Joe Sheehan talks LCS baseball today.
Joe Sheehan: Weren't we all just here?
keef66 (spartanburg, sc): As a Rays' fan, I was overjoyed to see Timlin come out for the 11th inning of game 2 but I was also shocked. Why wouldn't Francona push Papelbon the way that Maddon pushed Wheeler? Pap had only thrown 18 pitches in 1.1 innings. I can't see the Rays so easily getting 2 runners so quickly with him on the mound.
Joe Sheehan: The equation is different for a road team in that situation. When you take the field in a tied game, you know you have to get six more outs to win. Getting the next three is important, but they won't win the game for you. Throw in that the Sox were up 1-0, and I think the decision is defensible.
Timlin got badly squeezed in that inning. Two marginal walks, a weak grounder and a pop-up to short right. If he pitches like that every time out, be happy.
Jerod (Gresham, OR): Thoughts on removing Kuo (after allowing him to bat) so quickly in the 8th inning??
Joe Sheehan: I was OK with it. He was allowed to bad so he could face Howard, and with four RHBs coming up and Kuo coming off an injury, the change made sense. The issues came before--burning two lefty relievers in the sixth--and after--choosing Wade instead of Broxton.
Doug Melvin (Milwaukee): Will I be the General Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009?
Joe Sheehan: Yes. You made the best trade of the year and your team made the playoffs.
jtrichey (Indianapolis): Hi Joe. I was just curious as to what you think of Win Shares as a stat? It's so intricate that it can be of little use during a season, but I find it very informative overall. Just wondering what the BP crowd makes of it.
Joe Sheehan: I reject the initial principle, tying an individual performance metric to team wins. There are smaller issues as well, but that's the primary reason I don't use the tool. Your mileage may vary.
lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Please provide your input on a friendly discussion. Granderson or Sizemore? Is it a close call? Will B. Upton get into their league soon? Thanks.
Joe Sheehan: Weird...I keep copying the questions and trying to paste them, which is how we handle the roundtables...
Sizemore, who has a defensive edge and is younger. Upton has a ways to go defensively, but will eventually lap both as a hitter.
g.lyons (vancouver, bc): How unhappy will MLB brass be with a Rays-Phillies World Series?
Joe Sheehan: It's likely the fourth choice of the four, although you do have the fourth-largest market and a great story in the Rays. I suspect ratings east of the Allegheny Mountains will be soft if that happens.
I understand the Phillies are in great shape, but I seem to be seeing a lot of "Rays are in" sentiment. It's 2-1!
jrobs7777 (Philadelphia): Why does Joe Torre seem to always get a pass from the mainstream media? His bullpen usage was terrible and he got out-managed by Manual last night, especially when Manual forced Torre to burn a lefty arm when Geoff Jenkins was sent up to pinch-hit. Would Torre have used a lefty, if available, in the Stairs situation or would have persisted in using Broxton?
Joe Sheehan: It's actually comparable to what Torre did in Game Two, burning Beimel in the third inning. He didn't pitch well then. I think once Broxton was in, he was in, but I kind of question playing matchups with Geoff Jenkins, who really only goes from suck to suck' in that situation. Torre using the two lefties for four batters in the sixth is where he lost me.
Josh (NY): Hey Joe, what kind of potential exactly do you think Longo has? Could he be the next Alex Rodriguez??
Joe Sheehan: The age difference between the two--Rodriguez was just about the best player in baseball at a similar age to--makes that comparison a bit excessive. Longoria won't show Rodriguez's speed, and I doubt he has quite the same upside offensively. .310/.380/.580 for an extended peak, with +15 defense, seems reasonable.
Silv (NY, NY): Lowe was pretty damned unhittable after the first inning, had only thrown 74 pitches and his spot didn't get to the plate...why did Torre pull him? And, even if you were, wouldn't McDonald or Kuo have made more sense than Kershaw in that tight a game, where Kersh's control could (and was) an issue?
Joe Sheehan: I think Jay Jaffe made the point that when Lowe's been used on short rest, he hasn't been asked to go past about 80 pitches. McDonald, I'm pretty sure, was not available, and Kuo is someone you save for higher-leverage--later in the game--spots.
Here's a question that did occur to me...why not double-switch Kershaw in? It would have saved Torre having to hit for Beimel in the sixth, and maybe set up the rest of the game better. Have we really decided that Blake DeWitt can't come out that early?
airjakub2 (Atlanta): What do you think of Maddon having Howell throw a second inning last night, up by seven runs and with another game 24 hours later?
