1-0 Win

Sweet 1-0 win today by the Red Sox. It was nice to see a strong performance by the pitching staff, but the bats again went silent.

I got my wish with Alex Cora replacing Julio Lugo today, but Cora went 0-3. The man I want in the line-up, Dustin Pedroia, went 0-4 (granted he did go 5-5 Friday night). I’m willing to give this team some time to figure out their offensive woes, but Lugo, Crisp and a to a lesser extent Drew had better figure it out. Theo Epstein can fix one of those problems, but not all 3 with a trade.

Drew – Here to stay and will stay in the line-up no matter what because of his contract and because he is getting on base at an ok clip.
Lugo – Probably here to stay as his salary is too big. Whether he stays in the line-up or not remains to be seen.
Crisp – Because his contract is moveable and because Jacoby Ellsbury (a/k/a Johnny Damon Jr) is already holding his own at AAA(.296/.377/.373), Crisp could be sent packing and thus is the most likely to be shipped out of town before the trading deadline. Does anyone think if Ellsbury were promoted today and started in CF the rest of the way in 2007 he’d hit worse than .230? By the way, Crisp is hitting .230 with an OBP far below .300.

Terry, What Gives?

Ok, I have been a pretty big supporter of Terry Francona this year but he is driving me nuts with one particular thing.

Benching Pedroia instead of Lugo in favor of Cora. Seriously, while it is only the 5th inning (Wednesday night), Cora has made an error to lead off the game, which lead to an unearned run, and left 2 men on in only 2 at bats thus far.

Wow. Lugo has become, shall we say, the worst shortstop in all of baseball. I realize he might just be in a slump, but he has stunk for about 1 straight year now.

More later…

BTW, sorry if you received a ton of notifications about my posts. Our notification system was hoarding them and then within the past 2 days decided to send them out all at once. Again, sorry.

In the meantime, while the Red Sox get blown out, check out this video I stumbled upon. I don’t know, but for some reason, it struck a non-baseball chord.

Update: Well, the Red Sox got pounded by the Rockies. This is a big disappointment for me as the Red Sox are a better team than the Rockies and they are better than the way they’ve played this month.

BTW The Yankees won again tonight and the Red Sox lead has shrunk to 8.5 games.

Step One

The Yankees reached .500 last night, the first step for any team that wants to be considered a playoff contender. They are 31-31 with 100 games to go and actually 1 game ahead of the pace set by the 2005 Yankees.

This isn’t the time to focus on divisions or wild cards, it is the time to try and mend some cracks and get to five games above .500. The biggest crack at the start of the year was the pitching and the starters have now rounded into shape. I don’t know if Clemens is going to do much better than he did on Saturday, but the Yankees may not need him to. The offense is back on fire, thanks to Abreu, Cano and Cabrera having huge June’s.

Abreu looks like a changed man and when he takes pitches like that, he just wears out the opposition. Cabrera has found the same fire he had last year and while it bothers me that he couldn’t do that as a bench player, it is a welcome sight now. Cano is back as well and he is becoming more selective which is nice to see. In 2005 he saw 3.05 pitches per plate appearance. In 2006 that went to 3.22 and in 2007 it is 3.38. If he ever learns to draw a walk, look out.

My biggest worries right now are the bullpen and first base. Torre seems committed to using Cairo at first as part of a platoon that makes no sense (how do you platoon two righties?) I can see the argument that when Wang is pitching, you want a defensive firstbaseman, but on other nights it is a mistake. While many are calling for the Yankees to trade for Mark Teixeira, I would set my sights a little lower. The Giants aren’t going anywhere, so how about Ryan Klesko? He’s about average to below-average with the glove, but he has a nice bat and can also play the corner in the outfield. Would the Giants take Farnsworth and something else in exchange if the Yankees picked up most of his money?

For the bullpen, I would definitely get Chris Britton back and send Ron Villone packing. I think with Britton, Bruney and Proctor the Yankees would have three good choices for the 7th and 8th. Vizcaino has been better this month, though his command is still shaky. Myers is what he is and Henn gives you a long guy. That would also get you back down to 12 pitchers which is something the Yankees should do ASAP no matter what.

Two more with Arizona before the suddenly-slumping Mets come in for Subway Series Part Two.

West Coast Round-Up (Part I)

Well the Red Sox just finished a craptastic west coast swing going 3-4. It isn’t necessarily time to call for support, but it is worthy noting the Yankees have won 6 in a row. That’s a 3.5 game swing over 1 week. Don’t get snippy with me for mentioning it, it is part of this website after all.

