Thursday, October 20, 2016

Strictly on Merritt

The Cleveland Indians did what I didn't think they could: They beat the Toronto Blue Jays in a LCS without their second and third best starting pitchers (Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar). They beat the Jays while getting less than an inning from their No. 4 starter, Trevor Bauer.

And kudos to Terry Francona, who probably cemented his Cooperstown credentials with his bullpen mastery in this series. The Jays have a lineup stacked with power, and the Tribe shut them down even when they had to resort to a rookie lefty with one major league start on his resume. Ryan Merritt was pitching in instructional league when the Indians hurriedly added him to the roster for the LCS after learning of Bauer's injury.

If, as is speculated, Salazar will be ready to work in the World Series, Merritt probably won't be on the Series roster. He may not be anyway. Francona didn't let him work deep enough Wednesday night to get credit for the win -- 4.1 innings -- but Merritt should be a piece of Cleveland legend for years to come anyway.

I'm sure that Francona wouldn't have been nearly so quick with the hook in a regular season game. But this wasn't regular season, and he took advantage of the opportunity to close out the Jays and move on to the World Series.

Both metro papers this week carried stories on a theme I wrote soon after Derek Falvey was identified as the next baseball ops boss of the Twins, to take the position after the Indians were done with the postseason: Decisions have to be made in October, and not having Falvey on board is something of an impediment.

As I watched Merritt carve up the Toronto lineup with a mediocre fastball, I wondered: How much credit does Falvey deserve for the effectiveness of the Indians pitching? A major part of his duties as assistant general manager in Cleveland is reportedly pitching preparation. Merritt had to make the pitches, and somebody, probably catcher Roberto Perez, called the individual pitches, but Falvey is apparently key in drawing up the plan.

Then the followup question: Even if he does a brilliant job at that, how does that translate into moving into the big job? What he does now, no matter how well, is not what he's going to be doing in Minnesota. I'm not saying he can't succeed as the boss. I do raise the possibility of the Peter Principle (people rise to the level of their incompetence) coming into play.

In Cleveland, Falvey did certain jobs, and presumably did them very well, In Minnesota, he has to find and hire people to do those jobs. There's a difference,

1 comment:

  1. FYI: Kris Johnson, who made three starts for the Twins in Sept 2014, is starting game 1 of the Japan world series tonight for the Hiroshima Carp. Let's hope more of the this year's pitching staff find their way here to Japan. . . .