Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Batter Up April 23rd, 2006

Charlie Dressen, one of the most astute baseball managers of all time managed the Pacific Coast League’s Oakland Oaks for three seasons. Dressen piloted the Oaks during the 1949-50 campaigns, before returning in 1954.

In between his stints in the PCL, the colorful Dressen headed the Brooklyn Dodger club three years, winning NL pennants in 1952 and 53.

Dressen had a favorite saying. He would tell his players in a very brash way,
“Fellas, just hold ‘em for seven innings and I’ll think of something”.

In 2006 the managers in the AL West may soon be echoing Dressen’s confident words.Where has all the pitching gone?

You can’t win a pennant without a reliable closer. All of a sudden the AL West race is starting to resemble its shaky counterpart in the National League.

Why? The lack of reliable end of the game pitching.

In Texas, Buck Showalter’s patience is wearing thin with closer Francisco Cordero. The hard throwing closer has resorted to an array of sliders and split finger pitches instead of throwing his heater in crucial ninth inning situations. Cordero is causing many anxious moments for his manager.

If Cordero continues to struggle and Texas has to turn to Antonio Alfonseca to close games it won’t be pretty in Arlington.

Seattle’s closer Eddie Guardado can’t find the plate with his mid 80’s fast ball. After blowing a two run the lead in Boston this past week, the lefty followed that performance with a four walk ninth inning costing the M’s their next game. Guardado’s job is in jeopardy.

Before long, next up to close in Seattle: J.J. Putz.

Francisco Rodriguez is the closer in Los Angeles. Can Rodriguez go through the whole season once again living on his maximum effort slider? With Rodriguez already searching for better control of his out pitch early in the year, manager Mike Scoscia might be wise to give Scott Shields some ninth inning opportunities before Rodriguez wears out.

A’s closer Houston Street, slowed by a mild pectoral strain, hasn’t yet shown the crisp form that earned him Rookie of the Year honors in 2005. Street needs pin point control of his back door slider to succeed.

If Street’s muscle injury lingers, Ken Macha will be juggling relievers on a nightly basis.

You can also add Giants manager Felipe Alou to the list of skippers trying to figure out how to mix and match late in the game.

If the ninth inning continues to be an adventure for these teams, then the manager who can “think of something” at the end of the game will win it all.

The melt down of the Cleveland pitching staff has reached alarming proportions. With the Tribe bull pen in complete disarray, all the hitting in the world won’t be enough to keep pace with the White Sox. Unless competent big league reinforcements are on the way in Cleveland, you can count on the Tigers passing the Tribe in the Central.

Randy Johnson’s back is hurting again. The Yanks have Roger Clemens number on speed dial.

If your team is in a batting slump, then check the schedule and see when you next face the Royals or Devil Rays.

Here’s the problem for Barry Bonds.

In order to make the perjury case against the slugger the government will have to produce a witness to say that Bonds knew he was taking illegal steroids.

Bonds will have to get on the stand and refute the evidence. It would be a huge risk for Bonds not to testify in his own behalf once the prosecution rests its case, essentially claiming that the witnesses are untruthful.

That’s when the case gets sticky for the slugger.

Bonds may be able to hit a fastball in the majors, but he will meet his match under cross- examination because in light of all the evidence his “I was told it was flaxseed oil” answer is patently unreasonable.


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