Mon., Oct. 27
I feel bad that Grady Little has been fired, because he did a great job in his two years as Red Sox manager (winning 93 games in 2002 and 95 this year). He deserves plenty of credit for leading the Red Sox to the ALCS.
What led to Little's demise was his decision to stick with Pedro Martinez in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees. But I would have done the same thing. Little decided to sink or swim with his best pitcher on the mound. He went with the unquestioned ace of his rotation. How can you argue with that? It's too easy to second-guess after the fact.
In a late-inning situation, every manager, pitching coach and pitcher will talk (in this case, after the seventh inning was over). They'll ask the pitcher, "Do you have anything left? Be honest with us. How are you feeling?" Boston pitching coach Dave Wallace was my pitching coach with the Dodgers, so I know he's a great communicator. When your best pitcher tells you he can go back out there, you take his word for it. They put their trust in their main man, and in this case he wasn't able to come through.
In hindsight, Little could have pulled Pedro a batter earlier (his last pitch of the game became a two-run single by Jorge Posada to tie the score 5-5). But if Boston fans had to go back and do it all over again, I think they'd be happy -- or at least take their chances -- with a three-run lead and Pedro on the mound, five outs from the World Series.
It's one thing if you leave your No. 3 starter or a setup reliever in the game in that situation. But this was Pedro. I can live with him not getting the job done. But unfortunately for Little, it cost him his job. I hope he lands on his feet somewhere.
Of the candidates for the position, veterans Charlie Manuel and Mike Hargrove would be good choices. But I'd like to see Angels pitching coach Bud Black get an opportunity. Black and I pitched in the same rotation with the Indians, and we're good friends. He did a phenomenal job with the staff of the World Series champions last year.
The Red Sox have a strong lineup that set all-time records for slugging percentage and total bases in 2003. They need help, though, with the starting rotation and the bullpen. Black would be a good fit for their needs.