Category Archives: Player Story

Who Is The Biggest Disappointment Of The First Half?

After dropping 3 of 4 to the Yankees in the most important series so far this year, the Sox limp into the All-Star break at an even 43-43. The Sox seemed to have turned a corner last week, going five games over .500 after trudging through the first few months of the 2012 season. But at 40-35, they split with the Mariners and got swept by the Athletics, scoring just 14 runs in 7 games out west. This was a horrible stretch of games, dropping five out of seven to two of the worst hitting teams in the MLB.

After a disastrous road trip, Boston returned home to get slugged around Fenway by the Yankees. The final first half series against the Bronx Bombers highlighted the biggest disappointed for the Red Sox since last year’s September collapse, the starting pitching. Despite all the injuries on the offensive side of the ball and Adrian Gonzalez’s continued power outage, the home town team still stands 2nd in the American League in both hits and runs scored.

Coming into this season the Sox rotation looked pretty formidable, featuring Lester, Beckett, Buchholz, Dubront, and Bard. Daniel Bard then went all Rick Ankiel on everybody and cannot find home plate with a gps anymore. Beckett is a coin toss for every start on whether he goes seven strong innings or is out after four and given up six runs. Buchholz was terrible in his first six starts (despite his record) allowing at least five runs in all six games. Just when Clay started pitching well and getting his act together, he goes down with a somewhat freak injury (esophagitis) and misses the final few weeks of the first half. Dubront has been decent, and would be considered a pleasant surprise to this rotation had the top three played anywhere close to their potential.

But the biggest disappointment in the 2012 season so far has got to be the man at the front of the rotation. People in Boston have been waiting for Jon Lester to finally have that one break out season where he was in the running for his first Cy Young and carried this team on his shoulders. Lester so far this season, is 5-6 with a 4.49 ERA. Since 2008, Lester has not won less than 15 games (including winning 19 in 2010) or lost more than 9. In those four seasons, his highest ERA was 3.47 (2011). Even more telling this season are his strikeout and walk numbers. Since 2010, Lester’s K/9 has dropped from 9.74 to 7.53 and his BB/9 has increased from 2.71 to 3.13. Just using the eye test with the “Ace” of the staff can tell you how much Lester has struggled this year, routinely throws 20+ pitches in the first inning and rarely in the game past the 7th inning (twice all season).

The Sox are currently 4th in the AL East, 9.5 games back from the Yankees. However, with the new second wild card added to baseball this season the Red Sox are still in the running for a playoff spot. They sit only 2.5 games back from the Orioles for the chance to play their way into a Divisional Playoff Series. If the Red Sox are going to contend in the second half, they are going to need the offense to tread water until healthy and for Lester, Beckett, and Buchholz to step up their performance and win games for their team.

But what do you think?

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King David

I just browsing over Red Sox offensive leaders and saw this on Redsox.com. Just Papi chillen with the  Quintuplet crown. It’s Papi’s world and we are all living in it.

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Pedroia Potentially Out For A Month

Dustin Pedroia came out of Monday’s game against the Tigers with a thumb injury after making a great diving play at second base. That play, combined with a jam shot at the plate in his previous at-bat, has aggravated a lingering problem with the right thumb of the Laser Show. News came out yesterday that there could be a muscle tear involved and that the Sox starting second baseman could miss 3-4 weeks of action. Pedroia is hopeful that only a couple days rest will be enough to get him back on the field, but it seems likely that the Sox will be without Dustin for a few weeks at least.

If Pedroia was to miss a month of baseball, then the Sox will have to decide how to proceed with their line-up. The most likely and most logical choice seems to be to call-up fielding phenom Jose Iglesias to play shortstop and move Mike Aviles over to right side of the bag to second base. However, Iglesias has missed the last five games in Pawtucket with lower back stiffness and may not be ready to go for a couple more days himself. As of now, Nick Punto looks to get the start at second until an official decision on Pedroia is made. In limited playing time this season, Punto is only hitting .140 (6 for 43) with 16 strikeouts.

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Big Papi Calls Players Only Meeting

 

So as you have probably already heard Big Papi called a players only meeting on May 11th, a day after Beckett allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings in a loss to the Indians at Fenway Park. Players described the meeting as “heated” and it was reported Ortiz called out the starting pitching. In my opinion, this is something that needed to happen. Fans and beat writers have been calling for a leader to step up and David Ortiz came through. I think everyone who follows the Sox knows that Papi already was the leader of this team. He is always the first guy at the dugout steps and has been a clutch performer his whole career. I don’t think you need a C stitched on your jersey to be a captain. A lot of people mention Dustin Pedroia in the captain conversation. Personally I don’t believe he is one. There is a difference between a gritty dirt dog type player and an actual captain. The meeting has seemed to light a fire under their asses as they are finally back to .500. Also the bullpen is currently the best in baseball and the starters (minus Clay) have been exceptional. It looks as though the Sox may have finally found their identity and may be turning this season around.

*On a side note I find it comical that Ken Rosenthal broke this story. Gordon Edes and Peter Abraham travel with the team and have been calling for a leader to step up and somehow still missed this. The man with the bow tie strikes again.

* Here is a Gordon Edes interview with Papi about the meeting.

