Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Playoff Thoughts

*** Update Added to #3 -- 9:35 pm MDT ***

It's a couple of hours before the start of Game 4 of the ALCS, and it seems like the appropriate time to put up my thoughts on that game and the playoffs generally -- mostly because I have a prediction that I should make before game time so I can be mocked or praised accordingly after the game. Here are the notes:

1.) First, congratulations to the Rockies. If the campus here at CU-Boulder is any indication, the Rockies have earned themselves a fair number of bandwagon fans who simply were non-existent before September 16. I know many "true fans" mock the bandwagon, but I don't at all -- you can't build a loyal fan base without starting somewhere, and this kind of performance from the Rockies might just be enough to kick-start something special here in Colorado. That said, if the team doesn't win the World Series and finishes 80-82 next year, much of the bandwagon will disappear -- but probably not all of it. This run has been big for the Rockies franchise, and could have a very positive effect in the future.

2.) An eight day layoff before the World Series is somewhat silly, but honestly I don't fault MLB too much for what happened here. First, baseball intentionally staggered the start of these series so maximize the number of nights in which there was just one game on. Honestly, I don't have a problem with that -- I get to watch more baseball at a decent hour, and don't have to worry about as many overlapping games. In my perfect world, I probably wouldn't go as far as the MLB did, arbitrarily inserting an off-day between Games 4 & 5 -- but this isn't a particularly egregious problem. The biggest issue is that the Rockies swept the series, and that's completely out of MLB's hands. The Rockies will be fine after the layoff, and if they lose the series it won't be because they had so many off days.

3.) On to my prediction: The Red Sox are going to lose tonight when Tim Wakefield pitches poorly and Paul Byrd pitches reasonably well for the Indians. Second prediction: Tonight's loss will lead to the Indians winning this series and advancing to the World Series against the Rockies. Untestable Hypothesis: Josh Beckett should pitch tonight, and would give the Red Sox a better chance of winning if he did so.

Ok, this isn't exactly earth-shattering stuff -- a whole 'lotta people have been saying that Beckett should start over the past 24 hours, including (off the top of my head) Keith Law, Rob Neyer (I think -- my apologies to him if I made this up), and a few various ESPN radio personalities. Nonetheless, I absolutely believe that Terry Francona is making a very big mistake, one that I think is likely to cost his team a championship.

To steal (and expand on) Keith Law's argument -- managers are starting to fear the idea of bringing starters back on short rest because the overall numbers are so terrible. However, those are general numbers, which are useless in any particular case. I haven't looked the numbers up myself, but it sounds as if Josh Beckett actually has a history of pitching quite well on short rest. He also threw just 80 pitches in Game 1, so he didn't exactly over-extend himself. Add to that the fact that Beckett would be available to pitch in Game 7 (on full rest, thanks to off days) if he pitched Game 4, and the fact that Wakefield hasn't pitched in a game since September 29, and this to me seems to be an obvious decision. Of course, Terry Francona has a job as a big league manager, and I don't -- so he probably knows something that I don't. I just won't be remotely surprised if this decision directly leads to the Sox playing golf next week, rather than trying to hand the Rockies their first post-season loss.

UPDATE: For about 4 innings tonight, I thought I was wrong. That all changed in the fifth inning, when Wakefield started the inning by giving up a homer to Casey Blake and proceeded to give up 5 earned before being yanked. Paul Byrd did exactly what I thought that he'd do -- pitched beautifully for five innings before giving up back-to-back dingers and getting pulled. I have no idea what would have happened if Josh Beckett had started tonight's game, but I strongly believe that the Red Sox wouldn't have given up 7 runs in the fifth. Francona made a big mistake tonight.

4.) I'm over the Torre thing -- make a decision already, Boss.

5.) Just a random Twins question here -- if Wayne Krivsky hadn't been hired by the Reds, do you think Krivsky or Bill Smith would be the GM today? I still think it would have been Smith, and I think the Twins got the better of that deal -- I don't like what Krivsky has done since taking over in Cincinnati (although I'm not as ambivalent about the Dusty Baker hiring as many commentators are, and I still wish Krivsky well going forward).



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