October 19, 2003

Gump Talks. Grady spoke to the media Saturday and what he said was both shocking and sad. He did not take direct responsibility for what happened nor did he offer an apology to Red Sox fans for how his plan blew up in the Nation's face. In fact, he said he'd make the same decision if faced with a similar situation in the future. He did acknowledge, in a colossal understatement, that it just didn't work out. It's obvious that Grady has no real idea of the impact of his decision. On Friday afternoon, when told by a sports radio interviewer that Red Sox fans wanted his head on a stick, Little's response was: "For what?"

Grady claimed that four managers called him and supported his decision. If that's true, I'll bet two of them were Dusty Baker and Bob Brenly. Theo Epstein had better find out who these men are, so he doesn't interview them for the 2004 manager's spot. Grady: "Pedro Martinez and Grady Little operate on one basis, we're totally honest with one another all the time." Sorry, Gump, not according to Pedro, who admitted after Game 7 that he would never surrender the ball if given the option of continuing to pitch.

It took a day or two, but the apologists are emerging: Edes, Holley and Massarotti all take Grady's side. Mazz notes that Pedro's last three pitches of the 7th inning were clocked at 94, 95 and 94 mph. Yeah. Martinez cranked it up because he knew Soriano was his last batter and any major league hitter can pound a flat 95 mph fastball. ... Raging against Grady's failure to pull Pedro is not "second-guessing." Millions and millions of Red Sox fans logically expected a reliever in the 8th inning, and their screams and curses (first-guessing?) grew louder the longer Pedro stayed in the game.

After the ALDS, Bill Simmons wrote: "[T]here are two kinds of disastrous managerial moves: The ones you second-guess, and the ones that make you scream 'Wait a second... what the hell is he doing????' right as they're happening." ... Grady leaving Pedro in for four hard hit drives against the Yankees is the quintessential "what the hell" moment. (Grady also left John Burkett in for four hard hit drives in Game 4 against Oakland.) I sense a pattern.

BCSoxFan went back and looked at a tape of the 8th inning. His conclusion? "I STILL think he should have gone to the pen, but now I'm not as sure it was a RIDICULOUSLY boneheaded move, maybe just a pretty bad decision. The thing is, Petey was pretty damn good in the eighth. ... Grady should be fired because he sucked in his strategic decision making all year. Removing Petey in the eighth wasn't the worse he's made. ... The results were just so frickin' bad, I don't think it can be evaluated until now."

EricVan's comment: "[T]his is an interesting analysis, and it reaches to the core of sabremetrcs vs. scouting as a tool to examine the game. ... Before 105 pitches he was the best pitcher in MLB. After 105, he allowed .390/.458/.512. ... What your eyes are telling you is that the opponents mysteriously start having good or great AB against Pedro once he reaches the point where he ought to be tired, even though he doesn't look tired. ... More predictable pitching patterns, as Pedro narrows his arsenal, may be the biggest culprit. A higher percentage of pitches that miss out over the plate is certainly a factor. Less movement is certainly a factor. ... [A] manager or GM has to be acutely aware of these situations, these illusions, where his scouting eye is going to feed him the wrong conclusion. Pedro's meltdown last night was completely predictable. It was Grady Little's job to know that Pedro after 105 pitches usually looks good but yields bad results."

Opponents against Pedro Martinez in 2003:
Pitches 61-75:     107   .215  .234  .355
Pitches 76-90:      93   .215  .276  .290
Pitches 91-105:     65   .231  .306  .354
Pitches 106-120:    27   .370  .419  .407
Pitches 120-135:     6   .333  .429  .500

From 2000-2002:
Pitches 61-75:     281   .199  .243  .310
Pitches 76-90:     257   .195  .247  .268
Pitches 91-105:    180   .183  .236  .300
Pitches 106-120:    74   .297  .391  .338
Pitches 120-135:    12   .250  .400  .333
More                 1   .000  .000  .000
After Pedro retired the first two Yankees in the bottom of the 7th inning, he had thrown 86 pitches and held a 4-1 lead. By the time that inning was over, he was up to 100 pitches (and the score was 4-2). In the 8th inning, Boston scored another run and Grady Little sent Martinez out to throw 23 more pitches. When Pedro was finally pulled from the game, the score was tied 5-5. The last 9 batters went 7-for-9 (including 3 doubles and 1 home run):

home run

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Two posts from SoSH:

Gene Conleys Plane Ticket: "Based on the transcript of his statements, I believe Grady feels that he did not make a mistake. He believes that he made the right move but "the decision Thursday didn't turn out well." According to Grady's statement, in fact, he has never made a wrong decision, only decisions that either "turned out well" or "didn't turn out well." ... I honestly believe that Grady does not realize the magnitude of his blunder. I am sure he is very disappointed not to be in the World Series, but I believe that in his view, this was just another game that only happened to be the last one of the season. It's a bummer to lose it, but we had a great season and there's a lot to be proud of. ... He believes that he is being made a "scapegoat," though that is a role he is "glad" to accept. He believes this was another game that he managed the same way he has managed every other game. He quite obviously, even after two years, has no clue about the depth of feeling that exists in New England and among the Red Sox nationwide fandom."

Cuzittt: "I actually saw Grady Little's "interview" on NESN's Sportsdesk this morning ... What amazes me about the whole thing is how different my reaction was when listening to Grady than reading the comments. Let me just say... I feel no sympathy for him. I want him DEAD. The thing is, there was no emotion at all in his voice. There was no emotion in his eyes. While many have mentioned that it seems like he doesn't know the magnitude of his blunder just by the written words ... it becomes so apparent that he does not get it when viewing the tape."

I considered reviewing the 7th and 8th innings with an open-mind, but my emotions are too raw right now. I'm going to try hard to not write about Grady Little after today (though I'll likely remember what he did last Thursday several times a day for the foreseeable future). I've watched or listened to almost every single Red Sox game during his two seasons and he's been in over his head since the day he was hired. Everyone says he's a great guy and I'm sure he is, though it doesn't explain why he didn't foster a similar spirit of camaraderie in 2002 before Ortiz, Millar, Mueller, Walker, et al. rode into town. Regardless, I don't want a nice guy managing the Red Sox. I want a guy who understands (and is even excited by) the progressive ideas of Theo Epstein, John Henry and Bill James and is whipsmart when it comes to in-game strategy and bullpen management. The sad thing about reading Grady's comments is that he's too dim to realize all the things he doesn't know.

Finally, here is an excellent take on the situation by Peter Gammons.

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