June 16, 2009

Red Sox Are Rolling -- With An Easier Schedule Ahead

Since the beginning of June, the Red Sox have played four series against first-place teams (Tigers, Rangers, Yankees, Phillies). Boston went 9-3 in those games, outscoring their opponents 72-48.

Boston's schedule is about to get much easier. Their next 25 games -- from tonight until the All-Star break -- are against teams that are currently under .500. Sixteen of those 25 games are at home. There is no better time to fatten their two-game lead in the East.

Tim Wakefield, Brad Penny and Jon Lester will face the Marlins this week. The big question is who will start Friday's game against Atlanta -- John Smoltz or Daisuke Matsuzaka?

John Tomase, Herald:
Barring the trade of Penny, the most likely route for Smoltz into the rotation is through Matsuzaka, who could either be placed on the disabled list or shifted to the bullpen. If it's the latter, reliever Daniel Bard could be shipped back to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Smoltz, whose rehab window expires on Friday.
Gerry Callahan of the Herald would like the Red Sox to bury Matsuzaka in the bullpen, letting him mop-up or pitch in long relief.

If Penny is not traded, that will be a real possibility (though Callahan's "dump his ass" mentality is knee-jerk and childish). Tony Massarotti ponders that scenario, as well as four others. The Red Sox will not implement a six-man rotation, all public indications (as recently as two days ago) are that Smoltz will start, so the only other option is sending Wakefield to the pen.

Yet another potential starter, Clay Buchholz, is frustrated at being in Pawtucket:
I want to be in the big leagues and I do want to go somewhere where I'll be able to play and pitch every fifth day. ... [I]t's sort of a logjam up there (in Boston). Whenever they come to a problem, they seem like they find a way to fix it without me being in the picture. It is what it is -- it's frustrating at times. Everybody knows that this game doesn't last forever, for a pitcher especially. I feel like I don't want to waste bullets here.
Farm director Mike Hazen responded:
There should be an expectation of the player to feel like he's ready to go to the big leagues ... I think we're reading into it more that he has that confidence, that swagger, to seize the opportunity when it comes. Ultimately, he's just got to go out and continue to perform every five days. He's held up his end of the bargain. ... He's handled every situation that's been thrown at him like a pro. ... And his performance has been unbelievable. ... I believe wholeheartedly that Clay Buchholz wants to pitch for the Boston Red Sox. I believe wholeheartedly that both (Buchholz and Michael Bowden) want to be Boston Red Sox and that both of them will be, and that they'll help us win another World Series. It's just a matter of the timing of the situation.

Jason Bay was asked if there was anything new regarding a contract extension:
There's really nothing to say about it. It's been a hot topic. I understand that. Until there's something to say, there's nothing to say. In spring training, we said we would revisit it at some point. Now we're two months into the season, so there's still a lot of time left. It's not really something that I'm hung up with. If it's in the cards, it'll get worked out. If not ...
The herald's Michael Silverman has a Pedro update, saying Martinez
has been working out six days a week at Licey Stadium in downtown Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic for the last several weeks ... with scouts from major league teams stopping by to take looks. He is trying to stay on a five-day throwing program in anticipation of signing with a major league team, probably by the end of this month. His plan is to go on a 2-[3] week minor league tuneup stint before being ready to pitch in the second half of the MLB season, right after the All-Star break. ... He wants to have a good enough showing where he can continue to pitch through at least 2011.

Nick Cafardo took an unwarranted shot at Julio Lugo in his June 14 Globe story (my emphasis):
It was as if he experienced that Philadelphia freedom. As if he had run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art pumping his fists like Rocky. That's how invigorated Julio Lugo felt last night.

"Of course, when you get hits, you feel good," said Lugo, slipping on a pair of $400 Gucci sneakers after the Red Sox' 11-6 win over the Phillies. "The only way you feel comfortable is by having success."
I'd say Cafardo is better than that, but he is fairly worthless as a baseball writer.

Finally: Bloomsday!


Amy said...

