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Clinching Protocol- You Weigh In
2005-09-30 10:32
by Scott Long

After clinching the playoffs on Thursday, the White Sox were put in a new dilemma. Do you rest some of your starters, which would be beneficial for your team's playoff chances, despite how this would effect the AL wild card race? While this rarely happens in baseball, this circumstance happens a lot in the NFL and NBA and while these league's claim they need to uphold the integrity of the whole season, the clinched teams generally rest the starters who they think it will benefit.

It's my belief that you earn the opportunity to rest your players if you clinch early, as the manager's main responsibility is to his team's future, be it giving veterans a rest to keep them fresh and also looking at his September call-ups for next season. I would argue that a call-up is going to play harder than a veteran that has clinched, anyway. I'm guessing, your opinion will vary, depending on if you're a Yankees/Red Sox or Indians fan.

The biggest issue for the White Sox at this point is do you start Brandon McCarthy, on the last game of the season? While McCarthy has been arguably the Sox best pitcher the past month, I would not put him in my rotation for the first round of the playoffs. It's hard to question using Buehrle, Contreas, Garland, and Garcia as I would say they are the best starting 4 of all playoff teams. Considering that McCarthy has the freshest arm, plus has the best strikeout/walk ratio, I would think he would be an effective tool to use out of the bullpen, so I would use the last couple regular season games to see how he fairs pitching in relief.

Please check-in below on where you stand. Should an already clinched team rest its starters or should it play its regulars to provide for the fullest integrity of the playoff chase?

2005-09-30 12:25:04
1.   Cliff Corcoran
Set up your rotation for the postseason, rest your starters. You've earned it, that's the advantage of clinching "early." Unless there's some team out there that you're convinced will beat you in the postseason and you think playing hard the rest of the way could keep them out of the playoffs it's foolish and irresponsible not to set your team up as best you can for the playoffs.
2005-09-30 12:44:55
2.   stevegoz
What Cliff said. Your first obligation is to your own team. Until things like a salary floor, the arbitrary matchups of interleague play, etc. are addressed, any claim that the schedules are fair and balanced elsewhere is bunk. Lou Pinella's relying on washed-up vets the first half of the season gave the Yanks and BoSox as much of an advantage as a Sox lineup with Borchard hitting cleanup will give to the Indians.
2005-09-30 12:49:51
3.   graciebarn
The integrity of the whole season my foot. Neither of those league seem particularly noble to me (MLB doesn't, either), and it seems foolish to plan your rotation around the wishes of other teams.

And you have two extra apostrophes in the last sentence.

2005-09-30 12:51:01
4.   JNelson
I don't really get this whole "integrity" thing. A coach/manager's job is to look out for his team's interests. Of course, usually that means putting out the best lineup you can. But at the end of the season, if you've clinched, or if you're clearly out of contention, there are other things that can be at least as important as winning that day's game. If you're going to the playoffs, you might want to rest your starters, re-arrange your pitching rotation, etc. If you're out of it, you might want to have a look at some young guys to see how they perform, give them some big-league experience, or possibly build some trade value. Why this is considered unethical is beyond me.

I realize it might have an impact on a playoff race if a contender's opponent is resting its veterans or having a look at september callups, but that's not why a manager does those things. He's trying to help his team win in the playoffs or to be a better team next year. Those are both perfectly legitimate goals. It's just the luck of the draw. A contender might also be playing a team with injury problems, or a team that's just bad. It's the same thing in my book.

2005-09-30 13:29:58
5.   bostonshawn
Why are we talking about Chicago? We should be talking about Cleveland. Let's be honest-- they are basically our AA team for both Boston and NY. Guys like Sizemore and Hafner will be wearing Red Sox and pinstripes as soon as their rookie contracts expire and Cleveland management is too cheap to sign them.

2005-09-30 14:10:19
6.   Derek Smart
Agree with Cliff as well, but I do think there's an open question as to whether it would be in the White Sox best interest to try to keep Cleveland out of the postseason. I'd lean toward resting folks myself, but I could see a reasonable case being made that the Indians pose the biggest threat to the White Sox chances to advance, and should therefore be attacked with all alacrity in the here and now.
2005-09-30 15:00:45
7.   The Cheat
I believe it's in the White Sox best interest to win 1 of the games, securing home field throughout, and setting up a possible 3-way playoff.
2005-09-30 15:59:04
8.   TFD
Oh God. I just woke up from a bad dream, right? The GFWS made the playoffs?

What else could possibly go wrong, I ask.

Next thing you know:

1.) The US will elect some dunce to a two-term presidency.
2.) He'll start some war under the guise of terrorism...err freedom...err oil reserves.
3.) A top 30 American city will go by the wayside because of a political appointee who used to run a horse group and the downsizing of FEMA to a less-than-cabinet level post.
4.) The Red Sox will win the WS.
5.) Markie Shapiro will leave ESPN to join Daniel Snyder in an unsoliticed bid to buy...Six Flags(!)

Yeah right. Tell me another one.

So what was the question again?

Oh, and D, check out that #1 CD on iTunes these days. That Wildflower has never smelled so good.

2005-09-30 16:57:02
9.   FoulTerritory
OK, it's been 159 games. Can someone point me to the post where it was explained why Contreras is spelled wrong in every Scott Long post?
2005-09-30 19:03:51
10.   Scott Long
Foul Territory. Denver omelette on my face. I concentrate so hard on spelling Buehrle's name right that I've blown it on Jose. Thanks for the correction.
2005-09-30 20:45:11
11.   FoulTerritory
I say go with it. I just wondered if there was an explanation. Buehrle's way harder to spell anyhow.
2005-09-30 21:04:18
Scott, do you think the Sox should pull McCarthy from his start on Sunday to see what he does out of the bullpen? I just can't envision a scenario where we'll be able to see him out of the bullpen before the end of the regular season. We've seen him in relief once already, when he went 6 IP 2 ER in relief of the Duque with 8 Ks (I think) and those runs came later rather than earlier. I would keep McCarthy in his start and just let him get some innings in before the postseason. I'd also keep Duque on the roster and dump Marte. Todays game would have been a 1-0 victory in 9 if not for him.

But as far as resting the regulars goes, Ozzie has a limited responsiblity to the other contending teams to trot out his best lineup. The limitation is the needs of his own team. It probably is not even in the White Sox best interest to rest the regulars too much, but one game makes sense. I would expect to see some regulars in there tomorrow and the full lineup by Sunday.

2005-09-30 22:02:54
13.   Scott Long
I just think McCarthy could be the difference maker in a bullpen which is quite frankly, worn out from playing so many close games. I'm guessing the Sox are thinking on using McCarthy as a shadow starter for whomever struggles in the start, but I would use him as a set-up man or even closer, as Jenks has lost some velocity. I would agree with having EL Duque in the pen, as he has a great track record in the big games, which no other white sox pitcher has.

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