A few quick notes during this five-game winning streak:
--Big Papi leads the league in hits and average.
--They've scored 10+ runs more often than anyone in MLB.
--There are no automatic outs right now.
--Aviles continues to (surprisingly) impress batting leadoff.
--To give credit where credit's due: Bobby Valentine stumped everyone when putting Aviles in the leadoff spot, including me. We were wrong; it's been long enough now to say that Aviles is doing well, and not just well "for now."
So, suffice it to say, even without Ellsbury, the Sox are as offensive as they were last year.
Of course, I mean that in a couple of ways. What's truly offensive:
--The Sox have the highest ERA in MLB--over 6.0.
--Lester has been lit up. Period. All year, and going back to the second half of last year. This is disconcerting.
--Beckett's been getting better, but he was lucky he wasn't tossed in his last start. Let's focus more on the hitters, shall we?
--Bucholz is a .500 pitcher right now, maybe a little worse.
--Salty is not impressing with his throwing or pitch-calling.
--I again say that Varitek's greatest talent was in pitch-calling. I'll bet that, career, the Sox pitchers' ERA is about a full run lower when he caught. By his absence, we see more of this. I see some truly disagreeable pitch-calling in this year's games, stuff you won't ever see in the box score. I don't know why I'm seeing some of the pitches thrown when I do, in the count that I see them in, to the batters I see them to. I'll try and keep notes on this during the games so I can be more specific.
--But this year's pitching debacle is not all Salty's fault. Let's hear a few raspberries aimed at Bob McClure.
--Lots of pitches up in the zone this year. The opposing batters are hitting some very easy pitches. It's so bad, it makes me feel that I can just grab a bat and hit off these guys. Well, almost.
--Before we get excited about this current winning streak, let's consider who it's against. Three in Minnesota (a truly bad team) and 2 in Chicago (a mediocre team, at best). Against the good teams, the ones a playoff-bound team must do well against, namely, the Yankees, the Tigers and the Rangers, the Sox have done very poorly. It's still a young season, but let's say what we've clearly seen so far: the Sox have beaten the bad teams, like they're supposed to--like everyone's supposed to--and they've lost to the good teams. And not just lost, but been beaten and outplayed and outclassed by them. I'll get excited when they have a five-game winning streak against the good teams. But, again, the season is but 19 games in--still young.
--Speaking of young, Delmon Young is now, and has always been, an idiot. A good hitter, a poor fielder, and a moron. And not necessarily in that order. Why people with incredible talent and tens of millions of dollars insist on acting stupid and throwing all that away continues to be a mystery to me.
--If I can, I'll be switching back and forth between the Sox game and the Nationals on MLB Network. I'm not one for hype, but I'll see two #1 picks (Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper) play in the same game, on the same team, for the first time, any day.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Well, it's been a very long time. And I won't lie: Posts on this blog will be sporadic. But I have some quick Sox and baseball thoughts, and I was at Fenway twice this past week, for both Rangers games, so here we go...
--I have a sick Fenway losing streak, possibly about 10 or more games, including the last two Rangers games. The first game I go to after seeing 7 of their last 15 home losses last year was the 18-3 debacle the other day. Thanks, guys.
--That was my nephew's first Fenway game ever, too. Bleh! But we saw a Ted Williams-distance homer from Josh Hamilton land close to us, and an Adrian Gonzalez homer in the bottom of the eighth land very close to us. This after I told my nephew not to even bother with a glove, because we'll never see a homer come close to us in Section One. Those were maybe the longest I've seen at Fenway. And he saw a big, long fight in the bleachers, which is also very rare for Friendly Fenway.
--Ryan Sweeney needs to play more often. I don't care what the numbers say, even if they say he can't hit lefties. Play him every day until he shows you that you can't let him do that.
--In the 18-3 game, with two out, and already down by about 12 runs at the time, Jason Repko hit a screamer, low off the left field wall, about 315 feet away--and tried to stretch it into a double. Thrown out at second by a mile, as you will be when you hit a rocket only 315 feet away that ricochets right into the glove of the outfielder. As I'm explaining how this is lousy baseball--since a runner on first or on second, down by double digits, doesn't matter, and you can't take a chance on a baserunning out ending the inning--the Sox come up in the next inning and every single one of them swung at the first or second pitch. The little things win pennants.
--Having said that, I'm with a friend at Fenway for the 6-3 game. Sox have a runner at third in the second, no score yet, just one out. I say, "Bad teams don't score this run." They didn't score that run.
--I like Cody Ross, but I can see why he's played for about five teams in maybe seven years. But I still like him.
--Jerry Remy is looking good in his blue suits doing the pre-game. Not Heidi Watney good, but you know...
--Speaking of Heidi Watney, bostonherald.com reported in November that her departure was "a mutual decision," pointing out that her contract ran out at the end of last year and the Sox weren't willing to renew. This is, of course, an outrage, as she was more popular than any of the Sox players the last couple of years. Nick Green and even Jason Varitek, for God's sake, were said to be dating Heidi Watney, and not the other way around. Had one of them married her, he would have been Mr. Heidi Watney. A travesty.
--As I explained to a friend of mine--and he still disagrees--Francona made the right decision to change his mind and attend the 100th birthday thing at Fenway. My point to my friend--who pointed out in various correct ways how the Boston management hung Francona out to dry, and were lousy to him for a long time even before the losing streak that cost him his job--was that the 100th birthday celebration was for the fans, and the fans only. And the fans wanted to see him there. I want to see him there. He does, in fact, owe it to the fans to be there. If he wants to not attend Boston management-run ads to promote the thing, that's very understandable, and I wouldn't blame him for not posing with them for pictures afterwards. But he needs to be there. I'm glad someone--possibly his agent, asking him, "Do this for potential managing jobs later!"--talked some sense into him. It's why you go to the wake of a parent of an ex a year after a messy breakup. Because it's expected of you, and correctly so.
--This team being the 100th anniversary team is the same as getting severe heartburn from the champagne you drank just a little bit of at New Years. Your stomach hurts both times, and they both leave a nasty taste in your mouth.
--The most telling comment from that whole Bobby Valentine/Youkilis mess was Pedroia's.
--And Valentine was wrong: Youk always plays 100%. He literally doesn't know any other way. But his follow-up comment was dead-on: Youk's swing is different, and something is very wrong. Still fields a golden glove, though.
--Pedroia also plays 100% all the time--and there's nothing wrong with his bat this year, either.
--I don't miss Papelbon, even after Bailey went down and they still don't really have a closer.
--Their relief pitching, however, is fine, especially with Melancon gone. Becket made it look easy against the Rangers, too. Really he just made that one bad pitch to Napoli.
--Lester is worrying me, as his lack of quality starts goes back to last September.
--Fenway looks beautiful, even more so than Heidi did. Yeah, I just said that.