|Schilling: ‘There Are No Fakes and Frauds In October’||09.24.09 at 11:57 am ET|
Curt Schilling visited the Dennis & Callahan Show on Thursday morning to discuss the shape of the Red Sox and the baseball landscape as the playoffs approach. Schilling discussed whether Josh Beckett or Jon Lester should start an ALDS Game 1, whether Beckett can succeed with Victor Martinez behind the plate, whether the Red Sox are better off pursuing Matt Holliday or Jason Bay this offseason, and why Alex Rodriguez has endured epic October struggles.
A full transcript of Schilling’s baseball conversation is below. For a transcript of Schilling’s decision not to run for Senate, CLICK HERE to visit the 38 Pitches blog.
To listen to the complete interview, CLICK HERE.
Would you have Lester or Beckett start Game 1? Is there a question?
I think [Beckett] already is [set in stone as the Game 1 starter]. Barring any physical issues, I think he is.
I’ve looked at clinching, because I’ve been in both cases, in two ways: clinching too early, if there is a case, of clinching too late. Clinching too early, I would be concerned about it with any other club other than this one. Given Terry and the mentality in this one, I don’t think that would have been a concern three weeks ago. Clinching too late changes screws up a lot of things. If you have to pitch into the last weekend of the season, in , I had to pitch against the Yankees [on the season’s final day]. It’s still one of the biggest mistakes that was made, I did not pitch in that postseason series against the White Sox because I pitched against the Yankees, I didn’t have a chance. And I was coming back from the injury, people were wondering what I would be like, and I was like, ‘I don’t care what you’re wondering. It’s October. Give me the ball and I’ll beat somebody.’ We had to play into the last weekend. Any time you have to do that, you have two problems.
No. 1, guys don’t get a breather. And No. 2, you don’t get to start the guys you want to start when you want to start them.
Would you go pedal to the metal to win the AL East and play a lesser team than the Angels?
You clinch your spot. That’s the priority. You clinch your spot first, and then if you have a chance to manipulate your opponent over the last week or two of the season and you can do that without pushing buttons and maxing things out from a workload standpoint. But I never, ever was concerned or wrapped up personally. The only thing that changed for me from an opponent’s standpoint was who I was going to be preparing for. I knew I was going to be so thoroughly prepared, and I was going to have such a huge advantage, that I didn’t care. I just wanted to know sooner rather than later so that I’d have more time. What you see, when the calendar turns, one of the transitions in the Red Sox organization is data. They provide their players with more data and better data than any place I’ve ever been. October is the one time that everybody on the team uses it. It’s the reason there are no fakes and frauds in October.
Did you care who was catching you?
Why? You were prepared. You shook off Jason Varitek. It’s not like it cost you a no-hitter. … Actually, it did. Is it really important to Beckett?
I don’t know. It was for me. It was for me from a, give me a day. Don’t ever surprise me on the day of the game. Give me a day and I’m good. In Philadelphia, we sucked so bad that I got to pick my lineup as opposed to my catcher. Here, I just wanted consistency. I had Dougie a couple of times for a couple of different stretches. For me, it’s tempo and workflow. When I’m trying to get on the same page as the catcher, I can throw 105 pitches in seven innings and have it take 2 hours and 10 minutes, or I can have it take 105 pitches in seven innings and have it take 3 hours and 15 minutes. That to me is the biggest piece.
One of the things people should, I think, feel good about, is that Victor has made as seamless a transition as you can make given the situation you can get here under. I never thought he was a bad defensive catcher or not a good game caller, but he’s far better than I ever thought he was at all of those things.
Would you be surprised if Varitek doesn’t start a game in the ALDS?
No. I don’t think [Martinez being the catcher] is going to be a problem with Josh.
Josh calls his own game, for the most part. He’ll take cues from catchers, but the pitches that he ends up delivering are the pitches he wants to throw. I think it’s one of the reasons his learning curve has been a little longer, at times, than others in getting to know this league. But he’s going to come out a better guy at the other end of it. I would not be concerned.
