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2004-10-08 10:47
by Mike Carminati

So now Jim Tracy is being vilified like Ron Gardenhire the other day for sticking with a pitcher too long?

I mean, the Dodger bullpen did throw, 6-1/3 innings the other day after all. Jeff Weaver looked pretty good going into the inning (as good as he can). He had given up just one hit and thrown 25 pitches over the prior two innings.

Yes, Weaver hit Larry Walker on his second pitch of the fifth inning. And yes, Albert Pujols got a nice single on the pitch after that. But then Rolen flied out on the next pitch, and Weaver struck Jim Edmonds out on five pitches. It looked like he could get himself out of the inning, but then he lost a pitch inside that hit Reggie Sanders to load the bases. Maybe he should have come out for Mike Matheny, but the Sanders pitch was in right location just overthrown. I guess Tracy felt that Weaver was the best option at the time. Of course, Matheny singled in two runs. Then Weaver was gone, but the damage was already done, and the second-guessing began.

Tracy is doubly criticized for the decision after Tony LaRussa pulled Cardinal starter Jason Marquis with the score tied in the fourth, one out, one on, and the pitcher up. I was surprised by but agreed with LaRussa's call since it was clear that Marquis had completely lost control. He had given up back-to-back homers to Shawn Green and Milton Bradley to start the inning, both on fastballs which errantly went right over the plate high. Alex Cora then flied out deep to left, and David Ross walked on five pitches. But the kicker was when Weaver came up to bunt, Marquis spun him around with an errant inside pitch. That brought the quick hook.

The reliever, Cal Eldred, was actually lucky not to give up more runs. Weaver popped up the bunt. Then Eldred walked the bases loaded before getting Steve Finley to fly out. The Cardinal bullpen ended up going 5-2/3 shutout innings allowing just two hits and three walks. So LaRussa's a genius and Tracy's a fool.

Is all of baseball adopting the Red Sox "goat" mentality? Last year, Dusty Baker kept Mark Prior in way, way too long in the NLCS. No one even blinked. The had found their goat for that game, Steve Bartman.

Now one batter too many can rain down criticism and Grady Little comparisons. Are the media just a bunch of lemmings who can't analyze a given issue but would rather reprint old, rote stories?

To quote Senator John Blutarsky, "Oh, sorry." Stupid question.

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