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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

LITTLE BALL WINS AGAIN?

With Lofton on first and no outs in the bottom of the first, Grudzielanek squares to bunt. Someone in the booth says they're happy to see some little ball, and Lyons concurs that Dusty likes to score first to keep the fans in the game. But Grudz fouls the pitch. He takes another way inside for a ball, then lines the next pitch past a stumbling Pierre for a triple. And so, rather than a runner on second with one out, Lofton scores, and a runner is on third with no outs.

The Cubs score three more times before the inning is over. Dusty gets his wish, and looks like a genius.

I think it was Derek Zumsteg who once said, "You get no credit for being saved by your own stupidity."

UPDATE:

You can call that "someone in the booth" Al. Al Leiter. (As long as he's a Met, this is as close as he's going to get to the playoffs in a long time.)

UPDATE II:

Fish take the lead, 5-4. Assuming Sosa still pops out and Alou homers then Ramirez triples and Simon strikes out, had Grudz' sacrifice been successful in the first, the Fish would be up 5-2.

UPDATE III:

In the "life's not fair" real world, it's extra innings, but in the "you get what you deserve" world, Marlins win Game 1 in nine due to Dusty's attempts to manufacture runs at the expense of outs in the first.

That said, it's good to see Dusty show confidence in his best setup man, Farnsworth (often relegated to the thankless and slightly useless job of mopping up other people's messes after they've already gotten out of hand), by bringing him in to pitch out of Remlinger's jam in the seventh, and then keeping him in to complete the eighth.

UPDATE IV:

It's official. Cubs lose.

DON'T KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ANYTHING

I was wrong about the A's and the Giants. (Neither one made it to the World Series.)

I was wrong about Kerry Wood. (A great Game 5 despite his prior 124 pitch outting, and Dusty even took him out after 113 pitches.)

I was wrong about Pedro Martinez. (A little rusty at first, but found his groove at about the point Zito fell apart.)

I was wrong about Derek Lowe. (He showed little ill effect from his lengthy relief appearance in either his next start or his subsequent save on short rest, although Little clearly has no confidence in his regular bullpen.)

(Tim Hudson had his little Hemingway impression before I had the chance to be wrong about him, but you can count that against me, too.)

I'm taking the Costanza-patented opposite approach from now on: not only was it a smart move to push Mark Prior on short rest over Zambrano, but look for Prior to have a great game tonight.

UPDATE:

Turns out Zambrano is pitching tonight. Um, now I don't know what to think. (Or, more importantly, what the opposite of that should be.)

[Niles, what happened to the Shout Outs?]

... AND NOW FOR THE RECRIMINATIONS

If a ballclub is a reflection of it's manager's personality then Grady Little is an ass.

In my ALCS/NLCS predictions (scroll down) I already talked about the Red Sox's lack of professionalism and how I think "the chickens are running the coup" in Boston. I forgot to throw in Derek Lowe's Michael Jackson impersonation after getting the final out of last night's game. I wasn't sure the A's noticed it but apparently they did. When the mild-mannered Scott Hatterberg says, "I'm disappointed having known him." you can imagine how livid the entire A's team and organization must be. I imagine there will be some sort of retribution next year, but since this the AL that retribution can't be directed at the pitcher so some poor S.O.B. in the Red Sox lineup is going to get plunked for Lowe's sins. Look for a messy messy situation to ensue.

I have a hunch Tim Hudson will come out swinging.

And does anybody else find the timing of Byung-Hyun Kim's injury a little odd? His right shoulder seemed fine when he was throwing 96mph (according to ESPN) in Game 1 of the ALDS. He didn't appear to be in any discomfort or pain during his lone outing of the post-season and from what I know about submarine pitchers their delivery places very little strain on their arm and shoulder. Although maybe he hurt his shoulder when he used his pitching arm to give the BoSox fans the finger. (Give him a break guys he was just trying to fit in with the rest of the Red Sox.)

I'm wondering if Grady Little has soured on Kim to the point where he isn't going to pitch him or perhaps Kim himself has grown tired of the way he's been used or maybe its a combination of the two. It also seems funny that he won't be available to face the team (The Yankees. Duh.) that cosmically shamed him in the 2001 World Series. I'd be surprised if Kim was still with the Red Sox come next year.

That's some fine managin' there Grady. YEE-HAW!

WHAT ABOUT JOE?

Think Joe Morgan has gone crazy? So does Mike at Mike's Baseball Rants.

ALCS/NLCS PREDICTIONS

I know I'm a little late with my predictions for the post-season but here goes.

Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

The Yankees will be at full strength heading into this one and with Boston just having blown its proverbial load against Oakland it'll take a cunning and intelligent game plan for Boston to re-group and have a chance. Unfortunately for the Red Sox their manager is Grady Little. When was the last time you saw post-season managing that bad?

Boston's lineup is so loaded that its fairly dummy-proof but their pitching is another matter. It started with Grady letting Pedro throw 130 pitches and then using your second best starter, Derek Lowe, in relief in the same game. On top of that he also helped further erode the confidence of one of his better bullpen arms, Byung-Hyun Kim, by yanking him after giving up a run in Game 1 (although his stuff looked awful good) and then refusing to use him again in the series. A stance that forced him to bring in Sullivan in Game 5 of the ALDS despite the fact that Sullivan had pitched in three consecutive games. But don't worry, I'm sure Kim will be to get his confidence back when Grady calls on him (and he will need him) to face the... YANKEES! Kudos to the rest of the Red Sox bullpen, Mike Timlin, Scott Williamson, and Alan Embree, for pitching as well as they did. However, a lot of the credit should go to Oakland's lousy offence which stunk mainly because of Tjeda and Chavez's lack of patience at the plate. (Wow, those guys had some bad at bats. Wow. In defense to the Oakland GM, if Tjeda and Chavez practiced what Beane preaches Oakland would have won this series.) Add to that Mulder not being available and Hudson going down in his second start and I'm surprised this series went to five games. Basically it was Zito and Durazo versus the Boston Red Sox.

