Page 2 staff

We're not here to analyze, scout, predict, project or proclaim Derek Jeter a "winner." We're here to Second Guess. Hey, isn't that half the fun of baseball's postseason?

Monday, October 18
Tonight's second guessing took place as the Yankees-Red Sox game was in progress.

David Schoenfield: I wanted to go on the record before anything happens in this game that I thought Terry Francona made three mistakes in his starting lineup.

1) Mark Bellhorn, 1-for-14 with 8 K's in the series and 2-for-25 with 12 K's in the postseason, at second base. Look, Pokey Reese can't hit either, but at least he gives you Gold Glove-caliber defense at second. Bellhorn's major ability is to draw some walks, but those don't happen against good pitchers.

2) Jason Varitek playing. Look, I know it's Varitek, team leader, inspirational tough guy with big chest. But he's 4-for-44 (.091) with 22 K's lifetime against Mussina (I think those are regular-season numbers only). Moose OWNS him. Not sure how you can justify playing Varitek when you have a good-hitting backup catcher available in Mirabelli. Varitek, a switch-hitter, proved this by hitting right-handed against Mussina after his first at-bat.

3) Keeping Johnny Damon in the leadoff spot. He was 1-for-18 entering the game in the series and I don't think had hit one ball hard. I'm not saying play Dave Roberts, but as ugly as Damon's been swinging, why not switch him and Mueller in the lineup?

Royce Webb: Great observations. It's hard to tell how omen-ous these moves were, because it suggests that Pokey, Mirabelli, and Mueller would get to Mussina, but you certainly can't accuse Francona of thinking outside the box.

Scott Ridge: Agree on the first two points ... although an informal survery of Sox fans today said they preferred Bellhorn over Reese ("we need O, not D").

Varitek catches a five-hour marathon, starting with a tough sinkerballer. He's probably a little gassed to start with. Mirabelli has nine homers in 160 at-bats. Why not use Varitek as a late pinch-hitter?

Disagree on Damon. That's a major lineup shakeup, and if you go with Pokey, that leaves Cabrera to leadoff and Trot Nixon as the second hitter?

David: Good point on Varitek. Another reason he shouldn't have been starting.

I would have hit Mueller leadoff, kept Cabrera in the No. 2 hole, since he's been swinging pretty good.

And as I type this: pop to short for Damon.

[David Ortiz homers off Tom Gordon]

Scott: I'll start it.. .. Why no Mo against Ortiz?

Royce: I have to think that Torre believes Rivera should go just one inning. That said, now Rivera's warming up.

David: Yep, and now Mo's going to have to go 2 innings anyway.

By the way, here's where the Yankees not having a lefty in the pen kills them. Ortiz and Nixon are both much worse against lefties (Nixon is essentially useless), and the Yanks, despite a payroll of $185 million, don't have a single lefty worth a hoot on the roster.

David: Well, predictably, Bellhorn strikes out. Should have hit Man-Cave-Itch there, since he's coming in to play first base anyway for Millar.

In fact, Francona probably should have used Pokey to run for Nixon, not Kapler, and use Roberts to go into right for Nixon.

OK, once Rivera gets us to the 10th, who do the Sox bring in: Wakefield or Arroyo?

Scott: Wakefield is the lesser of two evils right now, in Arroyo's never won a playoff game nor beaten the Yankees.

Royce: Arroyo's warming up, presumably on the theory that A) Arroyo would be more effective than Wakefield in relief tonight and/or B) Wakefield would be more effective than Arroyo starting Game 7. Either that, or they think Arroyo can pitch a little tonight and still start on Wednesday.

[Damon gets caught stealing]

I don't disagree with sending Damon there. Rivera's prone to give up singles, soft and otherwise, or Cabrera can bunt him to third if you want to play it that way.

But he's gotta make it.

Ironic to see the Moneyball team losing a runner that way. Now they've lost a runner at every base at a critical moment in this series.

David: Are the Yankees really going to Heredia here?

Scott: He's on the roster. He has to. Quantrill against Ortiz? I'd take my chances with Heredia. Prediction: Ortiz walks.