Some things Terry Francona has been doing that have annoyed me:

1.) Using Alex Cora to spell Dustin Pedroia as much as Julio Lugo. Let’s check the stats here, Lugo is playing horribly while Pedroia has been good. Pedroia has been sitting more frequently than Lugo in favor of Cora. This isn’t something against Cora, but instead it is a complaint that Francona is not sitting Lugo more often in an effort to get playing time for Cora.

2.) Letting Wakefield get himself into and out of and then back into trouble over his past few starts. I was having this discussion this weekend about Wakefield. When he is good, he is great, but when he struggles, he makes it seem like he’s never registered an out in the majors. Wakefield just doesn’t have the touch some nights and I wish Francona would have the stones to yank him earlier than he generally does.

That’s really all I have to complain about at present. Francona has done a pretty good job this year (just check the record), so finding reason to complain is difficult.

Colorado mid-week and San Francisco over the weekend at Fenway.

Things I Will Never Get

Sorry for not posting the last few days, but I have just been trying to enjoy the baseball and not gripe about the Yankee things that are bothering me. Well, I can’t hold back on some complaints.
1- I know Rivera is Torre’s security blanket, but what is he doing pitching the ninth on Thursday? Joe brought him in to pitch the eighth which was great because the game was on the line, but are you telling me that you don’t trust any of the other relievers with a seven-run lead in the ninth? Yes, the Yankees need wins, but if they can’t "squeak" that one out they are finished.
2- Do Brian Cashman and Joe Torre talk about the roster ever? Josh Phelps is not going to get us to forget about Don Mattingly, but his bat has some promise. Yes, he is bad with the glove, but until recently the Yankees haven’t been scoring runs in bunches. There was obviously an agreement to platoon Phelps and Mientkiewicz at the start of the season, so when 1/2 the platoon goes down the plan becomes keep the platoon but insert Miguel Cairo? Cairo makes Mientkiewicz look like Mattingly with the bat when you consider his career .267/.315/.360 line. If Torre is that uncomfortable with Phelps why is he on the roster? And, do you really expect me to believe that there isn’t anyone the Yankees could dig up to play first better than Cairo? Aaron Guiel is in Japan, I bet he would come back in a second. Seriously, I don’t know how much better Cairo’s glove really is at first (he’s played a total of 38 games there in his career) but his bat will kill you on a regular basis. The Yankees have to resolve this and either get a new guy for the job or trust Phelps.
3- Does anyone pay attention to what has happened with the Yankees’ bullpen this year? The reason I ask, is how does Chris Britton get sent down today? Britton has shown an ability to pitch in the majors (3.35ERA in 53IP with Baltimore last year) and has done nothing but shine at AAA. Do you really need three lefties in the bullpen? Is Luis Vizcaino worth keeping? I would say no to both of those questions and ask Britton to come back in 10 days.
Wow, can you imagine what this post would have been if the Yankees had lost five-straight?

Draft Picks Day 1

55 – Nick Hagadone – LHP
62 – Ryan Dent – 2b/ss
84 – Hunter Morris – 1b/of
114 – Brock Huntzinger – RHP
144 – Chris Province – RHP
174 – Will Middlebrooks – RHP

 

Here is MLB’s draft page that gives the picks and for upper talent, commentary too.

 

Soxprospects has hyperlinks to the picks so far.

 

Baseball America, of course, has complete draft coverage. Much of their site requires a subscription, but you can still gleen interesting bits of info, etc.

The Boston Herald devoted some ink (or memory) to the draft.

 

The Boston Globe did the same, but they also included some video of the top 2 picks.

As Close As One Can Get

Curt Schilling pitched a 1-hitter today losing his no-hit bid with 2 outs in the 9th. Shannon Stewart broke up the no-no.

The no-hitter would have been nice, but the win was better. The Red Sox bats have gone flat, so Schilling took it upon himself to prove the axiom that good pitching beats good hitting. Schilling stepped up today putting an end to a 4 game skid, like any good stopper.

I’m not sure Schilling will be in Boston next season, but he really stepped up to the plate today. He was hitting 93 mph on his fastball, about as hard as he’s thrown all season (I think he hit 94 once 1 or 2 starts ago).

Over the past 5 games, Boston has been outscored:

12-16.

That means they’ve averaged 2.4 runs and allowed an average of 3.2. That tells me it isn’t the pitching, it’s the offense. Over that 5 game stretch, Boston has 11, 10, 3, 8 and 4 hits while drawing 4, 1, 7, 3 and 3 walks. Boston has had men on base, but they haven’t brough them home. They’ve hit into a ton of double plays over this rough patch.