I can't be sure but I also have a suspicion that Pedro has told Grady to basically "Go get your shinebox" on a couple of his mound visits. And what was with that stupid and bush league move by the Red Sox players trying to get a "Li-lly" chant going by spelling out his name on the back of their warmup jackets? Don't get me started on Manny Ramirez's histrionics. It's clear the chickens are running the coup in Boston.

Now that the post-season is here Derek Jeter has decided to play good defense and Mariano Rivera is back to his good ol' usual dominating self. In part because of the way Little used Pedro, going back to Game 1 of the ALDS, Pedro won't be going until game three of this series. (Pedro vs. Clemens in Fenway? I'm already getting excited.) That also means Lowe will probably pitch in Game 2 in Yankee Stadium on the road, a place where he hasn't faired well this season. That doesn't set up Boston's rotation too well and the Yankees offense isn't Oakland's offense.

YANKEES IN FOUR. ALCS MVP: JASON GIAMBI

Chicago Cubs vs. The Florida Marlins

Since the end of May, under Jack McKeon, the Florida Marlins have had the best record in baseball. This team impresses the hell out of me. They don't have any one pitcher as good as Mark Prior or even perhaps Kerry Wood, but they have as deep a rotation as anybody. In fact the Marlins don't seem to have much of a weakness at all; they've got a very good defense, a strong lineup, blazing speed, and a pretty decent bullpen. They remind me of a combination of the late 90's Yankees WS teams and last year's version of the Anaheim Angels. On top of that, Jack McKeon doesn't seem to be an idiot.

As much as I don't want to see a Jeffrey Loria team succeed I really like the make-up of the Marlins and think they'll be tough for anybody. The Marlins have a much deeper rotation and bullpen than the Braves did and I think they'll be able to contain an OK Chicago offense. Sosa has walked a lot so far in the post-season (.409 OBP) but he's going to have to hit for a little more power (.250 SLG) to give his team the lift they're going to need. These runnin' Marlins are really going to test the Chicago defense, especially Chicago's OFs who collectively managed fewer assists this year than Richard Hidalgo.

However, it'll be hard to deny Mark Prior at least one win in this series and despite Dusty Baker's questionable use of his pitchers it seems he had an eye towards this series when he shut Wood down after only 111 pitches (a conservative number for Baker) in Game 5 of the NLDS.

In the end I think the Marlins depth will be a little too much for the Cubs to handle and I think that maybe the worst fans in all of baseball will be rewarded with a team in the World Series.

MARLINS IN 6. NLCS MVP: JOSH BECKETT

(If I had to make a World Series pick right now I'd go with the Florida Marlins. Who'd have thunk?)

DEREK HATES PEOPLE; PEOPLE LOVE DEREK. REALLY.

Derek Zumsteg responds to his critics. Again.

I don’t know if he read my piece, but I feel the urge to respond. [Niles, is there a reason I can't create a link directly to an entry, but only to whatever was posted on a given day?]

Derek clearly feels about Pat Gillick the way I feel about Dusty Baker—that despite their respective accomplishments and accolades, their teams would be better off without them in the long run. Should I be surprised that Zumsteg gets more worked up about his whipping-boy given he’s a Mariners fan in Seattle, while I’m a Jays fan in Toronto and thus far removed from Dusty’s clutches? Or that Gillick is responsible for all baseball decisions throughout the organization, whereas most of my criticisms of Dusty are limited to abusing pitchers, and playing rickety veterans over his talented youngsters?

Of course, being a Jays fan in Toronto, I look at our Gillick years with great pride. My idea of a bad GM is more along the lines of Gillick’s replacement, Gord Ash, who signed mediocre players with never realized potential to big contracts while over-accommodating legitimate stars who wanted to leave. And I’m not about to complain about our current GM, the kind of sabermetrically-approved whippersnapper Zumsteg no doubt wants running his club.

Look, I think Gillick’s left the Mariners in good shape at all levels. Yes, he repeatedly failed to work Beane-like magic to improve his club in the second half, a failing exasperated by the fact that, well, Magic Beane was in the same division (and come on—you’d be all over Gillick if he had traded for Jose Guillen).

But Gillick also avoided the kind of big, bone-headed deals most non-Oakland clubs made to try to strengthen their teams (although even those non-deals like the failure to get Boone you hold against Gillick, writing “you get no credit for being saved by your own stupidity”).

That said the pendulum is swinging, and whatever Gillick’s blind-spots, they were bound to be exaggerated by the fact that more teams are relying on hardcore statistical analysis to minimize risk and get the most value out of their ballclubs. For his sake and the Mariners, I think it was the right time to retire.

Just be careful, Derek. Complain as you might about Gillick, his replacement may be a whole hell of a lot worse.

I think it’s clear you don’t really think that Gillick is the anti-Christ or whatever (and, no, I don’t think I was quoting you out of context, given I also gave you props for your choice of replacement). But if you’re upset that people are continually taking you to task for your hyperbole, then maybe that’s a sign to tone it down. Either that, or learn to savour the resultant controversy like so many others have done (and I’m not taking about Neyer). People are reading your blog and BP articles because they think you’re a pretty smart guy with a great insight into the game (I know I do), and it makes them feel pretty smart to be able to pick apart something you wrote (ditto). Get some perspective and learn to deal with it, or stop publishing those overexcited rants where other wackos will read them (like, say, anywhere on the internet).

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