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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 11
Royce Webb: Well, Phil Garner got away with the short rest nonsense, but now he won't get Clemens and Oswalt back on regular rest until Games 3 and 4 against the Cardinals.

Jim Caple: Well, let me think. The Astros have never, never won a postseason series and we're supposed to dump on Garner for managing to pull it off? No, Clemens and Oswalt won't be ready until Games 3 and 4. But they had to get there first.

Royce: Sure. But which of Garner's moves got them there? Getting subpar performances out of Clemens and Oswalt and assuring the Braves would get the chance to whack away at the Astros' bullpen? Making Oswalt throw 111 pitches in five innings on short rest?

He got away with it.

David Schoenfield: And the goal isn't to win one series. The goal is to win three. And you're not going to do that with two starters. At some point, you have to let the other guys -- yes, even Pete Munro and Kyle Lohse, if that's the best you got -- pitch. You're not going to win otherwise. The Astros were up 2 games to 1 in Game 4, with a 42-year-old pitcher who had a stomach flu a few days before. If you hold back Clemens, you still had two chances to win one game and then you've got Oswalt for Game 1 of the NLCS.

Jim: C'mon, give him a break. Where were the Astros before he took over? He must be doing something right.

Royce: Yep, he probably did something right to get them this far. But it's hard to see what he did right since going up 2-1 in the series.

"Doing something right" doesn't absolve him any more than it will absolve Joe Torre if he screws up during the Red Sox series.

Do you agree with the decision to start Clemens and Oswalt on short rest?

If so, do you then agree with all the managers for whom it hasn't worked out?

Jim: Hmmm. You're not going to win relying on two starters or pitching guys on short rest? Tell that to the 2001 Diamondbacks. Or the 2003 Marlins.

David: Since '99, I believe teams are now 11-28 in games started on three days rest. That includes Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett. (Randy didn't start on short rest, although he did relieve of course in Game 7.)

Jim: That's a typical stathead figure that only tells you so much. It would be great if you're the Yankees of past years and you have four reliable starters for the postseason, but most teams don't have that luxury. Remember, managers don't do it because they think that's the optimal way to go, they do it because after managing their staff all season long -- and probably for years before that -- they're pretty sure that their odds of winning are even lower if they go with a No. 3 or 4 starter.

David: You know what's funny, back in the day the argument was: Drysdale on three days or Koufax on two? Now, that's a decision for you ...

Eric Neel: Garner's been schizophrenic. Early in the series, he made the move to bring in Lidge in the seventh, because it was the most critical time in the game. Love this move, even though it didn't pan out in the long run, because it was some smart outside-the-box thinking. Then, he started Clemens on three days, which is some pretty throwback thinking, but went with Qualls as his replacement (instead of Lidge) and did the weird Biggio double-switch thing in Game 4.

David: In fact, to give Garner some props here, he actually has a chance to change the future of baseball. If he uses Lidge in key situations in say the seventh inning -- rather than holding him for just the 8th or 9th -- and succeeds, maybe "the book" will change and managers (at least in the postseason) will see that typical closer usage isn't necessarily the best way to manage in a short series.

For instance -- and I'm certainly not saying Bobby Cox made the wrong move tonight -- but what if John Smoltz comes on in the seventh to hold down the 4-2 lead? Instead, Cox's best pitcher never gets in the game.

Jim: Same with Gagne and the Dodgers. He never pitched an inning that mattered.

Royce: Yeah, give Garner props for second-guessing every other manager on this count.

Eric: Who will the Astros likely start in Games 1 and 2 of NLCS? Backe and ...? Back to Clemens, because he only went 5 on Saturday?

David: I suppose they could ... him or Pete Munro.

If you start Clemens on three days, then Oswalt goes in Game 3 on Saturday, which is four days of rest ... you could then go Munro in 4, Backe in 5, Clemens in 6 and Oswalt in 7 all on regular rest.

So, if you want four starts out of Clemens/Oswalt, maybe Clemens should start Game 3. (Or start Clemens and Oswalt both on short rest in 6 and 7.)

Eric: That was my thinking, too. Because the series doesn't start until Wednesday, and then has an off day on Friday, things might work out all right, especially if we assume, and I think it's at least reasonable to speculate, that the Astros offense could get off against Woody Williams, Jason Marquis, or Matt Morris in one of the first two games.

Royce: I think it makes some sense if you factor in the extra Oswalt start. But you're sort of giving a game away to get to that game.

As for what they'll actually decide to do -- I think it probably comes down to whether Clemens is physically able to go on Thursday.

Second Guesses
We question ...

Ourselves for figuring the Braves were done. They didn't have the ending they wanted (again), but with a roster of ho-hum names, they blew away the division, including the World Champs and the trendy NL pick, the Phillies. That's 13 straight titles and counting for Cox and Co.

Would you rather advance to the NLCS and suffer the slings and arrows of Pujolsious fortune or would you rather go home and fish?

How good is Carlos Beltran?!

Bobby Cox for not letting Rafael Furcal pitch.

Previous editions of Second Guessing
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 Previous editions of Second Guessing
Oct. 10: Phil Garner's game strategy

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