Wow, how fast and far the phenom that was supposed to be DiceK has fallen. In the bullpen? Mop up? Does it get much lower than that on a major league roster for a pitcher?

Not that I disagree. His pitching makes me crazy. But what the hell happened to him?

s1c said...

Smoltz was on the Dan Patrick show (according to WEEI), one more minor league start (he doesn't want to face the braves in his first start, again according to WEEI) then either next Tuesday (penny) or Wendesday (lester) versus Washington.

As for Callahan's article, I think he is just saying that since you can't send Daisuke down to the minors because of his contract you have to figure out someway to get him back on track. The bullpen is the best way to do that.

Myself, I trade Penny, bring up Buccy and Smoltz, place Daisuke in the pen and send Bard down to make sure he gets his innings.

Amy said...

I agree with your plan, S1C. I would like to see HH back in the majors, and although Penny has been better than I anticipated, I would not lose sleep over trading him. I know Bard is supposed to be the next best thing, but so far, I haven't been too impressed and am not sure he is ready for prime time.

redsock said...

He is likely not fully healthy. He is simply getting pounded. His line drive rate is up from 18% last year to 29% (which is insanely high, btw) in 2009.

His BABIP is out of control: .440 this year to .260 last year. And he is giving up taters at a rate four times higher last year. Though his strikeout rate is actually better than last year.

Is he pitching to contact more than usual? If he is, he's still putting up high pitch innings. Bad luck with the BABIP? Still coming back from his shoulder issues? Flat pitches getting hammered?

Callahan's suggestion is overly harsh, but also seems somewhat impractical to me. Do we want Dice-BB coming into a game in the 6th and putting guys on? Will giving him three innings in a blowout (either way) really help him much?

redsock said...

Rosenthal says teams are asking about, and the Sox have mentioned dealing, Saito.

He's 39 with serious shoulder concerns, so he wouldn't bring much, but I think Bard is more than ready.

Before his last (shitty) outing in Philly, he had a nice run of 8 innings over 7 games with 2 hits, 3 walks and 12 K. (And two unearned runs.) Like HH, he has run out of challenges in AAA.

s1c said...

Redsock, while I agree that Bard has run out of challenges in AAA, he has only really been in 1 pressure situation, last friday vs the phils. Tito is not rushing him (which I support), but he is not putting him in the pressure spots.

To me it is a numbers game, where is he going to get the innings that he needs, with the Sox or with the Pawsox? If the pen is going to be, Masterson, MDC, Oki, Ram Ram and then snuffer aka the bot, how is he going to get the innings?

If he is the closer / set up man of the future, he needs to face men in pressure situations on a routine basis and that is more likely in AAA then in Boston right now.

As for Daisuke he needs to figure it out but if he has in his contract no minors, then you can't send him down to AAA to figure it out. So what do you do with him?

Has he had some bad luck, sure, but he hasn't helped himself either and do you want to send him out every five days knowing that you are going to tax your bullpen, especially when you are taxing it on Penny's days also?

I just think if he is in the pen, he can get some work with no pressure, maybe work out his command problem and then you can work him back into the rotation.

Now having said all that, give me a problem where my team is pitching rich and we are trying to keep everybody fresh and enough work any day of the week and twice on sunday!!!

(besides this is why Theo and Tito get the big bucks)

redsock said...

I agree that Bard needs regular work. In the last week, a SoSHer mentioned something about limiting his time on the big league roster to avoid having him be a "super 2" in arbitration. I can't find the comment now.

I don't know what decision I'd make re Smoltz. And there's another big call to make when Lowrie comes back. Will the FO cut Lugo loose?

Also, maybe Theo is thinking of packaging Penny + Saito?

redsock said...

Shit, forgot this.

In addition to Bard needing steady work, he needs to get battered around too and then work from that.


Tito is doing a great job of working him into games:

Low Lev: 45 PA
Med Lev: 9 PA
Hi Lev: 3 PA

8 of his 11 appearances have come in games with a difference in the score of at least 3 runs.