Thursday, May 26, 2005
How bout those 4th place Boston Red Sox?
Tonight is my last night at the old apartment and I'll be without cable (internet and tv) until Thursday. With the way things are going I'm almost glad that I won't be able to see the Sox for a few days.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Minor League Update
Pawtucket Red Sox (PAW 13/IND 2, IND 3/PAW 1, PAW 9/IND 3, IND 8/PAW 6, PAw 14/NOR 4, PAW 9/NOR 5, NOR 9/PAW 4, PAW 3/NOR 2)
The Paw Sox started off their season with a 4 game series against the Indianapolis Indians and they were swept by the Pirates' AAA team. The Paw Sox started the week off with another 4 game series against the very same team, now the top team in the International League. This time the results were a little different as the Sox managed to split the four game set. They were beat by Zach Duke and Ian Snell, the two top pitchers in the Pirates organization. So at least things are looking better for the Sox than they were at the begining of the year. After holding their own against the Indians the Sox went on to take 3 out of 4 from another top International League team, the Norfolk Tides. The Sox are now only one game below .500 and are climbing out of the cellar with a 22-23 record.
Neither Roberto Petaine or John Olerud are prospects by any stretch of the imagination, but both are in AAA hoping for a shot at the major league level. Petagine has played in 10 games and has put up a .244/.367/.707 line with 5 homers in 41 AB. He's walking at a good rate and hitting the ball hard. His average is a little low, but if a couple of balls had bounced the other way his line would be great. Olerud was crushing the ball in extended spring training and in his first start against real competition he hit a home run, went 1 for 4, and made a good play in the field at first. Olerud has been told that he'll be in Pawtucket for 7-10 days before being called up so it looks like Petagine won't get a fair shot. Unless, of course the Sox do something about Kevin Millar. But if the Sox won't sit Millar for the hotter hitting Kevin Youkilis, then there really is no way they'd do something with him to make room for Petagine. It's good to have depth though, at least.
Justin Sherrod was the offensive star of the week for the Sox going 9-20 with five doubles and 5 RBI. Kelly Shoppach hit another home run, doubled 3 times and knocked in 6 runners, but his week had a lot of bad news. Shoppach went a solid 7 for 27, but struck out 12 times to bring his yearly total to 40 K's in 133 AB. He trails only Sherrod (43) and George Lombard (54) on the team with K's.
Cla Meredith logged a couple of outings over the week including a perfect 2 inning performance to get his first win. He was shaky in his first appearance after his major league poundings, letting up a few hits, but he seems to be back on track.
Portland Sea Dogs (POR 5/ERI 3, POR 1/ERI 0, BOW 4/POR 1, BOW 2/POR 1, BOW 4/POR 0)
Chris Smith had an impressive first start coming off the DL last week and followed it up this week with an even better start. He earned his first win of the year against Erie going 7 scoreless innings, while allowing 6 hits and 2 walks to go along with 5 K's. Smith's win capped off a three game sweep of the Erie Sea Wolves, one of the better AA teams in the Eastern League.
Despite a strong start by Jon Lester the Sea Dogs lost the first game in the series against Bowie. Lester went 7, walked 4, and allowed 4 hits, but he struck out 8 and allowed only 1 run. The usually strong bullpen, however, allowed 3 runs and the Sea Dogs lost the game. The Sea Dogs ended up being swept in that series also in three low scoring pitching duals. The Sea Dog rotation has been performing great, but the offense just couldn't get the job done this week. Dave Pauley went 5 scoreless allowing only 3 hits and 2 walks and struck out 9 in a 2-1 loss and Jon Papelbon had a bit of a subpar game going 5.2 IP allowing 5 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs. He struck out 4 as his record dropped to 3-2 on the season.
The Sea Dogs were also rained out three times.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
A few things about the weekend
It was a good season for the Sox. Typically they struggle in interleague play and, for some reason, they've always had trouble against the Braves. Over the weekend thanks to two very solid outings by Matt Clement and Wade Miller the Sox took two out of three. Time Wakefield has regressed a bit this season after a fantastic start and is now putting up numbers more along the lines of his career norm. I don't want to sound down on the guy because he has been very solid for a very long time for the Red Sox, but I don't think anyone really expected him to keep his ERA below 3.00 and pitch like a staff ace for the entire year. He's dependable. He's solid. But he's not an ace. Clement and Miller, on the other hand, both have the potential to be very good starters and both showed that potential over the weekend. I already mentioned Miller, but I'm even more impressed with Clement. Clement has been good all season, but in nearly every one of his starts he walked a few guys and got deep in a lot of counts. It seems like his pitch count hit 100 every time the fifth inning rolled around. On Sunday he didn't walk a batter and he was mowing down the Atlanta offense with ruthless efficiency. He gave the Red Sox their first complete game of the season and so far the man has not lost a start now that he's up to a 5-0 record. Red Sox Nation still has mixed feelings about the guy, but as I've mentioned several times before, I think he'll do great this year. His outing on Sunday was just him getting the ball rolling.
Is Manny Ramirez breaking out of his slump? It's hard to tell after one game, but Manny was hitting the ball hard to the opposite field all day on Sunday and that resulted in a 3-5 day with his 11th homer of the year. Apparently he has been having problems with outside pitches lately and he has been working on driving those pitches to the opposite field. He was able to do just that and 4 out of the 5 balls he put into play were sent to right field. I'm not a batting coach and I don't know how to analyze a swing, but I think Manny is about to go on a tear. He has been too quiet for too long and I think he's going to break out this week.
