May 22, 2011

Smart Management Means Avoiding Bard And Taking A Loss

Before last night's game, the Red Sox decided that Daniel Bard needed a day off. And so he was not available to douse the fire started by Matt Albers in the eighth inning - an inferno that raged until the Cubs had sent 12 men to the plate and scored eight times.

Terry Francona:
We made the decision before the game to give him yesterday and today, and that's why we do it before the game. Because your emotions get the best of you during the game and you want to use him. We've been relying on him a lot, and it'll do him a world of good. It didn't do us a world of good tonight, but something we needed to do.
[T]hey said, "You've thrown too much lately". I wanted to be in there bad ... But we set this up before the game, and they stuck to it.
Coming into Saturday's game, Bard had pitched in 22 of Boston's 44 games. Bard had pitched four times in the previous eight days, throwing 95 pitches.

Through Team's First 44 Games
Day After G44  GMS    IP    BF   PIT
2010 May 23     22   23.0   93   356
2011 May 21     22   23.0   90   362
Dan Wheeler and Rich Hill had already pitched in the game and Scott Atchison had contributed three innings on Friday night (a strategy, perhaps, to have more arms available for Alfredo Aceves's start yesterday). So with Albers self-destructing, Francona had two choices: Franklin Morales or Jonathan Papelbon. Morales ended up facing six batters in the eighth and pitching a 1-2-3 ninth.

Having Bard healthy and effective is essential to the success of the Sox's bullpen and it makes no sense to wear him out in May and June and risk not having him as a weapon in September and October. The Globe's Peter Abraham noted that Bard said he wanted to pitch.
But he admitted a few seconds later that was his competitive nature talking and not common sense. The manager is the guy in charge of common sense. And sometimes that means Matt Albers in the eighth inning and sometimes that means a loss.
The Red Sox cut corners when it came to having their players wear replica 1918 uniforms. Rather than give fans a chance to see what the team wore nearly a century ago, the Red Sox created a uniform that had never previously existed. The team buckled and put numbers on the back of the shirts, effectively erasing the most obvious and surprising effect of the uniform change. In addition, the socks were a solid red (rather than a red stripe) and the bill on the new caps was larger and more modern.

Despite media reports describing near-unanimous dismay about wearing the all-white cap, shirt and pants, some players liked it.

Jed Lowrie:
I thought it was a cool look. For all the things we do during the year [with uniforms], I think this was a pretty good one.
Carl Crawford:
I always like the throwback uniforms. I like the baggy pants and the old-school look. You can see – I'm taking my hat home.
The Globe and ESPN each posted a set of photos from the game.


laura k said...

Thanks for the reasonable response to the absence of Bard in last night's loss.

I know it's hard for fans to take when we're watching the game, and it's easy to scream at Tito in frustration. But it's so important to manage valuable arms - to think long-term rather than only in the moment.

And Crawford likes his old-style hat! Another reason to like him.

Barb Miller said...

Still doesn't explain why Matt Albers wasn't pulled sooner...he has been over throwing & struggling before that inning

9casey said...

I would have loved to have known the plan. After Aceves gives you 85 pitches and you are winning they had no desire for him to go any further, so Wheeler and Hill go for a combined 2 so was Albers expected to go 2 as well.

In a time like this when you are down 2 starters why do they choose to keep the 2 extra outfielders , why not just keep Bowden here and send down Macdonald.

Kathryn said...

Thanks for the info about the relievers. It makes perfect sense today and it says a lot that Francona stuck with his plan because he trusted that he made the right decision for the long run. Good managing from a great manager.

allan said...

I assume Francona was hoping he'd get out of it, having allowed 1 run, then 2, then 3, etc. I don't know when Morales got up, but it sounded like AFTER the bases loaded walk, which sure seems late to not have even a Plan B getting ready.

Albers pitched shitty, but three errors, starting with Lowrie's dropped popup, did not help.

I posted the post more because this was a hot topic, but using "smart management" means I agree with Tito, I suppose. Maybe they could have used Bard and gotten out of it and everything would have been fine in the future.

But you use him here, you use him there, and the innings and pitches add up. No one particular outing would necessarily ruin him, but you have to think of the larger picture. The Sox would rather not proctor Bard's arm - and I'm cool with that.

This is a big topic because the meltdown was so epic. If Albers allows three and we lose 4-3, it is less of a concern, I think.

allan said...

Forgot to post Albers's game log. He's been very good.

ERAs are best ignored for relievers, but his exploded yesterday, from 1.56 to 4.15!

allan said...

After Aceves gives you 85 pitches ... Wheeler and Hill go for a combined 2 so was Albers expected to go 2 as well.

Probably Albers 1 and Papelbon 1, ideally. (I thought Tito said he'd like to use Morales initially in a low-lev spot.)

why not just keep Bowden here and send down Macdonald.

McDonald doesn't have options, so they'd have to get him through waivers. Maybe not a risk they want to take, since they recently DFA'd Nava?

Section 36 said...

I understand resting Bard. But, why do it in a game where you're already holding back Morales to save him for a low key spot? If you suspect your starter isn't going deep into the game, why decide to not use two of your relievers? Seems like an odd choice for a day of rest.

gary said...

I like how Abraham frames the question: "rest him now or he visits Dr. Andrews later". Well, when you put it like that I don't see how I can possibly disagree with you...

I don't think a reasonable fan doubts management and Francona when they say Bard needs a rest. They've done the research, they're protecting Bard not only this season but hopefully seasons to come.

That said, Bard wasn't unavailable because he pitched the previous game; it was an acumulation of pitches over the season. He's been used a lot, and now he wasn't available in a 3-1 game in the 8th. Has it been too much? Has he been used where he wasn't needed?

If Tito didn't want Morales in a high pressure situation why not start him out in the 8th with a clean slate instead of waiting until everything fell apart?

Devil's advocate, this is where you can question the whole closers only pitch the 9th playbook. The game was lost in the 8th. Bases loaded, no one out, could Papelbon get out of it? Flyout, double play (strikeout , double play?) and we go to the 9th with Morales.

But we saved Papelbon for the 9th, when he wasn't needed. But we have him for today, which could be a rainout. But what if the game went extra innings? All possibilites, but none as concrete as the 8th inning of yesterdays game.

So yeah, it's a big topic, and it's Albers (francona: 'I don't think he pitched as badly as his line indicates') that crapped the bed, and with the Red Sox turning into the bad news bears for an inning, maybe a loss was unavoidable.

But I don't think it's unreasonable to ask questions when trying to understand how the Sox ended up with this clusterfuck of a game.

Jere said...

What I don't get is: If you get to the 8th with a 2-run lead, and you know your setup man isn't available, why are you going with a different guy with NO ONE warming in the pen? (And to answer your question-I was looking out there, and I can't pinpoint it, but it was a loooong time before I saw any motion, definitely not before the walking in of the first run.)

And it is indeed a great time to say, Hey, we have no setup man, so let's go with the closer in the 8th, and worry about the ninth later (possibly with an ever bigger lead). Instead it's, Albers and only Albers, and Pap won't even get up until we're leading after top 8--which never happened.

Jere said...

Also, Mets up 3-1, bottom 7. Rays up 4-0 in 8th.

Jere said...

Make it 3-3, on the Jeter seeing eye single.

Jere said...

Another 3-1 game goes to 9-3 in one inning. Goddamit.

Anonymous said...

The great thing is that, no matter how epic the collapse was, it only counts as one loss. And I'm willing to concede one loss (especially after winning 7 in a row) to conserve Bard.

That would have been nice to have grasped first place last night.