By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

In Terry we trust

Can Josh Beckett win Games 4 and 7? If so, then the Sox only have to win one other game. We’re going to have to trust Terry Francona on this. If he says Beckett can’t go on three days’ rest, then he can’t go.

If Beckett can go Tuesday, then I’d have Diasuke on a short leash tomorrow. If he gets in trouble early, bring in Wakefield. And if he doesn’t have it, hello Julian Tavarez. What the heck. Tavarez has definitely had his moments.*

It’s pretty amazing. The team with the best starting pitching in the league is down to one consistently reliable starter — although I expect Schilling will be heard from before this is over. Last night wasn’t a fluke, but it wasn’t what Schilling is capable of, either.

How depressing was it to have the bullpen set up perfectly through 10 innings only to have to bring in Gagné in the 11th?

*Um, I guess he’s not going to have any of those moments this week. He’s not on the playoff roster. Whoops.

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  1. DJS

    Sabathia and Carmona will not pitch so poorly once home. We’ll be lucky to take one out of three in Cleveland and return to Boston with the series hanging in the balance, 2(us) to 3(them).This is shaping up to be great baseball, where play is most important. I am thrilled not to have NYY as our opponents.

  2. Anonymous

    Um, Dan. I know you’ve been busy – Tavares is not on the playoff roster.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    You know, I did hesitate for a moment before writing that, but I remembered seeing him come out of the dugout last night and figured they wouldn’t have left him off. Well, he ought to be on the roster. Why would anyone think he’d be less valuable than Gagné at this point? OK, OK … in Terry we trust.

  4. Anonymous

    Although the Gagne trade looks terrible at this point, the Red Sox couldn’t push across a run in the 8th, 9th, or 10th, including Ortiz, Ramirez and Lowell going down 1-2-3 in the 10th.I wouldn’t disrupt the rotation at this point. Somebody besides Beckett has to win 2 games.

  5. Stella

    Only criticism from my unimportant end is that it would have been comforting to have Wakefield on roster rather than Gagne. Also Tavares instead of the out for lunch bunch.

  6. mike_b1

    Julian Tavarez isn’t on the roster, either.

  7. jvwalt

    Er… Wakefield is on the roster. He was inactive for the Anaheim series, but he’s on duty for Cleveland. In fact, he’s scheduled to start Game 4. As for starting Beckett on short rest: I don’t know if he has any history in this regard. There are a LOT of pitchers who really can’t do it, including some of the best in the game. They pitch poorly, cost their team a game, and then (obvoiusly) they aren’t available to pitch on regular rest. I think Cleveland has a lot more pitching worries than Boston. Both of the Indians’ aces got hammered, and now they have to hope for better from Westbrook and Byrd.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: We dispensed with Tavarez’ roster status last night. Thanks for checking in.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    J.V.: Beckett shut out the Yankees to win the 2003 World Series, and he did it on three days’ rest, so there’s definitely a history here. And he only threw about 80 pitches on Friday night.Francona now says Wakefield will start Game 4. But if Cleveland wins tonight, doesn’t Terry have to take another look?

  10. mike_b1

    I wasn’t commenting on his spot on the roster. I was teasing about the consistent misspelling of his last name.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Yeah, I messed it up too the first time around. Now fixed.

  12. Anonymous

    In many respects, I think it’s actually in Eric we trust, or ultimately, in Theo we trust. Francona has few options regarding his bullpen at this point. He has 11 pitchers, each with a defined role. He has little choice but to deploy them in situations appropriate to their role, and hope they get the job done.Theo expended significant capital to bring Gagne to the Red Sox as a right-handed setup man and spare closer. I doubt Francona would have a job with the organization next season had he left Gagne off his rosters for the divsion series and ALCS. And having brought him along, he can’t not use him. But if Gagne tanks again, and if the Red Sox advance, it will be interesting to see if a long reliever (more likely Snyder than Tavarez) replaces him for the World Series. Of course, it is also Theo who has deprived us of Clay Buchholz for the playoffs. Had Theo not shelved Buchholz, and had he not made the deal for Gagne, Francona would have been in the enviable position of choosing between Snyder, Tavarez, Buchholz, or Gabbard for the 11th pitcher’s spot on his playoff roster.