What is it about the Red Sox and rookie starters? I don't have the statistical evidence to back it up, but it seems like every time the Red Sox face an inexperience starter, they get shut down. Kyle Davies is another example of this. On Saturday Davies shut out the Red Sox for five innings, striking them out 6 times. The Red Sox still managed to score five runs, but they did allthe damage after Davies was taken out of the game. It seems like the Red Sox approach of waiting for the right pitch and then hammering it would work well against an inexperienced pitcher, but it never seems to.
Tonight David Wells takes on the Toronto Blue Jays. The last time he did that he allowed back to back to back home runs. I'm not exactly confident that the Red Sox will get the win tonight, how about you?
Saturday, May 21, 2005
yesterday's news and notes
I don't mention Mike Timlin nearly enough here and I think that's the case with Sox coverage everywhere. The guy hardly ever gets any attention despite the amazing season he's having. He's on pace to have the best year of his very long career and helped that along last night with 1.2 innings of perfect baseball. The last time he allowed a run was on April 16th. He's giving the Sox that brilliant set up man that several of the really good clubs have. That's something that the Sox have been lacking for a while. They've had decent bullpens, but never the automatic scoreless innings pitched that Timlin has been giving them every time he touches the ball.
If only we could say as much about Keith Foulke. The optimistic Red Sox fans are saying that they're not worried about the guy. They're saying that he'll come around. He's too good not to come around. Well, he's not coming around. He made last night's game far too close for comfort. There was a little blurb in this week's Sports Weekly saying that several of Keith Foulke's friends believe his struggles this year are related to his pending divorce. If that's the case, just shoot the bitch and let's move on. The Red Sox have too much riding on Keith Foulke to let off field issues get in the way. Whatever the reason behind his pitching is, the fact remains that the guy has sucked this year. The only good thing one can say about the 3 hits and 2 runs he let up in last night's game is that at least, this time, he didn't let up a home run.
Johnny Damon and Jason Varitek remain on fire, which is good because Manny Ramirez went 0 for the night once again, bringing his average down to .230. I don't think I'm too worried about Manny yet. I'm not sure why Foulke has me cringing every time he is on the field, but I still have faith in Manny, but that's the way it is for me. I'm positive that Manny will break out of it. He's still hitting the ball for power, he's just not getting the base hits. He's striking out 25.9% of the time, which is high, but he's had those kind of strike out numbers before in his career. His strike out percentage fluctuates a lot from year to year so it's hard to tell if he'll start making better contact, but I'm confident enough to say that even if he remains at this strikeout level he'll be able to raise his average at least to the .280-.300 range. Manny, for the most part, is getting the job done. He's still knocking in the runners and a .353 OBP isn't very Manny like, but it's still passable. He'll come around, but until he does Damon, Varitek, and Trot Nixon seem to have no problem carrying the team.
One thing I liked about last night's line up is that Kevin Millar is slowly falling in it. He was batting seventh last night, but that's still not good enough. With Roberto Petaine crushing the ball in Pawtucket (he's only hitting .233, but already has 4 homers in 7 games), Kevin Youkilis already putting up good numbers at the major league level, and John Olerud making rehab starts, that gives 3 guys in the organization that are likely better options at first than the struggling sack of potatoes. I hope to see the guy benched in the upcoming weeks and I hope to see him packing his bags and moving somewhere like Tampa Bay for next year. For now, a drop to 7th in the line up will have to do.
Doug Mirabelli went down with a wrist injury. Apparently the injury came on Wednesday night when he brought David Ortiz's bat to the plate. Ortiz has a heavier bat than Mirabelli and he somehow tweaked his wrist swinging it. He went a few days hoping that he'd be fine, but the injury persisted and he was placed on the DL. I was hoping that means that we'd get to see how Kelly Shoppach performs at the major league level, but Shawn Wooten and his .225/.291/.384 line at Pawtucket got the call instead. The move makes sense. Shoppach wouldn't be able to play every day if he was called up. I'm still a little bit dissapointed though.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
The good news for the Sox is that Foulke put in a very solid inning, striking out two, for the save. The bad news for the Sox was that Matt Clement was in serious jepardy of losing for the first time this year before Edgar Renteria bailed him out. What should Sox fans think about Matt Clement? I'm going to weasle out of the work of actually writing something and link you to two different views of the guy.
Mark Normandin over at Beyond the Boxscore believes that Clement is a better pitcher than he has been in previous years and believes he can keep it up. Evan Brunell at Firebrand of the AL does his best to dash our hopes about Clement saying that he likely won't keep up the pace that he's set so far. Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but despite his poor outing last night I think I have to side with Marc on this one. I've been a big fan of Clement since day one. He's not an ace of a staff, but he is a very solid number two guy that I'm glad to have on my team and I think he'll do fine.
