30 Sep 2009
The Red Sox managed to drunkenly stumble into the playoffs last night, despite riding a 5-game losing streak. The Texas Rangers made life easy by losing to the Angels thus clinching Boston’s post-season reservation.
They have been playing poorly, but I’m not going to worry too much about their on-field play, instead I’m more concerned with the healthy of Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell as well as having an eye on a hot-button topic: how are the Red Sox going to stop the running game? Sounds like a question for Bill Belichick, doesn’t it?
First the health issues. Mike Lowell had an injection into his hip and is out for a few games. The injections done in anticipation of the playoffs in hopes that it will allow him to stay healthy. Beckett had 3 cortisone shots in his back but he describes it as a minor deal. Good.
As for the nightly track meet in the Red Sox infield, things are scary. Peter Gammons brought this up first a week ago (at least from a media standpoint), when he talked about the inability of the Red Sox to prevent stolen basis. Some facts:
The Red Sox have allowed 150 stolen bases in 2009. They’ve thrown out 23 would be base stealers. That’s a caught rate of…13%.
Jason Varitek has allowed 106 and caught 16 (13%). Victor Martinez has allowed 17 and caught 2 (11%). George Kottaras has allowed 26 and caught 5 (16%).
Ugly. The Red Sox have to get this under control as the Yankees exploited their problems this year, as did the Rays and several other teams. Obviously putting all the blame on the catchers isn’t fair as the pitchers can and need to do a better job. It’s one thing to control the running game by not letting guys on base, but against a good line-up like the Yankees, you are always going to let guys get on base.
From an organizational standpoint, there has never been emphasis on stopping the stolen base, but if you extend every walk and single to a double, it will bite you in the buttocks (run Forrest!). I don’t want to spend next week watching the ALDS and Chone Figgins, Torii Hunter and every other Angel taking a free base every time they get on.