Friday, May 2, 2008


The New York Times has a story on Billy Brewer, the former major league reliever who is now a rookie on the Bassmasters Elite Series. That's cool and all, but I don't care much about fishing. I do like stories like these, though:
An unforgiving situation on the lake can be matched with some of his experiences as a member of the bullpen for the Royals, Yankees, Athletics and Phillies and 12 minor league teams.There was the time he gave up a lead for the Royals and sat in the bullpen for a week. When he approached Manager Bob Boone to say he was ready when needed, Boone snapped at him, he said.

“I’m the manager of this team, and when you are ready to pitch, I will tell you when you are ready to pitch,” Brewer recalled Boone saying. “Now get out of my office.”

Hey, let's give this tracer the Big Book of Baseball Legends treatment!

Let's see, the only season when both Brewer was managed by Boone was 1995. Scanning his game log that year, there was only one time when he didn't pitch for a day or two after a loss or a blown lead, and that was between May 12th and May 17th.

So what happened May 12th that caused Boone to ignore him for a while? Well, Brewer walked two guys, threw a wild pitch, and gave up the winning run to the Angels in parts of the eighth and ninth. But it wasn't that bad, actually. The wild pitch ended up not mattering, as it came in the eighth, which Brewer escaped with no damage. In the ninth, he got the first two batters out, before walking Gary DiSarcina and Tony Phillips. Boone then yanked Brewer in favor of Rusty Meacham, who promptly gave up a double to Spike Owen, allowing the inherited DiSarcina to score, which made the difference. I know managers hate walks from relievers, but that does seem a bit harsh to bench Brewer for a week after such a performance, doesn't it?

But guess what? He really wasn't benched a week. For starters, the Royals only played three games between the 12th and the 17th, so Brewer is exaggerating. More significantly, though, there were plenty of reasons other than Boone being miffed at Brewer for him not pitching.

The first game he missed -- May 13th -- was a complete game victory for Kevin Appier, so it's not like he was needed. Likewise in the May 16th game, which was a rain-shortened, five-inning affair, all of which was handled by starter Chris Haney. The May 14th game was a blowout, with the Angels winning 8-1. Thus, to the extent Brewer was complaining about not pitching, he was really complaining about not pitching mop-up duty. Hey Billy: you were just coming off a pretty strong year. Maybe Boone still thought of you as a primary setup guy and was just saving you for the close games? You should have been flattered!

Upshot: If I'm Bob Boone and Brewer came up to me in the clubhouse complaining about his workload under such circumstances, I'd probably snap at him too.


Ernesto said...

Who knew you had a little Ken Tremendous in you?

Drew said...

Rob Neyer's BBOBL has had a nice residual effect here, because this sort of research is going to get done a lot more often by people who've read it. And it really does shed an interesting light on things in many cases. Where at first, you think you have a situation of a totalitarian manager punishing a poor, helpless reliever who only wants to help the team by going out there and doing his job. Gosh, what a heartbreaker. And upon further review, you find you have a guy who for some reason or another didn't like Boone, and is using this outlet to try to make him look bad for something he didn't even really do. Thanks for getting to the bottom of this, Craig. And thanks, Rob, for inspiring this kind of research. And thanks, Bill James, for making Rob do this work back in the day, and inspiring you to inspire Craig. Someone tell me who inspired Bill now, so I can thank him, too....

CWK said...

He walked Gary Disarcina? By accident? No wonder Boone was pissed.

Anonymous said...

Queue Tommy Lasorda world series rant from the mound when the reliever doesn’t want to be yanked….

(I have that on my ipod)