In other news...it could be good or bad depending on how you look at it...David Wells goes this afternoon. Wells, now sporting the mustacheless goatee, will come off the DL and take the mound. Perhaps he'll perform better this time around? Unsurprisingly, Cla Meredith was sent down to make room for the big guy. Meredith will now try his hand at AAA after a very dissapointing time in the majors.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Minor League Update
Pawtucket Red Sox (PAW 3/SCA 2, PAW 4/SCA 2, TOL 13/PAW 4, TOL 12/PAW 11, TOL 6/PAW 4, PAW 4/TOL 3)
The Paw Sox just barely avoided a 4 game sweep by the Toledo Mud Hens thanks to some 10th inning heroics and the team managed to post an even 3-3 record for the week. They started the week the same way the finished it with an Abe Alvarez start. Alvarez pitched well enough in both games but came away with a no decision in both even though the Paw Sox managed to win both games. He went 6 IP with a 6/1 k/bb ratio and allowed 2 runs with 7 hits. On Monday Alvarez went 6.2 IP, this time letting up 3 runs on only 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4. 26 year old Tim Hummel hit a solo shot and Shawn Wooten hit a two run blast that plated the red hot Chip Ambers to provide the offense in the first game that Alvarez pitched. The second game he threw in lasted long after he was out of the game and was decided in the 10th. Ambers, as mentioned, is still on fire. He went only 5 for 16 over the course of the week, but scored 5 times during the week, hit a two run home run, and walked 6 times. He also stole 4 bases on the week, three of them coming in a single game.
The Sox didn't fare very well against Toledo. The Mud Hens embarrassed the team in the first game of their four game series with a 13-4 win. Charlie Zink started the game, but lasted only 2 IP and gave up 8 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks. He earned the loss and was sent back to Portland on Monday. Toledo put up double digits again the next day scoring 12, but at least the Paw Sox put up a little bit of a fight and came back with 11 runs of their own. Kelly Shoppach hit his 9th home run in that game, just one day after hitting his 8th of the season. Shoppach has remained very consistant all year maintaining an average around .275 and hitting for power the whole time. He's still striking out far too much with 28 k's in 106 AB's, but so far that hasn't come back to bite him. Roberto Petaine, back from the DL, also homered in that game. Petagine, an offseason acquisition that I was excited about, has been out with an injury since spring training. So far in 3 games with the Sox he's 2-12 with a double and a homer to go along with 3 walks. Lenny Dinardo and Mark Malaska were both hit hard in the game. Both had been very solid for Pawtucket until Sunday's game. Dinardo lasted only 2 innings and gave up 7 runs (only 5 of the earned) on 7 hits and 3 walks while striking out only 1. Malaska came on in relief only to let up 5 runs in 2.1 innings. He struck out 3, walked 3, and allowed 3 hits.
Chris Naverson followed his dreadful start from last week with a solid, but unspectacular game going 6 innings. He struck out 4 and walked 2 while allowing 6 runs on 6 hits. He would've earned a win, but the bullpen blew the game.
Portland Sea Dogs (POR 6/NH 5, BOW 3/POR 2, BOW 2/POR 1, BOW 9/POR 3, POR 5/ERI 4)
The biggest loss on the week for the Sea Dogs came in a 9-3 loss at the hands of the Bowie Bay Sox. The Bay Sox scored 8 off of Dave Pauley in the bottom of the 1st. Pauley lasted only 3 innings and let up 8 runs (6 earned) on 10 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 2. Two of the runs the Sea Dogs scored came on a two run shot by Dustin Pedroiam who hit his second home run in as many days. The other run came on Hanley Ramirez's first homer of the year. Ramirez went 5-19 on the week to go along with his homer and 3 walks. He hasn't been hitting the homers, but he has been tearing up the bases, stealing his 10th base of the year last week. Pedroia went 5-17 with 2 homers last week. He walked 3 times and struck out twice. The Sea Dogs were swept by the Bay Sox and went 2-3 on the week.
Chris Smith was activated from the DL and made his first start for the Sea Dogs. Smith, 23, isn't on most prospect radar screens. According to Sox Prospects he has a good power curve, but needs to work on his curve if he wants to compete as a starter at the major league level. He made a good start to the year, prospect or not, with a 5.2 inning start letting up 1 run on 1 walk and 3 hits. He struck out 4.
Jon Lester got his first loss of the season to go to 1-1 on the year, but the loss was more of a result of poor run support than anything else. He went 5.2 innings and allowed only 2 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks. He only struck out 3. The Sea Dogs were held to a single run, a Pedroia solo shot.
Jon Papelbon continued to dominate with a 6.1 inning performance where he let up only 1 run on 2 hits and 3 walks. He struck out 5. Papelbon has been walking more in his last few starts than he was at the begining of the year, but he has still been very effective. He was in line for the win before Manny Delcarmen, a borderline Sox prospect having a bad year in the AA bullpen, blew the save by allowing 3 unearned runs in relief of Papelbon. The Sea Dogs went on to win the game and Marc Deschenes got the win by pitching a hitless 1.1 innings to end the game. With Cla Meredith in the majors, Deschenes is the guy who will step up as the Sea Dogs closer. His numbers aren't as good as Meredith's were in AA. He's actually let up a couple of runs. But the numbers are close. In 15.1 innings he's struck out 23 and has a 1.17 ERA. His biggest drawback appears to be his control. He's walked 11. If he doesn't cut back on the walks, eventually they will catch up to him and bite him in the ass.
With Ian Bladergroen struggling all year and now going on the DL with a sprained left wrist, Jeremy West is the top first base prospect for the Sox. West has been hitting clean up for the Sea Dogs for most of the year. He has only 2 home runs, but he has doubled 10 times and tripled twice. His .310/.376/.468 line shows that he knows how to get on base, but he does need to start hitting for more power if he wants to be considered a serious option at first.
