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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Defending The Indefensible

A quick search on MLB.com indicates that at present, only one pitcher named Weaver is active on major league rosters this year. (The other recent one, Eric Weaver, has been out of the majors since 2001.) So imagine my surprise when reading the following Daily Breeze story, in which Jim Tracy tries to defend his actions on Friday night:
Tracy stuck to his postgame opinion that there were no signs that Weaver would falter as he did in giving up a go-ahead slam to Adam LaRoche. Tracy also said he was unconcerned by Weaver's high pitch count entering the eighth.

"He was never in a jam," Tracy said Saturday afternoon. "He never threw over to first base. The hardest hit ball leading up to the eighth was a double by the pitcher in the sixth. ... I saw a guy making one quality pitch after another. It was by far the best start of the season for Weaver."

Which Jeff Weaver did you think you were watching? Let's rewind, shall we? Weaver, carrying a three-hit shutout into the eighth on 94 pitches, gives up in succession:
  1. A 4-3 groundout to Ryan Langerhans (2 pitches, 96 total).
  2. A single to left to PH Pete Orr (2 pitches, 98 total).
  3. A double to left for Rafael Furcal (5 pitches, 103 total).
  4. A strikeout to Marcus Giles (7 pitches, 110 total).
  5. A walk to Chipper Jones (4 pitches, 114 total).
  6. And a grand slam to Adam LaRoche (5 pitches, 119 total).
And Weaver was done for the night. First off, in the major leagues, bases loaded, zero, one, or two outs is considered a jam. (Perhaps it isn't in the Looking-Glass world Tracy inhabits, but then why is he managing the Dodgers?) Where do you pull Weaver? In my opinion, it was somewhat obvious he was running out of gas after the double to Furcal, but it became painful after the four-pitch walk to Jones. He had nothing left, and at that point, with the bases loaded, you take the ball, pat him on the back, and send him to the showers.
In some good news, Tracy announced (in that same story) that it's possible Scott Erickson will be put in the bullpen:
Actually, in his role as the fifth starter, Erickson won't be needed again until May 28 because of the way the schedule breaks for the Dodgers. Tracy declined to say if the 37-year-old Erickson would return to the rotation.

But Tracy also said, "You get to the point where you want to see some positive results. ... You give a veteran guy an opportunity to pitch and do a very good job. Then you'll know if he's ready to pitch on the 28th.

"We're going to have him pitch (today) and let's see what happens. He's the starter (today). The 28th is two weeks away."

It's also possible Erickson could be moved to the bullpen, but only for what Tracy called a "non-stressful spot." It would most likely involve a situation when the game was not on the line and Tracy wished to avoid overworking his bullpen.


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