One Loss, Many Questions
Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2001
From: Kevin Hench
Subject: One Loss, Many Questions
Who called the pitch?
This one definitely has an answer. Did Doug Mirabelli think an 0-2 fastball
to Edgar Martinez with runners on first and second and one out was a good
idea? Was it Jimy Williams? Joe Kerrigan? Someone called that pitch and
they must answer for their sin.
Let us count the ways that an 0-2 fastball to Edgar Martinez is unacceptable.
First, Rod Beck's 85-87 mph straightball is basically a batting practice
pitch. Second, Edgar is a great fastball hitter. Third, with runners on
first and second and one out in a tie game with a slow runner at the plate,
conventional wisdom would dictate that on a pitcher's count you would want to
throw the pitch that would most likely result in a ground ball. The fastball
is the pitch least likely to be hit on the ground, as evinced by its fateful
trajectory over the wall. The splitter is the clear choice. With curve down
and away second and fastball a non-choice. No matter who called the pitch,
Beck should have shaken it off. But for some reason he still thinks he can
throw the ball past big leaguers. This is a pitcher who gave up two home
runs to a guy who was waived this season (Tony Batista) in his last
appearance. This is no small feat for a reliever to give up two home runs to
the same guy in the same game. Everyone reading this knows something Jimy
Williams and Dan Duquette refuse to acknowledge: Rod Beck is done.
How can Manny Ramirez hit the ball a total of 10 feet in three at-bats
against Jamie Moyer? How can so many Red Sox hitters get themselves out
against the soft tosser by lunging at pitches and refusing to go the other
How many more hits will Dante Bichette get this year? Less than 20? Less
than 10? Like Offerman before him, he got old overnight.
When will Carl Everett next get a good break on a ball? It's so hilarious to
watch Carl backpedaling to the warning track as Mike Lansing settles under a
pop-up. He just doesn't read the ball off the bat, which is why so many lob
shots land in front of him. Because he reads the ball so poorly his first
step is always back, a sure sign of a weak defensive outfielder.
When will my boy Chris Stynes next contribute to the team? He has been awful
for a while now, failing to get the ball out of the infield every time he has
runners in scoring position. I really pull for this guy, but he looks as bad
on the breaking ball away as Carl does on the change. (Glad to see Carl go
the other way off Moyer tonight.)
We played really well tonight. That's the bummer. Nothing can overcome not
having a closer. It's not a matter of confidence with Derek Lowe. It's a
matter of talent. He is terrified, rightly, to throw his curve, so he is a
one-pitch pitcher without a dominant pitch. More often than not he will give
up hard hit balls, which is pretty much unacceptable for a closer. Last year
his curve really had a tight spin on it, but now the pitch is a rolling
hanger. I'm not sure what you do with him, but I do know absolutely,
positively what you do not do with him. Close. Urbina looked pretty weak
tonight, struggling to hit 91 on the gun, but anything would be an
improvement on Lowe.
The unbalanced schedule will prove a failure when, for the first time I
believe, a team will miss the playoffs with a better record than a division
winner. The unbalanced schedule sucks for a number of reasons, most notably
cross-country road trips to play three games. But another reason it sucks is
that with certain teams dumping salary at the trading deadline, when you play
those 19 games against the teams within your division becomes too important.
We were done with the Jays before the trading deadline. We played 13 of 19
against the D-Rays while they still had McGriff. Do you see how the schedule
makers become too important with the unbalanced slate? There was nothing
wrong with the old way. Just like there was nothing wrong with three-hour
games and not hunting for strikes. Bud Selig is not a particularly bright