Joe Pepitone & Terry Francona
So there are two baseball-related items on my mind this morning. Coming off of Sunday night's tour-de-force Curb Your Enthusiasm episode in which Larry David's Joe Pepitone game jersey is lost at the dry cleaners and then, um, recovered (read: stolen back) by his houseguest Leon Black, I just had to figure out "why Joe Pepitone?"
Also, Terry Francona absolutely gave the Toronto Blue Jays a win last night. I need to get a few things off my chest on that front.
First Pepitone, however. For starters, like David, Pepitone was born in Brooklyn. He was a New Yorker through and through and when he was signed at the age of 18 by the Yanks in 1958, there was great anticipation in and around New York for his arrival with the Big Club. It came in 1962, but with Mickey Mantle in center field and Moose Skowron manning first base, he was relegated to spot duties and struggled, posting a .239/.255/.442 line.
Still, with his pop and smooth glove the Yanks felt Pepitone was ready for fulltime duties in 1963. They traded Skowron to make room for him, and "Pepi" became the everyday first baseman. With the ability to play both first and center and nice pop, when I read about him I couldn't help but think of Darrin Erstad. Early in his career, Erstad was the better player because he could get on base with regularity. Now, however, Erstad can neither get on base nor hit with any pop, so Pepitone is the better player. Average them out and they net out similarly, although Pepitone gets the slight edge at the plate.
AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Pepitone .258 .301 .432 105
Erstad .284 .339 .411 95
Anyway, Pepitone had a pretty nice career and was known for his fiery play on the field and local popularity. Given this it is no surprise that David, who does little to hide his Yankee loyalties on Curb Your Enthusiasm and famously was the voice of George Steinbrenner on Seinfeld, would have incorporated his affinity for Joe Pepitone into an episode.
Having gotten seven strong innings out of young lefty Jon Lester and clinging to a 2-1 lead last night in Toronto, Terry Francona had a number of options available to him. He chose Eric Gagne, who had pitched well in consecutive outings over the weekend against the Yankees. Take in the following:
* Gagne has a 9.00 ERA as a Red Sox
* Neither Hideki Okajima nor Jonathan Papelbon had appeared in a game since 9/14.
* Manny Delcarmen (2.37 ERA) threw three pitches in the seventh inning.
* After getting the first two outs, Gagne surrendered a walk, a base hit and another walk to load the bases. The tying run was at third, the go-ahead run on second.
I don't need to tell you how this ended, but Gagne remained on the hill, walked a run, and surrendered a two-run double to Russ Adams. The Red Sox lost 4-3.
Terry Francona is an awful bullpen manager, and very well may cost the Red Sox in the post-season.