Sveuming into a Francoma

Dale Sveum cost the Red Sox a chance at sweeping the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, waving home one Dave Roberts with no out in the ninth, easily gunned down by top AL-assist centerfielder Rocco Baldelli, of the Rays.

Dave Roberts, the resident burner on the basepaths, had gotten on via a lead-off single by Kevin Millar to start the ninth, hoping to erase a one-run deficit that had been created by a Toby Hall grand slam in the seventh off a clearly tiring Arroyo. (We’ll get to Francona in a minute…) Roberts pinch-ran for Millar and cruised into second on a passed ball by the aforemented Hall.

Mientkiewicz (earlier the hero of a home plate showdown [August 4th Top Play] with Hall) singled to center. Roberts advanced to third, and Baldelli threw home. Mientkiewicz smartly headed towards second, then the unexplicable happened – Dale Sveum, Red Sox 3B coach, waved Roberts home.

Roberts was dead at home.

Mueller grounded out, sending Mientkiewicz to third. Kapler got to first on a HBP, and Damon ended the game with a pop-up.

Roberts said that “to make a throw like that, it’s pretty impressive. I was pretty surprised.”

Catcher Toby Hall of the Rays agreed, saying it was “probably the best throw I’ve seen all year. Perfect throw. [Roberts] is the fastest guy on the field.”

The point is, there was zero out in the ninth inning with a runner on second and third. Even a sacrifice fly ties the game. You have Mueller, Kapler, then Damon heading up. Do you really think all three will strike out or pop up to the pitcher? This game could have easily been tied, and more than likely, won. Mueller grounded out to second base. With Roberts’ speed, he would have made it home ahead of second baseman Julio Lugo’s throw. If Lugo threw to first, you have Mientkiewicz at third, one out, Kapler and Damon due. Score tied. Sacrifice fly time. If Lugo throws home and Roberts is safe, you have first and third with Kapler and Damon up. If Roberts had been out, it’s a little less criminal than sending Roberts when he just reached third and Baldelli was releasing the ball.

The onus is on Dale Sveum here, and this has been an issue all year. If only we hadn’t burned our bridges with Mike Cubbage … if only Francona had seen that Cubbage was a good third-base coach? Remember the days of Wavin’ Wendall Kim? At least we knew they were going. Sveum sends when he shouldn’t, holds when he should send.

The only thing Dale Sveum is good at.

Another person I feel like roasting is Terry Francona. I generally don’t have a problem with the guy, but his piss-poor bullpen management has me in a tizzy.

With the Red Sox, the bullpen numbers:

KEITH FOULKE

56.0 IP, 1.77 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .201 BAA

MIKE TIMLIN

54.2 IP, 3.95 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, .246 BAA

ALAN EMBREE

39.1 (misleading) IP, 4.35 ERA 1.25 WHIP, .248 BAA

MARK MALASKA

20.0 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, .266 BAA

RAMIRO MENDOZA

8.2 IP, 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, .233 BAA

TERRY ADAMS

1.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4.00 WHIP, .400 BAA (with Toronto: 43.0 IP, 3.98 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, .290 BAA)

I don’t have a problem with Foulke’s innings pitched, but I do with the others. Timlin and Embree are up there in age (late 30s) and are getting quite overworked recently. Francona has shown he has no trust in anyone whose last name is not Foulke, Williamson, Timlin, or Embree. Nonetheless, Adams does not deserve the indignity of one inning pitched – that coming on July 26th. Mendoza has been doing quite well and deserves to be pitched more to see if he can be a valuable asset.

Timlin should be an inning-starter, not a person you bring into the game to douse a rally. Embree is good at this, so use him in this situation. Terry Adams should also just be an inning-starter and also more importantly, a lefty specialist. Ramiro Mendoza should be used either as an innings starter or a runners-on-base reliever, as he can induce groundouts. Malaska should be used in blowouts.

As it stands right now, though, we are overworking people who are going to be valuable relievers in next year’s bullpen (the two have options that automatically vested recently or will be shortly), and we are overworking them to the point of amazement when you consider Adams and Mendoza, two proven relief pitchers, waste away on the bench. We all miss Scott Williamson, that is evident, but we shouldn’t miss them enough to bury Adams and Mendoza.

Come on, Terry…think smarter, not harder!