Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Treading Water

Rough weekend for the Red Sox, with Pedroia, Martinez, and Buchholz all going down. As Bandi was talking about in yesterday's comments section, there are a lot of people ready to jump off the bridge, especially with Pedroia's fractured foot and the fact that the guy might be missing six weeks. There are many things to consider here, and the bottom line is that for the next month this team needs to tread water.

First things first. If there's any time for the entire team to get injured, it's now. The team has six JD days in July. Additionally, their schedule is not rife with semi-JD days, but games against Baltimore (three) and Seattle (three) shouldn't really worry them. They do have five games against Tampa (2-3 should be the goal), but have no games against the Yankees. In this stretch they also run into Toronto on the road for three, four at home against Texas, and nine on the West Coast against Oakland, Seattle, and the Angels. Schedule's bad, but it's not that bad. They'll miss Fenway Park.

A note on the West Coast games: It's not 1996 anymore. This team's not so mediocre that it is bound to go 1-8 on this West Coast swing.

Going 12-15 between now and July 31st is not unfathomable. But it's not necessarily something that is going to sink this ship. If they go worse than 12-15 and the Yankees go through a stretch where they don't lose for a month--like they always do this time of the year--that might be tough. I think there are some problems with Tampa, and BJ Upton vs. Joe Maddon isn't going to make things any better. Their stretch where they don't lose for a month already happened, and by now the Red Sox have covered that.

On to the individual injuries: We'll go from easiest to hardest. Buchholz is apparently just a small bump in the road. He might miss a start. And every team in baseball, including the best, have had a spot start from someone like Felix Doubront. The Red Sox, to the best of my memory, have only had two of these weird spot starts, one from Atchison and one from Doubront (where he was decent). We're not talking about getting nine starts from Doubront here. We're talking about one more. Yes, another injury would be a pretty big problem, but that hasn't happened yet. And even if Buchholz is slightly worse once he comes back, they can probably afford that a little bit.

The Pedroia injury is difficult. He is among the league leaders in WAR, and he will be replaced by basically a replacement level player in Bill Hall. On the aggregate, that might cost them a game. Either that or Hall, not playing in the outfield, will be serviceable.

Victor Martinez is the most difficult, because it means the ice packs will be coming out in September. Francona's done a stellar job managing the time behind the plate for Varitek, maximizing the player's production and making sure he's not wearing ice packs on his knees everyday starting in June. Because of this, this team will be okay in the catcher position for the time being. It may, however, deplete all they have of the Varitek Usefulness resource, upping the chances that in September or October he's the guy hitting .140 again. But, if Martinez only misses two weeks, this is minimized.

Meanwhile, you have to think 46 will feel like playing baseball again soon. And Mike Cameron has not been bad, at least offensively. It's a time for JD Drew to step up, which might not happen because he has a minor hamstring injury and hasn't really gone for a month-long period of grounding to second base twice a game and hitting .230. I think Nava and McDonald are bound to start struggling as opposing teams actually have scouting reports on the guys now. But, once again, it's about treading water.

No trades.

Bottom line is, the team will need elevated performances from Bill Hall, Jason Varitek, and JD Drew. Why not throw John Lackey in there, too, because he hasn't gotten the hot hand yet either. If these four guys can step up, this team will be able to do more than just tread water. Going 12-15 is enough to keep them in this thing, but elevated performances might mean 15-12. Much better than any of us could have even expected.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

I like the mention of John Lackey here. Of all the guys that people expected something of this year only a few of them have not met those expectations even for a brief time during the season. Sure, Ortiz, Lester, Drew, Pedroia, Martinez, and Youkilis have all struggled at one point or another, but they have also had absolutely great stretches, too. Beltre doesn't get mentioned because he's been great all year. The only guys that haven't met expectations on any level are Ellsbury (because of injury--his level of toughness notwithstanding), Beckett (also injury and just being awful) and Lackey.

Little has been said of Lackey mainly because the Sox have won when he's started (8-3). But the reality is that he's having the worst season of his career. It's his highest ERA, it's his worst ERA+ and that's just getting started. He is also at career worsts in the following categories: K/9, BB/9, H/9, K/BB.

In short, John Lackey is under-performing, not only by his own standards, but by league-average standards. You can't pay 17 million dollars for someone giving you less than replacement value. He needs to be better. And no time would be better than now.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Slightly unfair. He's not giving you less than replacement value; he's giving you less than average value. You can not replace average value from AAA, which is the definition of "replacement level."

But, as we'll probably talk about during the All-Star Break, there will be guys who will inevitably have a better second half (Lackey, Beckett, Number Two) and guys who will inevitably have a worse second half (McDonald, Nava, Beltre). The next 27 games, it will be imperative that the first category delivers and the second category minimizes how much they fall off.

Anonymous said...

DV

Thank you for the correction. Stupid mistake. I meant to say average value. Even with that, he needs to be better. I expect that he will be, too. But at 17 million a year, he better be.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Despite the fact that sabermetrics died to me the afternoon of September 30, 2009, I still retain some of the language. Sorry to be a smug prick about it.