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Roundtable: Friday LCS

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday October 10, 2008 4:30 PM ET Friday LCS roundtable.

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Dave Pease (8:45:22 PM PT): After a tense Game One of the NLCS Thursday night, we're looking forward to an ALCS between the American League's best teams and the continuation of the Dodgers/Phillies series. Please join us on Friday, October 10, at about 4:30PM ET for running commentary on the day's playoff games.

If you'd like to submit a question to be answered during the roundtable you can do so here.

Dave Pease (2:32:41 PM PT): Sorry, folks, I got the time for today's roundtable wrong. We'll have people here for the ALCS game, starting at about 7:30PM ET. My apologies for the mistake, and we hope to see you soon.

Will Carroll (4:51:11 PM PT): Nice game between the Phillies and Dodgers, pretty much the definition of a modern game. Lots of runs, lots of relievers, and a ton of annoying promos.

I'm also convinced that the emergence of Shane Victorino is something that's going to be long term.

Derek Jacques (4:52:59 PM PT): "work (on time): you guys are never on time, when most people work they have to be on time for work and chronic lateness is usually grounds for punishment."

If this was a "punishment" kind of job, most of us wouldn't do it. Still, some apologies are in order, we put up 7:30 ET, and apparently thought that meant "the beginning of the ALCS." Still, it looks like at least a couple of us are here to talk baseball, so let's get it on...

Will Carroll (4:53:24 PM PT): By the way, just to get this out of the way and on the record, I'm conflicted as hell tonight. Daisuke Matsuzaka is a guy I've rooted for since well before most in Red Sox Nation had heard of him, but I'm also an unabashed fan of this Rays team.

I'm very interested in what the Trop is like. Anyone seen if MLB took the tarps off the upper sections?

Derek Jacques (4:55:55 PM PT): Is it MLB's job to take the tarp off the upper sections, or is it up to the Rays/how many tickets they've sold?

Derek Jacques (4:58:13 PM PT): "Steve (ND): The fact that Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are doing the NLCS is ____% of the reason why you're doing the roundtable for the ALCS."

Buck/McCarver in the postseason is both unavoidable and poisonous. In order to last out the World Series, you have to keep the dosage low, early.

Dave Pease (4:58:20 PM PT): Shane Victorino is a really fun player to watch... unlike the Kory DeHaan clone Victorino was when he got some playing time with the Padres back in 2003. He's done wonderful things with his game since then.

Will Carroll (4:58:34 PM PT): At the Tampa Ballpark Event, Andrew Friedman said it was MLB once they got past the Division Series. That matches up with how credentials are handled.

Derek Jacques (5:03:44 PM PT): "oira61 (San Francisco): Today I went with a coworker to a bar to watch the beginning of the Phillies/Dodgers game. I started talking about Brett Myers' alleged wife-punching incident and wondered why it was never linked to potential steroid use. She was shocked by the idea that a positive steroid test is a 50-game suspension, but even if Myers had been convicted of assault and sentenced to jail time, there was no certainty of a suspension for it. This seems fundamentally wrong to me -- an overreaction to drug tests, or an underreaction to criminal behavior, or both. What do you guys think?"

I got a bunch of criticism for bringing this up in a chat before the season, but we'll also have a bit of amnesia if Wily Aybar manages to get a few key hits against the Red Sox in the other Championship Series. Spousal battery has long been considered a "personal matter" in baseball, as opposed to something that affects the game on the field. Yet, if the big argument against steroids is the horrible influence that juicing major leaguers have on the youth of America, how can you compare the damage that steroids causes our society to the harm done by domestic violence?

Derek Jacques (5:05:49 PM PT): "akachazz (DC): Am I listening to the music for a baseball game or for Saving Private Ryan? God, Fox is lame..."

...it's like they had some surplus mid-70s NFL films instrumentals lying around, and decided "waste not, want not."

Will Carroll (5:07:23 PM PT): Dude, I have the BOX SET of NFL Films music.

Will Carroll (5:09:15 PM PT): Watching that pitch to Ethier, there's just no reason he couldn't get further on top and have a solid curve. I'm not saying Lidge should change, just that he could.

Derek Jacques (5:09:27 PM PT): Not dissin' NFL Films. It's just not baseball music, and FOX's tunes sound like ones that didn't make the box set cut.

Derek Jacques (5:10:23 PM PT): Lidge, maybe with that low HR/FB ratio in his head, is having trouble with the strike zone...

Will Carroll (5:13:25 PM PT): Someone in TV -- is there any reason that Fox/TBS can't do the "tracer" line when they use the camera from behind home plate?

Derek Jacques (5:15:57 PM PT): Isn't the "tracer" a really expensive effect to create?

Will Carroll (5:16:12 PM PT): Oh look, did Jose Canseco get arrested at the border with steroids? Yes, yes he did. It must be "karmic reordering week" in the US judicial system.

David Laurila (5:19:44 PM PT): If a pitcher throws a slider out of the strike zone, followed by a slider out of the strike zone, followed by a slider out of the strike zone, followed by..............at some point don't think the team at-bat would recognize that the pitcher is throwing almost nothing but sliders out of the strike zone?

Derek Jacques (5:20:25 PM PT): So let's see--Lidge's slider still conquers all; Torre uses up Kershaw for a couple of innings of relief in a loss; Billingsley can't get out of the third inning. This is a pretty deep hole the Dodgers are putting themselves in.

Joe Sheehan (5:21:21 PM PT): Reading the story, I got the impression they were hormones. I recognize there's not much difference to the media, but Will, I would think you'd note the difference?

Will Carroll (5:22:23 PM PT): "Throw day" or not, Kershaw's very unlikely to get the Game 4 start which should put it in Maddux's hands.

And why is Harold Reynolds not in the booth? I really like Harold.

