When a (Possible) Split Would Feel Like a Sweep

The second game of the Sox/Rangers doubleheader isn’t over yet, and there’s obviously still time for the Sox to come back from a 6-0 deficit. The unfortunate and demoralizing thing is that this situation was enabled by Terry Francona from basically the first pitch on.  Dave Pauley, making his third ML start, took the field with what read like a Triple-A squad in support, minus the up-and-coming talent.  Not the best way to put confidence in your young starter: back him up with an offense that features Willie Harris, Doug Mirabelli, Alex Cora and JT Snow all taking hacks.  Pauley must have figured he had to hold the Rangers to a pair to have any shot at a win; the five runs he gave up in the first two innings removed any chance he had at coming out with the W.

Which leads me to wonder: what is Terry Francona doing in a game like this?  Is he content with a split after the shocking game 1 escape?  Was the lineup set before Game 1, which would have endangered a sweep without Ortiz’ heroics?  Or did Francona decide to rest everyone once the house money was on the table?  Neither one says much about Francona, in my opinion.  Big Papi’s walkoff homer in the opener helped make us forget a couple of questionable moves (letting Harris hit in the ninth with Nixon on the bench, only to bring Nixon up after Harris grounded out, as well as leaving Josh Beckett in too long, yanking him right after his final home run pitch).  But Tito can’t hide with a lineup like this.  A day off tomorrow, and he sits almost everyone.  I, for one, am livid.

12 comments… add one
  • Not to mention letting Willie Harris play BOTH games, while Manny, Trot, Youk, and Tek all sat (part of) one. It seriously pisses me off. And i wasn’t even around for Game 1!

    Laura June 11, 2006, 7:28 pm
  • If this were an isolated incident, I wouldn’t mind. But Tito does this all the time (check some of the lineups during Wake’s starts). I have never seen a manager give so many days off to his top players. He really likes doing it when there is a day off following a game. Kind of like a long weekend or something. Ortiz is the only player to play in every game so far. I don’t think Cal Ripken would have liked playing for Tito.

    Tom sf June 11, 2006, 7:49 pm
  • These JV squads drive me batty as well, but why does everyone assume it’s Francona’s doing only? Do we really believe Theo sees this and just shrugs his shoulders and goes home? This must be an active discussion within the organization, and very likely something that the FO is okay with. I’m not sure why though; maybe they know something we don’t about the ban on amphetamines? Maybe we’ll see tons more players than we’re used to wearing down in August, and they’re trying to prevent that on the Sox. Maybe that’s farfetched – who knows – but I find it hard to believe that such a recurrent pattern is going unnoticed by Theo & Co.

    Earl June 11, 2006, 8:28 pm
  • Sitting Tek is understandable — he’s struggling now, and we haven’t even seen him wear down yet like he has the last few years. It makes no sense to sit a hot Manny with the day off tomorrow, and absolutely no sense to ever bench Youk in favor of Snow, barring nagging or minor injuries. Letting Willie Harris start two games in a row — on the same day or not — should be avoided at all costs, which really should be apparent to everybody who follows this team.
    I didn’t watch much of this game, so I don’t share the rage of those who had to sit through it. But the managing has been just ridiculous this year. At what point is Theo going to pick up the phone and say, “Um, Terry? The next time you put our highest on-base guy eighth or set up an order with three sub-.200 guys in it, you’re fired.”

