has been bad this year. Lou Merloni has said both on TV and on the radio since the blown save this afternoon that in seventeen outings, he's only let up one run before today (the Detroit game). That's like saying Papelbon only had an ERA of 1.85 last year, same figure as his good 2007 season. Misleading and disrepectful to anyone who's actually been watching instead of looking at Excel spreadsheets. The guy is a heart attack almost every time out there, and it's been that way since 09 or perhaps even before.

The days of saying he should be setting the bar for future closers getting paid...or by saying he should be closing the All-Star Game at the Old Yankee Stadium...might not be over. But they will probably just emphasize his membership to the Patrick Club.

Three issues to discuss here, and my take because this is my blog. You have your chances in the comments section:

1. Who's taking the blame for this one? For me, it's Papelbon and Papelbon alone. For many others, it's Francona. Should Francona kept in Lackey after the Bautista home run instead of running toward his security blanket? Lackey had only thrown 98 pitches, but what if pitches 99-105 were close to as bad as pitch #98? Completely conceivable. Francona would have been crushed for NOT putting Papelbon in. So I feel like the manager was in a no-win situation. I'm a fan of keeping your starter in until he gets in trouble. Giving up a bomb qualifies as trouble.

What about putting Bard in earlier? This is a more legitimate beef. Papelbon was fooling nobody, and even the ground balls hit off of him were hit hard. And Bard would have been rested after not having to pitch for a couple of nights.

2. How does this affect team chemistry? The first two wins were huge, and seeing Lackey bounce back from probably his most-disappointing overall performance (given the spot) of the year was similarly uplifting. All Papelbon had to do was hold a two-run lead with nobody on. That should not be hard. And I think Lackey knows that. We know that Lackey holds teammates accountable for sucking, and we also know that Lackey doesn't like getting lifted from games. Did Lackey go K-Rod on Papelbon after the game? I'm sure this doesn't help things.

3. Who should be the closer? This could further put chemistry in jeopardy. I'd say stick with Papelbon, because promoting Bard (unless Papelbon literally goes Keith Foulke, Johnny from Burger King and everything) would result in Papelbon saying F it and JDing the rest of the season. The first time Bard blows a save or has a shaky save, there would be calls to put Papelbon back in. The way I see it, changing would create even more havoc than there already is in that bullpen. If they're going down, they should be going down with the best setup man in the game and the twelfth-best closer. This is better than the fourth-best closer and a setup man with demons inside his head.

Enjoy yo weekend. Next week we'll play Where In The World Is Pat? And send your congratulations to Jason, who Saturday will prove that you can be a regular blog commenter and still get married someday.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

I cannot tell you how pissed off I was yesterday at about 5:45 when I saw the headline on ESPN.com "Papelbon, Sox blow 9th inning lead lose to Jays." I had headed out after the top of the eighth. The Sox had just put a run on the board to make it 5-2 and I saw Daniel Bard warming up. Those are sights that engender positive, warm feelings. Seeing the Sox piss that all away just makes me angry.

I know that Francona will get some criticism. I don't know that he deserves any, as you pointed out. The fact is that Papelbon needs to do his frigging job. And I'm confident that the Sox will explore trade opportunities for him this winter. And that's because clearly, on this team, if you needed three outs from ANY pitcher, you would call on Daniel Bard. Sox fans have to have considerably more confidence in him at this point than Papelbon.

It's just a goddamn shame that the Sox can't seem to put any real momentum together. And guys like Jonathan Papelbon are a big part of that.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

DV,

You are the Lebron James of this blog in that you are carrying it all by yourself. Hopefully you don't move to a different blog in the offseason so that you can play on the same team as your friends.

Gunn,

You have also done some great work on this blog so I'll just tell you that. I can't remember what comment it was but you made a comment a few days back and I was like,"Damn, that's a great comment."

Finally, as you know Colby asks you for money each year as a part of their money drive (i don't care what their campaign was called, I'm calling it the money drive) so naturally I made them hang on until the last minute before i gave them $100 in a simple online payment. However when I donated, I made a special note that I wanted to give the money in memorium to Adam Roslyn, who was my roomate for two years and is most certainly not dead.

So what happens? Adam's father get's a letter from Colby telling him that I had made a donation in Adam's honor.

Absolutely hilarious. Knowing that this happens, whenever I give from now on I'm going to start targeting people at Colby that I didn't even know. Random people from the class of 2007 are going to start recieving letters stating that i gave in someone else's honor.

TimC said...

Bandi, maybe some day in the future you can donate a building in someone's honor.

And speaking of memoriums, it is time to start finishing up the final chapter of "Papelbon, Red Sox Closer". At this point the man cannot be trusted to close the bullpen door on his way out and I think if the Sox are going to make any noise in 2011 it will have to be with Bard, not Papelbon, closing out the W's. Might as well give him the chance to audition for the role now while giving Papelbon time to practice his tap-dancing with Maroney and looking for places to live in San Diego or Seattle.

Anonymous said...

Bandi

I'm impressed with your donation, as it's $100 more than I've given since I graduated.

You should probably give $100 next time in the name of "Preston Decker: Ambassador to China" or "Andy Jenkins: Parking Lot Patrolman."
But it's up to you.

Tim

Papelbon is so far from the guy we knew in 2006 and 2007 that it really makes you wonder what the hell happened. What a shame.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

Just as you see a different hero every night, there are many times you see a different goat. It's frustrating to see the guys who are the stars of the team falter as spectacularly as Papelbon, Lackey, Beckett, and earlier in the year Ortiz have. But the fact that these are all momentum killers at a time where momentum is important is a good observation on your part.

Bandi,

The Roslyn story is priceless. And on December 8 of this year, I'm actually going on ESPN in the middle of prime time to announce whether I'm staying at HYD or going to another blog. Jim Gray is going to interview me, ask me inappropriately if I've ever bet on baseball, and hopefully get his ass kicked by Corey Pavin afterwards.

Honestly, though, the difference between me and Lebron is the fact that if needed during crunch time (such as during my Euro-JDcation the last week of the baseball season this year), I won't let Pat just take two days and leave the blog unattended the other three, then come back and say "look, my supporting cast is not good enough." I'll find a pub in Ireland that has baseball on TV and wireless internet, even if my relationship with the Franchise is strained because of it.

Lesson: Never compare me to that self-absorbed quitter again. Feel free to compare him to Scott Nicholson, though.

Tim C,

I don't think the role change will happen unless the team really falls out of contention. If you're only four or five games back, it's not rational to experiment in the name of 2011. I agree with you that it's over, but you gotta at least play it out to see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Hey everybody

In case you didn't notice Josh Beckett sucks.

--the Gunn

TimC said...

OK, so I was running for and now am on a train...so someone can explain to me what "Infield single to second, runner scores from second" means?