Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Jim Caple’s article wanting “…to eliminate the cheap save” made me realize that Tito Jackson Francona has gotten a lot of undeserving crap from the fans and the media. The most important decision a Manager makes is when to use his relievers and Tito, relative to his 29 colleagues, has done a great job so far. Tito’s handling of a depleted pen has been admirable, but the factor that puts Tito ahead of the pack is his usage of Foulke. For the most part, Tito has used Foulke as Theo indicated in the press conference announcing the RELIEF ACE’S signing:
"We told Keith we see him as a real weapon in helping us win games, and we told him we're going to pitch you as much as possible, in the most important innings as possible and have you impact as many games as possible," Epstein said.
Foulke would not be used strictly as a ninth inning closer that raked up the “cheap” saves – entering in the ninth inning up by three runs.
As Athletics general manager Billy Beane points out, a team that leads by three runs in the ninth wins almost every time, no matter whether it uses its closer or not. It's not the closer who is automatic in such a situation -- it's the three-run lead.
Tito’s usage of Foulke has given the Sox a competitive advantage. The Sox gain would be even greater when Foulke Hero gets into more close games earlier on, most notably with runners on base, instead of Timlin or Embree. Foulke can pitch more than his current pace of 84 innings. He has logged 100 relief innings previously in his career. Foulke is a horse out of the pen. Tito needs to ride him even more than his current pace. An increased workload for Foulke is more necessary with Williamson on the DL. Hopefully, Tito will go to the Foulke Hero more often now in second half of the season.