Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hitting Their Stride?

The Red Sox are playing .667 baseball (14-7) since the infamous sweep of the Baltimore Orioles. Ironically, I don't think anyone has watched them since then, but 14-7 is not bad, especially against the teams they've had to play against. It is not good that they're still losing to the Yankees pretty much all the time, but they've won a series against Philadelphia and swept one against the Twins. It's also nice to see that they won a game against Tampa.

It's pretty easy to focus on the negative. This year's team and its propensity to whine is pretty dislikable, perhaps even more dislikable than the 2009 version. It is probably Theo Epstein's fault to plan the current contracts the way he did, but that's life when you're bad at negotiating. There has been more talk on the radio about Ortiz's whining than there is about Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester hitting their stride. But I guess that is the nature of this town.

I did not get to see either Matsuzaka or Wakefield's performances. It was actually Tim C who alerted me that Matsuzaka took a no-hitter deep into the game. The box score looks pretty nice though. Four walks is quite a bit, but one hit over eight speaks for itself. I just hope nobody says "it must be the catching."

The way I feel about Wakefield is the way I feel about the Red Sox. Sometimes it's good and he should be in the rotation. Sometimes it's bad and he should retire. There is really no middle ground. Sports radio suggested that Wakefield is a guy who should be in the rotation until he gets hurt. Pretty much use him the way they used him last year. But that still begs the question: Should there be a six-man rotation? Should someone else go to the bullpen? I don't think either of those are viable options. And this would not be an argument if Wakefield gave up 6 earned and four homers in 3 1/3. Which very well might happen next time around. I think Beckett should just chill out on the DL until this happens. It is a bummer that in this scenario Wakefield is going to lose his job the first time he screws up. But the goal is to win baseball games.

Nobody is talking about Kevin Youkilis. The tape measure blast to center field fell on blind eyes the other day, and it's a shame that more people are talking about David Ortiz's victimization by the media instead of the fact that he's on his way to an MVP-caliber campaign. The run prevention team's performing quite well offensively on the aggregate. And that is largely because of Youkilis. Guy leads the league in walks and in runs. His OPS is the second-highest of all AL...players, and as we are a month away from June, it's over 1.000 still. Hard to argue against Morneau, who is being treated very well both by the traditional and the sabermetric stats. But Youkilis is being treated very well by the sabermetric stats. He is also incidentally second in the league in triples and eleventh in home runs.

The bullpen is just not that good. Ram-Ram, welcome to earth after last year. If this team is indeed a buyer around the trade deadline, a bullpen piece might be the most important priority. Because it seems like the rotation is starting to remember how to pitch.

News flash: Number Two is not a guy who can singlehandedly transform a lineup. He's back, and Cameron's coming back too today. This means the end of the Darnell McDonald era. Even if he never sees the majors again, he has something to tell the grandkids.

This may be artificially low because the Yankees have played like a AAA team lately, but the Red Sox, despite being fourth in the AL East still, are only two games out of the Wild Card.

7 comments:

TimC said...

I think the next two weeks are massive for the Sox. KC, OAK, BAL, CLE are four winnable series and the ones against BAL and CLE are particularly important as they are on the road. And although the home and away records look pretty similar at the moment, if you take out the 1-6 home start against the Yankees and Rays and weigh the quality of home opponents (I think the home opponents were considerably tougher), I think a clearer picture emerges of the disparity in home and away performance.

Obviously, this is not a new situation for the Sox and it could be (and has been) argued that the Theo builds teams to win at Fenway. But if the team is to start making any ground on the Rays (who I think will end up being the wild card leaders by the trade deadline) the Sox will need to improve their road performance.

It is encouraging that Lester and Buch are throwing better but I think these are guys that can and should be counted on. Of more importance will be continued performance from Dice and Lackey. Dice has now taken five turns and I can twist his numbers to make 4 of his 5 starts look pretty good (take out one bad inning against both BAL and LAA). Now, that does not excuse his bad innings and those need to be considered in his body of work but I think that he pitched well in the majority of 4 of his 5 starts is encouraging. I am concerned over how he returns from an extended outing; after going 7 innings against Toronto, he pitched poorly against the Yankees. Lackey hasn't been awful but his last three starts were lacking. If these two guys can keep the score at around 3 or 4 runs over 6 or 7 innings consistently the Sox should keep on rolling.

the gm at work said...

Tim C,

Now that you are doing nothing but dreaming post-graduation, we should probably give you administrative rights.

People, including you in the second paragraph, rip on the boy wonder for putting together a Fenway Park lineup. I'm not an opponent of that, really. Maybe I should be after the team's lack of success in doing just that between 1935 and 2001. But you play 81 games there. The recent teams have been evidence that if you crush those 81 and tread water for the other 81, you will be good.

Good pitchers can minimize damage within innings. Your boy has not been able to do that. Once he gets into trouble, it's a lot of trouble. Lackey got out of intra-inning trouble for the most part. And so did Buchholz last night. This is imperative for your boy.

Three to four runs over six makes me nervous because some days this team has not and will not score more than 2. Even if they score five, I really don't trust the bullpen. They will lose at least one of the four series. Probably Oakland, because Coco Crisp, fresh off the DL, is probably going to go 12-15 with 4 homers, a triple, and five doubles.

Anonymous said...

DV

I'm on the run, but I wanted to let you know that this was a great post. Not only is the analogy about Wakefield right in line with my own views, but Youkilis really right now is on the short list of MVP candidates. He has been nothing short of awesome.

--the Gunn

jason said...

i think the only thing this post missed was papelbon being involved... and im also beginning to believe the blown saves number will not be reached

jason said...

oh and i believe your unclutch boy jd drew is leading the team in rbis?

the gm at work said...

The shortlist of MVP candidates should be one long: Morneau. Considering anyone else, including Youkilis (who is a pretty convincing second place), is essentially admitting you're a complete homer.

The blown saves number (37 for those who are not familiar) is not out of the realm of possibility.

And JD has also only missed two games, as the ProJo pointed out this morning. He's actually been valuable so far. Certainly isn't leading the team in hustle (anyone see the ball drop between him and Pedroia?), but he is showing up despite vertigo, a sore hip, a sore calf, and a sore hammy within the last month.

PF said...

gm -

good post. i've mentioned a few times how the sox offense has really been pretty good, and once their pitching comes around they'll get on a run to get them back in it in no time. and here we are. they've been pitching and they've been winning. against good teams no less.

agreed it's morneau right now as far as the best player in the AL in 2010 is concerned. however it's very difficult to what miguel cabreara does year after year. he rarely seems to get attention for some reason, but the guy is a stud with the bat. youkilis, cano, and longoria would probably round out the the top 5 to date.