First of all, a huge congratulations goes to the Red Sox for clinching the east. This is immensely satisfying and my gratitude goes out to the players, Francona, and the brass.
Now let’s look toward October.
The following excerpts are taken from a boston.com article reporting on the press conference that Terry Francona gave to explain why Clay Buchholz is not going to pitch in the playoffs.
The main idea (reporter’s words):
Clay Buchholz, the rookie sensation who pitched a no-hitter Sept. 1, will not pitch for the remainder of the season and will not be on the postseason roster. This was not the result of Buchholz reaching his predetermined innings limit, Francona said, but rather a result of the strength and mobility testing the Red Sox do on all their pitchers.
We test all our pitchers and with Clay we’re at a point where I don’t think any of us are very comfortable sending him out there knowing what the future holds for him, even though the present is very exciting.
I think we’re talking about apples and oranges. I’m not talking today about innings limits. Just about purely how we judge pitchers and players. There are perameters that we look at every day and are comfortable with. And that part I wouldn’t get into, just because it’s our stuff and we believe in it a lot.
we’ve been monitoring him. We don’t monitor guys every once in a blue moon. We monitor them all the time. We know where they are, where they’re going, and where they’re needing to get.
Do Francona and the Sox have science that no one else has? Or does everyone else have it but not talk about it? This sounds like Soviet era athlete training; it’s like Drago in Rocky IV. Kind of scary, but I kind of like it if it’s true. It’s like when I listen to a fantasy football podcast. Simultaneously, I feel like a slightly criminal nerd and like I have an edge.
The other possibility is that Francona and the Sox had to make a very difficult decision about an overloaded pitching staff. Maybe Buchholz just got squeezed out. Maybe they made up some mumbo-jumbo mysterious explanation for a tough baseball decision, the kind you have to pull from your gut and for which you can be blamed.
They didn’t have the courage to face Red Sox nation and say we have a hunch that Dice-K is a better 3rd starter than Buchholz at this point and we’re taking our chances with Gagne in the bullpen. Nobody wanted to have to live with that culpability if someone doesn’t come through with the season on the line.
You can’t blame science though. Their system must be working because they just won the division. If they’re system tells them to sit Buchholz, who can argue it?
If this were true, I might be okay with it. I’d like to see Francona protected in the event that not everything is peachy keen come late October. After all the good work he’s done, it wouldn’t be right for him to be run out of town a la Grady Little because some pitcher didn’t do his job, is it? Or maybe Game 7 just exposed the truth about Grady?
This requires a lot more thought and it’s too late to finish it. But I say it out of tough love. I couldn’t be happier that the Sox clinched tonight. This is extremely good news. I’ll sleep happy.