boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Jackie MacMullan Red Sox postseason chat transcript

Tuesday Oct. 16, 2007
Moose__Guest_Why not Ellsbury in place of Drew?
Jackie_MacMullanIt's a fair question. I think we all would like to see what the kid can do, but I would be surprised if Francona makes that switch. He is very loyal to his veteran, and at this point, Drew is hardly the only one not hitting.
Chas__Guest_Isn't it interesting that ALL 4 of Theo's big acquisitions for 2007 (Drew, Lugo, Matsuzaka, Gagne) have had the WORST years of their careers? And Manny probably had his worst year too. Yet the Sox win the division for the first time in 12 years. Thank God for Lowell & Okajima & Pedroia & MR. Beckett (and others) for stepping up BIG TIME. If those 4 had just their average years, we might have won 120 games! My question is: Do you have the scoop on whether Lowell will be resigned? And will they give up on Lugo (like they've done on the last 4 SS's) and try to deal him? Thx
Jackie_MacMullanMy sources tell me it's unlikely they will re-sign Lowell if he insists on 3 years or more, which he has every right to do since this will likely be his last big contract. Someone else will give him those three years. He's been so terrific, you'd hate to see them let him walk. He's not only a solid player, but an important clubhouse guy because he speaks fluent Spanish and is a wonderful bridge to the Dominican players.
polcat__Guest_who would you like see pitching tonight? Wakefield scares me, I am don't have confidence in him tonight that he can do the job. He started out strong but pitched lousy of late.
Jackie_MacMullanI understand the trepidation regarding Wakefield, especially since he's had such a long layoff. Knuckeball pitchers are so hard to predict. As we know, some nights Wake is unhittable, but if that knuckler isn't dancing, you know there will be balls hit out of the yard. I can tell you this: the Cleveland hitters were wary of facing Wakefield.
clfsy__Guest_Hello Jackie, I'm a big fan of your work. My opinion is that the only chance the Sox have to win game four would be to score early and allow Wakefield to settle into the game. That being said I think Jacoby should start in CF and lead off tonight? Also, who will be first in tonight behind Wake?
Jackie_MacMullanThere's no question hitting is the issue at the moment for this team. David Ortiz was lamenting having a bases loaded situation with no outs last night and not getting anything from it. He's hurting, by the way. His knee swelled badly after Game 2, and my guess is he's going to need another cortisone shot soon. I agree Boston needs to score early. It was a pretty quiet clubhouse last night. They need a spark. If Wakefield falters early, I believe Francona will give Jon Lester another shot.
Captain_Tek__Guest_Jackie, can you convince Tito I can catch Wakefield. My bat is too important to replace with Mirabelli's .150 average. Did you see my homer last night??
Jackie_MacMullanIt was a great home run, but before that Varitek was 1 for 11 in the series. I'll be stunned beyond words if Francona breaks away from Mirabelli catching tonight. Wakefield will kill him.
coolmcjazz__Guest_Hi Jackie! Love the analysis down here in Maryland... here's my question: As much as I love Wake (and believe can win), it seems to me that the Sox are thinking further ahead to the final games of the ALCS, and possibly even the Series already, rather than focusing on JUST TONIGHT'S GAME. It also seems that these series are determined so much by MOMENTUM, so if Cleveland wins tonight, we're cooked. Aren't we better off throwing our top gun (Beckett, obviously) out there and trying to yank that momentum, which so clearly belongs to the Indians, away, before this gets out of hand? Thanks!
Jackie_MacMullanEven if Beckett were to pitch tonight, you still have to win 2 games after that. I think it makes sense to give him his regular 4 days rest and go with Wakefield. I don't think it's so much they are looking ahead, just trying to give Beckett the best chance to win, and that's pitching him in Game 5.
TJ__Guest_What are your thoughts about some lineup changes? Moving Pedroia, who seems to be pressing and trying to do too much, starting Ellsbury over Coco and Keilty over Drew, who has better numbers against Paul Byrd? And has Tito said anything, if tonight is a rain out, about a Wednesday, Game 4 starter?
Jackie_MacMullanFrancona was asked about line-up changes last night, and he had very little so say about it. The Red Sox are only down 2-1, and to make all those changes, I believe, would suggest the Sox are in a little bit of a panic mode. They aren't. I don't disagree, however, with giving Ellsbury a shot at some point in this series.
km__Guest_Is tonight must win?
Jackie_MacMullanI don't know about a must win. Once Boston lost at Fenway, they had to win 1 out of 3 at the Jake to regain home field advantage. I do know this: Larry Bird used to always tell me, "When I'm up 3-1 in a series, I know it's over.'' Of course, we've seen the Red Sox rebound from insurmountable deficits before, in 2004. But does this team have the same mental make-up as that one? I'm not sure.
Matty_P___Guest_Jackie, from the post-game reports of Dice-K's dejected look in front of his locker, do you think he'll be okay? I personally think he'll have a great year next year if he simply realizes this will be a long, arduous process to become acclimated in the AL here in the U.S. like Beckett did. What's your take?
Jackie_MacMullanDice-K was really having a hard time last night. He sat at his locker for close to 47 minutes with his head bowed. In talking with the Japanese journalists, who know him so much better than we do, their take was that Matsuzaka is dealing with the reality of an American baseball league that is far tougher than anything he's ever experienced. They mentioned in particular the idea of having to face so many tough hitters in a line-up. In Japan, apparently, there are often only 3 or 4 tough outs on each club. I believe Dice k will be better next season. He's had to adjust to a brand new culture, language, city, work place. I think the umpires have squeezed him a bit, and I also think he's a little gassed. But he's too accomplished a competitor not to rebound from this outing and get after it again.
