Saturday, October 31, 2009

World Series Machinations

  • Joe Blanton to start game 4 for the Phillies:

I'm not quite sure what the debate here is. Never before in his big league career has Cliff Lee pitched on three days rest; the guy's been borderline unhittable in the post-season; he threw 122 pitches in his game 1 masterpiece and the Phillies have the depth and power to deal with anything that happens with Joe Blanton.

Blanton pitched very well in last year's World Series against a Rays lineup that was tough in its own right and even hit a home run. If it were a team that couldn't score to mitigate a bad start by Blanton, then fine, consider going with Lee on short rest, but the Phillies are never out of any game with their power and the bandbox that is Citizens Bank Park. Why run the risk of ruining the rest of the series with a panicky decision to start Lee without his full complement of rest?

The opposing pitcher shouldn't be a factor either. As great as C.C. Sabathia's been, the Phillies proved last year and in game 1 that they're not all that impressed with him. Sabathia pitched well enough to win in game 1, but Lee outdid him; the Phillies rocked him last year in the NLDS while he was with the Brewers.

The safe and smart choice is to start Blanton in game 4 and save Lee for game 5. As for all this silliness that Lee will be "unavailable" for game 7 since he's not starting game 4?


Everyone's available for game 7's and if Lee's needed to pitch a few innings, I guarantee he'll be the first one to volunteer and get out there. The Phillies are making the right move.

  • Hideki Matsui should play right field, if....

The one question I would have regarding Matsui possibly playing the outfield for the first time all year is whether or not he can make the routine plays. No one's asking him to be Nick Markakis out there, but would he be a liability that could cost the club a game? His knees are said to be in rotten shape, but he's a gutty, smart player and with proper positioning, it shouldn't be a problem. Hitters tend to hit Andy Pettitte back up the middle anyway, so how many balls would reasonably head Matsui's way?

The Yankees have to decide which is more important. Do they want to have the better ability to move of Nick Swisher/Jerry Hairston Jr/Eric Hinske? Or do they want Matsui's clutch bat and worry about the defense later?

I have no intention of trying to get into Joe Girardi's head on this matter (it's dark, cold and scary in there), but if Matsui proves in the workouts that he can move just well enough and not injure himself playing the outfield, I'd start Matsui.

  • Unraveling the mystery of the "sombrero":

I knew I was right about having heard a different set of rules for the "sombrero/golden sombrero" reference to a four-strikeout night.

Keith Hernandez is old-school. He grew up with a father who'd played minor league baseball and has an affinity for terms from years past in describing various aspects of the game. In his underrated book, If At First, chronicling the 1985 season of the Mets...*

*Time for Paul to be maudlin: Where was the Wild Card during the 80's? Its absence cost the Mets three World Series wins.

...Hernandez imparts the following on pages 23-24:

(Darryl) Strawberry caps off our lackluster batting by posting the team's first sombrero of the year. That's 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Five strikeouts is the rare and not coveted golden sombrero. A mere three is the hat trick.

Hitters clearly recall their sombreros. I've had four in the big leagues. The first one off Tom Seaver in 1975, a year I started with the Cards before being sent down. Two of the strikeouts were with the bases loaded. I almost cried.

(John) Candelaria did it to me in 1979, when I was hot and winning the batting championship. I was overmatched that day.

The two I can still taste were late in the following season. After a collision with Bill Buckner at first base, a mild concussion kept me out of three games. I tried to come back too soon and my first game was a sombrero against Bert Blyleven. I went 3 for 24 for the week.

A few weeks later we faced Bill Gullickson in Montreal. It was 28 degrees in late September and the wind chill factor was 5. I was trailing the same Buckner by two points for the batting title, and I wanted my second crown in a row. The Cards were out of the race, so I had nothing to do but hit.

I was frozen at the plate; four times Gullickson sent me back to the dugout to thaw.

I still get angry recalling that collision. It cost me the title.

I think I trust Hernandez's recollection and use of such terms than the new age people who grasped something and ran with it inaccurately.

  • Viewer Mail 10.31.2009 (It's Halloween. BOO!):

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Charlie Manuel:

I agree about Manuel not leaving Pedro in too long. I would have left him in too. He was pitching great.

I have no problem with second-guessing (I do it all the time), but when it's stupid second-guessing, it's post-game nitpicking. And if he'd yanked Pedro and brought in one of the bipolar arsonists he's got in his bullpen and they'd given up four runs, then what? The conversation would consist of: "Why'd Manuel take Pedro out?" It's ridiculous.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes:

Will Pavano EVER live that legacy (or general lack thereof) down? *signs point to NO*

It's one thing to come to New York and not be able to handle everything inherent with the city, the pressure and the media scrutiny; but Carl Pavano came to New York and showed no interest whatsoever in trying----that's what's unforgivable. Once he got his money and he started to get an idea of what it was going to be like for him over the four years, he did everything he could to self-sabotage from questionable injuries and behaviors; to the skirt-chasing; to the lies and losing attitude.

In fact, I don't think it was New York at all that transformed Pavano into the butt of jokes he's become. Had he signed with the Red Sox, Tigers or Mariners he would've degenerated into the same thing. He got his money and lost his desire. He wouldn't be the first, but he was such a colossal waste of time as a Yankee, that he's never going to be forgotten. And that ain't in a good way either.

1 comment:

She-Fan said...

I hate losing Matsui's bat, but he can hardly walk, let alone run, so putting him in left field wouldn't be a good idea. Not only would he be a defensive liability, but he could hurt himself even more. Also, having him come off the bench is very appealing.