The Sox Pitching Roster

Tim Wakefield was left off the roster.  I didn’t quite hear all the reasons.  I think this was their reasoning:

1) Avoid knuckleballs in thin air.  They won’t move as much.  The knuckleball depends upon air friction against the seam of the ball to change its direction, as it rotates slowly, about 1 to 2 turns as it moves towards the plate.  Thinner air means less friction, meaning less movement.

2) Since Beckett and Schilling are your definite top-2 starters, they go 2 games each.  Beckett gets games 1 and 5.  Schilling can go 2 and 6 or 3 and 7.  That leaves Matsuzaka or Wakefield pitching game 4 only, and the other one pitching the pair that Schilling doesn’t pitch.

The only solution that didn’t have Wakefield in Coors Field is games 2 and 6 for Wakefield, with Dice-K in game 4. 

3) Wakefield was well enough to start game 2, but wouldn’t be able to recover in time to start game 6. 

Thus, the only options were to have Wakefield pitch long out of the bullpen, or leave him off the roster.  Since it would take a long time for Wakefield to warm up his hurting shoulder, they didn’t want him to be out of the bullpen, so they left him off the roster.

That allowed Kyle Snyder onto the roster.  What a thrill it must be for a guy who was released by the lowly Kansas City Royals last year.  How low can that feel? 

If the Sox hadn’t had such a crazy epidemic of pitching injuries last year, he might be struggling in the minors somewhere, but he got a chance to prove himself in a pressure environment, and did well enough to hang around. 

Off the scrap heap, and into the World Series, in just over a year.  You go, Mr. Snyder!

What about Gagne?

Many people complained that Julian Tavarez should have been on the roster instead of Eric Gagne.

While I still think that will be one of the worst trades in Red Sox history, I do believe the Red Sox made the right decision by having Gagne on the roster.  I just think he’s more likely to give them good performances.

Gagne’s performance has little to do with my opinion that it was a bad trade.  If Gagne had pitched perfectly over the last 3 months, it still was a bad trade, because he wouldn’t be returning to Boston next year, so it amounts to tossing aside a highly promising young starting pitcher and a top outfielder prospect for a 3 month rental of a reliever we did not need. 

The Red Sox bullpen was fine!  Yes, they were worried about Papelbon’s innings, and Okajima’s innings.  They rested both guys a lot, and got nothing from Gagne, and things fell apart somewhat, but they STILL had enough of a lead and enough good players elsewhere to get the best record in baseball, and make it to the World Series.   They didn’t need him, even if he’d been at his best.  They threw away 2 superb prospects.  What a waste.

Still, Gagne has shown signs of locating his pitches better lately, and getting hitters to take weak swings.  He’s looking more like his old self.  For the moment, he’s more likely to give you what you need in a World Series.  This guy is used to pitching in high-pressure situations.  Tavarez has always done well as a starter and poorly as a reliever.  Gagne is the right choice. 

Still, I’d rather have Kason Gabbard on my team next year than Gagne on my World Series roster this year!

Who knows?  Maybe Gagne will accept a setup role in order to have a chance to make a meaningful contribution to a winning team?  Maybe he will choose to sign with the Red Sox for another 3 years, and will return to his old, dominant self?  Unlikely, but if it does happen, it might make the trade halfway worth it.

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