Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sox Optimism. Or Soxtimism! No, no, I liked the first one better...

Quick notes on the Red Sox:

1) After giving up more runs (7) than outs made (4) to one of the worst offenses in the league, I think it might be fair to say that David Wells could have used a rehab start before returning to the rotation.

2) Despite the dissapointment of going only 2-4 on this roadtrip, I think the Sox have performed better than I could have hoped so far this season. If you had told me before the season that, on May 19th, the Sox would be 2.5 games up on the Yankees (3 in the loss column) and sitting in second place, I might be dissappointed, but I would take it. Mention that the Sox played 24 games on the road and only 16 at home, then I might even say we had handled this pretty well. But if you said we did this without our top two starters (Wells and Schilling), with Ortiz and Manny going through prolonged slumps, and every starter in the infield hitting significantly below their career numbers, well, I'd be ecstatic. I think the Sox, who are still second in the league in runs scored, are a bit tired of being on the road. I think they ran out of steam after the cross-country flight, and they will be fine eventually (though 6 of the next 9 are on the road...). That they were able to hang in there with all of these issues is what really impresses me.

3) I think the prospects for the rest of the season are still very good.

The Orioles have been playing at about their peak performance all season, and yet they haven't really been able to pull away. When some of those batters start slumping, I could see the whole thing come crashing down. They can slug out a few wins to cover up the pitching, but they have enough young arms that have never gone much beyond 100 innings pitched in a year that post-all-star break will tell us what this staff really is made up of.

The Yankees, finally losing last night, look about as hot as can be. Yet, they still are dependent on Tino Martinez as their everyday first baseman (and trust me, he can't keep depositing those HRs one row deep all season), they have age at just about every position on the roster, and their defense is still brutal. Torre is down to one reliever he trusts, which means we will probably see Carl Pavano (who has thrown exactly one 200-inning year) and the other starters continue to get Dusty Bakered into long, 130+ pitch outings like the other night, and they stand a good chance of having tired arms come the post-season. Plus, they have several roster spots taken up by DHs who can't hit.

The Sox, meanwhile, have had a few regulars start to look better. Bellhorn and Renteria seem to be coming along, Youkilis is playing well as the first man off the bench, Manny has started to show signs of life against lefties (which was the only reason his numbers started low this year; he has hit righties just fine). The only guys that have really played over their heads this year has been Damon, Varitek, and Nixon, though the latter two not that much. With the exception of Billy Mueller (whose rough start might be because of age/injury and not small sample size), I think all our other position players will perform better, many of whom have started to show life. Also, my boy Arroyo (I loved the kid since I saw him at Pawtucket in '03) has been ridiculous. In his 8 starts, he has given up more than 3 runs only twice, including his last start where he went 7 innings and gave up 4 runs. Only once has he failed to finish six innings, and only three times has not come out for the 7th. The kid has been great. Foulke also seems to be settling down (and throwing the slider less!). Plus, the Sox are deep in pitching for lots of innings (6 starters when healthy, 2 servicable long men, 3 or 4 quality relievers plus parts).

Throw in that of our two major competitors within the division, the Sox have by far the most talent in the farm system, so the Sox are better suited to get the few pieces they need (another relief pitcher, possibly a 1B).

Oh, and one final thing. If the Sox can hang around first through the middle of August, their run to the playoffs could get a serious boost in September, because 24 of their last 36 games are at home. Yes, things are looking good in the long term, even if not so much in the short term. Remember, no team is as bad as they look in a slump (us right now) and no team is as good as they look on a winning streak (and pinstripes can be very slimming...).

2 Comments:

At 8:20 AM, May 19, 2005, Anonymous Gregorius McDorfman said...

You like how I disguised my name? I just hate getting Googled.

Now, I have no point, so I feel it's my duty to contribute: I can't wait for football season. All this talk about the Sox is... well... it's not that I'm bored, because I like sports, but baseball just doesn't do it for me. I also wish 'Fletcher' liked basketball. Did anyone see the Mavs/Suns game last night? Steve Nash is my hero! If I only I could have such amazing floppy hair. Alas, the Jew-fro is everlasting.

-Gorius

 
At 9:06 AM, May 19, 2005, Blogger Fletcher Austin McGuffin said...

Alas, I sure do miss my beloved hockey. While I can sympathize with your dislike of baseball (I used to dislike it myself). As for your desire for me to write knowledgably on basketball, I apologize that I do not like it. To me, it looks like nothing more than several large, grown men banging into each other wearing very little clothing. I get enough of that on the internet. Bada-Bing!

 

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