How’s that for a roller-coaster ride? From Gagne to Lester to Lowell, oh my…

August 15th, 2007 → 9:12 am @ // 11 Comments

Yeah, last weekend sucked. I mean, it really, really sucked. I had forgotten what a good, swift gut punch to the stomach felt like: on both Friday and Sunday, I went into the eighth totally sure the Sox would win. (I was once again reminded of the Celtics-Sixers game when Bird missed two free throws at the end of a game in Philly; the result was that the C’s lead remained at 2. Dr. J, naturally, hit and throw-up-a-prayer three to win the game.) Those blown saves, coupled with a still-sputtering offense, coupled with a Yankees team that seems incapable of losing…well, let’s just say even though I might pretend I like the excitement of a tight pennant race, I was really looking forward to nice, calm September.

So, to deal with all this, I took refuge, as I oft do, in the life of the mind…or, at least, the life of the procrastinator, and tried to figure out some lessons to take away from what will heretofore be referred to as the Great Gagne Massacre of 2007…

1. Gagne is still filthy; some of his 69 MPH curves last night looked downright unhittable. I’m not (that) worried about him not being a reliable 8th inning guy. No matter what, striking out the side is an impressive feat.

2. Speaking of a reliable 8th inning guy, I’m sure as shit glad that Okie from MuskaHokkaido is getting some rest. He needs it. (See: Proctor, Scott.) Despite the unfortunate results, last weekend’s — and last night’s — bullpen use by Tito made me glad, once again, that Torre ain’t in the Sox dugout. No team is going to succeed in the playoffs without a stable of relievers that can be relied upon, and if you want to rely on guys, you need to both keep them healthy and use them in enough situations to give them the confidence they can succeed when the game’s on the line.

3. Speaking of Torre, did anyone notice what Mariano has looked like the last few days? On Sunday, slow-and-steady Joe called on Mo to pitch an inning-plus for the ninth time this season. In the ninth, the great Panamanian One gave up two singles and a double, prompting Torre to come out to the mound to make sure the Greatest Postseason Closer in History (TM) wasn’t injured. Then, after throwing 30 pitches in that game, Mariano was called on again on Monday; not surprisingly, he gave up three singles in the ninth to allow the O’s to score the game’s tying run; if the O’s third-base coach hadn’t foolishly sent Mora home earlier in the inning, Baltimore would have gone into the bottom of the 9th with a 7-6 lead. That two-day sequence exemplifies Torre’s foolishness as well as anything: on one day, he’s worried he’s injured Riviera by riding him like an overworked hooker; a little more than 24 hours later, he throws him out there again.

4. Is there anyone else out there that would rather have Mike Lowell at the plate with the game on the line instead of Papi or Manny? (I know this is heresy, but I think right now, I might even prefer DP at the plate over the two Dominican sluggers. The world is a weird place.)

5. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Coco.

6. I also feel the man-love for Jon Lester.

That’s all for now. More on (He’s not Henry) Clay, among other topics, later…


Post Categories: 2007 Season & Coco Crisp & Eric Gagne & Joe Torre & Jon Lester & Oblique References to American History & Oblique References to Merle Haggard Songs & Yankees

11 Comments → “How’s that for a roller-coaster ride? From Gagne to Lester to Lowell, oh my…”


  1. MarshallDog

    10 years ago

    Boy, last weekend sure did suck. I was at the Sunday game in Baltimore (and according to everyone sitting around me, was on TV before the second or third inning, but no one in my family saw it). There’s nothing that can compare to being a fan of a team that blows it to a far lesser opponent in their home park, especially when you have to hear Kevin Millar talk at the end of the game about how great he and his team are. Thankfully, Millar was cut off in mid sentence and didn’t finish the interview.

    It’s absurd to think that the Yankees were playing Cleveland, supposedly one of the better teams in the bigs this year and cleaned up. The Sox played the Orioles, one of the worst teams of the decade, and wind up losing two of three. WTF?

    Reply

  2. rog

    10 years ago

    I think Seth predicted that the Sox’ lead would be as little as 4 games but that they would win the A.L. East by more than that. So far so good. Baltimore is a totally different team with the new manager and it’s not surprising to me that they’re playing the part of ‘the spoiler’ this season (normally, it’s Tampa Bay). I still think the Sox have a much more favorable schedule.

    Reply

  3. jmnaylor33

    10 years ago

    You hit the nail on the head with a couple of things I’ve been noticing – first, Gagne’s stuff was NASTY – the pitch he struck Pena out on was sick. If he can spot his offspeed stuff like that, he’ll be fine. He can’t just come after guys with 6 or 7 straight fbs. Second, it seems (I only have anecdotal evidence) that Lowell has had more big hits this year than anyone on the Sox. Did it again last night. Last, Love Coco too – was a big fan of his in Cleveland too. Very glad that he’s righted the ship after a year + with the Sox. Keep it up Seth.

