It's been awhile, I know. I was going to try to write a blog entry after every ten games, so I'm just four games late doing that. Well, anyway, some thoughts, fourteen games into the season:
--Like everyone else, I like Mookie Betts. He's young, and fast, and he has some pop. He can steal second and third on the same pitch (which I'd never seen before, and I've seen literally over a thousand games), and he can break up the double play like he did today (thereby winning the game, as it was the game's only run). He can run and he can field and he drove in some important runs in the Sox's first few games...
...but, despite the pro-Mookie commercials on NESN all season, he's hovering around .200 and not drawing any walks. His OBP is below .300--and he's the lead-off hitter. He's struck out a lot.
I know it's early, but let's cut the fanfare for now. Maybe he's feeling some pressure--very understandable, if so. If that's the case, let's not play the "Mookie is awesome" commercials. Let's give him a couple of days off, if we can. Let's remember that he's 22 years old.
--And let's give the cheerleading commercials and rave reviews to whom they belong: Brock Holt. He's just as fast, if not faster. He's hitting over .400. He's playing Gold Glove defense in the outfield and in the infield. He made two game-saving plays today against the Rays to preserve the 1-0 win. And he's now the lead-off hitter. So, if there are accolades to be given, let's give them to him.
--The Sox overall are hitting about .238 as a team. That's just a few points higher than the Rays--and the Rays are thought to be the worst-hitting team in the league.
--Speaking of the Rays, Evan Longoria must be wondering what he did to deserve this year.
--But it's nice to see Rocco Baldelli again. (He's coaching first base for the Rays. He played for the Rays and Sox. And he went to school and played ball about half a mile from my house.) Rocco needs to lose the beard, though.
--For those who care, Lou Merloni played ball at PC, just ten miles from here. And Rheal Cormier (who also played for the Sox and Rays) played ball at CCRI, just three miles from here.
--I'm (barely) smart enough to look up some stats before I type them here. For the record, the Sox were a .500 team in 1-0 games last year, and they played more than you and I remember. But I was going to type that they didn't play that many, and the ones they did, they lost. Doesn't it seem that way? But we live in a world of seems.
--Speaking of seems, Ryan Hanigan--the Sox catcher now that Christian Vazquez is out for the year--is hitting well below .200, but with a .400 OBP. I've seen every game this year, and it seems like he's getting one or two hits per game to me. Obviously, he's not. (He did today.) But it seems like he's grounding at least one single up the middle per game. And that two-run homer was a bomb. But he's amongst the league-leaders in walks, with 8, which gives him a .400 OBP. (He's also been hit by a pitch a few times already, including twice in the same game. I'd be surprised if he wasn't among the league-leaders in HBP, too.) And he's throwing runners out and calling a great game. I have no problem with he and the other guy, whoever he is.
--You don't remember his name, either. But he could throw us out at second, no matter where he is.
--Okay, I just looked it up. It's Sandy Leon. Oh, please. You didn't know that, either.
--Junichi Tazawa looks like a new, refreshed guy this year. And he's throwing like it, too. If Ogando can stay as effective as he's been (and he blew away a Rays hitter with the bases loaded today to preserve the 1-0 lead), then the Sox have a potent 7th, 8th and 9th inning tandem with Ogando, Tazawa and Uehara. That bodes well for the playoffs, if they make it.
--The starting pitching is what I thought it would be, so far: pretty good, with occasional blow-ups when they hang their splits and off-speed pitches. All five of these guys have to hit their spots, play north-south-east-west with the strike zone, and not walk anyone. None of them can just rear back and fire it past anyone.
--Having said that, I foresee an overworked bullpen all year long. Especially in the playoffs.
--"Playoffs?!? Playoffs??? Don't talk to me about the playoffs! Playoffs?!?" (Sorry.)
--Hanley Ramirez looks like another Ramirez in left field. And, sometimes, at the plate. (Only the second one there was a compliment, for those not in the know.)
--Victorino doesn't look like he's going to make the whole year, physically. Or, based on his performance. He suddenly looks older and slower.
--Panda needs to lose a little of the heft. His is bigger than Ortiz's.
--And Ortiz needs to do something about his play at the plate. He should take the one-day suspension and work on his swing--and his attitude. (But he's not. He's appealing it. Is there a series coming up soon in a National League park?)
--Having said that, those two check-swings were not strikes. But the past is maybe evening out on him now. The umps must've gotten together over the winter and decided that they'd had enough.
--And Ortiz also looks older and slower at the plate. He's swinging at things he hasn't before. He's not swinging at things he should be. And he's looking mostly overmatched and confused up there.
--The Sox have not lost a series yet. (They split in Baltimore.) They've won every single first-game.
--And they've played well against the Nationals, who're very good, and the Orioles, who could be.
--I haven't seen such poor defense played against the Sox like I have in these first 14 games.
--Nava might be a better first baseman than an outfielder. He picks it out of the dirt really well. He made some fantastic scoops in today's game, including the one that was the last out. But he's not hitting, either.
--The Sox have already shown more hustle this year than they did throughout all of last year.