[Red Sox bring in Mike Myers to face Hideki Matsui]

David: Look, bottom line: Myers sucks. I know he's in just to face Matsui (lefties hit .233 off Myers). But I don't want to see him in there if I'm a Red Sox fan.

Scott: Especially after a dominating inning by Arroyo ... geez, he struck out A-Rod and Sheffield.

Royce: Francona must be thinking about Wednesday. That's dangerous, but it's his job to get three more wins, not just one.

David: Good point. And obviously he didn't want Arroyo facing a lefty and then four switch-hitters in a row.

[Myers and Embree get out of the inning]

And it worked. And Sox have another chance ... although it's the dynamic duo of Bellhorn and Damon on deck.

[Mueller gets on for Red Sox]

Royce: And Bellhorn singles. That's reason No. 72 you don't bunt.

And Damon is bunting! Why!!??

David: You have to there, don't you? Get the runner to third with one out. Especially since Damon hasn't gotten the ball out of the infield this series. The player just didn't do the job, there. Boy, what a goat he's been.

Royce: Well, when you factor in that batters often don't do the job in that situation, and that you've got a very hittable pitcher on the mound, I'd like to take three cracks at a base hit. And, with a runner like Damon, the DP is unlikely, so there's a good chance he gets the runner to third if he swings away.

David: Well, you got something there. He hasn't been hitting the ball hard enough to ground into a DP. And a great point by McCarver ... Posada could have dropped the bunt and they could have turned two.

I repeat -- if Sox win, I want Dave Roberts in center tomorrow.

Royce: Letting the ball hit the ground there is risky.

David: If Damon gets the bunt down, the infield is in and that's a game-winning hit for Cabrera.

Think Red Sox fans will be wearing their WWJD T-shirts this winter?

Royce: I can see the argument for bunting.

I guess this is one case (of many) where the result argues otherwise. They gave away an out and didn't score after the 8th and 9th hitters got on base with no one out, never getting Manny to the plate.

David: Wait a minute, I must have dozed off & I just saw David Ortiz trying to steal second.

That's two tag plays Jeter/Yankees have gotten the call. Ortiz was safe.

Scott: That and the called third strike his last time up ... Ortiz is getting hosed.

Eric Neel: Ortiz has hurt himself in this series, too, though (all the big Sox hitters have), by swinging at bad pitches and being too anxious in the box in key moments. They haven't looked discerning, so they haven't primed the ump, if you'll excuse the pun.

Royce: Agreed. Ortiz and others have been too aggressive at times -- though I feel kind of dumb second-guessing Ortiz given the way he's bashing the ball. And, yes, the Yankees have gotten lots of calls. Even the Fox guys were acknowledging that last night.

This is one of the main reasons people resent the overdogs -- they get the benefit of the doubt on calls.

Scott: Second guess not bringing in Mirabelli to catch Wakefield, his usual catcher.

David: Yep, looking like a big mistake by Francona  two PBs by Varitek. Especially since Varitek has to be A) tired; B) hasn't looked good at the plate tonight anyway.

Oops, make that three passed balls.

[Sierra fans to end the inning]

Sox win! Sox win!

Eric: If nothing else, Francona needs to communicate to his squad that he's willing to take chances and shake things up a bit to get a win in Game 6. Tonight's game shouldn't reinforce his old habits, it should give him breathing room to be imaginative tomorrow. It won't, but it should.

David: I'm second guessing whether I want to come into work Tuesday. I might just sit at home and watch the replays of these two games. What a night for baseball.

Previous editions of Second Guessing
Oct. 16: First guessing Garner, La Russa

Oct. 16: Another Scrap Iron stinker

Oct. 14: Another Scrap Iron stinker

Oct. 13: The ALCS & NLCS are already over

Oct. 12: Yankees get the better of the Red Sox

Oct. 11: Phil Garner got away with one

Oct. 10: Phil Garner wears the dunce cap

Oct. 9: Ten things on Twins-Yankees

Oct. 8: Angels decide to go with Jarrod Washburn

Oct. 7: Did Bobby Cox play too much Small Ball?

Oct. 6: Ron Gardenhire leaves in Joe Nathan