Monday, August 21, 2006


Since I basically missed all of the first three games of the series in Fenway, last night was my first taste of Pennant-Clinching Weekend. A few quick thoughts, as it's all I have time for.

  • Why, why, why do teams bunt against Mariano Rivera? I've said it before: you can't center the cutter and Mo is the best-fielding pitcher in the game. That David Ortiz was the lead runner makes Francona's decision all the more embarrassing. Tito had to be the only guy in the world who didn't see that one ending as it did.
  • On the other side, when Melky led off the ninth, Torre could have done the easy thing and let Nick Green bunt. Instead, he sent Bernie Williams up to pinch hit (I would've gone with Craig Wilson, but that's irrelevant) even though he knew it would cost him the DH.
  • On the pitching front, Torre again outmanaged Francona. Whereas Papelbon didn't enter the game until the bases were loaded, Torre called upon Rivera in the ninth in a nonsave situation.
Bottom line: Torre pulled out all the stops, went against the book and played to win. Francona, who desperately needed the victory, made every wrong decision. Waiting too long on Papelbon, sacrificing against Rivera with an inexperienced bunter, and not pinch running for Ortiz are wholly inexcusable decisions.

Say what you will about Torre, but he might very well be the best extra innings manager in baseball. He's come a long way since the Jeff Weaver debacle against Florida in 2003.

And lastly, as someone reminded me today, it needs to be said: small ball lost the game while the longball won it.


74 said...

In all fairness regarding the Weaver thing...his options were Gabe White, Felix Heredia, or Chris Hammond. Contreras and Nelson had already been used...

The options weren't great.

Jeteupthemiddle said...

There was this other guy in the pen.

I think he closed a little in his career.

74 said...

The Yankees were on the road...and Rivera had pitched 2 innings the night before.

At best, you'd have him for one inning. Which means you save him for when and if you take the lead.

The Yankees never led that game. They tied it in the 9th. I would have had Torre shot if he brought Rivera in for one inning with the game tied, and then seen Felix Heredia trying to close it..

74 said...

It's also important to remember Weaver pitched a scoreless inning before giving up the walkoff.

Anthony said...

So instead you don't even get a chance to take the lead. Brilliant.

Sunday in Boston, they were on the road in a tie game...and Torre brought in Rivera. You don't screw around in that spot, especially in the World Series.

2001 WS, Games 3-5...Rivera pitched five innings in three days. It's the World Series, for crying out loud; there's nothing to save him for.

74 said...

They had a chance to take the lead. It's called the first inning through the 10th inning. One of which was a scoreless inning pitched by Weaver.

Rivera was going to pitch, at most, one inning. He's not going to pitch 2 innings on back to back nights because you still have games 5, 6, and 7. If all he can give is one inning, you save him for when he'll do the most good.

Torre pushed Rivera in the ALCS that year to the tune of 8 innings...and his arm nearly fell off.

I'm not saying the move was unimpeachable, but there's certainly logic to it.

Anthony said...

And I maintain that the best place to use that one inning would be when it's tied to give the team another chance to tie it up. Don't use Weaver in that spot. He was a ticking timebomb that year.

Jack McKeon managed the 2003 postseason brilliantly. He showed there are ways around crappy middle relief.

74 said...

Hey, if you're comfortable with the:

"Now, coming in to close the game for the Yankees, Felix Heredia..."

then that's fine. lol

Anthony said...

Show some respect and refer to Heredia by his proper title, The Run Fairy.