    Paul SF June 11, 2006, 9:18 pm
  • The carping about Francona on this site is getting pretty ridiculous. It’s one thing to question a move. It’s one thing to rate a manager’s performance. But the default here seems to be, The criticism, occassionally valid but almost always exaggerated, seems at times naive to the point of ignorance. The flap over where Youklis is hitting; certainly it’s MINOR. Every sabermetric study suggests that is the case, and if it were such a gross error it seems CLEAR the Sox management would address it. Today’s harping seems especially knee-jerk. So he rested a few starters on a double-header day, allowing them, essentially, 2 days off in a row—something btw, Torre does all the time. And this when the Sox have fairly few off-days coming over a long stretch? It seems an eminently reasonable tactic with long-term benefits. And though some of the backups aren’t phenomenal, the actual detriment to the team, again, isn’t nearly as massive as is suggested. Even the worst teams in baseball win 30 percent of the time, and putting the Sox, even with Cora and BB on the field, don’t fall ANYWHERE NEAR that category. Bench players have to play. They should play. And the full bullpen needs work (look at the Yanks over the last couple of years if you’re wondering about that truth.) And this idea thay Pauley went to the mound thinking he “had to hold the Rangers to 2 runs, or lose”; we can hardly know what he was thinking, but it seems practically inconceivable it was anything like this. A young pitcher getting a start at Fenway? He’s happy to be there, is my guess, and is worried enough about retiring a tough order that whether or not his mates pick him up on offense is probably the farthest thing from his mind.
    You’re in first place, in June. It seems your manager deserves a lot more benefit than he is being credited.

    YF June 12, 2006, 9:27 am
  • That accidentally cut off sentences above should read, “seems to be, Why shouldn’t Francona be fired? The default is that he should go, not stay.”

    YF June 12, 2006, 9:31 am
  • I would it weren’t so, but I’ve got to agree with YF here. For one thing, it’s not really fair to slag Cora, since his BA and OBP are significantly higher than Gonzalez’. Secondly, they put up 6 runs and 12 hits yesterday, which should be enough to win if the pitchers do a good job.
    Rather than blaming Francona and the role-players, how about the pitching staff that simply couldn’t get the job done yesterday? They gave up 22 hits, allowing 8 Rangers to have a multi-hit game. Tough for any lineup to overcome that.

    airk June 12, 2006, 10:49 am
  • I don’t believe Francona should be fired. And I also don’t believe he’s immune from criticism. YF ought to stop throwing words like “ignorant” around when he knows damn well that some opinions are hardly that. Francona gets credit when he deserves it – I took to his defense over the weekend as well. But when his moves seem to compromise the team’s efforts (and I am obviously working with less information than he is, that should be implicit in any post by any fan about any manager from any team, YFs and Torre included) I am going to write about it.

    SF June 12, 2006, 12:01 pm
  • And it should also be clear: in no way is Francona more blameworthy than those who perform on the field. I look at Francona as an enabler, and only that. I am tired of that point being misconstrued, and on these terms I have always been consistent. It’s why I find BP’s “reverse OBP” argument insanely limited, and similarly the “blame Pauley” thing yesterday equally narrow. Psychology is a major factor, and if everyone touts Tito as a great players’ manager (which seems to be his strength), then it’s perfectly fair to observe the moments that he seems to pressure his players to do things they are rarely able to do. Putting Pauley out there with a weak squad qualifies as that, in this poster’s opinion.

    SF June 12, 2006, 12:07 pm
  • regardless of the francona issue, i think you’re blowing this out of proportion just a little bit. a *sweep* feels like a sweep. a split doesn’t.
    not that you should necessarily care, but a little reader feedback in case you do: i personally enjoyed this site a lot better when the debate was more centered between YFs and SFs concerning their respective teams. i agree with YF that the harping here on francona’s minor shortcomings is becoming tedious, and i also would add that it has begun to distract from the themes that this blog has been so successful in capturing in the past.

    beth June 12, 2006, 12:31 pm
  • “Francona gets credit when he deserves it.”
    I’ll choose my own vocabulary, thank you very much, and I stand by it. The cumulative effect of so much exaggerated, derisive criticism—not to mention its arrogance—undermines the legitimatacy of the reasoned criticism that is the majority of what is written here.

    YF June 12, 2006, 1:01 pm
  • minor shortcomings
    Who said they were minor? I think that’s my point, Beth. What you consider minor I consider to be quite significant.
    And never the twain shall meet. Time to move on.

    SF June 12, 2006, 10:40 pm

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