Like I said yesterday, Boston is allowed a losing streak, but it would be nice to see the offense wake up a bit. They are 3rd overall in runs score, so I don’t know how much more we can expect.

Boston heads to Arizona for 3 starting Friday night.

These west coast trips are tough. The games are either on far too late to be practical or too early to be seen by anyone that has to work.

Red Sox Draft Day – 2007

The 2007 MLB Entry Draft happens this Thursday in Orlando, FL. What makes this draft different than years past is that it will be televised on ESPN2. Stop the presses!

 

The bad news for Red Sox fans is that the Sox don’t have a 1st round pick. The Red Sox lost the 20th overall pick by signing free agent Julio Lugo (given his current performance, this hurts a bit). The Red Sox don’t actually pick until the 55th overall (a supplemental pick for losing Alex Gonzalez).

 

Here are their picks rounds 1-5:

 

55
62
84
114
144
174

 

MLB.com has coverage of this event online.

 

SoxProspects.com has Red Sox coverage.

 

While it isn’t likely we’ll see any of the players selected Thursday in a Boston uniform anytime soon, don’t forget that in a short few years, we might be talking about the replacements for JD Drew, Julio Lugo, Kevin Youkilis (free agent in 3 years), Josh Beckett, etc.

 

Also don’t forget that it was just 2005 when the Red Sox picked:

 

Jacoby Ellsbury 1 (23 overall)
Clay Buchholz 1s (45 overall)
Michael Bowden 1s (47 overall)

 

These 3 are at Pawtucket, Portland and Portland respectively and all might be helping the big club before the season is out.

 

In the meantime, the Red Sox (of Boston) have really stunk since arriving in Oakland. Their offense is not delivering in the clutch. Old friend Lenny DiNardo walked 6 Tuesday night and still got the win.

 

Players like Lugo, Crisp and Drew are entering an important phase. If they cannot fix whatever ails them, changes need to be made. That old idea that management spends the first 1/3 of the season evaluating the roster, the next 1/3 figuring out how to make adjustments and changes and the final 1/3 playing it out and making a playoff push, well for Boston, they have played the first 1/3 and now Theo Epstein must be snooping around looking for ways to make this team better. Is it a bad team? No, at least the record suggests it isn’t, but there are a few weak spots and Epstein and Co. hopefully have a few ideas as to how and fix them.

 

Boston has lost 3 in a row and while they are entitled to an occassional slump, it’d be nice to see this team click offensively.

 

Thompson And DeSalvo Down

The Yankees optioned Matt DeSalvo back to Columbus which wasn’t a surprise, but sending Kevin Thompson there as well was.
Now, the good news is that Chris Britton survived the cut and it appears the Yankees are actually going to allow him to pitch for the big league club. Britton has certainly earned a chance, dominating at Scranton with a 0.78ERA in 23 innings while looking pretty good last night as well.
The question will be what happens later this week when Roger Clemens will have to be activated to start on Saturday? My guess is that Sean Henn, who just got recalled today, will go back down, unless the Yankees send Ron Villone away. Henn has been starting in AAA which may be a sign that the Yankees are going to use him as a long man from now on and could increase his chances of sticking.
Sending Thompson down is interesting because if the Yankees are really going to DH Damon regularly, they wouldn’t be able to move him to outfield without losing the DH if Abreu, Matsui or Melky were injured in a game. That means that either Damon is going to move to first fairly soon or the Yankees are taking a stupid risk.
I say stupid because the Yankees recalled Chris Basak. Now I have nothing against Basak, he was my choice to replace Miguel Cairo as the utility guy, but Basak hasn’t played outfield to my knowledge. The Yankees may think they have the second coming of Clay Bellinger, but what evidence do they have he can play all those positions? For this team, I would rather see Basak and Thompson than Basak and Cairo, but I would have settled for Cairo and Thompson. Promoting Basak now is taking a strange risk, but I will approve if it means chucking Cairo later on.
Now, Cairo is going to start tonight over Phelps which is a mistake. I know Phelps is a butcher with the glove, but is Cairo that much better of a firstbaseman defensively? I will go into this more tomorrow, but the Yankees haven’t been the run-scoring machine we thought they would be and Phelps would definitely outhit Cairo.
So, we have a team that has 13 pitchers and a bench of Nieves, Cairo and Basak. That is not a good combination and hopefully the Yankees get down to 12 pitchers quickly and rebuild the bench.

Disrupted Scar Tissue

It doesn’t sound good and that’s what Roger Clemens has in his groin, but he says he will be making his start on Saturday. I say we wait until he throws a bullpen on Wednesday before believing that.
Since Clemens used to pitch for the Red Sox, maybe he can get some advice on a cure from another Boston "legend".