- Starting Josh Beckett is a no-brainer for the Red Sox:
All of this questioning of how hurt Josh Beckett is strikes me as the foundation for one of those “historic” post-season performances in which a physically compromised player comes through in the clutch for his team. Similar to Curt Schilling’s “bloody sock” (which, I’m convinced, will be revealed to be a fake one day in the future—-we may have to wait 50 years, but it’ll come out), Schilling really was injured then despite any faux drama; and Beckett clearly has something wrong with him now. The Red Sox aren’t specifying what the problem is and no one is coming out with anything definitive, leaving everyone to speculate and wonder: Is it his oblique? His elbow? Something else?
The main question has to be whether or not Beckett can use what he has left even though he’s been diminished by injury and gut his way through with intelligence, location and post-season rep. Add in that he’s probably aggravated over how awful he’s been so far in the 2008 playoffs and the stage is set for heroics.
Obviously whatever’s wrong with Beckett isn’t something that can do long-term damage to his career. I think that Beckett is going to come out and deliver for the Red Sox tonight no matter what he has to do to get it done. If that includes shooting up whatever’s ailing him with painkillers and just getting over the mental block of the injury, then that’s what he’ll do. Beckett is one of those pitchers who does well in the post-season partially because he’s arrogant, selfish and wants to accrue a lot of attention for himself—-and there’s nothing wrong with that. Schilling—-for all the legitimate criticism he gets because he takes those personality aspects too far and it infects the rest of his life—-is the same way and it served him in the playoffs.
There was talk that perhaps the Red Sox should switch Beckett and Jon Lester, having Lester pitch game six. The argument against that is that they have to win both games anyway and with Beckett’s confidence and bravado probably low to begin with, telling him outright that the organization doesn’t trust him in this type of game would be counterproductive. They don’t have much of a choice one way or the other. I’d rather have Beckett at 80% than Paul Byrd at 100%; and if the Red Sox find a way to win tonight, then the Rays may really start to panic for a game seven with Lester waiting to pitch against an unpredictable volcano like Matt Garza. This is the best bet for the Red Sox and if Beckett is still pitching as he did earlier in the playoffs, they can get him out of there quickly; but he might find his groove just in time and it’s a risk worth taking.
- Brewers will not retain Dale Sveum as manager:
There was talk that Doug Melvin might leave as Brewers GM after the way the season ended and he was essentially forced to fire Ned Yost by owner Mark Attanasio (rightly as it turned out); but Melvin signed a three-year deal to stay on as GM, and in something of a surprise move, decided not to keep Dale Sveum as manager—-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Story—-saying he wanted someone more experienced. I thought that Sveum earned the right to have the job after guiding the Brewers from their tailspin and leading them to the playoffs and he looks like he has a bright future as a manager, but Melvin’s the GM and it’s up to him to make that determination. Now come the questions as to which available, experienced manager he wants to hire. The candidates mentioned in the article linked above are as follows with whether or not I’d hire them:
Bob Brenly—-Brenly wasn’t a very good manager strategically and benefited from having a veteran team in the Diamondbacks who had so many leader-types (Mark Grace, Steve Finley, Reggie Sanders, Matt Williams, Jay Bell) that he didn’t have to do much of anything. That team would’ve functioned just as well without a manager. It also helps to have two 20+ game winners in the starting rotation in Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. I would not hire Brenly.
Ken Macha—-It’s impossible to know how a former Athletics manager under Billy Beane would work as the manager of a team that isn’t so tightly controlled by the front office. Art Howe didn’t do very well after joining the Mets and while Macha is more of a disciplinarian than Howe was, there were heavy rumors that he undermined Howe to get the top job; that would be a disqualifying factor for me. I’d be very careful before hiring Macha even though he was an adequate strategic manager.
Buck Showalter—-An excellent strategic manager who might be what the young Brewers need in terms of discipline and improving the bullpen by putting the pitchers in the best possible position to succeed. Showalter wears out his welcome with veterans relatively quickly and he would clash with Prince Fielder; but there’s always the chance that he’s learned from some of his micro-managing mistakes and will adjust. I have a feeling he’s sitting out and waiting to see what happens with Joe Girardi and the Yankees, but that’s my own speculation.
Jim Tracy—-I have great respect for Jim Tracy, but there are the two ways to look at his managerial career: the great job he did with the Dodgers and was royally screwed by Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta’s ineptitude in which a possible World Series team was yanked out from under him; or the bad job he did with the Pirates. Tracy overuses his bullpen, but he deserves another chance.
Davey Johnson—-Johnson will turn 66 in January, but that’s young enough to manage for four of five years if he wants to. He’s won everywhere he’s been; doesn’t put up with any crap (this is a guy who got into a fistfight with Kevin Mitchell and almost came to blows a hundred times with Darryl Strawberry); has always built diverse bullpens and developed young players. Johnson would be an excellent choice if he’s truly committed to managing again.
Willie Randolph—-Melvin has expressed his admiration for Randolph and the two have known each other going back to the 1970s. I think that Milwaukee would be a good spot for Randolph to get another chance; the press wouldn’t be as much of an issue as it was in New York and he’s probably learned a lot from what happened with the Mets and his career with the Yankees amid all the infighting and power-grabbing that goes on with both teams. Randolph has also been discussed as a bench coach for Manny Acta in Washington with the Nationals. How that would work, I don’t know. It’s been said that Randolph and Acta weren’t exactly buddies when Acta was on Randolph’s staff, but perhaps Nats GM Jim Bowden would like the energy that comes from tension. I wouldn’t take that job if I were Randolph; does he need that aggravation after what happened in New York? The Brewers and Randolph would be a good match.
- More on the Barry Bonds case of collusion:
Yesterday I wrote that I didn’t see a case for collusion, but Mike Francesa was saying that some brainless executive put it in writing that Bonds was blackballed. If that’s true, it’s going cost baseball a lot of money in damages and it exemplifies the intelligence of a large chunk of people who find themselves in the front office of major league baseball teams. What kind of an idiot would put something like that on the record? It would be profoundly typical for some useless middle-manager to cost MLB the amount of money they’re going to have to pay Bonds if this is true.