So you're Terry Francona today. It's the ninth inning and Wake's thrown 108 pitches. Wake's a little more resilient than other pitchers, but you don't want to push it. You've used Jonathan Papelbon for four nights in a row over the past week, from 1/3 of an inning to an inning and a third depending on the game. The kid's doing well, but you just had to put your next-most-reliable relief pitcher, Mike Timlin, on the DL with arm fatigue after you used him 81 times the previous season. The last thing you want to see happen is a similar situation either later this season or early next year with this young phenom--you've gone so far as to take Papelbon's cleats away and tell him to suit up in sneakers, just so you won't tempt yourself.
Keith Foulke is similarly unavailable, and not very reliable (as his showing against the Rays Friday night showed) even if he were. David Riske is on the DL. Lenny DiNardo is on the DL. Bronson Arroyo is gone. What's left of your bullpen is as follows: Rudy Seanez, Manny Delcarmen, Jermaine Van Buren (who?) and Julian Tavarez.
So pick your poison. Delcarmen and Van Buren are marginal big-leaguers at best. But you have a five-run lead. Still, you want to sew it up; the Yankees won today and the better to keep their boot on their necks, you need the sweep. So do you go with Seanez? He's a gamble, to put it kindly; he had some success last time you gave him the ball, but Papelbon still needed to make an emergency one-out appearance. Or maybe put in Seanez first, so that if he shits the bed, the slightly more effective Tavarez can back him up? Do you go with Tavarez and hope he gets the three outs, with only a doomsday scenario of Seanez and the quadruple-A boys to fall back on? Do you gamble with Delcarmen, who hasn't exactly been lights out? Do you send Van Buren out there, causing Sox fans throughout the stands to frantically check their programs? Is there a scenario here, in this imagined walk in Tito's moccasins, that doesn't make you feel nauseous?
Is it just me, or did Tito look and sound in that postgame press conference, after the Sox managed to survive Seanez and Tavarez thanks only to a miraculous deus-ex-machina in the form of Willie Harris and a dead-on throw from the outfield to home plate, like he'd tasted his breakfast again between the last out of the ninth and sliding into his chair behind the microphones?
So now you're Theo Epstein...