Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Random Sox Thoughts...

And the Red Sox keep on winning. It really is impressive and, at this point, teetering on the edge of insanity. To come back from 8.5 games in a month is hard enough, but to keep winning at that clip with this many injuries is amazing to watch.

A couple of miscellaneous thoughts that have been kicking around the old noggin

1) Who in the hell would have predicted that heading into 4th of July weekend, the Major League 25 man roster would be littered with the likes of:
-- Gustavo Molina
-- Angel Sanchez
-- Eric Patterson
-- Darnell McDonald
-- Daniel Nava
-- and Bill Hall
That in itself is insane. But if on April 15th, I told you that was going to be true – even less people would have believed the Red Sox would have the second best record in all of baseball with 47 wins.

2) Lackey is an odd pitcher, isn’t he? And not just the double chin, unathletic build. It is the way he pitches. He doesn't dazzle, he never dominates, and he rarely leaves jaws dropped. He has a 4.46 ERA, he has only struck out 56 batters, while walking 39 for a K/BB ration of 1.43 (Lester’s is 2.71). But what he does do – and does very well is win f’n baseball games. It is really impressive actually how he can pitch just good enough to come out of a start with a W. With an ERA+ of just 95, he is strutting around with a record of 9-3 heading into the All Star break. That is the same record as Jon Lester who has an ERA+ of 155 and just one win shy of Clay's team leading 10 wins AL leading ERA+ of 182. Clay Buchholz deserves an entire post on his season so far. I expected a nice jump, hoped for a big jump, but right now he is performing at a level only matched by some guy in Colorado, Florida and Philly – and those 3 throw to pitchers every day. When he pulled up short grabbing the back of his knee, New England gasped – and when he came out of the game, we worried… and that was the first no-decision Clay has had all year. But back to Lackey – only 8 other players have 9 wins in the AL – and the second lowest ERA+ is CC Sabathia… which is still 20 points higher than our double chinned friend. But the craziest part is that his best pitching has come in no-decisions. He has had 4 no decisions, all four have been lost by the bullpen in either the 9th or extra innings with the biggest gut punch being his start against the Yankees on June 6th - his best outing of the year - where Paps gave up 2 in the 9th. Paps blew 2 wins for John. Think about THAT... he should be tied with David Price for the league lead in wins with 11.

3) It is mind boggling how bad the injury situation is; and of course, that is why we have the likes of Gustavo Molina on the 25 man roster. And while Ellsbury, Cameron, Hermida, Beckett, and Dice K all hurt the past few months or so - Pedey, Vmart and Buchholz missing any time (crossing fingers that Clay doesn't) is pure torture. But, baseball is a funny game. Average guys can do amazing things. One man can win a game with one swing. A pitcher, a bullpen - they are able to carry the torch on days where the offense finds holes in their bats. And at the end of the day, it all comes down to timing. Papi steps up big last night - Lackey does what he needs to do. They capitalize when men are on base, they work counts, Bill Hall drives in some big runs with a nice piece of hitting. Varitek contributes when he is called on… and that dynamic – I think – is unique to this game.

4) With this string of injuries; I find myself thinking back to 2006 and how much easier it is to swallow a rash of injuries to the offense then to pitching. In 2006, only two pitches started more than 30 games (Beckett and Schill) – next in line was Wake with 23. After that, they saw a total of 11 different pitchers start a game for the sox. Lester, Clement, Wells, Kyle Snyder, Jason Johnson (talk about a name to forget - pitched 6 games with an ERA over 7), Lenny Dinardo, Julian Tavarez, Kason Gabbard, David Pauley, Kevin Jarvis, and Devern Hansack. The result? The only time the Red Sox did not win 95 games since Theo took the reins and their worst season in nearly a decade - since 2001 to be exact.

The moral of the story here - if people are going to go down, let it be offensive - because, as I mentioned above, Bill Hall can win you game on any given day. You can win games 1-0 by having strong pitching, good defense and some luck on offense. You can weather the storm with your offensive studs out. But, when Jason Johnson, Kyle Snyder, Lenny Dinardo and Kason Gabbard combine for 26 starts - you know what happens? 8-18 records happen, that's what.

5) Ok, the time has come to say goodbye to interleague play. I’d say it was fun while it lasted, but it wasn’t. It is a debauchery for so many different reasons - but none more than what it does to the schedule. The poor Arizona Diamondbacks interleague opponents have a combined winning percentage of .606 - the Nationals? .303. In the AL, the Red Sox had the toughest interleague schedule with the aggregate winning percentage of opponents at .546. The Rangers are in the bottom with their national league foes winning at a clip of .415. Not to mention - the two leagues play WITH DIFFERENT RULES. When Pete Rose first walked into Fenway for the 1975 World Series - he looked at the Green Monster and just stared - he was mesmerized. He had been playing in the majors for 12 year and was obviously familiar with Fenway Park and that big wall in left. But this was his first time actually looking directly at the 37 foot, 2inch wall - and, in typical Pete Rose fashion – he started to calculate how many more hits he would have had in this park. Interleague play cheapens that moment. It cheapens the World Series. It cheapens the All-Star game - and there is literally no good reason to do it outside of money. (Well, except for that 13-5 record)

Here we are - It is July 1st - the Sox are 47-31, 1 back from the division, 2 up on the Wild Card. It always takes a 90+ degree day or two for it to really start rolling. And now, with that on the board - I get the chills just thinking about the next 4 months.

It is days like these I miss not being in Boston anymore

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