Wilmington Blue Rocks
There's only one thing we care about down in Wilmington and his name is Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez went 6 innings allowing only 1 unearned run to get the win last week. He allowed 3 hits and 3 walks, but struck out 7. His ERA is down to 2.19 on the year and he has a 55/6 k/bb ratio in 7 games over 37 innings. It's only a matter of time before Jon Papelbon finds himself in AAA and Sanchez replaces him as Portland's ace.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Not what we expected...
Baseball is a game where a guy can just get unlucky. It's a game where a series of unfortunate events can happen back to back to back and before you know it, things are looking grim. It's also the kind of game where if you take out one piece of the puzzle, things can look incredibly different. In Sunday evening's game Seattle's second inning was a case of both of those happening. If you took out the struggles that Time Wakefield was having in that inning, he pitched a beautiful game and he would've had the win. You can't do that, of course, but it'd be nice if you could. The funny thing is that he wasn't even struggling. Only two of the balls in that inning were hit hard. Randy Winn and Willie Bloomquist both hit line drive doubles into the outfield, but Wakefield didn't walk a batter and the other three hits consisted of two weak hit grounders and a bloop single into shallow right. One of the runs scored on a groundout and the first out of the inning was a very weak ball hit back to the mound. Seattle didn't have Wakefield's number that inning. They were struggling. It just so happens that they were getting lucky. The only thing I fault Wakefield with last night is the fact that he was somehow unable to get Miguel Olivo out. The guy was on something like an 0 for 24 streak entering the game and ended up going 3 for 4 in the game with a homer. I guess even the lowest dog has his day. Baseball is like that too.
There was good news about Sunday's game. Plenty of good news. Wakefield wasn't as bad as his numbers suggest, but the biggest news of the day was Manny Ramirez and his 400th career home run. A huge congratulations goes out to him. Some say that he's struggling this year, but you could always just say that it's just Manny being Manny.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Streaks, Milestones, and Links
As for streaks, Johnny DamonL went 0 for 5 last night breaking his hit streak leaving the longest hit streak on the team to Edgar Renteria with 10 games. Damon is third in the league in AVG and second in hits and is putting together a season much better than anyone thought he would. The question is, if he keeps up this pace and finishes the year with a fantastic season, do the Sox give him the 4 year deal that he wants? During his streak Renteria is 14 for 45. I'd be a little more optimistic about him finally breaking out of his season long slump if he had more than just one extra base hit in that time.
Evan Brunell breaks down Manny's slump to show us that it's not really that much of a slump. While he seems to think that Manny is done against lefties, I have a feeling it's just a case of a small sample size and that Manny will start crushing them any time now. But it is nice to see that Manny is still the same old Manny against righties. Either way, we all know that Manny is just one of his blazing hot streaks away from righting his season entirely.
Marc Normandin is expanding once again. He started off with the now defunct Baseball Ranting before expanding to a few weeks at Heads/Tails. He's now moved on to Beyond the Boxscore and started a blog that I'm really looking forward to, Sox on Deck. His latest post talks about a few Paw Sox players that he observed for the first time in his first game at Pawtucket. It also mentioned something that I hadn't heard about yet. Roberto Petagine is off the DL and played his first game for the Paw Sox. I was happy with the Petagine signing in the offseason and was looking forward to seeing him play, but because of his injury I mostly forgot about him. If he plays well in Pawtucket it would be nice to have his bat off the bench backing up Millar at first.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Couldn't last forever...
The game started off looking interesting. I love the ping pong, back and forth offensive games, especially when the Sox starter getting bombed isn't someone in the season long plans. But the Red Sox stopped scoring and the Mariners...well, they didn't. Mark Bellhorn hit his first homer of the season. Here's hoping that's the start of a trend. I knew he hadn't hit a homer yet this yeaer, but when you actually hear it said outloud it just sounds that much more worse. Even he and Trot Nixon couldn't keep the Sox afloat for long. I'm about to head to bed after this post and the Sox are down 14-6.
I assume Cla Meredith's stint in the majors will be over when David Wells comes off the DL, which is supposed to be pretty soon. Meredith was hit hard for the third time in his three chances and I think, for now, he's run out of chances. It's past time to put this little expiriment to rest and let Meredith get in some work at AAA. The jump was far too much for him at such a young age.
Damon walks, Payton doubles with 1 out in the 8th. Maybe the Sox are making a comeback! I know I'm not waiting up for it.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
An end of an era
I haven't seen a single bit of a Red Sox game all week besides what Baseball Tonight has shown me and it's starting to drive me insane. Connecticut, in all its NESNless glory, really is hell on earth. Luckily I'll be heading back to good ol' Rhode Island tomorrow afternoon and I'll be able to catch some of, if not all of, tomorrow night's game.
The Red hot streak for the Sox should continue when they roll into Seattle. Jeremi Gonazlez, Wade Miller, and Tim Wakefield should be taking the mound against a below average team. The Red Sox are only a single game behind the Orioles and a series against the Mariners is just what they need to make a run at the division lead.
I'm not sure if it's good news or bad news, but David Wells is making progress. It is good in a way. I don't really have confidence that Jeremi Gonzalez can keep up his relatively solid effort, but...well, things have been nice without Wells! The same article mentions how Schilling isn't doing as well.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Minor League Update
The Paw Sox wasted their hot streak with a rather mediocre week which contained little, if any, highlites. Chip Ambres was the biggest standout for the team going 11 for 28 on the week, walking 3 times, scoring 7, and knocked in 5. He hit 2 home runs. Ambers has been the biggest offensive star for the team so far this year with a .360/.435/.653 line, all of which lead the team. He's also showing speed and power with 5 steals and 5 homers. If he keeps it up the 25 year old could be Boston's fifth outfielder before long, despite the fact that he's never showed this kind of promise before. Kelly Shoppach is still plodding along with a 7 for 26 week, keeping his average up there and staying in the race for the International League home run title. Right now he's 2 behind the lead and tied for 3rd with several other players.
