Let's do this morning's post Three Up style, a la Joel Sherman:
Look, we all absolutely loooove to discuss strategy, all the more so in these postseason games. Love it. The scrutiny, the pressure, the different options.
But I think Joe Posnanski put it best last year, discussing Ron Washington of all people:
"Here's the single and indispensable fact about baseball manager moves: If they work, they work. That's all. Everything else is static."
When Washington put the go-ahead runner on base last night in the eighth inning, walking the dangerous Miguel Cabrera with one out and no one on, there was a "Whoa!" in the press box. And as Washington admitted, the move nearly came back to bite him, if only Nelson Cruz hadn't unleashed a perfect throw home off Delmon Young's fly ball to right and if only the Comerica Park grounds crew had cleaned up the apparently invisible quicksand that made Miguel Cabrera look like he was Clark Griswold running in slow motion (accompanied by the "Chariots of Fire" theme) to the front gate of Wally World in "National Lampoon's Vacation."
Jim Leyland's free pass of Adrian Beltre in the 11th didn't go as smoothly. But then again, I'm not sure what would have worked, given Jose Valverde's recent workload.
Justin Verlander goes today against C.J. Wilson, so it's far from a slam-dunk that the Tigers' season concludes at home. But even if Detroit wins Game 5, it'll be awfully difficult to go back to Texas and win two there.
In St. Louis, meanwhile, the Cardinals took a 2-1 lead in games over the Brewers. I just can't see St. Louis winning two more at home. Milwaukee is too good.
(Yes, yes, hop on a plane to Vegas and bet heavily on the Cardinals winning the next two at home.)
2. When I wrote about Theo Epstein's imminent leap to the Cubs yesterday, I wasn't aware of the Boston Glove story that came out and dropped a few bombs on the Sawx chaos.
It's not that the story was inaccurate. My understanding is that yes, the Red Sox were concerned that Terry Francona's job performance was being influenced negatively by outside factors. But to air that dirty laundry in public? And for the source or sources to hide behind anonymity and level such accusations against a guy who helped win two World Series titles?
It's rare that I'll agree with Curt Schilling on something, but I think he nailed it on this one. Much of the information in this story had to emanate from the highest levels of the team's administration. There's going to have to be some sort of clearing of the air in order for the team to move forward. All the talk of "What happens in here, stays in here" feels pretty empty right now, if you know you're going to be sold down the river by your bosses if Jonathan Papelbon blows a save in Game 162.
No, Brian Cashman won't be joining the Red Sox. He'll be staying with the Yankees, and Ben Cherrington will succeed Epstein. Cherrington has much work ahead of him to heal some of these wounds. You're talking about a situation in which the team just crushed its best two pitchers, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.
Oh, and now David Ortiz is publicly musing about bolting the Red Sox for the Yankees. The Yankees aren't looking for a full-time DH - they want another body to share the job with creeky veterans Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira - but if Big Papi actually knocks on the Yankees door and offers to play for reasonable dollars? By golly, you'd have to consider it, wouldn't you? Give him 120 starts at DH and let him be a bench weapon the rest of the time.
This is when I'm programmed to write, "But I'm sure Ortiz will return to Boston," yet at the moment, nothing is assured in Beantown.
3. At the bottom of Erik Boland's story about Cashman and the Red Sox is the more pertinent information that the Angels received permission from the Yankees to interview senior director of pro personnel Billy Eppler and vice president of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer for their GM openings.
The Angels will interview many more people; Jon Heyman reports that Arizona exec (and former interim GM) Jerry DiPoto will get a look. I think Oppenheimer, a USC graduate, would be a particularly good fit out in SoCal. If owner Arte Moreno refuses to spend big in free agency, then the Angels are going to need a stronger farm system, and Oppenheimer has helped the Yankees build one of the best talent bases in the industry.
Oh, and the fact that the Yankees are letting Oppenheimer and Eppler interview with the Angels is even further evidence that Cashman is returning, because these two would be top candidates to succeed Cashman.
--I'll check in later from Comerica Park.