Joe Sheehan (5:22:57 PM PT): Lots to write about in Game Two, including this conundrum: if you're going to play matchups down 8-2 in the third, don't you need to PH for your pitcher--in his first MLB PA--down 8-5 in fifth with a runner on?

I understand why Torre didn't--it was hard to plan a path to the ninth inning and beyond if McDonald didn't give him innings--but that contrast is hard to wave away.

Will Carroll (5:24:11 PM PT): You are correct, Derek. You don't get details on Deadspin. HCG. Odd he'd be trying to import that.

Steroids are a joke anyway. I just talked with a guy about something that's 90% of a steroid and undetectable.

Will Carroll (5:25:14 PM PT): Tarps are still on.

Will Carroll (5:28:09 PM PT): Good to see the crazy wig guys by the video screen in RF got tickets.

David Laurila (5:30:56 PM PT): Random fact #1: Eight of the 10 players in Boston's starting lineup tonight were drafted out of 4-year colleges. Ortiz and Matsuzaka are the two who were not.

Joe Sheehan (5:31:56 PM PT): "Steve (ND): The fact that Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are doing the NLCS is ____% of the reason why you're doing the roundtable for the ALCS."

Zero percent.

I know there's a small group who love to know how the sausage gets made, so for those of you...we found that if we try and do more than one game, it's hard to staff it and keep the comments coming. So we'll stick to one at a time, and today, more people were available for the later game.

We're years from some kind of "alternate audio," largely because media companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars for exclusivity. But that so many of you ask is flattering.

Will Carroll (5:32:57 PM PT): Matt say: "how embarrassing is it to have tarps on? Even Marlins fans aren't this bad."

Yes, Marlins fans are that bad, but I think this is more consistency. Given how every single seat is filled and people are hanging out of the Whitney, I think it's fair to say that they could have sold a couple more tickets.

Joe Sheehan (5:35:09 PM PT): I'm with Matt. Tarps are very lame, everywhere. Like we won't notice the seats they're covering? "Oh, honey, look...they painted murals."

Joe Sheehan (5:37:18 PM PT): "bflaff (Philly, PA): Any thoughts on Joe's plans for Kershaw after today's appearance?"

I think Will is right, and if so...gee, I don't know. Five outs in a 5-8 game don't seem worth the cost of not having him to start Game Four down 1-2 or 0-3.

A number of commenters seemed convinced Game Four would be Lowe on short rest. I'm inclined to agree now.

Will Carroll (5:39:36 PM PT): Chip once defended me -- ironically, Steve Stone was chewing me out -- so I will not criticize him tonight. Buck Martinez is fair game.

Joe Sheehan (5:42:32 PM PT): Ron Darling:this crew::Brian Roberts:Orioles infield

Will Carroll (5:43:04 PM PT): One of our guys on the scene is reporting that the Trop is very, very loud and that the number of Red Sox fans is lower than normal.

Will Carroll (5:45:38 PM PT): Brian ask: "What effect will what is going on in the world economy have on baseball free agency this winter? Baseball's future in general? I know this question does not lend itself to easy answers, but the amount of wealth being lost currently will have to effect the marketplace and the league significantly, no?"

My guess is the immediate effect will be almost none. It might hold down some of the upper level (read: Manny and Teixeira) deals to make it not seem as outrageous. $99 million or a lot of vesting options, anything to keep it more palatable. The biggest effect is going to be on the Cubs sale. The leader in the clubhouse is an investor backed by his family's brokerage.

Will Carroll (5:46:35 PM PT): Here's one for the data guys -- is 14 wins the lowest high total for a starter on a 90+ win team?

David Laurila (5:46:50 PM PT): Random fact #2: When I first interviewed Jacoby Ellsbury, in July 2005, one of the things he told me was that he once chased down a deer in high school. Some Red Sox fans will know that, as it's also been reported elsewhere, but many of you may not have heard the story. Regardless, he's fast.

Will Carroll (5:47:14 PM PT): Who's behind the plate and can someone give a scouting report?

Will Carroll (5:48:39 PM PT): Had this deer been shot or have all it's legs? He's not THAT fast.

Here's a suggestion for telecasts -- could you give me times for guys running to first? Not sure how many people care, but I'd like to see it.

Will Carroll (5:52:01 PM PT): Ortiz has something on the side of his helmet -- all I can make out is RIP. Manuel's mom?

Will Carroll (5:54:38 PM PT): Ellsbury may want to look into deer racing as a career. From May 9 through the end of the season: .278/.320/.388. He walked 24 times in 487 PA. That's awful.

I think he's better than that, but he has to be a lot better than that to play. Right now, he's Ichiro Lite, and that's WAY too Lite.

Joe Sheehan (5:55:12 PM PT): Uh, that was me. I have no idea why I did that.

Will Carroll (5:55:57 PM PT): That last comment wasn't me. Reads like Joe.

Joe Sheehan (5:56:57 PM PT): His power, Will.

Derek Jacques (5:59:08 PM PT): "Who's behind the plate and can someone give a scouting report?"

Tim McClelland. Generally speaking, a hitter's ump (5th highest RA in the majors when he's behind the plate). People say he misses strikes low in the zone.

Will Carroll (6:00:17 PM PT): Joe ... ??

Joe Sheehan (6:01:07 PM PT): Mock me all you want, but the first time I saw that VW commercial with Brooke Shields, I about died laughing. Perfect delivery.

Will Carroll (6:01:19 PM PT): Has McClelland umped with Matsuzaka on the mound?

Joe Sheehan (6:01:38 PM PT): The "RIP" on Ortiz's helmet...

Will Carroll (6:01:47 PM PT): As Mr. Tony would say, Brooke Shields is still getting it done.