I was ready to say how impressive Chris Naverson has been. I was about to even suggest that he could be in Boston by the summer. His first start of the week was strong with a 5 inning start for his first victory of the season. He did walk 4 and only struck out 1, but he spread out 6 hits to allow only 1 run. Then everything changed with a horrid second start yesterday where he lasted only 3 IP and allowed 9 ER on 11 hits. Still, it's hard to believe that at one time I actually felt that the Red Sox could've squeezed more out of a deal for Byung-Hyun Kim. Kim has been getting crushed in Colorado, blowing lead after lead as the Rockies still insist on bringing him in in close games. It appears as if they're finally starting to learn their lesson as he's only been used twice so far this month, but the damage has already been done. He did start today for the Rockies and pitched pretty well going 5 innings letting up only 1 run, but in his 11 relief appearances on the year he's 0-3 with a 7.62 ERA. Naverson, before yesterday was cruising along for the Red Sox. And even still, 9 runs will hurt his ERA for the rest of the year, but if he doesn't let the outing bother him he should continue to impress.
Charlie Zink, the 26 year old knuckleballer who, at one time, was considered a Sox prospect, but has been struggling for the last year and half, was promoted to AAA for the first time in his young career. The Sox shuffled pitchers around at the major league and AAA level a few days ago and when the dust settled, Zink found himself playing for Pawtucket. He came on in relief of Naverson in yesterday's game and continued to allow the slugfest that Naverson started. He went 1.1 IP allowing 4 runs.
Portland Sea Dogs (POR 5/NB 0, NB 10/POR 6, NOR 6/POR 3, POR 3/NOR 2, NH 4/POR 2, POR 6/NH 1
The Dustin Pedroia/Hanley Ramirez duo continues to impress. The issue is becoming less and less about just how good they did last week and more and more about when they're going to be promoted to AAA. Ramirez has been slightly dissapointing this year, still without a homer, and for the first time he's below the .300 mark with a .299 AVG. On the other hand a very solid .299/.364/.439 line isn't half bad and combined with 9 steals in 11 attempts and 6 triples and Ramirez is just looking better and better. Pedroia has outhit his double play partner so far this year with a .352/.439/.486 line. He's leading the team in walks and has been a solid run producer knocking in 18 of his teammates in 26 games. In just his second professional season Pedroia is making a strong case for a promotion. Is there room for the duo in Pawtucket? Yes and no. Pawtucket hasn't had a regular shortstop all year. They've rotated between several players, and only Tim Hummel, a 26 year old with some big league experience, is producing. Hummel has played some time at short, but has received most of his time over at third. So there is a spot open for Ramirez at short. Second base has belonged to Alejandro Machado, a 23 year old in his first season in the Red Sox organization. Machado has been very solid this year for the Paw Sox. I've suggested a promotion to the majors where his defense could greatly help a club that was forced to use Mark Bellhorn at short and his speed would be welcomed on a bench that doesn't really have a good pinch runner. At his age and experience level, however, that's probably not the best of ideas. The Sox want to continue to develope Machado so they won't move him to the bench and while I can't find any position data for the guy, Baseball America says that he plays both middle infield posistions, so a move to third or the outfield might not be a very good idea. So, for now, Pedroia, who seems to be closer to a promotion than Ramirez, is blocked by Machado. It's probably too early for mee to even be discussing this, but I'm anxious to see this combo in Pawtucket, a 20 minute ride from my house.
The Sea Dog rotation continues to be a strength for the team. Jon Papelbon, John Lester, and Dave Pauley continue to impress and each threw a good game last week. Pauley went 7 strong innings allowing just 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 5. Pauley, the 21 year old minor leaguer sent over in the Dave Roberts deal during the offseason, doesn't get very much attention and is projected to be a back of the rotation starter. Baseball America rates him as the club's 26th best prospect, but if he keeps putting up good numbers at his age he may gain a little more favor. Papelbon is already considered the team's top pitching prospect only improved his stock with his last two starts. Early in the week he went 7 scoreless innings letting up only 3 hits and struck out 6. The only problem with his start was his control. He allowed his first 2 walks of the year in his start before last week, and the trend got worse last week. He walked 5. His controlw came back in the game he threw yesterday as he went 6 IP to get the win while allowing only 1 run on a solo homer, the only hit he allowed in the game. More importantly he walked only 1 while striking out 5. His ERA is down to 2.02 on the year and he's giving Sea Dog fans a lot to be excited about. Lester wasn't as good as Papelbon last week, but he did keep the Dogs in the game going 6.2 IP letting up only a single run on 5 hits and a walk. He struck out 8. He was in line for the win, but a poor offensive showing and a run let up by the bullpen gave him a no decision in a game that the team eventually did win.