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Molten Hot Nava

Is the Boston Red Sox’s version of Rudy the real deal? Daniel Nava has reached base safely in 15 of his first 20 at bats since being called up.  Definitely a small dose but impressive none the less. Nava, who reached base on all 4 of his plate appearances yesterday, smoked his 2nd career home run in the win against the Mariners. After the game he said, “I didn’t think it was gone. Knowing how big the wall is and seeing some other balls that guys have hit, I didn’t think it compared to a [Will] Middlebrooks bomb, or the one Shop hit later. I thought it was going to go off the wall, but I was surprised that it barely squeaked over. But I’ll take it, I’m not going to complain.” Neither will we Daniel.

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D-Day for Aaron Cook

By midnight tonight, the Red Sox will have to make a decision on how to proceed with Aaron Cook this season. Aaron Cook’s contract has a May 1st opt-out clause if the Red Sox decide not to promote him the big league club. In 5 starts in Pawtucket this season, the sinker-baller is 3-0, posting a 1.89 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 2 Complete Games.

Before signing with the Red Sox in the off-season, Cook played 10 seasons in Colorado where he went 72-68 with a 4.53 ERA in 238 Games. Cook’s great numbers this season in Triple-A could just be the result of a veteran pitcher who knows how to get young, inexperienced players out, but he is definitely proving worthy of a call up.

The Red Sox will have 48 hours from the time Cook decides whether or not to opt-out to make a decision. There are 4 possibilities for how this goes:

1 – The Red Sox call Cook up to the majors and place him in the starting rotation. This seemed like the best option a week ago, but the rotation has settled down and pitched well of late and forcing Cook into the rotation as a 6th starter or taking out someone like Buchholz, who has struggled late in games, may cause unneeded issues at this point. Cook would probably pitch best as a starter, and if someone goes down for any period of time, he would be a very solid fill-in.

2 – The Red Sox call Cook up to the majors and place him in the bullpen. This is the most pressing need for this team right now, but it is uncertain how Cook would adjust to the move and pitching 3-4 times a week instead of once every five days. If Cook could adjust well, he could be a great asset for the Sox pen. Being a sinker ball pitcher, Cook pitches to contact and could be best used coming into games with people on base where you need a double play to keep a lead or keep the game close.

3 – The Red Sox try to extend the opt-out deadline. This would require Cook to allow this to happen, which I just cannot see happening. Cook is pitching too well in Triple-A, and would have immediate calls into starting rotations around the league. There would be no reason for Cook to stay on with this team in Triple-A instead of starting for team such as the Yankees who are in need of another starter.

4 – The Red Sox let Cook opt-out. Again, this would mean Cook would be free to pitch for anyone right away and would not have a shortage of suitors who would come calling.

I think the best option for the Red Sox right now is to call up Cook, put him in the bullpen and try to work it out from there. Whether he stays there or eventually moves into the rotation, he is too valuable to let go right now. Will Cook have an ERA under 2.00 in the majors? Of course not, but you cannot risk him going somewhere else and being a great piece to a contending team.

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Who is Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller had another hellacious outing for Pawtucket today. The southpaw went 1.1 innings, walking four and striking out 3.  Of Miller’s 50 pitches, only 20 were strikes. Miller has been extremely inconsistent in his 6 rehab appearances for the Red Sox.  In six minor league games on his rehab assignment, Miller has allowed four runs on four hits in six innings with nine walks and 12 strikeouts. As his walks and strikeout numbers indicate he is either lights out or all over the place. Consistency has been a problem for Miller during his entire MLB career. He has never been able to be the pitcher he was at UNC and on Cape Cod.

For the record, I am a huge Andrew Miller fan. I first saw Andrew Miller in 2005 while he was pitching for the Chatham A’s (now Anglers) of the Cape Cod Baseball League. I don’t remember who won or lost the game but I remember all the scouts behind hope plate drooling after he threw one 97mph fastball after another. In a summer league that featured Tim Lincecum and Daniel Bard, Miller, was named the College Summer Player of the Year by Baseball America and rated as the No. 1 prospect in the Cape League.  Miller was also dominating the competition at UNC. Miller set the Carolina single season (133) and career strikeout records (325). He was also third in Tar Heels’ history with 27 wins and fourth in total innings pitched with 309. He was named Baseball America National Player of the Year and Roger Clemens Award winner as the nation’s top collegiate pitcher. He was also named to the first team All-America for Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, NCBWA and Rivals.com. His success lead him to be drafted number 6 overall by the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 draft. He really hasn’t done much since. Miller was traded to the Marlins in the Miguel Cabrera deal and then dealt the Sox for reliever Dustin Richardson. I was euphoric when this happened. At 26 Miller is still young enough to turn his career around. Bobby V has said that he thinks scouts and coaches has tried to hard to change his windup. He has recommended he go back to his old mechanics that made him so successful at UNC. Hey, if it aint broke then don’t fix it. IF, and it is a big IF, the Sox can get Miller to harness his control they will have one of the best lefties in the game. Until then Miller is just another prospect that never reached his potential. I remain hopeful that he will turn things around and that the Richardson for Miller deal will go down as one of the biggest steals in baseball history.

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