Joe Sheehan (6:04:30 PM PT): I like Francona's explanation of why he set his rotation the way he did. With that said, I think there's something else in play. He has the two guys who will likely need to be relieved earlier pitching after an off-day, while Lester goes on the day after a game.

If you're not going to go 1-4-7, it really doesn't matter much how you set the rotation.

Derek Jacques (6:07:00 PM PT): McClelland hasn't umped Matsuzaka this year; he was behind the plate for Shields on July 18, a 2-1 win for him over Toronto.

Derek Jacques (6:08:40 PM PT): "ssimon (Pelham, NY): This used to be a roundtable, now it's Invasion of the Sheehan Snatchers."

Whatever you do, don't fall asleep! If he can get Will, he can get anyone!

Joe Sheehan (6:09:16 PM PT): "joe (boston): what is the more annoying gimmick that Redsox fans would never ever use (just saying): cowbells, twirling towels, or thunder sticks?"

Eighth-inning pseudo-singalongs.

Joe Sheehan (6:10:07 PM PT): "SaberTJ (Cleveland): Please tell me McCarver is crazy for praising Penas' attempting to bunt."

When a slugger bunts, an angel gets his wings.

Will Carroll (6:10:13 PM PT): One of the things that doesn't get enough play is the way Matsuzaka changes speeds and eye level. It's very complex how he pitches and it's a credit to Jason Varitek. If I'm the Red Sox, I offer him one of those Wakefield deals.

ssimon (Pelham, NY) (6:11:17 PM PT): My god, I feel incredibly arrogant all of a sudden.

Will Carroll (6:11:36 PM PT): I don't grasp the ground ball, 2-out discussion Buck just had. Is that slot more likely to come up with two outs? Huh?

Joe Sheehan (6:16:06 PM PT): Can I just say how excited I am for the "Carl Crawford as a #5 hitter" Era? He has NEVER been a leadoff guy, and if you stop asking him to be that guy, he could have a stupid peak, .320/.360/.500 with 20 net steals and great range in left. Maddon needs to keep this going next year.

Will Carroll (6:17:48 PM PT): CG say: "Man, whoever runs the BP Twitter account should be promoted to president. He's awesome."

That might be a bit much ... ok a lot much ... but if you're not already getting messages from our @baseballpro account, add us now.

Joe Sheehan (6:25:59 PM PT): Will would have to be less visible in that gig.

Derek Jacques (6:26:46 PM PT): "ssimon (Pelham, NY): Can I get an explanation for someone posting this-- "ssimon (Pelham, NY) (6:11:17 PM PT): My god, I feel incredibly arrogant all of a sudden"? Because I didn't send that in..."

I warned you not to doze off...

Joe Sheehan (6:28:54 PM PT): "jason (tampa): brignac for street offseason deal...fair?"

I'm not the world's biggest Reid Brignac fan, but why do the Rays, who have Bradford signed at a bargain deal, need to trade a good prospect for a sidearming RH-getter?

This, by the way, is the interesting challenge for the Rays--where do you improve? How do you leverage your talent depth to continue making the 25-man roster better?

Will Carroll (6:30:49 PM PT): Does having the six-man ump crew make it less likely we'll see a replay? Could it be used on the catwalks?

Will Carroll (6:31:29 PM PT): What gig?

Joe Sheehan (6:31:44 PM PT): President.

Joe Sheehan (6:33:05 PM PT): It cannot be used on the catwalks. I imagine we're less likely to see a boundary call on the fences in three of these four parks, Tampa excepted. Fair/foul, of course, could happen at any time.

Derek Jacques (6:34:23 PM PT): As long as Will has me obsessing over Tim McClelland and looking at the Umpires Report, McClelland is consistently near the bottom of the league in strikeout rate for regular home plate umps. The fact that Shields and Dice-K have struck out six in two innings is remarkable.

Kevin Goldstein (6:38:24 PM PT): I think for the most part, if you are Tampa, you just play it as it lays. No need to make any major moves, and more talent is coming.

Before anyone gets too excited about Martinez, who's doing the radio on the NL series. I was picking up Chinese food and the color guy said the following.

"I'll tell you one thing, if you want to pitch in the National League, one thing you have to do is PITCH."

Swear to god.

Derek Jacques (6:39:55 PM PT): "john (nyc): Is Jason Bartlett the next rey ordonez?"

Rey Ordonez only had one year in his career where his EqA was higher than Bartlett's career mark of .258. Strangely enough, it was 2003, when he got 124 PA for the then-Devil Rays.

If Rey Ordonez had a .258 EqA, he'd be in the Hall of Fame .

Will Carroll (6:40:59 PM PT): Shangdou Energy ... if that were a real company, that Moby clone would not be so smirky.

Derek Jacques (6:41:06 PM PT): OK, there was supposed to be a thing at the end of that last sentence, marking it as outrageous hyperbole. Darn you, HTML!

David Laurila (6:44:10 PM PT): My cable carrier is offering a free preview of NHL Center Ice this week, which is a far better between-innings option than Viagra ads. Everyone out there doing something similar tonight, raise your hand...

Will Carroll (6:44:58 PM PT): Ouch ... that's just nasty video.

Joe Sheehan (6:45:32 PM PT): Kevin, I think it's more complex than that. Turning an excess of talent into the best team you can is that next step. The Rays started that process this year with trades like the Young/Garza one, but having, say, eight MLB starters or five MLB outfielders isn't very helpful. I really think they'll have to make a deal or two, and I say that in a very non-specific way, to reach their potential.

Otherwise, you repeat the mistakes made by recent editions of the Angels and Twins.

The competitive environment in the AL East is just ridiculous.

Joe Sheehan (6:47:01 PM PT): Hockey in HD might make me a fan again. I still like the game, but I've completely lost track of it.