Joe Sheehan: He threw four pitches in getting out of the seventh. I can't say it was a bad idea sending him back out.
biglou115 (AR): So, do the Rays need to win one more at Fenway, or does their home field advantage give them 3 out of 4 at home against the Sox for the series?
Joe Sheehan: I don't think you approach it that way. You want to win tonight. And regardless of what happens there, you want to win Thursday (ah, ridiculous scheduling). You'd like to not play at home again until next Wednesday.
Tonight's game is where the Phillies and Dodgers were last night. If the Rays win, it puts them in a fantastic spot. If they lose, they still have a small edge, with Game Five becoming epic.
Mountainhawk (Salem, MA): Is Rollins and Utley one of the best defensive center infields you've seen? That play last night probably saved the Phillies season.
Joe Sheehan: It's very good. Hard for me to place them off the top of my head, to be honest. I don't think Utley's play is getting enough...uh, play. That was athleticism, awareness and performance, all in a critical moment. I can't say enough about it.
Josh (NY): I know were talkin LCS today, but Joe, how will the 2009 Yankee lineup and rotation look different from that of this years?
Joe Sheehan: You'll see at least one FA starter, possibly two. When they get hurt, look for Aceves to get another chance. Lineup...there's no CF available, so you make do with what you have. If they don't sign Teixeira, maybe they get Dunn for 1B/DH, and pray Posada can throw.
Mike (Chicago): Glad Lidge held on and I avoided having to move to an undisclosed location...do you, personally, find you enjoy the playoffs more, on some level, when your favorite team isn't involved? I have to say that this round of playoffs has been more entertaining, and less stressful, than watching the cubs self-destruct. Does that make me a bad fan?
Joe Sheehan: No, I think you can appreciate and enjoy the ride more when you're not emotionally invested. I really loved Saturday's ALCS game and last night's NLCS game. If you're a Red Sox fan or a Dodgers fan, you can, understandably, have not gotten as much out of it.
It makes you a baseball fan, and not just a Cubs fan.
lazyong (Philly): If Phillies advances to WS, then who is going to be the DH? Jenkins, Dobbs or heroic Stairs? I'd really want to see place Howard in DH though.
Joe Sheehan: Stairs, I think. The question I have is who DH's against a lefty. Bruntlett in left and Burrell DH?
Mike W (Chicago): Joe, I don't think Torre knows about double switches.
Joe Sheehan: The man managed what, a dozen years in the NL? Come on...
Frank (Vegas): off the playoff subject for a minute:
should the Bucs finish off the rebuild and jettison JWilson, FSanchez, AdLaRoche, etc? if so what can they legitimately expect back? (Hu for JW? 2 top 10 prospects from the Yanks for AdL? a double-cheeseburger for Freddy?).
Joe Sheehan: I think all of those are high. Well, maybe not the Hu/Wilson deal. That seems very Ned.
Dennis (Monterey Park, CA): Hi Joe, thanks for the chat. Sorry for the non-LCS question, but I wanted to ask you if you would rather sign Sabathia (at, say, 6 years and $130 million) or AJ Burnett (at, say, 5 years and $80 million). I know you think they both would be bad, risky signings. Is it better to sign the less expensive Burnett, despite his injury history?
Joe Sheehan: No, you're generally better off signing the very best. I'd sign Sabathia ahead of Burnett. I'm astounded at the level of interest in Burnett, who pitches complete seasons as often as I order off the heart-healthy menu.
mattymatty (Philly): We can't count the Dodgers out yet, but for the sake of argument, if you are the Phillies, who would you rather face, Tampa or Boston?
Joe Sheehan: Tough call. They're quite evenly matched, as we talked about heading into the series. Maybe the Rays, because the Phillies have two lefty starters. They're mostly rooting for a seven-game series.
esther (oakland): Is there such a thing as a smart longterm contract? Carlos Beltran comes to mind as a deal that was worth it, and I suspect Teixeira will pan out much the same.
Joe Sheehan: Bonds. Maddux. Rodriguez. Ramirez. Mussina. Sign the very best players.
jsmoore (dallas): Not an ALCS question, but a BoSox question. Saltalamacchia and Wilfredo Boscan for Clay Bucholz. Which side says no, and why or why not?
Joe Sheehan: The Sox. It's selling low on Buchholz for a guy whose catching skills are in question, and they don't have any place to move him if he can't catch every day.
