October 27, 2003

It's Official. Grady Little is no longer employed by the Boston Red Sox. Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein answered questions for more than 30 minutes at a press conference Monday afternoon. I watched the NESN broadcast via the Web and the Red Sox said all the right things, emphasizing Grady's strengths numerous times and saying they understood the players' admiration and respect for him, but noting that in the end, there was not 100% support for giving Grady the multi-year deal he was looking for. Hopefully, MLB will post a transcript tomorrow.

Lucchino hinted that Grady was told as early as spring training that management had issues with certain aspects of his managerial style and hoped he could integrate the front office's philosophy into what he was already doing. Grady clearly didn't do that; whether he didn't or couldn't is debatable. I believe he never understood some of the progressive ideas the club believed in, starting with bullpen usage. Epstein said he wouldn't discuss the search for a new manager, but noted it would take a while, adding "Maybe we'll have a new manager when my hair grows back from the postseason debacle ... [pause] of my hair."

Lucchino and Epstein said numerous times the decision was not made solely because of Grady's Game 7 goof -- and anyone who watched more than a handful of Red Sox games should know Grady was chronically overmatched in game situations all season. But that won't stop most writers from looking at the number of Red Sox wins in 2002 and 2003 and wondering how Boston could dump such a nice successful skipper over one bad decision. ... But the Red Sox should have won many more games this summer than they did and if a lot of Grady's brain farts hadn't occurred, many of the comebacks that showed the team's resiliency wouldn't have been necessary.

The Herald should be ashamed of two articles it published today, blaming both the front office or the fans for Little's departure. Ed Cossette offers some pointed comments. Also, Bob Hohler of the Globe notes that "though some of Little's lineup decisions were questioned...." By who? Certainly not by Hohler -- or any of the other Boston beat writers/columnists. They gave Grady a free ride all season and would have given him a free ride in the ALCS too, but Grady ended up making a decision so mind-bogglingly wrong, so bone-headedly stupid, so historically inept that even his apologists couldn't look the other way.

Not once was Grady ever asked why he brought in the team's worst relievers into the highest-leverage situations or why he'd send up one pinch-hitter when there were obviously better options on the bench. When Grady's decisions resulted in a blown lead or a stalled comeback, the game stories focused on the players not doing their jobs or the fact that Grady was simply burdened with poor pitchers, etc. Never once did Gump have to deal directly with the results of his own stupidity. [By the way, I have every single article written by the Boston press corps in 2003 on a CD-R, so if anyone can cite chapter and verse of Gump being called on his moronitude, let me know.] ... The media has to keep defending Grady, because if they suddenly start writing about Grady's poor moves costing the Red Sox games all season long, one might reasonably ask: "Why didn't you write about this stuff as it was happening?" The press turned a blind eye to Grady's incompetence in April, May, June, July, August, September and October 1-15, so how could they do otherwise now?

Hohler also points out that while batters hit .221 against Pedro's first 105 pitches this season and .364 on all pitches thereafter, the three-year split is not as drastic and thus perhaps Grady shouldn't be hung out to dry for staying with him. Hohler says the sample size is too small. It is small, but it's small for two reasons: (1) when Pedro is tired and getting lit up, he gets pulled and (2) the Red Sox have made efforts to not overwork Pedro during the season, to both avoid injury and have him rested for possible October play. Here are Pedro's last four seasons:
Pitches      1-105                105+
2000      111- 698 .159       15- 70 .214
2001       77- 396 .194        7- 27 .259
2002      138- 699 .197        6- 27 .222
2003      135- 612 .221       12- 33 .364
4 years   461-2405 .192       40-157 .255
There is a bigger difference in 2003, but rather than letting Little off the hook by noting the splits haven't been as bad in previous seasons, Gump actually deserves more blame for ignoring very clear evidence that THIS SEASON, Pedro's ability declined greatly after 105 pitches. Batters hit him like a collective Ty Cobb. And the Pedro we are talking about re October 16 is the 2003 Pedro -- not the Pedro of 2000 or 2001 or 2002.

"One Red Sox player suggested to his agent recently that statman Bill James come down to the dugout, make an IBM manager his bench coach, and install modems in the offices of John W. Henry and Larry Lucchino so they instantly could convey their wishes, instead of having to wait until after the game to question the manager's strategy." ... It must be tough knowing you are a dinosaur and knowing that the old, conventional ways of doing things are changing for good and that you either don't understand the new ways or are afraid of being left behind.

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