Kevin Goldstein (6:49:21 PM PT): You can have enough starters? I think Jackson or Niemann is their long term closer (and maybe set-up) guys, so now they don't have too many starters. I'm not sure they have ENOUGH outfielders as it is. Not when Gabe Gross is playing every day.

Will Carroll (6:52:38 PM PT): Chase asks: " Any chance the Rays have to move guys like Davis and McGee to short relief due to surplus?"

Have to? No. Can they? Yes. They can also do pretty much whatever they want. Trying to deal with them is like trying to buy a gift for the guy who has everything, but the one thing to watch for is arbitration status. The Rays will likely raise their payroll, but they won't raise it much. (GS hasn't taken nearly the beating the rest of the financial sector has and I'd guess that Sternberg still has a large chunk of his assets in his former employer.) So watch for guys that are at 1+ and 2+ that have value to get moved.

For those that need names, that's Sonnanstine, Aybar, Balfour (3+). Add in about 10m for escalation in contracts.

David Laurila (6:54:27 PM PT): Nothing to do with tonight's game, but I found it interesting that the Texas Rangers fired third base coach Matt Walbeck after their season ended. Walbeck, who is only 39, managed in the Tigers' system prior to this year and was the 2007 Minor League Manager of the Year. Walbeck is a future big league manager.

Kevin Goldstein (6:54:32 PM PT): Will,

That's a question that I've been thinking a lot about -- how will what's going on in economy affect baseball. I don't think it had a huge effect during the 2000-02 market, but at the same time, I think this is a different beast. It's worth calling some people and seeing what they think. Maybe I'll do that next week.

Joe Sheehan (6:54:35 PM PT): Bad on me...I was speaking in generalities.

I do think, over time, they will have an excess of SPs, however, and have the opportunity to leverage that into a successor to Pena, or a young RF, or something of that ilk.

Jackson as a reliever. Man, I could see that. He could be really good in that role.

Will Carroll (6:55:36 PM PT): The Sox and Brewers started off the season with eight starters each and both had to scramble. I don't think you can have too many, but you can use the best 10-12 arms and put them in roles, rather than defining roles and finding pitchers that fit ONLY those roles. Price's success will likely push someone out of the rotation and make them likely to have Davis in the pen, maybe Hellickson. It also gives them time to ...

... wow, great play by Crawford to hold Youkilis to a single ...

... allow guys to really develop, if they so choose.

Steven Goldman (6:58:17 PM PT): I know it's early and I shouldn't say this, but this game kind of reminds me of Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS, the one where Nolan Ryan and Dwight Gooden threw all those zeroes at each other...

Derek Jacques (6:58:34 PM PT): "john (nyc): ya, should have looked at the numbers closer, kind of just lumped them together after the comment that bartlett was essentially the rays mvp. both cases were role players irrationally being portrayed as studs because of their defense."

The Bartlett fallacy is a little different. Ordonez was over-praised because he looked awesome on D (he was really good, but never as good as his rep). Bartlett's a better player, and the hype on his defense is less over-the-top, but he's now in the Shannon Stewart Zone(tm) where media observers say "they sucked without him, they win with him, therefore he must be the reason they win." There's a fancy Latin term for this, but I'm too hungry to think of it.

Be back after a snack.

Steven Goldman (6:59:38 PM PT): Derek, ad hoc ergo prompter hoc. After, therefore because.

Will Carroll (6:59:48 PM PT): Someone asks: "Could Bossman Jr. better himself by using a heavier bat?"

If I had any clue who your cute little insider nickname referred to, I might answer. I HATE when people do this. My only bigger current peeve is the usage of "Dice-K."

Will Carroll (7:00:19 PM PT): SG - how many pitches did they go?

Steven Goldman (7:00:46 PM PT): Will, could the Boss be a better musician if he used a heavier guitar?

Kevin Goldstein (7:01:55 PM PT): Derek,

I have leftover Chinese -- lots of it.

Steven,

Boss plays primarily a Telecaster, which is what I play, so nothing wrong with that.

Steven Goldman (7:02:05 PM PT): Will, it's kind of hard to believe, but Ryan threw 85 pitches in nine innings, and Gooden threw 73 in ten. See http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYN/NYN198610140.shtml for more.

Will Carroll (7:02:26 PM PT): Springsteen is a very underrated guitarist. Not nearly as underrated as Prince, but underrated.

Will Carroll (7:02:56 PM PT): SG - that can't be right. That's Maddux-esque.

Joe Sheehan (7:03:30 PM PT): What a memory, Steven...I was listening to that game surreptitiously via Walkman while being forced to attend a preview of this awful Neil Simon play that lasted about as long as Billngsley did today.

Derek's a witness. And a victim.

My god, it doesn't even have a Wiki.

Steven Goldman (7:04:28 PM PT): Kevin, I know a guy who has built Springsteen several guitars, and one day a few years ago I got to go down to his shop and play one. I'm just a folkie strummer, and my main thought, along with "don't break this" was, "I am not worthy to play this wonderful thing."

Steven Goldman (7:07:29 PM PT): Will, I have no idea how those pitch counts are so low except that maybe everyone was hacking early, afraid to get behind. What strikes me as kind of funny is that Charlie Kerfeld threw 51 pitches in two innings after Ryan threw 85 in nine.

Joe Sheehan (7:08:36 PM PT): That pitch data has to be wrong. Seven pitches an inning while allowing nine hits, two walks and four strikeouts? The walks, strikeouts and result pitches for the other 32 BFP get you to 52 pitches, minimum.

This must be the same pitch-count information that tells me a CG in 1965 was just as hard as one last week.

Kevin Goldstein (7:09:42 PM PT): This is one of the things I actually love about baseball -- the randomness. Kotsay just hit a double, but it wasn't really a double, and it could be the key hit of the game at this point.

