Thursday, October 23, 2008

And We're Back

Or I am, anyway. Robin's still hiding under a rock somewhere, slugging whiskey and singing sad songs about bases-loaded ground outs. I needed a break from baseball for a few days, but I'm otherwise whole in mind and body. Disappointed, yes and happy to root against the Rays, but more than cognizant of how much of a miracle it was to even fight back to Game 7 with three shaky starting pitchers and no starting third baseman.

Of course, I felt a little differently that night. I think the end of Game 7 was the only time all playoffs I had to turn off the sound on the TV, because I was getting so worked up about the slurping noises coming from the broadcast booth about David Price that I was moments away from throwing a chair through a window. And those windows have bars on them, so it would have been a doubly-wasted effort. Here's the thing about David Price, which Caray, Martinez, and Darling seem to have missed: he's Craig Hansen three years ago. So he's struck out Yankees at Yankee Stadium...and he's gotten a post-season win and a post-season save before accomplishing the same achievements in the regular what? The Yankees weren't particularly good in September and more importantly, no one's seen this guy pitch more than a couple of innings. Sure, he could be the next pitching Jesus, but he could also flame out as quickly as Hansen and find himself pitching for a AAAA team in two seasons.

Besides, he's only got two pitches and his fastball has enough outside arc on it to double as a sail.

Anyway, after I turned off the noise from the box, I realized that even if the announcers seem to have contracted a huge case of the idiots, the Rays probably have more than enough sense not to overexpose their hot new prospect, and more importantly that they were winning/had won because the Sox couldn't string together enough hits to score two runs with the bases loaded. We were defeated by our own inability to keep the momentum running - and perhaps our manager's loyalty to one Jason Varitek.

What of Varitek? I've talked with a few people about this issue and I have two thoughts:
  • The only reason I can think of why Francona did not choose to pinch hit for Varitek was his concern over long-term employee relations. The Captain had already made (albeit minimal) signs of his displeasure about exiting for a pinch hitter public, which suggests there was much more discussion going on behind the scenes. Since it's still not clear whether or not Varitek will be coming back to Boston next season, it would be best not to burn any bridges. It's not a particularly good theory, but I'm running with it because the alternative revolves around Francona pulling a Scoscia (yes, I went there) and forgetting how to manage in the playoffs.
  • Speaking of Varitek coming back, what do we think? This year's free agent catcher class features a whole host of catchers a year or two over thirty, but some of them have club options and none of them are particularly outstanding hitters...and hitting seems like it would be the only balance we could have against losing Varitek and his sway over the pitching staff. I'm thinking no more than a two year deal with a permanent spot in the nine hole would be in order, while Boston does its best to acquire or train a solid backup in the minors.