Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I'm Running Out Of Expletives

4-0 after eight and a half. 4-4 after nine.

What else is there to say? Thank you, Ryan Ludwick, for averting disaster in the eleventh.

Permit me to rant for a moment. We've all been told, over the past 10 years, what a baseball genius Tony LaRussa is. How he analyzes game situations and uses his analytical mind to come up with strategies (like hitting the pitcher eighth) and govern his in game decisions on squeeze bunts, situational hitting, and bullpen management.

Whatever his system is for managing the bullpen, it's broken.

How much empirical evidence does he need to see the bullpen as currently constructed is broken? Is 115 games enough? Do we need to take this to 162 games before he realizes changes need to be made?

Unfortunately, I'm pressed for time; I was out sick yesterday and need to dig out from under 2 days worth of email. But in gross terms, the following facts are in evidence:

- Flores can't get anyone out.
- Izzy has lost confidence as the closer and can't navigate that inning easily.
- Franklin's stint as closer has badly affected his confidence.
- Jimenez can't find the strike zone; in fact, if you put him on a beach and told him to hit the ocean he'd miss.
- Villone has pitched better recently, but the only two reliable arms down there are McClellan and Springer.

Haven't we given enough leads away at the end of ballgames? Here's some thoughts:

- Let Springer close for a few games. Can't be any worse than Franklin/Izzy.
- Shift McClellan to the set up role.
- Make Izzy a situational reliever to get 1-2 hitters out.
- Make Franklin your seventh inning guy.
- Send Flores packing.
- Send Jimenez to A ball so he can learn to throw strikes consistently.
- Villone remains as your lone lefty out of the bullpen.
- Thompson is your long man.
- Bring up someone from AA or AAA that can actually get guys out to replace Jimenez.

It's time to stop screwing around and fix this. If the team can't, don't expect to stay afloat in the wild card race.

Oh, and Tony: Impress on your starters the need to get deep into games over the next 2 days. If we head to Wrigley with our usual overworked bullpen, we'll get killed. We may end up losing those 3 games anyway, but at least with a rested bullpen we'll have a puncher's chance.

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