October 6, 2017

Time for playoff baseball!

If you’re a major league baseball manager, that means your whole season is now condensed into a series where: 1) you actually have to know what you have for a playoff roster and how you’re going to use it and when, and 2) you have to manage to game conditions and make decisions fast. In both cases, the Red Sox loss to the Astros in Game 1 of their Divisional Series showed a manager seemingly incapable of both.

Anyone who has been watching Chris Sale pitch down the stretch knows it’s fairly easy to tell when he’s struggling, yet ol’ Manager John kept trotting him out one inning after another to take the punishment. Sure, it wasn’t easy to gauge the extent to which Sale was struggling since it wasn’t like he was being dinged one hitter after another, but it was clear he didn’t have his best stuff, either. Surely, Manager John has seen enough of him this year to know when his #1 dude has it and when he doesn’t.

Hint to Manager John: it’s OK in a playoff series to go to your bullpen early – after all, you really don’t want to get your inconsistent offense down too badly, too early. Oh, and it’s OK to bring in someone else other than Joe Kelly (of all people!) to replace Sale – not only is he as inconsistent as hell, but jeepers, you’ve got to pick his spots better than that. But of course that would require a manager who goes into a game with a plan and is ready to execute it if things start going awry. I’m guessing that’s too much to ask here.

And, while it was true that Eduardo Nunez was a solid hitter since his acquisition, the dude has had a bad knee (which, by the way, he blew out on his first at-bat of the game). Is Hanley Ramirez struggling? Yes. But he’s still a home run threat when you have him in your lineup. Still, Manager John chooses to play a dinged up, if not bona fide injured, player ahead of one of his only true home run threats. For gawdsakes, everyone (except Manager John, apparently) knows the Sox are going to struggle offensively against the Astros, yet Ramirez is sitting on the bench?

I guess what pisses me off the most about Manager John isn’t his incompetence (which he exhibits in spades) or his seeming aloofness (or is it arrogance?). What pisses me off the most is his lack of preparedness once the first pitch is thrown and the appearance that everyone else in the ballpark is at least three hitters (if not more) ahead of him. He seems to manage by the seat of his pants without rhyme nor reason. There seems to be little communication between Manager John and his coaches, and between his coaches and players. I honestly don’t know what Manager John is thinking when he’s there in the dugout, leaning forward seeming deep in concentration as he shifts one leg to another on the next step, and from all appearances, I don’t think he does either.

One final note: I’ve got a sneaky feeling the Sox are finding out under the not-so-best of circumstances that this winter they’re going to have some big decisions to make. Jackie Bradley, Jr., while one of my favorite players and a defensive whiz, can’t be counted upon for any real offense. Dustin Pedroia (another fave) is playing old. And they’re going to have to think about what they want to do at catcher, first base, and DH, because every time they take the field they’re playing teams who can actually generate offense – real offense – out of those positions.

The Sox are playing like a tired team, but even worse, they’re playing with a manager who has no clue what it means to manage a baseball team in the playoffs.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 02:24 | Comments (0)
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