Wilmington Blue Rocks (WIL 3/POT 0, POT 6/WIL 0, FRE 6/WIL 5, WIL 7/FRE 5, FRE 10/WIL 8, LYN 7/WIL 5, WIL 14/LYN 5)
The Blue Rocks had a rough week going 2-4. As always, the only stand out star for the team in my mind was Anibal Sanchez. He had a decent game going 5 while letting up only 2 runs. The team won the game, but Sanchez didn't earn the victory thanks to some shoddy bullpen work. The biggest story was his control. He walked 2 batters in thos 5 innings bringing his season total up to 3 walks allowed. He struck out 4 while letting up 4 hits. Luis Gonzalez may be a pitcher to keep an eye on. The 20 year old has a 3.19 ERA in 31 IP over 6 games (5 of them starts). He's only struck out 17 while walking 7, but he's pitched well enough to keep the team in the games when he's on the mound.
Bryan Pritz, recently promoted from Greenville has been helping the team from the leadoff spot since he got to the team on May 1st. Apparently the speedy centerfielder has really great range and so far his bat in Wilmington has been pretty hot as he's started his High-A career with a .379/.538/.379 line in 29 at bats over 9 games. He still doesn't have an extra base hit, but the season is still young he he's already 3 for 3 in steal attempts.
Ian Bladergroen has fallen off the radar nearly completely. The man who some hoped would develop some power and move quickly through the system when he came over to the Sox in the offseason has been dropped down to 8th in the lineup. He's going to have to heat up really quick if he wants to go from #8 hitter in the low minors to prospect.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Monday, May 09, 2005
A quick major league week in review to make up for a lack of posts
The Sox have been hot lately and it's been a little while since I've had to use the words ugly and mediocre to describe them. They've had their bad moments, of course, like Cla Meredith's major league career and Edgar Renteria's bruised finger, but for the most part they've been cruising right along taking 2 of 3 from Texas, 3 of 4 from Detroit, and 2 of 3 from Seattle. Picking on the lesser teams is how the Red Sox are going to make a run at 100 wins this year and so far they've been doing a decent job with that.
With Curt Schilling and David Wells down, the Sox have had to rely on a patch work rotation to get the job done and the team has really stepped up and done much more than anyone could ask for. Tim Wakefield, who is on the mound as I type this, and Bronson Arroyo have been amazing so far this year and both won their start last week. Wakefield did let up 10 hits and 3 runs, but pitched 7 solid innings to get the win against Detroit and Arroyo pitched a 3 hit beauty against Detroit going 8 innings allowing only one run on a solo shot by Carlos Guillen. The two healthy guys left over from last year's rotation have carried this team's pitching so far this year. They were expected to be solid 4 and 5 guys, but have exceeded expectations in every way possible. Matt Clement, despite mixed feelings from most of Red Sox Nation has produced this year, still hasn't lost a game, and his last start was one of his best so far in a Red Sox uniform. Jeremi Gonzalez and John Halama, the two fill ins, did plenty to keep the team in the game in their three starts combined. Gonzalez apparently impressed enough that he remained with the team when Lenny Dinardo and Blaine Neal went down. If he performs at this level all year he'll be a solid long man out of the pen. Wade Miller...well, the jury is still out on him, but many hopes and dreams rest on that man's shoulder.
Keith Foulke has still been a little shaky, but he seems to be settling down a little bit. To quote a caller on WEEI, they've been pronouncing the guy's title wrong all year. He's not the team's "closer". His job is to come in and make the game a little bit "closer". As in a closer score. The bullpen has had its bad moments with Embre's bad game, Neal's deserved demotion, and Cla Meredith, but in general it hasn't been bad. It's been another solid aspect of the team.
On the offensive side of the ball, all I have to say is Kevin Youkilis. I'm probably way too high on this guy, but he's hitting. Since he came back from Pawtucket he's been in six games and he is 8 for 21. He was held hitless in one of those games and he still managed to walk twice that night. Francona really needs to find ways to get this guy in the line up every damn day.
I started this post a couple of hours ago and now tonight's game is coming to an end. Meredith, unfortunately, got hammered again. I think he's going to be finding his way to Pawtucket real soon. Besides that, the game was all Sox. I really wish I had been able to see it.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Blaine Neal was sent to the minors to make room for the youngster which is a shame. I was hoping that Neal would turn out ok this year...mostly because I spent $5 to sponsor him on Baseball Reference. Neal let up 9 runs (8 earned) on 15 hits, 3 walks, and 2 homers.
Edited to add So, 2 walks, a grand slam, and a double later, the Cla Meredith expiriment isn't looking so hot. Maybe he was a little nervous or maybe he just wasn't getting away with some of the things that he could get away with in the minors. Then again, maybe Varitek didn't know his stuff and called for the wrong pitches or maybe the constant drizzle made it so that Meredith couldn't get a good grip on the ball. Whatever the reason, he couldn't find the plate. While only a couple of his pitches missed by a mile, most of his were obvious balls, but only a few inches off the plate. This makes me think that it was a combination of nerves and not being able to get away with the same stuff. It can't really be blamed on the rain. It's probably not the first time he pitched in the rain and the rest of the players were playing in the same condition. Perhaps he'll settle down, perhaps he'll find himself back in Pawtucket after the game...
Several Sox bloggers were suggesting that this guy get a shot in the majors, but I don't think I'm a big fan of the idea. I'm not scout and tonight was actually the first time that I've seen his stuff, so I can't give an expert opinion, but I'm not sure if I see the logic behind it. I just think that there are options that don't include so much risk. Meredith has been lighting things up in AA this year, but he's never blown people away before this year, he's 21, and he hasn't pitched above AA. He may have really good stuff, but he's a huge risk and some time in Pawtucket to see what he has would probably do him a world of good. Instead of sending down Lenny Dinardo when Wade Miller came off the DL, why not just keep Dinardo around and send Neal down then? If they wanted to shake things up and go with someone new, Chris Naverson and Mark Malaska are older and have more experience. Naverson, admittedly, is only a year older and has only a little bit of experience in AAA, but still, that's something. And Malaska went through nearly a year with Boston last year. Why not go with him? I can see wanting to shake things up a bit and I can see wanting to give the young kid a shot, but I think it'd make a little bit more sense if they let him loose on the International League before throwing him to the wolves.
