Friday, May 4, 2007

Winning isn't Everything...

The Red Sox and Phillies both came out on the victorious ends of slugfests Thursday night.But the wins seemed a little "hollow" somehow. Not Wes Helms' batting average (BA: .316, SLG: .344) hollow. But quite possibly as hollow as J. C. Romero's 4.32 ERA, which doesn't seem THAT bad, until you observe that he pairs it with a woefully unimpressive 1.80 WHIP.

The Red Sox had an 8-7 come-from-behind victory over Seattle. Manny Ramirez was the offensive hero with a pair of HRs, including the 8th inning game-winner. Wily Mo Pena chipped in with a 4 for 4 performance, raising his BA from .172 to .273. The Sox bullpen was unscored upon in 4 innings of 1 hit, 3 walk work. But there were some concerns:

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed 7 earned runs on 5 hits and 5 walks, in 5 innings. His ERA is approaching his salary. I'd like to be able to say that he has an aberrant BABIP, and that everything's going to be better soon. But it doesn't take a trip over to Baseball to determine that walking the bases loaded could be problematic. He seems to usually have one really bad inning, and then pitch pretty well the rest of the game. He needs to quit it with the erraticness. The Sox need him to pitch to an ERA well under 5.45.
  • Julio Lugo is only batting .243, and slugging .330. Even if his fielding was Gonzalez-esque, these offensive stats would be a little low. But last night, his throws were all over the place, he randomly dove to his left for a ball hit right at him, and he dropped an easily-catchable popup. (I will, however, absolve him from blame for that play when he was screened on a grounder by baserunner Jose Guillen. Guillen was obviously in the crease, and that infield hit should have been waved off.) If Lugo is going to continue to be this deficient in the field, he better start doing some serious hitting. At least .800 OPS serious.
  • Manny Ramirez has been starting to heat up with the bat. But the running and the fielding- not a heckuva lot of heat there. He just doesn't seem too interested in such trivial matters. The Sox need to think outside the box, and come up with some creative solutions here. Manny doesn't necessarily like running after he hits the ball. Fine, let's get an automatic runner at the ready. When Manny puts the ball in play, if Manny wants to run bases, he can run bases. If he wants to simply admire the ball, fine. Put a telescope in the on-deck circle for him, and the automatic runner can run bases. Problem solved.
  • On defense, Manny likes to juggle his glove, examine the contents of his nose, pretty much just chill until it is time to go back to the dugout. While he might catch the ball better when juggling his glove, if the glove is flying in the air, the putout won't count. Them's the rules. Additionally, while foreign (Dominican, in this case) matter on the ball can't make Manuel Aristides' "throws" any worse, the internal fluid could adversely affect the throws of his teammates. The Sox need to divest him of his defensive responsibilities. Possibly, they could have him bat instead of Pedroia, still keep the Lil' Ruffian in the field, and have the Automatic Runner play LF. Or the 3rd base Ball Dude/Dudette could just have increased defensive responsibilities. They've already shown that they have superior range. The Sox should be talking to Selig about this ASAP.

I am NOT concerned about the fact that J. C. Romero and his .343 opponents' batting average came in for the save last night, while Closer Boy observed from the bullpen. Obviously, that was not the REAL Papelbon in the bullpen, but merely a clone. The REAL Papelbon was most certainly on a Jedi mission. Or representing MLB in an international cow-milking competition. Either way, I'm sure he took care of business, and will be closing out tonight's win.

The Phillies took a 9-2 lead last night in San Francisco, and held on for a 9-7 win over the Giants. Initially, I was in favor of their 10:15pm start time. It enabled me to watch the Sox game, and follow that up with the Phillies game. Quite convenient.
However, when they were still playing at 2am, I was no longer such a staunch advocate of the start time. I was so dazed I could have sworn that the Phillies Ace #1 Opening Day Starter was in for the save, facing the Giants' 5-6-7 hitters in a fierce typhoon. And that the Phillies Invincible Veteran Closer was outside my window, with Freddy Mercury, battling Ming the Merciless. Fortunately, The Evil Ming and the Evil Bonds were both defeated. (This was almost as weird as that dream where all of the Phillies were wearing #42. THAT was disconcerting!)

But some problems:

  • Phillies SP Adam Eaton was staked to a 9-2 lead. After the 6th inning the lead was down to 9-7. It would have been worse if Adam had been allowed to face more than 4 batters in the 6th, none of whom he managed to retire. His ERA increased from 7.71 to an even uglier 8.18. Even if he cuts that in half, it's still a bit on the high side.
  • Wes Helms was supposed to hit enough to overcome lackluster defense. That's just not happening. (The lackluster defense part is happening. The slugging part isn't.) Six XBH in 90 AB? All of the two-base variety? Not good. But not bad enough to lose time to No-Hit Nunez. Yet.
  • MVP Ryan Howard has a .774 OPS. He's batting .091 (1 for 11) in 3 May games. When will he start hitting?

The Phillies face the Giants in San Fran tonight, with Jamie Moyer (2.65 ERA) facing Matt Morris (3.34 ERA). There probably won't be 16 runs scored in this one.

The Sox are in Minnesota to face the Twins. Tim Wakefield (2.59 ERA) is oppoosed by former-Phillie Carlos Silva (3.10 ERA, but a 1.52 WHIP). The Sox are going to light Silva up.


Skeeter said...

What's scarier? A season of nothing from Ryan Howard or a full season of Adam Eaton or Abe Nunez getting over 45 starts?

I think Howard, because he was suppose to be the future. But Eaton is very close on the list. Because the Phillies are stuck with him for 3 years. Great going Gillick.

Mike said...

All of those options are quite frightening.
But I agree on Howard because so much is expected of him.