Concentrating on anything is hard when you have inexplicably had "Jet City Woman" stuck in your head all day, much less writing a column on baseball, but here goes:
The diary with the title of "Petition to Fire Felipe Alou" has been the blockbuster diary hit of the season. Apparently, there are a lot of fans tired of the grizzled one's act. He doesn't bother me nearly enough to advocate his immediate dismissal, but I can see where the fervor comes from.
His complete and total mismanagement of the bullpen is what lights, fuels, and fans the flames. Tyler Walker closed out a game or two, and he was suddenly THE CLOSER. Tie game, ninth inning, why that's a job for THE CLOSER. Tough left-handed batter coming up in the ninth? Well, Scott Eyre has been dominating lefties, but he sure ain't THE CLOSER. Alou's mind works like a text-based adventure for the Apple II+. You're in a room with a fireplace, and yon matches are on the shelf. You need to type "get matches" and light the fire. If you type "grab the matches", the smart-ass computer says "I do not understand that request", and you're all, c'mon, "pick up the matches", and the computer says, "I do not understand that request". Then you'd type in a string of curse words, just to see what the response would be, and the computer would be like, "Hey, watch the language!", and you'd giggle, trying to forget how lame text-based adventures were in the first place. Strong Bad does the bit much better than I.
Alou's bullpen moves are so, so predictable and brainless. There is no room for any creative thinking, just like the "get the matches" analogy you've already forgotten about. Lefties need to face lefties, and righties need to face righties, unless you're Jason Christiansen, then you'll receive plenty of opportunities to show how one-dimensional you are by sucking against righties. Christiansen has faced more right-handers than left-handers this year. He's a SEVENTH-INNING KIND OF GUY. But Eyre will get yanked against righties because he is a SETUP MAN, not THE CLOSER. The carousel of relief is irritating at best, the work of a mad saboteur at worst.
There are areas where I will come to his defense, though. It didn't take long for Alou to give Jason Ellison the job held by Marquis Grissom, as he wanted to see if Ellison is a flash in the pan. 1 That would have taken Dusty Baker until August, if the switch was ever made at all. When Brad Hennessey is pitching a shutout, he'll get yanked in the seventh if he has thrown too many pitches. Unless a young pitcher's arm falls off and wriggles around like a salamander's tail, Dusty will keep the guy in the game until the shutout is finished or the game is in jeopardy. There is no excuse for Lance Niekro to not start against some right-handed pitching, at least, but Alou has certain advantages to other managers.
The complaint by the relievers misses the mark. The bullpen is overworked, yes, but that has more to do with the stench of the starting rotation, not Alou. Rueter was good for four innings, and you never know which Tomko is going to show up. Schmidt regularly tops 100 pitches before the seventh inning, and the young troika of Lowry/Hennessey/Correia do the same in almost every start. Teams with rotations this bad need 12 pitchers, if not 15 or 16. The only apparent solution would be a revolving shuttle of all the relievers on the 40-man roster. Have them up for 10 days, down for 10 days, up for 10 days, etc.... Not very realistic.
Alou drives me nuts at times, but he isn't my main concern. The team is bad, and that's the headline. Comment starter(s): What aspects of Alou did I miss?, and What is the lamest song you've had stuck in your noggin recently?
1. Yes. Yes, he was.