John__Guest_What do you think of Cleveland's bullpen?
Jackie_MacMullanIn many ways, Cleveland's bullpen has been the story of the series. Betancourt, Jensen Lewis and Tom Mastny have been terrific. And, even though we all keep waiting for closer Joe Borowski to cough it up, it hasn't happened - yet.
derek__Guest_What was your take on Kenny Lofton waving his finger at Manny on his throw home,,, who is he kidding his arm is about as strong as Damon's
Jackie_MacMullanThose two guys are old friends. They have been gesturing back and forth to one another throughout this series.
spectramglobeAfter every loss, we hear the players and managers say things like "We just didn't get it done" or "we just have to put it behind us." Does Francona ever yell at the players or give them a good pep-talk? It seems like they're very "Oh, well" about the losses.
Jackie_MacMullanI've heard this on numerous occasions from the Red Sox players. The Francona we see in the clubhouse and the one you see on the postgame broadcasts is quite different from the one they see behind closed doors. He is a pretty firey guy and doesn't hesitate to let his guys know if they do something that ticks him off. but he will defend his guys publicly to the death - even if he disagrees with them. he does it with manny all the the time.
1986Sox__Guest_Did you or the press catch any reaction from Ortiz after his baserunning blunder? I thought I saw him show off a big smile/laugh in a split second shot that TV showed him in the dugout immediately after the play.
Jackie_MacMullanI talked to Ortiz after the game - and after our deadline - about it. He wasn't laughing about it at that juncture. He said he took too big of a lead, and when he planted his knee to run it turned on him a little. His explanation was, "I bleeped it up.'' He really looked bad on that play. It shouldn't happen that way, and it came at a crucial time.
The_Rooster__Guest_Has Pedroia playing hurt in the playoffs? Do you think the Sox might be trying to keep an injury a secret?
Jackie_MacMullanNo, Pedroia isn't hurt. He might be a little banged up, but they all are. I think he's just pressing a bit too much. He's a very confident kid, so much of his success deals in postive self talk. The other day he walked out of Francona's office after getting his butt kicked playing cribbage with his head down. I mentioned it to Francona in passing, and he said, "Don't worry. He won't have his head down for long. No matter how badly I beat him, he comes back the next day, ready for more.''
Grady_fromLA__Guest_Compared to the 2004 team with Mueller, Damon, Cabrera et al, do you think there are just too many holes in this Red Sox line-up?
Jackie_MacMullanIt's hard to compare those two teams. I think this bullpen is better, but the bottom of the order sure doesn't have the pop that a guy like Bill Mueller provided. He was batting over .300 and hitting 9th for that club. There's no question this club doesn't have the same hitting.
Jason__Guest_Can you explain what has happened to Dice-K? Is it just a matter of the increased workload, or is this guy not as good as Theo & co. expected?
Jackie_MacMullanI do think Dice-K has worn down a little bit. So did Okajima before they got him a breather towards the end of the regular season. But the kid has to throw strikes. That's his biggest problem right now. His command is off. There's a sentiment in the clubhouse that umpires squeeze him a little bit, but in last night's game, he fell behind in the count far too many times to be effective. The word out of the Cleveland clubhouse before the game was they were going to make him throw strikes. And he didn't. Not enough of them, anyway.
Sal__Guest_Hello Jackie, Should Tito start Mirabelli? He has not played much in the last month. Varitek will hit better.
Jackie_MacMullanYou've got to understand how critical it is to Wakefield's psyche to have Mirabelli catch him. Varitek will be the first to tell you he still has trouble with the knuckler after all these years. The last thing you need to do is disrupt Wakefield's concentration before the biggest start of his season. I'll be absolutely stunned if Varitek is in the line-up.
BostondotcomJackie will answer a couple more questions. This chat ends in three minutes. Thank you for participating.
believer33__Guest_Do you think Francona is second guessing himself about not putting Buchholz on the roster?
Jackie_MacMullanEveryone else certainly is second guessing that, but believe me when I tell you that wasn't Francona's call. That's Theo's call, all the way. They believe they have something really special in this kid, and they are going to treat him with the utmost care. Who knows exactly how serious his "tired arm'' was? But they see him as a major part of the future, particularly with both Schilling and Wakefield coming to the end of the line, and they are protecting their investment.
Start_Ellsbury__Guest_If Tito is so adamant with giving Schill and Dice-K extra rest, why can't Beckett pitch tonight and game 7, and start Wake in game 5?
Jackie_MacMullanOnce Francona publicly declared before Game 3 that Wakefield would pitch Game 4 and Beckett Game 5, it was set in stone. in fact, he went so far as to say that pitching Beckett on 3 days rest would be a panic move, and that he wasn't panicking. So, even after losing Game 3, you knew it wouldn't happen. Beckett has pitched on 3 days rest before with success, but their feeling is Wakefield has to pitch in this series at some point, so keep everyone on their normal rest.
Boston_Matt__Guest_Is it me or do the Indians just want it a little bit more? Even the fans in Cleveland seem more loud and intense then the usual Die Hard Sox fans at Fenway.
Jackie_MacMullanI don't know if the Cleveland fans and players want it more. I can tell you there's tremendous excitement surrounding this city right now. Remember, too, this a team that faltered down the stretch of the regular season last year, and that has been mentioned more than once here. Eric Wedge really has done a great job with this team. It's not so much that Boston has screwed up in this series, but more they've been beaten by a very good, very well managed team.
Sponsored Links