It's getting quiet in here...
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Minor League Update
Pawtucket Red Sox (PAW 9/ROC 2, ROC 9/PAW 8, PAW 1/SCA 0, SCA 8/PAW 6, PAW 13/SCA 2, PAW 6/SCA 1, PAW 6/ROC 5)
This was the week that the Paw Sox offense decided to show up. With the exception of a 1-0 win on Thursday they managed to crank out at least 6 runs in every game they played. That includes a 13 run explosion, a 9 run game, and an 8 run game. The biggest contributor to the offensive week was Chip Ambers. Ambers went 10 for 18 on the week with 4 walks to go along with 2 homers and 10 RBI's. With that week Ambers has become the club's best offensive player leading them in AVG and SLG. Kelly Shoppach was pretty quiet this week. He did hit a home run to account for the only run in their 1-0 game, but was only 6 for 22 for the week and struck out 6 times.
One oddity that I noticed while at the game last night was Shawn Wooten. He's making the case to non-statheads everywhere that RBI's don't matter. He has an absolutely dreadful .187/.248/.341 line, but somehow manages to lead the club in RBIs with 17. He has homered 4 times, but has only doubled twice. From looks alone I'd have to say that Wooten is probably one of the least speedy guys in the game so to get a double he has to hit the ball real hard.
Abe Alvarez, Jeremi Gonzalez, and Chris Naverson all made good starts for the Paw Sox last week. Alvarez, with a nice 17/2 k/bb ration in a team leading 27.2 IP on the year, struck out 6 in 7 innings while allowing only 1 run on 4 hits. Naverson, who leads the team with a 1.65 ERA, also went 7 innings allowing only a single run on 4 hits, but he struck out only 4 and walked 2. He would've earned the win, but the bullpen blew his 5 run lead letting up 7 runs in the 8th inning. Gonzalez went twice this week going a very strong 6 innings for his first win in Pawtucket before keeping the big league club in the game for 5 innings. His big league start was as much as they could've asked out of him as he let up only 3 runs, but I think we all know saw how badly the bullpen performed in that 8-3 loss.
I was surprised with the Red Sox decision to call up Tim Bausher when Curt Schilling went down. Bausher has been adequate for the Paw Sox out of the pen so far this year with a 3.24 ERA in 8.1 IP over 4 games. He was up with the big league club for only one day and didn't get to see any action, but I would've thought that Mark Malaska would've been the man to be called up. Malaska has been the long man in the Paw Sox bullpen and has put together some very impressive games. In 14.1 IP over 6 games he's struck out 13 while walking 4 and has a 2.51 ERA. His better numbers and big league experience put him above Bausher on the depth chart in my mind.
The biggest blemish in the Pawtucket pitching staff so far? That's easy. Anastacio Martinez. Last year this guy made a start for Boston and was considered an emergency option to fill in in the big league rotation, but this year, working out of the bullpen, he has been hammered in every game that he's appeared in. In 4 games he has lasted only 2.2 IP and has a 37.12 ERA after letting up 13 runs (only 11 earned). He's only walked 1 and struck out 1, but he's been hit hard for 13 hits. If the Pawtucket team is tryin to win games, they might want to think about not using this guy.
Portland Sea Dogs (BIN 13/POR 10, BIN 3/POR 2, POR 2/BIN 1, NOR 8/POR 0, POR 10/NOR 9, POR 4/NB 1, NB 5/POR 3)
Two vastly different games with the same results started off the week for the Sea Dogs. Binghamton beat them twice in a row once in a battle of the bats and once in a close, low scoring game. They finished the week with a losing record going 3-4 in games that ran all over the spectrum. They won a few close games, two thanks to the pitching (4-1 and 2-1) and one thanks to their bats (10-9). Super closer Cla Meredith, still unscored upon this year in 15 innings, factored in all 3 decisions with a win and 2 saves. The guy has only allowed 8 baserunners so far this year and has struck out 12.
Hanley Ramirez has been struggling mightily in the last couple of weeks, last week going only 4-23 with a single walk. He did manage to steal 2 bases, but his line has dropped to .276/.330/.425 after a hot start and he still hasn't homered. His double play partner has it in cruise control going a respectable 10-33 over the week with a couple of walks, couple of steals, and his second homer of the year. He's still up there at .337/.426/.500.
Charlie Zink and Brandon Moss continue to struggle on the year and are both quickly falling down the prospect ranks for the Red Sox. Zink had a couple of good games to start the year, but after lasting only 1 inning in his last start while walking 4 and allowing 5 runs, his ERA on the season is up to 6.35. Zink was a borderline prospect after a dissapointing year last year and unless he starts to take it up a notch, he's going to fall completely out of the Red Sox radar. Moss, on the other hand, was considered by many to be the #2 hitting prospect in the system after what is now looking like a fluke year in 2004. He hasn't been hot at any time so far this year and his average is down to .215 after a 6-27 week. He is second on the team to only Jared Sandberg with 26 k's and has walked only 6 times. It's tough to find a bright spot for him so far this year.
