Thursday, March 22, 2007

More thoughts on Papelbon

Most of me is unhappy about him moving back to the bullpen as I think it makes the Red Sox better, a small part of me likes it just because it means that they're doing what I thought was right, which makes me feel smart.

All of a sudden the Red Sox bullpen has potential. Timlin is hurt right now, but he's still a decent setup man. All of a sudden you have just one other guy step up and pitch well (likely), and you have a great chance of protecting leads.

Trying to throw any of those guys in the 9th can hurt. The 9th inning is a different animal, no matter what people try to say. Especially in one-run games, as if you're trying to play for one run, especially late in the game when you bring in pinch runnners and hitters, you're much more likely to score one (even if you're less likely to score two). Papelbon showed last year, he can do that. No questions asked. He doesn't give up home runs. He doesn't walk people. And he can protect the one-run lead as well as anybody.

Those guys are rare.

Joe Torre was recently asked what the last decade would have been like without Rivera. He said, first of all, you would have had about 3 other managers over that time if not for Rivera.

As far as it being more of an injury risk having Papelbon in the bullpen instead of the rotation, I'm not buying it. I truly don't believe that was ever really the case. I think the Red Sox numbers people said it would be a lot more valuable to the team if we have him throwing 200 innings instead of 70. And the Red Sox used it as an excuse to move him so there wouldn't be outrage.

However, when it now looked like they wouldn't be able to hold leads, they decided it was better to have him at the end of the games. And now they're saying they don't think it's as much of an injury risk. Hmm....

I'm not saying there is no validity to that being on a routine like a starter is, may help a pitcher stay healthy. I'm just saying if you're careful with your closer, that will happen anyway.

There's the joke about Joe Torre and his use of bullpens:

Q: What's the only thing worse than being a reliever in Joe Torre's doghouse?

A: Being a relief pitcher he trusts.

Torre has been known to way overuse relief pitchers. But not Rivera. He is extremely careful of how he uses Rivera. To the point where there were a couple of games the Yankees lost last season (one against the TIgers, one against the Nationals), that they would not have lost if they were willing to use Rivera after he had thrown what they felt was too many pitches over the previous day or two.

As long as you are willing to potentially lose a game to save your closer, you're not going to do any damage to their shoulder. Torre overuses guys he trusts, but doesn't overuse the guy he trusts the most.

1 comment:

Sully said...

I'm not really sure how I feel about this, I just know it makes the Red Sox look stupid. Wow, that was $4 million well-spent on Pineiro...

I will say that I hope this doesn't put too much pressure on Lester. But if they go through another season of running out Jason Johnson and Company out there every five days... well, I'm going to be pissed.