The middle of the Red Sox pen still would worry me as a Sox fan, and Dice-K ain't going all night.

Joe Sheehan (7:10:36 PM PT): Yeah...they have Denny Walling seeing six pitches in five PA, with one of them being a strikeout. Just bad data.

Will Carroll (7:10:42 PM PT): "leaves it up in the zone"

as PitchTrax shows it on the bottom of the zone ...

Steven Goldman (7:11:25 PM PT): I was just about to wonder, "Who the Red Sox would have playing first base if they hadn't obtained Kotsay, and wouldn't he likely have been better than Kotsay?" when he made that hit, so I think I'll just suppress that thought.

Kevin Goldstein (7:12:42 PM PT): Will,

That's my biggest pet peeve in announcing, hitters get no credit. Every pitch that gets hit hard is a mistake, as opposed to a good piece of hitting. That pitch on the sac fly was a perfectly good pitch.

Steven Goldman (7:13:12 PM PT): Good point, Joe. I just looked at Retrosheet, and unless I'm missing it, they don't have the pitch counts...

Will Carroll (7:13:59 PM PT): James Shields is a guy who if they showed a mirror image of, as a lefty, he'd make more sense. (Wow, tortured sentence ...) I was looking for a comparable and thought Mike Mussina, but Mussina had a sick run from 23-26. Anyone?

Will Carroll (7:14:39 PM PT): "Upton playing shallow, comes in, Bartlett makes a great running catch."

Chip doesn't need a DNA test. He's a Caray.

Joe Sheehan (7:15:03 PM PT): Just one run? That's a huge win for the Rays. Huge.

Will Carroll (7:20:28 PM PT): Steve say: "Will: Bossman Junior is what the initials "B.J." in B.J. Upton stand for. His real first name is Melvin, and his father was known as "Bossman". As a self-described Rays freak, I'd thought you'd have known this."

I'd never heard this. Charles Barkley's shaking his head and saying "turrible."

Will Carroll (7:23:15 PM PT): Andrew asks: "Wouldn't a DH with power be a great fit for the Rays in the offseason, particularly if the economy depresses insane multi-year deals?"

Well, yes, assuming they don't bring back Floyd and Baldelli. I'm not sure who that DH with power might be. Adam Dunn?

Joe Sheehan (7:24:47 PM PT): This is kinda generally a Strat move, but I'm feeling the "starter gets lifted despite a no-no" coming on. I don't care what Upton does leading off--with three of the four guys after him lefties, and just one of them potentially getting hit for (the last one), he's the last batter I let Matsuzaka face.

This is Blackburn starting the seventh all over again.

Joe Sheehan (7:25:39 PM PT): I was thinking Bobby Abreu for right field. They could use the OBP.

Caleb Peiffer (7:27:22 PM PT): TBS is so fascinated with pounding home the idea that these playoff teams can "manufacture runs" that they dug up the obscure winning percentage when not homering stat.

Steven Goldman (7:27:35 PM PT): Joe, I think Paul Richards did that twice, lifting pithers in the middle of no hitters. I think it bit him twice, too... Nice irony, the Rays getting Abreu, given the infamy of Abreu for Kevin Stocker.

Joe Sheehan (7:28:27 PM PT): "Chase (San Diego): In three words or less: Whats with all the Vince Vaughn Christmas movies?"

Tim Allen is his top PECOTA comp.

I think it also helps to put Vince Vaughn in movies that allow him to wear layers. Nice guy, nice appetite.

Caleb Peiffer (7:28:45 PM PT): Abreu returns to his original franchise? Where's Kevin Stocker these days?

Will Carroll (7:29:34 PM PT): Abreu made $16m last year. The highest player signed in any year of a current contract is Longoria at 11.5m (Kazmir's a bit higher.) Can't see them go above that or longer than 3 for Abreu. And he's what, 35? Nice idea, but can't see it working.

Steven Goldman (7:31:50 PM PT): I wanted to mention another great one-run postseason game, the second game of the Dodgers-Red Sox World Series in 1916. Babe Ruth started and went all the way, beating the Dodgers 2-1 in 14 innings. Sadly, no pitch counts, even fake, for that one... That was one of the most famous games in Series history for a long time. Someone once brought up that fact to Casey Stengel, and he said, "Yes, that game was so famous that they never used me!" Because Ruth, a lefty, went all the way, Dodger Stengel, a lefty hitter, sat on the bench for the whole game.

Steven Goldman (7:34:19 PM PT): Watching Abreu play right field this year was really hard. I somehow have more sympathy for a Greg Luzinski type who just doesn't belong out there at all and has zero instincts, as opposed to Abreu, who just sees the wall and stops.

Joe Sheehan (7:34:41 PM PT): Will, I don't think the Rays' current pay structure, built during a rebuilding process, can be the model going forward. Abreu is likely in line for a pay cut, and at 3/40 or something, is a solid fit for a team that faked right field all year long.

But if you're saying they won't pay $12MM per for anyone...I guess I have a hard time seeing where over time, that wouldn't create problems with the ownership groups paying into the central fund. The Rays can afford a significantly higher payroll, and they know how to spend their money. Even if it's not Abreu, but they should be on the lookout for prime talent at prime prices in the next few years.

Joe Sheehan (7:35:59 PM PT): Reiterating that I smell danger.

Steven Goldman (7:37:29 PM PT): Joe, not disagreeing, but don't forget that attendance is still the most significant driver of profit for a ballclub, even for the Yankees (at least that's what they tell me), and the Rays still have a pretty big problem in that area. One of the more interesting things to watch this winter is if they'll get any sales bump out of their run this year.

