Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Minor League Update

Last night I found out what it's like to be a west coast fan. I showed up in the 2nd and left in the 7th. Thanks to work and traffic I didn't get inside of McCoy Stadium until the start of the 2nd inning. And since Miller was out and the three of us were tired and a little cold, we just decided to take off in the 7th. It had been a while since I had tickets for a Pawtucket Red Sox game and I was amazed with how easy it was to get good seats. Less than a week before a game in which Wade Miller was starting I went online and ordered tickets, crossing my fingers that the seats would be decent. Not that McCoy has any bad seats in the house, but I wanted something close. I picked up my tickets once I got to the park and we had second row seats slightly towards the first base side of the plate. We were closer to the game than Theo Epstein! Theo was a couple sections over, directly behind home, but about 15 rows up. Miller's final line wasn't all that impressive. He seemed to have issues with control, walking 4 in 5.2 IP. I believe his final pitch count was 96, 57 of them for strikes. I wish I could critique his pithes and tell you how good he was throwing, but I'm not good enough for that. To be honest with you I can't tell the difference between a slider and a changeup. With an eye like mine, nearly every pitch looks the same. I can tell you that according to the radar gun his pitches hit everywhere from 66 to 96. I also got to watch one of the Twins' top pitchers, JD Durbin. I didn't even realize that he was pitching until we got to the game. Durbin has struggled since being called up to AAA last year and wasn't very impressive last night. He was throwing some serious heat, topping off at 96 mph, but his control was an issue and it seems like his control has been the culprit causing him to struggle in his 7 AAA starts last year and 5 starts this year.

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.

Comments:
I linked your site to Boston.com's Feedster list off the Red Sox page. And listed you on BDD.

Boston Dirt Dogs.
 
So that's why I've been getting a lot of hits from feedster? Thanks a lot. That's upped my hit count by quite a bit.
 
Well, the PawSox don't need to worry about A. Martinez for a little while. He dislocated his non-throwing shoulder last night. And Cla Meredith has been called up to AAA.
 
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