August 20, 2006

New Day Rising

In trying to find some good news for the remaining 40 games of the regular season, we have to look almost exclusively at the offense. (Which is sad, because at the start of this season, I was thrilled at our staff -- and thought it was a strength.)

Last Tuesday night (8/15), Mike Timlin said: "We've been throwing the ball really well. I'm not calling anybody out, but we haven't scored a whole lot. We're pitching well, we're holding teams down, and they're doing the same to us."

I'll avoid an obvious political crack about claiming things are peachy when they are going down the crapper and simply note that this is very silly. And wrong. Only three Red Sox pitchers have an ERA under 5.18 since the All-Star Game -- and Mr. Timlin, with a spiffy 6.46 (11 runs in 15.1 innings), is not one of them. They are Jonathan Papelbon (1.80), Curt Schilling (4.47) and Rudy Seanez (4.73). That's it.

No one expects any team to get through a six-month season without injuries, but we have missed significant time from many pitchers: David Wells (103 games), Matt Clement (59), Tim Wakefield (31), Keith Foulke (59), Lenny DiNardo (81), David Riske (41), and Timlin (16). The constant shuffling of bit parts to fill these holes has been very difficult. Plus the unexpected (though not exactly shocking) failures of Clement and Tavarez. The younger pitchers have been as good as could be expected (I contend Jon Lester has been better) and we have been too quick to expect them to dominate.

BTW: Did you know that Papelbon is only six months younger than Beckett? Or that Kevin Youkilis is more than seven months older than Coco Crisp?

Among the 15 AL teams, the Red Sox are currently 11th in ERA (NY is 5th), 9th in WHIP (NY 4th), 9th in batting average against (NY 3rd), 10th in on-base against (NY 4th), and 11th in slugging against (NY 5th). ... The good news is that if the pitching can simply be passable, things should be fine if the bats wake up. (Two big ifs in that sentence.)

One thing I have mentioned before is the way Red Sox batters often give away at-bats, as if they cannot concentrate for the entire plate appearance. This seems mirrored in the way Francona will concede certain games about the 6th inning or so. Actually, this has been recurring problem with Sox hitters for several years, and our manager in 2003 used to give up on games all the time, which was one big reason why that club had so many late inning rallies and wins. (The Yankees of 1998-2001 made plenty of outs, they struck out and grounded into double plays, but they concentrated for each and every at-bat, even the scrubs, in a way I've not seen Red Sox hitters do. This pains (and annoys) me.)

So. Right now, the Red Sox are 3rd in the AL in runs scored (7 fewer than NY and 10 fewer than the White Sox), 1st in on-base percentage, 4th in slugging and 4th in extra-base hits. Boston also leads all MLB teams with 518 walks (26 more than the Yankees). ... Since the ASG, Manny Ramirez is hitting .374/.449/.672 and David Ortiz is at .297/.424/.656. ... Mike Lowell is slumping (.228/.295/.360) and Eric Hinske should offer some relief. Whether Terry Francona will sit Lowell now and again is a different matter. Alex Gonzalez is also regressing (.235/.291/.435).

We are currently 39-22 at home (as opposed to 30-31 on the road) and after this weekend and a nine-game west coast swing, Boston will play 18 of its last 29 games at home. So that's a plus.

In summary (though the situation is not nearly as dire):
One. One game. One win. That's all.

Not four, not three, not two.



The game won't start for a few hours, so please enjoy this picture of a puppy:



Michael G. Benoit said...

Among the 15 AL teams, the Red Sox are currently 11th in ERA (NY is 5th), 9th in WHIP (NY 4th), 9th in batting average against (NY 3rd), 10th in on-base against (NY 4th), and 11th in slugging against (NY 5th). ...

You mean 14. Yeah, I'm nitpicking, but 11th out of 14 is even worse than 11th out of 15.

Cute puppy. Is that yours?

laura k said...

Is she available for adoption?

allan said...

Sadly, no. And she is much older now also, from the other pix I found.

Yeah, 14. I pictured the Central and confused it with the NL. That has 6 teams, right? Ah, whatever. ... Stupid Central.

allan said...

Her name is Nala.

laura k said...

OMG, look at the two on the couch! [melting]

allan said...

If you are able to read the SoSH thread Expectations: 2007-08, you should. (It should be viewable by lurkers.) Some very good stuff in there.

Darren said...

Hard to go to battle with a one man bullpen....

Peter N said...

Who's pup??? I'm in love...and I wondered when I first read that Timilin quote a couple days ago what he was smokin'.

Gutch220 said...

any real predictions for tonight anyone?........

I think it will be a "low-scoring" game. Each team will score less than 5-6 runs and it will be close to the end. If the Red Sox lose tonight, they will get swept (I think Wells is finished and won't do anything. If Schilling has more than 40-45 Pitches after two innings. The Red Sox are in trouble. They are better off leaving Schilling in to get out of jams late rather than bring in the bull pen, and Papelbon should go more than just one inning.

allan said...

Red Sox 8-4. Schilling goes 6.

This should go in the soon-to-be created G123 post.

Jack Marshall said...

Great puppy...looks like my first Jack Russell, Dickens (RIP).

But can he pitch?