  13. Dan Kennedy

    I really do trust Francona, so I’m not blaming him for bringing in Gagné to start the 11th. He didn’t really have any good options, although I’d have been tempted to bring in Wakefield or Lester instead. Gagné is a mystery. You’ve got to wonder if he’s hurt.As for Buchholz, he was shut down with a tired arm after already pitching over his quota of innings for the year. As much as we want to win a world championship, is it worth risking Buchholz’s future? You know that if you brought him into a pressure situation, he’d just rear back and throw as hard as he can, no matter how his shoulder felt.

  14. Anonymous

    Quota, schmota. The tired arm thing is an excuse to hide the fact that Theo is calling the shots – there’s no way Francona didn’t want Buchholz for the playoffs. Tired arm? Rest him like they did Okajima, them bring him back the final weekend of the regular season to tune up for the playoffs. This kid pitched a no-hitter in September (!!!) and also showed he could pitch effectively in long relief. Consider – before we ever heard of the “tired arm,” we knew Theo would actually have called on Francona to pull Buchholz in the midst of the no-hitter had he reached 120 pitches. Unbelievable!

  15. jvwalt

    Dan: Yes, I’ve heard of Beckett’s 2003 heroics. But one game, no matter how outstanding, doesn’t constitute a track record in my mind. I’d like to know his career numbers on three days’ rest — if, indeed, he’s done it more than that one time. If he’s done it successfully even three or four times, I’d be convinced.

  16. mike_b1

    Theo gave up spare parts for Gagne, nothing more, nothing less. I’ll expand on what Dan said; I think Gagne’s hiding an injury, not uncommon for a player in a free agent year.Snyder pitched pretty well all year and could go long or short relief. Would have preferred him to Lopez on the playoff roster. Other than that, the back of the bullpen is what it always is: scrap parts.

  17. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 3:19: The ’70s are over. Running a baseball team is like running any other business — management has to work together. Of course Theo has a big say in this. Why shouldn’t he? There’s a long trail of potentially great young pitchers who burned out early. Let’s not add Buchholz to the list, OK?

  18. Stella

    Major Blush!Pretty obvious I’m a Sox rooter, not a fan(atic).Still think our guys will win in six games or less.

  19. Anonymous

    Pitchers burn out for a variety of reasons, at various ages and stages in their careers. No one talked about shutting Clemens or Beckett down when they were Buchholz’s age. Buchholz was pitching his tail off in September and no one said anything about a “tired arm” until it was time to start seriously thinking about the playoff roster. You want tired? Schilling is tired. Gagne looks tired – maybe he’ll never be the same after surgery. Okajima looked tired, so they rested him. Wakefield’s got a bad back. Buchholz has a nice, free, easy delivery. The ball was flying out of his hand, his fastball had late life, his curve was sharp. He hit a magic number concocted by a guy who never played a day of pro ball and his season was over. The only person in a position to argue is understandably hoping for a contract extension.Again, I emphasize: Theo actually admitted he would have told Francona to pull Buchholz from his no-hitter if he had reached 120 pitches. That is just an insane level of interference from upstairs.I wouldn’t say you should pitch him in consecutive starts on short rest. I’d be careful not to overuse him from the pen. I think the way the Yankees looked after Joba Chamberlain over the past coulple months made sense. But I don’t believe the “tired arm” line, and I bet Buchholz doesn’t either. Imagine pitching THAT WELL and not making the playoff roster.

  20. mike_b1

    Anon 5:36, a lot of what you say was also said about Mark Prior. His career is toast, the byproduct of early overuse.It has been more than well established that pitchers who sharply exceed their previous high in innings pitched exponentially increase their chances of major arm damage. Will Carroll has documented what I believe he calls the “Rule of 30” — increases of 30 IP starting at 100 IP for the season, then 130, 160, 190, etc. — appear to almost mandate near-term injury. Buchholz pitched 120 innings in 2006, and 148 in 2007. The Red Sox, correctly, defer to the overwhelming data.Beckett’s not a good comparison. He had numerous blister problems, which helped keep his IP lower during those crucial first seasons. Clemens had major surgery in 1985, probably the result of overuse in college and after. Moreover, n = 1. Clemens may be the greatest pitcher ever and as such is not a good comp for anyone.And Theo, like any good GM, takes the heat off his manager when called for. Make no mistake: Tito is on the same page as the front office, and if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be managing the Sox.

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