Will Carroll (7:38:02 PM PT): I'm just saying I can't see them paying 12+ for a 35 yr old, Joe. Maybe on a one year deal if the market goes all Andre Dawson this year.

Will Carroll (7:40:15 PM PT): Disagreeing with Joe is a bad bet usually, but Matsuzaka in control looks a lot different than anyone else in the game right now or in recent memory. He simply does not give in at all. He'll throw his pitch to his spot. Walks don't bother him at all. Prior to the shoulder injury, I was relatively convinced he was "coasting" as well, but I don't think he's all the way back to normal velocity combined with seasonal fatigue.

Joe Sheehan (7:40:59 PM PT): My theory is that if your population center is separated from your stadium by a body of water, you have a problem.

Yankees are the notable exception.

Haven't central-fund revenues reached a point where they guaranteed the payrolls of some teams at the high end of one and low end of another? It's not the NFL, and clearly the Rays will have to draw. This is the real test now--there's a winning team there, will people come watch. Miami has failed that test.

Will Carroll (7:43:02 PM PT): It's called a bridge, Joe, and doesn't that hold true for both the Yankees and Mets?

Joe Sheehan (7:44:33 PM PT): The Mets have always been more Long Island's team than Manhattan's team, and LI (including Queens and Brooklyn) is their population center.

Steven Goldman (7:45:13 PM PT): Will, when Joe and I were down in Tampa this spring, the locals kept telling us that the traffic in the area was so bad that people on one side of the bridge wouldn't go to the other to see a baseball game.

Joe Sheehan (7:45:50 PM PT): You'll laugh, but I think you bunt with Kotsay.

Joe Sheehan (7:49:21 PM PT): And I hit for Varitek.

Guys, it's the ALCS. Try.

Will Carroll (7:50:34 PM PT): Brilliant, brilliant pitching by Shields.

Kill me. How long before this kid joins Clay Aiken?

Steven Goldman (7:51:06 PM PT): Any guesses on who catches for the Sox next year?

Joe Sheehan (7:51:25 PM PT): For my money, what we just saw was ridiculous, a case of a manager making bad decisions just because the players involved have experience. Kotsay isn't so good that he shouldn't be bunting there, and Varitek just sucks, and has to be taken out in a situation that big.

The players didn't bat. Their career service time did.

Joe Sheehan (7:52:35 PM PT): "Chase (San Diego): An exception to Joe's theory: a moat. I would go to a stadium with a moat every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Especially if it had piranhas or alligators living in it. Damsels in distress and knights, optional."

This is actually Jeffrey Loria's next idea.

Will Carroll (7:52:57 PM PT): I say Varitek, though I think they should be first on Jon Daniels' call list.

Steven Goldman (7:54:56 PM PT): I think Chase is confusing baseball with "Medieval Times."

Will Carroll (7:55:06 PM PT): Moat ... I'd like to see a park with the water in play somehow. The Rays could do this if that new park had gone through. No fence in RF, just a warning track and the bay. Tides would play a part, really hosing Clay's park effects calculation.

Derek Jacques (7:55:10 PM PT): Requisite GBA non-sequitur: in Spanish, "chuleta" is a pork chop.

Steven: Chinese food was involved in the snack.

Joe: Into the Light was at the Neil Simon Theater, but was not, itself, by Neil Simon. Heavens was that a bad musical.

Did I miss anything? Other than the Sox scoring, and Matsuzaka still throwing a no-hitter?

Steven Goldman (7:55:32 PM PT): It seems like Jon Daniels is going to get to play host to just about every team in his suite this winter with that bunch of catchers.

David Laurila (7:55:44 PM PT): Joe - You'd hit for a catcher who is behind the plate in the late innings of a.......................until I began typing this, no hitter?

Derek Jacques (7:56:15 PM PT): Wow, that's awkward timing...

Joe Sheehan (7:56:23 PM PT): KG, Wagner and Still are just Lancaster flukes, right?

Kevin Goldstein (7:56:33 PM PT): Steven,

I don't think anyone knows that right now, but it wouldn't shock me if the next Red Sox catcher is currently a Ranger.

Kevin Goldstein (7:57:24 PM PT): Joe,

That is correct, sir. I still think they could turn into solid backup types, especially Wagner, but they're not 120-130 game guys.

Will Carroll (7:57:40 PM PT): And when Daisuke loses it, he loses it and also refuses to stop making his pitches, even though he'll leave them up more like he just did.

Joe Sheehan (7:58:13 PM PT): Yeah, I would. Because no-hitters are a stat and I'm trying to win a baseball game. Matsuzaka is not, not, not finishing this game, so get more runs.

I would have done it in a heartbeat.

Steven Goldman (7:58:31 PM PT): Would Daniels trade two of the four? If so, he could really stock up.

Will Carroll (7:58:51 PM PT): Hey KG -- an aside on MiLB. Reno Aces have a dumb logo. The new Ft Wayne logo might be the worst in baseball history. Any other name changes in the offing? I heard Vegas might change.

Joe Sheehan (7:59:49 PM PT): Not a good night for Francona. Maybe Matsuzaka pitches out of this, but Francona has failed this team tonight.

Kevin Goldstein (8:00:06 PM PT): Dumb logos and names sell dumb hats and t-shirts. Hate all you want, but TinCaps is going to sell product more than Wizards do.

Joe Sheehan (8:00:53 PM PT): I spent 22 years thinking that was a Neil Simon play. God, I hated high school.

Will Carroll (8:01:25 PM PT): It's not even funny-stupid like Biscuits. I think if you have to explain it, it's terrible.

Joe Sheehan (8:01:31 PM PT): Could we become the BP GoldenCats or something?

Kevin Goldstein (8:02:07 PM PT): Joe,

I actually have a real distrust for anyone who loved high school. If the best time of your life was from 14-to-18, you're doing it wrong.

