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With the Red Sox in the midst of the worst slump of the season, General Manager Dan Duquette decided to fire manager Jimy Williams.
The Duq said it was a move made in the best interests of the fans. This is a song The Duq often sings when he makes controversial moves. Was Williams at fault for the current position in both the American League East and the Wild Card? Was it his fault Nomar Garciaparra missed more than half the season?
Regardless of how Joe Kerrigan fares, he still has several players on the disabled list. The first thing Kerrigan is trying to stress is stability, planning to use the same five players at the top of the lineup. (Williams lineups gave his critics migraines for the past four years.)
Stability in both the starting lineup and the starting rotation, Kerrigan says, is the key to a successful team. Was the lineup the reason the Sox were swept by both the Angels and the Aís in August? Or was the use of different players at different times a way to keep everyone fresh?
The reality is Williams did the unthinkable this season. He kept a bunch of overpriced, mismatched players productive and in the playoff hunt without once fielding his desired starting lineup. Williams wasnít responsible for the trade to add Mike Lansing at $7 million nor should he be blamed for having close to $10 million of back up outfielders on the bench in Darren Lewis and Troy OíLeary.
Williams had to deal with losing his starting third baseman, John Valentin, his starting shortstop and two time defending batting champion, No-maaaaaa, along with two thirds of his starting rotation. Williams plugged Shea Hillenbrand in at third base, when Hillenbrand hadnít played above double A in his career and nursed quality innings out of rookies Paxton Crawford and Tomo Ohka until his injured horses returned.
Whatís more, Williams got more than anyone could have expected out of Tim Wakefield and Trot Nixon. Sure, his lineups made you feel more confused than Farrah Faucett. And yes, he drove Red Sox Nation crazy with his devotion to Lewis, Rod Beck, and Scott Hatteberg. The question still remains: Was this move in the best interests of the team?
This isnít 1988 when everyone involved wanted John MacNamara gone. To paraphrase Rick Pitino, ďJoe Morgan isnít going to walk through that door. And if he does he is going to be old and tired.Ē
Is this the start of Kerrigan Karma? It isnít likely. Kerrigan will fare fine for the rest of the season. Thatís assuming having a healthy Pedro Martinez pitching, which can make anyone look like Casey Stengal.
But history hasnít been kind to pitching coaches turned managers. Ray Miller, Larry Rothchild and numerous others can attest. Yes, Tommy Lasorda is an exception and sure Roger Craig took the Giants to a World Series, but donít look for him to be inducted into the Hall of Fame anytime soon.
Will Kerrigan be a Lasorda or a Miller? Time will tell. As it will with how the pitching staff will be affected now that Kerrigan is devoting half his time on the offense and less time working with his pitchers.
So, where does this leave the Red Sox in 2001? An uphill climb to make the playoffs. By then, they should have the healthy team everyone envisioned in spring training, which is really when Red Sox fans will begin thinking again Ė again if this will be the year. The year 2002, that is.
Written by Rich Raczelowski, a Chowdahead from Rhode Island
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Jan 15 2002, 07:48:26
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