    Reply

  4. jmnaylor33

    10 years ago

    You hit the head on three things I’ve been noticing. First, Gagne’s stuff last night was indeed filty – the pitch he struck Pena out on was NASTY. If he can spot his offspeed stuff like that, he’ll be fine. He just can’t come after guys with 6 straight fbs (that never was his game, he was effective as a starter before the Dodgers converted him b/c of his multiple strong pitches). Second, I only have anecdotal information for this proposition, but it seems like Lowell has had more big hits this year than any other Sox, did again last night. Third, I agree with you – love Coco. So happy that he has righted the ship after a year + with the Sox. Keep it up Seth.

    Reply

  5. kinshane

    10 years ago

    I actually mentioned to my wife after yesterday’s game that I prefer Mike Lowell, Scrappy Ped, or even Coco coming to the plate in big situations rather than Manny Ortez. They just seem hungrier lately.

    Reply

  6. rog

    10 years ago

    I really think that the whole Ortiz/Manny-are-the-best-hitting-combo-on-the-planet thing has come to an end and after Ortiz has his surgery in the off-season, that they find a way to trade Manny. His salary is considerably less than it was even before this season. They need much bigger bats next year.

    Reply

  7. ygbluig

    10 years ago

    “It’s absurd to think that the Yankees were playing Cleveland, supposedly one of the better teams in the bigs this year and cleaned up. The Sox played the Orioles, one of the worst teams of the decade, and wind up losing two of three. WTF? ”

    Even more amazing is that after the Yankees swept the Indians, the lost 2 of 3 to the O’s. WTF, indeed.

    Oh, and Rivera got the loss as Torre trotted him out for the 3rd day.

    Reply

  8. HFXBOB

    10 years ago

    How bout those Baltimore Orioles. You have got to appreciate the way they took it to the Yankees. They treated Mariano Rivera like he was Joe Brower. And yes, the Yankees’ handling of their bullpen personnel this year is one of the strangest sagas in recent baseball history. They have been shuttling guys in and out of town in a mad flurry. Cutting loose Proctor is something that’s going to come in for a lot of scrutiny at some point.

    Reply

  9. rln2433

    10 years ago

    Is there a guy in baseball that you would like to see less than Brian Roberts in the late part of the game leading off? The O’s starting pitching is mucho improved and the O’s have something that many teams lack, HEART!!! They don’t care who they are playing, they go out and scrap.

    Youk is a lead off or #2 hitter. He has no business hitting 5th until he can stop taking strike 3 or show that he can sack up and make a play at the plate. Maybe being bounced around the order or being asked to do something he cannot has impacted his game but in looking at the last 10-11 games, in 40% of his plate appearances the ball isn’t being put in play. You cannot drive in runs without hitting the ball somewhere.

    Could Manny show any less heart out there?

    This team also seems to lack an offensive flow. The speed guys are not stealing bases and manufacturing runs is important when your GM decided that OBP matters more than slugging/OPS and your 3/4/5 hitters cannot pop one out when the plodders are leading off.

    Oh, and if anyone watched Joba Chamberlain pitch this past week against Baltimore, JUST DAMN. He’s got 8th inning shut down stuff and could close if Mo needs a day off.

    Reply

  10. midwesterner72

    10 years ago

    If I have to have one guy up to bat in a critical bases loaded situation I’d have to take Lowell as well. But recently, I am liking more and more what I am seeing out of Lugo. He is, dare I say, been coming up big in key places, but still prone to the mega- brain fart at times. I think Oritz is battling so many injuries that I will be amazed if he lasts through the rest of the season. Manny has shown nothing this year. I don’t know if it is age or whatever, but honestly, much of the time I get the sense that he just isn’t trying as hard as he has in the past. He seems almost indifferent alot of times and doesn’t seem to be focused much of the time, even when he is batting. I think that, more than the age excuse, is what is happening there. In the best interest of the team i think they should try once again to unload him for a big, solid bat of the future in the off season. The implosions in Baltimore last weekend had me wondering if Sox management ever heard the expression “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The bullpen was working flawlessly all year before the Gagne trade. there was never a question mark there until they tried to mix it up a bit. And finally, good point made by rln42433- why are we not utilizing the speed of Crisp and Lugo more? These guys should be running far more than they are. Especialy as hard a time as this lineup has had driving runs in, it baffles me why they aren’t sending them more often when they actually do reach base.

    Reply

  11. redsoxrantsfromchina

    10 years ago

    Although Wakes will get all of the print following his 6-0 win over the D-Rays, for my money, Mike Lowell is the storyline. Lowell is the Red Sox MVP for 2007. He leads the team (either 1 or 2) in most offensive categories. He is a bargain to re-sign next year at 9-10 million per year. Do not let him walk.

    See: http://www.redsoxrantsfromchina.blogspot.com
    for more thoughts on this

    Reply

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