Thursday, June 26, 2008

They're winning but I'm concerned

Well, it's late June and my Red Sox are in first place but my pre-2004 worries are coming back. If it weren't for J.D. Drew and a somewhat steady pitching staff I doubt that first place would even be on the radar screen. I watched both games on ESPN this week and it was clear that not having Big Papi even in the lineup, let alone 100%, could have made a huge difference against Herren on Monday. What last night showed me is that Randy Johnson has become a smarter pitcher than he was before. However, his velocity and slider location are more in the average range and that's what hurt him last night. Tim Wakefield is fun to watch. There are, what? maybe three pitchers who currently throw the knuckler? When Wakefield retires I wonder if we'll ever see the knuckle ball again. He made their hitters look silly, almost like a bugs bunny routine trying to swat the "slow-ball".

Back to the point, the Red Sox are in trouble. They have a decent makeshift lineup and their pitching has been mostly reliable (though the bull-pen is sketchy), BUT, without Dice-K, Schilling, Ortiz, and Buckholtz this team is going to struggle. If they can't win on the road consistently they will not make the Wild Card, let alone win the AL East. The most pleasant surprise this season has been watching Jacoby Elsbury - he already owns the rookie record for steals by a Red Sox player and I see him possibly joining the 30/30 club (the last Red Sox player to do that was Tommy Harper I believe, back in the 1970's). He has great instincts on picking up where the pitcher is going from the stretch. The fact that the Red Sox aren't the team I always knew (slow, slower, and slowest but could hit home runs) is in many ways a lot of fun. I don't feel as nostalgic for the days of Fisk, Lynn, Rice, Remy, Burleson, Hobson, Scott, Evans and whatever farm hand they used on the mound. Speed opens up so many possibilities and creates the opportunity to manufacture runs if your big hitters aren't doing it for you. Having Crisp and Lugo is also a plus since both have good speed (though Lugo needs to hit better, my word, his paycheck is not deserved).

With all that in mind I can see the Sox being competitive, but I suspect that if Ortiz doesn't make it back and if Dice-K is really injured it will not be another repeat of an AL title.

2 comments:

Marc said...

Do you still realize just how good they are even without the Great Schilling, Ortiz, et al??? So much experience, so much calm and collectiveness, and so much time for everyone to come back well before the playoffs begin. Enjoy a team of magicians even now, and do what all the Eastern gurus continuously recommend -- the present moment is all you really have, so take the best of it and make the most of it.

P.S.: What positions did Jim Rice and Rick Burleson play on the '76 team? Thanks.

plasticman06 said...

Yeah, enjoy it now, but it's looking a lot like previous incarnations. That's a bit like the grasshopper not listening to the ants as the old proverb goes.

as for the positions, Burleson was the shortstop (known as the rooster, have his autograph) and Rice played left. I always liked Petrocelli, but then I went to school with his kids.