Chris Durbin has continued to hit this year after a 12 for 20 week. He also walked 4 times and knocked in 9 on 3 doubles and a homer. Durbin has been the hottest hitter on the Sea Dogs so far this year with a .377/.449/.638 line, all three stats leading the team.
The Jon Lester/Jon Papelbon duo gave the Dogs a couple of very good starts last week. Lester went 7 innings and allowed only 1 run. The bullpen ended up with the win thanks to poor run support, but he allowed only 4 hits and walked just 2 to go along with 4 strikeouts. The win also went to the bullpen in Papelbon's game as he lasted 6 innings and allowed just one unearned run. He struck out 6 to go along with 4 hits and 2 walks. The two walks were his first two allowed so far this year.
Wilmington Blue Rocks (POT 9/WIL 0, POT 4/WIL 2, WIL 4/POT 2, WS 10/WIL 4, WS 6/WIL 2, WIL 1/WS 0, WIL 6/POT 2, POT 7/WIL 6)
The Blue Rocks started the week 1-4 before two strong pitching performances by Anibal Sanchez and Jose Vaquedano allowed them to win 2 out of their final 3 games. Sanchez went twice on the week getting a no decision in his first game, a 6 inning effort allowing just 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and no walks. He struck out seven. He earned the victory in his second game by going 6 scoreless innings, once again not walking a batter and allowing 4 hits to go along with 9 K's. That leaves him with a 2.42 ERA and a 44/1 k/bb ratio in 26 IP. Let's say that again. 44/1!!!!!!!!!!!!! Vazquedano's winning effort was his first start of the year after 4 games of being used as a long reliever. He lowered his ERA to 3.00 in 21 innings with a 15/2 k/bb ratio after last week. The team offense still has nothing to talk about.
In non-Sox related minor league news, Ryan Howard is going to get his chance. I've been following his games this year, especially after my friend suggested a Hanley/Howard deal. Jim Thome, struggling mightily this year with only 1 homer and a .204 avg, was put on the DL with a bad back. Philly is hoping that Thome will be out for the minimum of two weeks. So Howard has two weeks to impress the big league club. Howard has only hit 4 homers in 79 AB so far this year, but he does have a very impressive .316/.423/.570 line. He's striking out a LOT with 29 k's. With that many strikeouts big league pitchers may eat this guy up. But I'm hoping he puts up some good numbers.
Monday, May 02, 2005
Rather than talk about the beating Detroit just gave the team, let's talk a bit about John Olerud. As we've all heard already, the Sox picked up the veteran gold glover. I've seen every response to this move from elation to disgust, but I have a pretty indifferent attitude to the deal. Yeah, I'm very glad that it means the end of the Dave McCarty era in Boston, but in general it's not going to be a huge impact signing. If he's healthy, he'll be able to help the club a little with his glove and he'll be able to get on base every now and then. But in the big scheme of things, it's not a major move.
I'll be in Pawtucket tomorrow to see Wade Miller on the mound. It's been a while since I've been to a Paw Sox game and I'm looking forward to it. Especially since this year I'm starting to get more and more into the prospects game. The biggest thing I'm looking forward to though is obviously Miller himself. We really need this guy to come back strong.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
That's what I like to see
- Kevin Youkilis was just starting to get a little hot in Pawtucket and now here he is, back in Boston and starting thanks to Mark Bellhorn being the latest victim of the team's flu bug. Not only did Youk start, but he collected 3 hits.
- Bill Mueller, starting at second, reached base five times and scored thrice thanks mostly to four walks. That's a pretty impressive little performance.
- Kevin Millar and Edgar Renteria continued their season long struggle going a combined 1-10. Millar still hasn't homered this year. In fact just about the only thing he is doing is walking. His on base percentage isn't bad, but he's not much help to the team if his bat doesn't have at least a little bit of pop to it. His numbers have been declining over the last couple of years while his weight has been increasing so I suppose it doesn't come as much of a surprise. I'm still hoping for better out of him though. In both of his years as a member of the team he has had one ice cold half and one red hot half. I guess, just like last year, he's saving his performance for the second half of the year. As for Renteria, I still hate him a lot less than most of the rest of Red Sox Nation. I think he'll come around. His decent numbers at Fenway give me a little bit of hope.
- The biggest news of the day was the continued excellent performances of Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon, and Bronson Arroyo. All three had great years for the team last year, but a lot of people had doubts that those seasons could be repeated. So far all three are off to a hot start. Damon hit his first homer of the year, but his extra base power is there with 8 doubles not to mention that he's hitting .365 with a .404 obp. Once again he's performing like one of the game's top leadoff men. Varitek is busy quietting those who felt his contract was for too much money. He hit his 6th homer which leaves him on pace to smack 42! I realize he's probably not capable of such a feat, but an impressive start is still an impressive start. Arroyo pitched 7 very effective innings to go to 3-0 on the year. With half the staff on the DL, Arroyo's presence in the rotation has been a huge boost to the team. If all 6 of the Red Sox starters ever find themselves healthy at the same time, it's going to be very hard for Franconna to banish Arroyo to the bullpen.
- And speaking of bullpens...a 1-2-3 innning by Keith Foulke??? That's what I like to see!
- Those of you that base your week around my MVP/Cy Young updates are going to have to wait a little longer this week. Tomorrow night I'll be heading to bed nice and early because on Monday I'll be up before the crack of dawn for a little work related training. Because of that I won't have time to do any updating so looking for that update on Monday evening.