While some members of the media seem all too happy to blame manager Ernie Whitt’s pitching rotation for Canada’s early exit from the WBC, it should be noted that Whitt basically used the best plan that was available to him.
With people like Erik Bedard, Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden and Jeff Francis unable (or, in Dempster’s case, unwilling) to participate and fireballer Phillipe Aumont being limited by the Mariners to one-inning stints, Whitt didn’t have much to work with.
Given the circumstances, it makes sense to hold back your best pitchers for the more important elimination games. Thus we end up with Scott Richmond not throwing a pitch in the tournament. But you can’t blame Whitt for Richmond’s lack of playing time. With the mashing potential in Canada’s lineup, there’s no way we should have lost to the Italians. But our bats failed and we did lose.
(And yes, the bats failed, but it’s interesting that the umps were giving Italian pitchers a MUCH more favourable strikezone than the Canuck pitchers were getting…)
The only slight criticism I can offer of Whitt in terms of managing the pitchers is that maybe he should have had Vince Perkins start against the States and let Mike Johnson pitch against Italy. I’m definitely offering this with the benefit of hindsight, Johnson seems like a much better pitcher than Perkins and, following the logic that had Richmond penned in to start against the Venezuelans, Johnson should have started the elimination game against Italy.
I am curious now though to see how all of this affects Richmond’s chances at cracking the Jays’ rotation. Taking time off from trying a spot to pitch for your country — and then not pitching — is not likely to be something that J.P. is going to think too highly of, especially considering his very pro-club stance in the club vs. country debate.