Derek Jacques (8:03:26 PM PT): "Chase (San Diego): An exception to Joe's theory: a moat. I would go to a stadium with a moat every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Especially if it had piranhas or alligators living in it. Damsels in distress and knights, optional."

That's cool, but only if the predator-filled moat is in the field of play.

Steven Goldman (8:03:52 PM PT): Joe, I believe you're talking about this: http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=4751. Special show. Ran only five nights. Now that's a flop.

David Laurila (8:04:23 PM PT): Regarding catching prospects in the Boston system, and Kevin may or may not agree with me, the best of the bunch is probably Luis Exposito, who split the year between Greenville and Lancaster.

Will Carroll (8:05:08 PM PT): What would the BP Softball team be called?

Joe Sheehan (8:06:46 PM PT): I don't think there is any chance at all that Jason Bartlett can score Cliff Floyd from first base.

Kevin Goldstein (8:06:55 PM PT): David,

I probably would agree with that, but not to the point where I'd proclaim him the Boston catcher of the future.

Joe Sheehan (8:07:06 PM PT): Frequently, to play homecoming games.

Will Carroll (8:07:50 PM PT): Howell and Balfour up in the pen,

Caleb Peiffer (8:08:37 PM PT): Daisuke gets out of a big jam. During the regular season opponents hit .164/576 OPS against him in 179 PA with RISP.

Derek Jacques (8:09:28 PM PT): Steve,

Joe and I caught it in previews, as required coursework. It involved a little kid--who had an imaginary friend made of laser light--and the Shroud of Turin. And it was a musical.

I, too, was less-than-happy in high school.

You could say that Daisuke (I apologize for pulling the D----K lever before, Will) pitched out of it, or that the Rays swung themselves out of the inning.

Joe Sheehan (8:10:33 PM PT): Derek, never, ever, ever make reference to a "D----K lever" again. Thanks.

Joe Sheehan (8:11:27 PM PT): Well, I look foolish for killing Francona, but I still think he mishandled the inning. Nice job by Matsuzaka, no question.

I also would have batted for Bartlett, team MVP be damned.

Steven Goldman (8:15:48 PM PT): Derek, given that it ran 14 previews and six performances before dying and that the Times didn't even bother reviewing it, I can only surmise your teacher must have been getting a cut from the ticket-taker.

Will Carroll (8:16:46 PM PT): Green ask: " Is it any wonder the USA lost the World Baseball Classic with Buck at the helm? Question -- do we have a manager for the 2009 team?"

Good question. I haven't heard. Davey Johnson? Willie Randolph?

Smart play -- I can't remember seeing a steal with the shift on and it's always made sense to me.

Joe Sheehan (8:18:15 PM PT): Caray: "This is part of their offensive [plan] without Manny Ramirez."

Yeah, they had to adjust, going from a left fielder slugging .529 to one slugging .527.

I want a job where I can just make things up and have no one question me.

Steven Goldman (8:19:27 PM PT): Joe, get elected president.

Joe Sheehan (8:20:51 PM PT): They announced Buck for 2006 at the winter meetings, so I imagine they'll do pressers there.

I didn't ask this question last time, but maybe I'll feel secure enough to this time: "Isn't one of the key qualifications for this job that no one in the industry thinks you're good enough to manage their team?"

Joe Sheehan (8:21:42 PM PT): Steven, that's my second dime of the night. Keep making the layups.

Kevin Goldstein (8:23:30 PM PT): Not really. I think lots of teams would be interested in Johnson, but he doesn't want to do it again -- doesn't want to go through the grind.

That's a disaster play by Crawford there.

Joe Sheehan (8:24:28 PM PT): Can't criticize Buck here...he called it perfectly. The ball knuckled, Crawford got there in time, just couldn't make the grab. Really tough play, but I think he made the right call to go for it.

Steven Goldman (8:25:24 PM PT): I don't think we have the data for this, but I would love to see some kind of accounting of times guys dived for the ball and how many times they made the catch vs. how many times they played singles into extra-base hits. My theory is that you would find that the diving backfired more often than it paid off.

Derek Jacques (8:25:24 PM PT): Bad play by Crawford, but good recovery. When I saw it glance off his glove, I expected Youkilis to end up at third.

Will Carroll (8:28:42 PM PT): That was unintentional, but Balfour's antics are going to get one of his teammates hurt.

Derek Jacques (8:28:53 PM PT): That little jump just saved JD Drew's teeth.

Joe Sheehan (8:31:45 PM PT): Folks, this winter I'm going to pimp some hard-throwing reliever no one's heard of. And in 2013, three teams later, he'll be good. Finally.

David Laurila (8:39:24 PM PT): Somewhat surprising that Matsuzaka is back for the 8th.

Derek Jacques (8:39:29 PM PT): Is TBS on a delay? I could swear I saw that hit on Gameday before it happened on my TV...

Will Carroll (8:41:07 PM PT): Price warming up.

Steven Goldman (8:41:22 PM PT): No bunt here, please.

Kevin Goldstein (8:41:34 PM PT): I was typing how I have no issues with Matsuzaka starting the 8th, but now I would have looked dumb so I'm glad I didn't.

Kevin Goldstein (8:42:27 PM PT): Derek,

If you have a Tivo, you're automatically on a delay, plus additional for cable (more) or the dish (less).

Will Carroll (8:43:07 PM PT): Singalongs to the Stripes are VERY cool.

Joe Sheehan (8:43:30 PM PT): "hambone1818 (Boston, MA): Alright Joe, now I'm with ya...what's Matsuzaka doing back out there? I can't say I understand this call. "

I have no idea.

Really, though, the Sox should have five runs and it shouldn't matter. Too many opportunities lost.