Joe (Tewksbury, MA): Joe,
Curious what you think of the concept of managerial slumps. Hitters slump, pitchers slump, fielders slump, why can't managers? I'm a HUGE Terry Francona guy but I think he's had a lousy post-season, do managers slump or am I just overreacting to some subpar performances by players?
Joe Sheehan: I don't know if I buy "slump." I think managers make bad decisions, because no one's perfect, and we're often dealing with incomplete information. And I'm with you...Tito hasn't had a great October.
Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Are any one of Bonifacio, Hernandez, or Gonzalez good enough to be a future cornerstone of a defensive-minded Nats team a la Jason Bartlett and the Rays?
Joe Sheehan: Nah. None are as good defensively, and only Bonifacio might match even Bartlett's offense. Might.
Mike K (Athens, GA): Joe, what's the last time both LCS matchups were this good?
Joe Sheehan: 2004.
jake (boston): with the collapse of beckett, lester, and buchholz this year do you see the Red Sox making a play for CC in 09 to pair him with Dice-K?
Joe Sheehan: Collapse? Of Lester? Good god, man.
I do think the Sox will be in on Sabathia. They have a lot of money to spend, and what they really need--a catcher--isn't out there.
Yanick (NY): Who would you rather employ at 1B: Ryan Howard or Carlos Pena?
Joe Sheehan: Pena. There's a lot of runs of defense between the two, and even this year, 40 points of OBP. It's close, but I'll take Pena.
mattymatty (Philly): Following up on jsmoore (dallas), in your opinion, who should the Red Sox target to catch next season?
Joe Sheehan: Well, they'll no doubt talk to the Rangers. As a one-year patch, I could love with Bengie Molina, although I suspect the Giants will overprice him in trade. Ramon Castro might be part of a solution. Too late to get Chris Iannetta, I guess.
Henry (Bronx): Does Hideki Matsui have anything left in the tank?
Joe Sheehan: He'll hit for average and have a decent OBP, but just OK power. .280/.365/.440 or so. I don't know if he can DH or pay left with that line. And he seems likely to be unavailable at times. A team needing an OBP injection and a left fielder or DH could probably get the Yankees to eat a bunch of money...Mariners? Matsui has, I believe, either a full no-trade or a significant partial one.
Rose (Boston): Do you think fatigue may have been a factor in Lester's outing yesterday? He's thrown 3620 pitches this year, only 4 MLB pitchers have thrown more this year, and Buster Olney said that scouts he talked to said Lester looked fatigued and didn't have the same finish on his pitches. He's also had a 50% workload increase this year.
Joe Sheehan: I had said to someone before the LCSs that I wanted to avoid automatically pointing to fatigue if Hamels pitched poorly. Same applies to Lester. It might well be fatigue, but it's the easy explanation, and it sure seems to have come on suddenly.
However, I am well over my pitch count. Lightning round.
jake (boston): Should the Sox try to reacquire Shoppach or is he not worth trading for?
Joe Sheehan: Last chat, someone suggested Shoppach for Ryan Howard. I suspect he falls between the two extremes. But yes, you could try to get him. I actually like the idea of buying low on Victor Martinez a little better.
mattymatty (Philly): You are Theo Epstein: would you trade Jon Lester for Brian McCann?
Joe Sheehan: Two separate people just suggested this.
Yes, I do. But I'm ridiculously high on McCann, and am notoriously wary of pitchers.
Owen (NJ): Do the Phillies do something dumb and sign Varitek on a multi-year deal?
Joe Sheehan: Is Varitek even better than Ruiz?
james (BK): are the yankees the odds-on favorite to sign manny?
Joe Sheehan: I don't think there's a favorite. I have it Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, field.
Ryguy86 (NY): What's an overwhelming package for Jake Peavy?
Joe Sheehan: A top-15 prospect, top-50, and top-75 guy, at least two of whom can be on the field by June.
Jon (DC): What would you do in LF next year for the Mets? Murphy and Tatis platoon? Burrell?
Joe Sheehan: Assuming it's not Ramirez, I'd fake it for three months. The Rays used Gross, Baldelli, Hinske, Floyd, Ruggiano...just sort through options and see what's on the market, or if Martinez is ready by July.
henry (bronx): Hughes, Cano and Betances for Peavy, would it get it done?
Joe Sheehan: No.
Joe Sheehan: Short session today, folks. I'll be back next week from Tampa or Boston.