Sunday, August 29, 2010

What The F***?

No, this title isn't not simulating your reaction next time you see a post written by PF on this website. This is instead the reaction a lot of us had Saturday night to the two infamous decisions that may have cemented the Red Sox' third-place finish in the AL East this year. Just in case you were in Arizona resting your ribs, secluded somewhere pondering how intense, hard, time-consuming, and demanding another year of law school is, or enjoying the outdoors on the last weekend of the summer, here they are:

1. JD Drew pretending it's Friday night and actually making an effort after a foul fly ball, resulting in an out, but a run on a sac fly.
2. Francona bringing Clay Buchholz out in the eighth inning of a one-run game, letting Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon just chill out in the bullpen instead of recording outs. Buchholz had thrown 107 pitches.

(Note: The Buchholz/Pena pickoff would have been completely irrelevant if these two things had not happened. Buchholz throws over to first all the time. Could be Prince Fielder out there. DeMarlo Hale defended it in the Globe today, saying he didn't want anyone to mount any leads. Fine.)

The first one is somewhat excusable if the newly media-friendly Drew had not spoken jibberish when asked about it. Drew said the whole time, he was thinking, "let it drop, pretty much." But he instead ran through a bullpen, dodged some pitchers, ran up and down a mound, vaulted a Mitsubishi Galant Joey Gathright style, struck the Heisman Trophy pose at a fan in the tenth row, stuck his glove out, but he wasn't trying to catch the ball. In his words, "it ended up in there."

"Just instinct, you know?"

Isn't that how Rick Pitino described his affair? Maybe Kobe Bryant or Ben Roethlisberger should give the JD Drew defense of "I wasn't trying to assault her, I was saying, 'don't assault her, don't assault her,' but it just happened." Maybe Ambiorix Burgos should say "I had the rat poison in my hand and was thinking, 'don't poison my wife, don't poison my wife,' but the poison ended up in her cereal anyway." Seriously, what the F does that even mean?

You're JD freaking Drew! You have made a $150 million Major League career out of giving 80% efforts towards baseball games, and the one time you're NOT supposed to try hard, you do? This guy is absolutely dumbfounding. His retirement 400 days from now cannot come soon enough.

I'd understand if Drew just said "I wanted to get the out. We need 27 outs and I'm not going to JD out on this fly ball, watch Joyce hit a single, and need to get basically a 28th out." Of course, he wouldn't use the verb "JD out," but you know what I mean. It would imply lack of confidence in his pitcher with the 2.95 ERA, but it is at least understandable. You get the sure out with nothing to lose. But JD instead gave that argument.

Decision number two: What the F is Francona saving Bard and Papelbon for? Look, I've written here many times that I'm concerned about Daniel Bard's workload and about Papelbon's ability to get guys out. I'm not going to deny that. But when the options are Bard/Papelbon (the choice that has won you the most games) versus a Clay Buchholz who is tired enough to make pickoff attempts into an adventure an inning before, isn't it kind of obvious? Is Francona saving Papelbon's arm (~25 pitches the night before) for next week's freaking Baltimore Orioles series instead of the series on which the season hinges?

Is he saving it for the playoffs? Because guess what: These three games and the other nine against Tampa and NY ARE the playoffs. If you don't win, you do not advance to the next round. In playoff games, your best relievers pitch every night. Leave Scott Atchison's Dan Johnson (.130)-prone meatball to the Baltimore series.

I have written about this before in 2007, when Francona pitched Gagne instead of Papelbon in the interest of saving Papelbon for later once the team lost the division. It's obvious that Francona has gotten better at some decisions over time. This one, as evidenced by Saturday night, is NOT one of them.

You read it right: 400 days until October 2, 2011.

4 comments:

jason said...

I miss tv.

Anonymous said...

DV

That was one of the most frustrating games of the season. The thing about Buchholz wasn't so much that he'd thrown 107 pitches--it was that he'd 107 pitches and had by far his worst inning in the 7th. He was clearly tired (he'd had at least four full counts in the 7th) and as you mentioned, Bard and Papelbon were ready to go.

I want to be clear here though--I'm a huge Terry Francona fan. He's one of the best managers in the game and he's the best manager the Sox have ever had. But people like you and I were questioning him bringing back Buchholz before it even happened and it was a move that failed miserably.

Also, Buchholz does throw over to first all the time, regardless of who's over there. It's almost like it's a nervous reaction. And that's at least a little disconcerting considering the stage the guy is on at this point in his career.

Lastly--for all intents and purposes the year is over. They would need something just shy of miraculous to play in October.

--the Gunn

Ross Kaplan said...

I think the real question is if Featherstain is ever going to man up and respond to DV's call outs. If he's too busy to write anything this summer than next summer while he;s studying for the bar is going to be even worse. I just wish Pat could write something one of these days so I can have something substantive to comment about.

the gm at work said...

Jason,

No you don't. You didn't want to see this weekend. Plus, didn't y'all accumulate enough money at your wedding to buy a TV? Come on.

Gunn,

There's no doubt that he was tiring. These 107 were different from a 107 he may have thrown against, say, Baltimore. Francona went against the protocol that has won him several games this season. And the one that made the most sense. This one may have seemed like an afterthought in this post, but I hope that is not the case. I had more clever things to say about the Drew mistake, whereas for Francona, it would be more of the same. But that doesn't take away from the fact that it was an absolutely heinous deviation from the winning formula. And that, paired with Lackey and Okajima sucking like it's 2010, is why this team is now completely irrelevant except for in a spoiler capacity.

I think the figure was something like 26-6 is what they'd have to do to get back into this race.

Tank,

I always thought learning law would prepare you for the bar exam. But judging by the fact that studying for the freaking LSAT was Pat's job for a summer (sweet life), you're absolutely right. We're just gonna set the standard over the course of the entire calendar year at the number of games 46 plays over the course of the season.

I'd write Yankee stuff, but it would be criticizing some of Pat's boys. This would obviously inspire him to climb out of the cave and poke holes in my arguments.