Friday, October 10, 2008

Kevin Kennedy Knows All - When Will Joe Torre Learn?

I was watching the Fox pre-game show and Kevin Kennedy, as usual, was second-guessing the managerial decisions of the previous day's action. Apparently that's his role. Am I the only one who thinks this is a strange role in which to put a guy who was run out of managing for the unquestioned genius of Johnny Oates and Jimy Williams?

And this time, he was second-guessing Joe Torre. In the playoffs.

Kennedy said he would have had Hong-Chi Kuo up for Derek Lowe in the 5th. He said he would have brought in Kuo to face the Phillies' lefty mashers - Chase Utley and Ryan Howard - after Rafael Furcal's error in the 6th. The sinker was up and losing its effectiveness because Lowe was nearing the wall he tends to hit around the 100 pitch mark (if you are in the habit of blindly believing Kevin Kennedy). Finally, he emphasized how insane Utley's numbers were against the Bums in general, and Lowe specifically.

From this, Kennedy concluded that Lowe was CLEARLY losing his momentum and edge.

In typical Kennedy fashion, it's what he glossed over or totally omitted that tells the real story.

The real story includes the fact that Lowe was pitching a shutout through five innings. That he had recorded two of the three outs in the fifth by way of the ground ball. That the two singles he gave up in the same frame were to the 8th spot and the pitcher after recording two outs. That he came back to retire Jimmy Rollins, a much more dangerous hitter, to end the threat. That this was a strong indication the two singles were the result of a lack of focus and not fatigue.

It includes the fact that Shane Victorino reached via an error on a ground ball. That Lowe had struck out Utley in his previous at-bat (a point Kennedy mentioned but dismissed by saying Utley was locked in, strange considering locked in players typically don't strike out). That Howard had done nothing all game and, indeed, continued to do nothing by grounding out immediately after Utley's homer. That four ground balls would have resulted in four outs (but for the error) in two innings. That this was another strong indication the sinker had life.

More importantly, that Joe Torre has earned the benefit of the doubt. Especially when the source of that doubt is a baseball luminary like Kevin Kennedy.

Most importantly, I want to draw particular attention to Kennedy's statement about Lowe's pitch-count.

He said Lowe has hit the wall around 95-100 pitches in the past so he would have had Kuo up in the fifth. Lowe was pulled after facing Victorino, Utley, Howard, and Pat Burrell in the sixth. Utley homered on a 2-2 count so that's five pitches assuming no fouls. Burrell homered on a 3-1 pitch so that's another five pitches. Let's say Victorino and Howard were both retired on the first pitch. That's an additional two pitches. So the MINIMUM number of pitches thrown by Lowe in the sixth was twelve, and it was certainly more.

Derek Lowe was pulled in the sixth having thrown 90 pitches, according to ESPN.

He had thrown a shutout through five innings on AT MOST 78 pitches.

And yet Kevin Kennedy said he would have had Kuo up DURING the fifth, not after it, because he was nearing the end of his rope. A rope which extends, according to Kennedy, to 95 or 100 pitches. A number Lowe still had not reached when he was pulled after four hitters in the sixth.

The real story is that Kevin Kennedy has no idea what he's talking about. That Kennedy couldn't look at the situation in real-time and make the right decision or he would still be a manager. That he needs to see the outcome and, even then, use fabrication to support the argument behind his decision.

That he needs the calm security of the television studio to even do that.

Kennedy went to some length in an effort to soil the reputation of a model human-being by all accounts. He used 20/20 hindsight and outright lies to imply Joe Torre made a critical and obvious mistake on baseball's penultimate stage that Kevin Kennedy would not have made.

This is perhaps the greatest manager of my lifetime, and one of the best postseason managers of all-time. I know Torre's most recent trips have resulted in failure, but he's taken his team to the postseason for 14 consecutive seasons and won four World Series titles.

Kevin Kennedy managed for four SEASONS.

And yet has no problem criticizing Torre with intolerable smugness, like it's against his will. Like he tried to ignore the situation but just couldn't allow himself to do it because the mistake was too egregious.

As a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan, I have no reason to defend the Bums' manager or Joe Torre. I am not exaggerating when I say I'm rooting for them to lose almost as hard as I would be rooting for the Gents to win.

I hate the Bums.

But fair is fair and Kevin Kennedy personifies the worst kind of analyst out there - arrogant, smug, and deceitful (or too stupid for simple math). And almost always wrong.

He is trash.

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