Kevin Goldstein (8:46:21 PM PT): My girlfriend has joined me on the couch, and is utterly shocked to learn that there are 11-12 pitchers on each team. She thought there we're three or four.

She does like to comment on the fashion however and commenting on Okajima's necklace, she says, "maybe his father was a tugboat capitan."

Will Carroll (8:48:06 PM PT): Custom braided Phiten, done in Seattle.

Steven Goldman (8:49:45 PM PT): Is "phiten" a word for someone's umbilical cord? That's what it looks like to me.

Kevin Goldstein (8:49:46 PM PT): Learn something new every day.

Will Carroll (8:50:11 PM PT): "He hit into 12 double plays."

Ok, context -- is that a lot? What's average? Correlation to speed?

Joe Sheehan (8:50:36 PM PT): I love me some Justin Masterson.

Will Carroll (8:50:42 PM PT): Well, make it 13 and Google "Phiten" -- they're huge in baseball.

Kevin Goldstein (8:51:09 PM PT): Joe,

You say the Red Sox should have five runs -- how many should the Rays have?

David Laurila (8:51:20 PM PT): Francona has really shown faith in Masterson in the postseason. The kid has been in some HUGE spots. And Masterson shows why as I type.

Will Carroll (8:51:32 PM PT): Is Masterson locked into this bullpen role or with the Clay Buchholz meltdown, will the Sox try him in the rotation again?

Steven Goldman (8:51:46 PM PT): It ain't Jim Rice... It's really a matter of opportunity, handedness, and speed, both of the batter and of the baserunner.

Derek Jacques (8:52:03 PM PT): "chunkstyle (Toronto): Hey Guys, To demonstrate my love and respect for BP, I have grown my thumbnail to an astonishing length of four inches. I was hoping you might recognize this gesture with a signed picture of Allan Huber "Bud" Selig, Jr. Or maybe a Felix Fermin bubblegum card."

I know it's from Matt Groening, but "Chunkstyle" is a great nickname.

The Rays' bats are colder than Frutista freeze, whatever the heck that is.

Steven Goldman (8:52:30 PM PT): I was going to ask the same thing about Masterson. I thought they were rash to move him to the bullpen, but he's done really well there.

Steven Goldman (8:53:17 PM PT): Derek, I believe Frutista ran Cuba before Castro took over.

Kevin Goldstein (8:53:25 PM PT): I think Boston always saw him as more of a reliever, just a damn good one.

Will Carroll (8:55:02 PM PT): Mark say: "Is there any patch of turf uglier than that at Tropicana Field?"

St. Louis. It's the turf, not the place. I'd paint it or get the Boise State version.

David Laurila (8:55:55 PM PT): Random fact #3: When I first interviewed Justin Masterson, a couple of weeks after he was drafted, I asked him to describe himself as a pitcher. He said, "Shoot, I'm a two-seamer guy. A lot of people call it a sinker, but it's a fastball to me. It's kind of like a lefty slider."

Joe Sheehan (8:57:13 PM PT): Among 347 players with 200 PA, Longoria was 163rd in DP%. Middle of the pack.

As a RHB in a lineup behind some OBP, he's going to hit into some.

Kevin Goldstein (8:57:27 PM PT): Random fact #3.1: Masterson was born in Jamaica -- the country, not Queens -- the son of missionaries.

Joe Sheehan (8:58:29 PM PT): Kevin: about that many, maybe more. I'm still perplexed by Francona's passivity.

I think we're in for a heck of a series.

Steven Goldman (9:00:08 PM PT): Given how everyone is now bending over backwards to put Rice into the HOF maybe I shouldn't say this, but the GDPs are the one bum rap he got -- hitting behind Wade Boggs and Dwight Evans, or Boggs and Marty Barrett, even Vince Coleman would have hit into a bunch of double plays. There were only a couple of years in Rice's career in which his rate led the league.

Kevin Goldstein (9:02:09 PM PT): So lemme get this right -- I'm watching the game on Fox and I STILL end up with FrankTV advertisements?

Derek Jacques (9:04:13 PM PT): "'He hit into 12 double plays.'

"Ok, context -- is that a lot? What's average? Correlation to speed?"

The average player with 500 or more PA hit into 15 double plays this season. Double plays in 13% of your opportunities is roughly league average.

Joe Sheehan (9:07:46 PM PT): I said it last year, and I'll say it now. Sometimes, when I watch Papelbon, I have no idea at all how anyone ever makes contact.

Very few pitchers, even great ones, have made me think that. Duane Ward. Rob Dibble.

Kevin Goldstein (9:07:53 PM PT): See, I don't even know what channel I'm on -- sorry about that one. Who's more confused, me or Crawford on that strike three pitch?

David Laurila (9:08:21 PM PT): This has certainly been entertaining, but the idea that a 2-0 game (thus far)is approaching the 3:30 mark just doesn't seem right. As much as I love baseball, the games are too long.

David Laurila (9:12:37 PM PT): Lots of pressure on Scott Kazmire tomorrow night. The Rays certainly won't be out of it if they go down two games to none, but it would be a tall task.

Joe Sheehan (9:13:33 PM PT): Caray, last: "[The Red Sox] made the most of their scoring chances tonight..."

Kill me now.

Good night, folks. Thanks for coming.


Steven Goldman (9:13:40 PM PT): Great game. Big win for the Sox too considering their rotation wasn't lined up quite the way they would have liked.

Derek Jacques (9:19:56 PM PT): "kevin (boston): how does that guy find suits in those colors? and how do they think he will be percieved with even the slightest shred of credibility looking like that?"

I suspect Seger's clothes are a coded message to a foreign power, where they decipher that the purple blazer and the tie with the Pelican motif means that troops are mobilizing near the Korean DMZ.

Have a good night, everyone.


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