Fire Jim Tracy

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Lowe Over Wakefield?

I don't think this is the right call by Terry Francona. Wakefield got hit hard in Game 3, but not Game 5 (where his problems were mostly Varitek's problems), and historically, Wakefield has better numbers generally. OPS against Derek Lowe (left) and Wakefield (right)

Sheffield 1.415 .681
Williams .901 .801
Matsui 1.314 .722
Clark .878 (despite a .188 BA, 2 HR) .679
Posada .879 .829
Rodriguez .818 .579
Olerud .900 .875
Lofton 1.025 .661

But

Jeter .659 .911
Cairo .445 .883

No real surprise that the slow throwing Wakefield is hit harder by the non-power hitters in the Yankees lineup. But look at the difference in the Big 3 (if you will): Sheffield, Matsui, and Rodriguez all have a significantly harder time with Wakefield.

The other issue that will now be harder to manage is Varitek at catcher. By starting Wakefield and Mirabelli, Francona would have given himself the flexibility of being able to bring Varitek in late in the game, whenever Wakefield came out, and possibly even pinch hit Varitek for Cabrera or Bellhorn if the situation should warrant, creating the rare American League double switch. If Wakefield is going well, and the vaunted Red Sox offense is doing its job, Mirabelli can stay in, and Varitek used at an optimal time (or not at all). If Wakefield is going well, but the offense is not, he can then balance the risks as the game presents them. Instead, now he has Varitek starting, which means he basically has to hope that Varitek can catch Wakefield, or that he doesn't have to use Wakefield, which seems unlikely with Lowe pitching on 2 days rest with very little success historically against the Yankees anyway. Particularly, if the Yankees get out to a small but substantial lead (say 3-0, or 3-1) he can't leave Varitek in the game (because he can't have a replay of the passed ball debacle again) but he can't take him out (because he needs Varitek's bat).

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