If you could shut down the running game, which we have done every time we’ve played Anaheim in the postseason, you’re going to beat them. The one thing I would be concerned about offensively right now is that Vlad seems to be getting healthy and swinging the bat really well. But I think we’ve neutralized him in an epic way in the last couple years in how we approached him. I cannot stress this enough: in October, every player on the team has literally their own scouting team.
Before we play [a game in] a series, you’ll see a video of that pitcher throwing that day that he’s playing on TV, and our hitters will be watching him, kind of glancing at him on the TV. The hitters study these guys.
I always looked at it as, everybody puts the time and effort in, preparation-wise, that I do every start. Every player and every pitcher puts that in for the four to five to six days leading up to the series. That’s why holes in people get exploited in October so much quicker than they do before that. You might have a guy who works the outer half of the strike zone on a consistent basis. Some hitters notice that, but bad hitters don’t during the season. In October, every hitter going to the plate knows X, Y and Z about this guy. It totally changes the way the games get played.
If the Sox sweep the Yankees this weekend, will they change their approach to the final week to pursue the division?
You’re asking my opinion, really. You know Terry well enough to know that he manages the way he manages. That has never changed. One of the things that Terry told me when he left Philadelphia was, you’re fired the day you’re hired. They just don’t put that date on your contract. If you know that’s the case, you need to manage the way you know how to manage all the time, because if you lose your job, you want to be able to walk away and say, ‘I did it the way I was supposed to do it.’ He is a guy who will manage his way.
They’re going to clinch that spot first and then they’ll assess.
Are the Red Sox a World Series-caliber team? Do you expect a Red Sox-Yankees ALCS?
I don’t think there’s any question at all that this team can win the World Series. No question whatsoever. I think, I’ve felt like the last 10 years, the World Series goes through the American League Championship Series. I always looked at it kind of like you have the AFC and NFC Championship Games before the Super Bowl, and usually the two best teams are playing each other before the Super Bowl. Not to discredit the National League, but I don’t think there’s any team that can put the firepower offensively and on the mound that these two clubs can.
Unless somebody flukes, and you get a hot [Justin] Verlander and Detroit rolls, I just can’t see Anaheim having the pitching to beat either one of these teams in the first round. The Yankees, if CC [Sabathia] and A.J. [Burnett] somehow get hot — I don’t think they will — they could steamroll. But I think it’s going to be a Red Sox-Yankees ALCS, and I think you’ll see a four games to one or four games to two World Series with the American League coming out on top, no matter who comes out of the American League.
This offseason, who should the Red Sox try to sign: Jason Bay or Matt Holliday?
You take the thing you know. He’s proven he can play in October, he’s proven he can play in this market, he’s a guy fans, you have to see him day in and day out, which is weird to say about a guy who hits 30-100, but he does it in a very workmanlike fashion. We talked about this when he came here. I’ve loved the guy since he came to the big leagues. Nothing since I’ve met him and was exposed to him and got to talk to him has changed my opinion. The guy is a stud, and for the next four to five years, you can have him patrolling left field. I think it’s going to come down to one thing, and I think that’s going to be years. I don’t think, whatever the Red Sox’ offer, that anyone is going to go $5 million a year more for a four-year deal. Somebody is going to throw that extra year in. It’s where the Yankees always win. It’s not about $1 million a year here or there. It’s about the $15-18 million for a year at the end of that contract. The Yankees are always comfortable putting that extra year on because they know it’s a trump card they can play and no one else can.
Do you think Alex Rodriguez will look at the calendar and say, ‘Uh-oh — here comes October’?
I would argue that’s already started — you know my response — when they clinched. His problem has always been that he’s a guy with holes and you can pitch to those holes. In October, I would argue that we pitched as well to them as well as anyone who’s played from Game 4 in ’04. For a guy that’s as good as he is, he still strikes out a lot. Guys who strike out a lot tend to have a tough time in October. I don’t know what kind of pressure he puts on himself. Based on everything I’ve ever read about him, seen about him and heard about him, he puts immense amounts of extra pressure on himself in October. It hasn’t worked for him in the past. He gets in enough postseasons, he’s going to have a good one, though.
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