Dear Joe Letter

Date: Thursday, August 30, 2001
From: Kevin Hench
Subject:  Dear Joe Letter

Dear Mr. Kerrigan,

You seem like a great guy.  You've got a sense of humor; you're forthright to
a fault; you like and know other sports.  What a refreshing change from the
taciturn curmudgeon you replaced.

Now on to your terrible managing.

I had lots of problems with Jimy Williams.  His reluctance to send runners
was not one of them.  One has to manage according to his personnel.  The
Boston Red Sox are slow and, worse, they are lousy baserunners.  Your charges
have run into so many outs in the last five days that I am losing track.

Here's the problem:  When you have average or below-average speed - which
describes everyone on your roster - you have to cheat a little to swipe a
base.  You have to shift that weight to your right foot, lean and pray the
pitcher is going to the plate when you make your leap of faith.  The team's
complete lack of speed explains this recent spate of pickoffs.  The solution?
 Stop giving the steal sign.  C'mon, Joe, I know you want to do everything
possible to divorce yourself from the previous skipper - slidestepping,
stealing bases, set lineup (hah) - but all you've managed to do in the last
two weeks is become only the second Red Sox manager in 35 years with a losing
record.

Tonight we saw two back-breaking plays that must have originated in your
apparently overrated noggin'. 

With no outs Trot Nixon was picked off first by lefty C.C. Sabathia
when he was clearly going and guessed wrong on where Sabathia was
delivering the ball.  This is doubly defeating.  It kills any potential rally and it
gives the pitcher an out without having to pile up pitches. As frustrating as this
moment was, it paled compared to the real mindbender you threw at us later. 
Leading 1-0 with runners on first and second, one out and a 3-2 count on Jose
Offerman, you sent the runners.  Why?

You have a strikeout pitcher against a strikeout hitter with a slow runner
on second... this is the complete and total formula for not sending the
runners.  Sabathia, like most strikeout pitchers, is also a fly ball pitcher,
so where is the percentage in sending slow runners with a guy at the plate
who has fanned 87 times in 447 at-bats? A ground ball would seem the least
likely possibility, certainly dwarfed by the combined possibility of a
strikeout or a fly out.  Sure enough, Jose fanned, Dante got gunned down and
the inning was over.  For someone who supposedly has a voracious appetite for
stats, you sure don't seem to know a heck of a lot about your team.

As a manager, Joe, you make a great pitching coach.

---

Note: Whoops, make that 88 K's in 448 at-bats as Offerman just fanned for the
third time tonight, taking strike three with the tying run on third and one
out.  Hard to keep up with the ineptitude of some of these guys.

More HARDBALL columns from Hench

BDD is a feature of Boston.com. All posts are by Steve Silva unless otherwise indicated.

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NY Post:

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