Wednesday, August 26, 2009

He Do Run Run Run, He Do Run Run

Jacoby Ellsbury stole his team record 55th base last night. He broke the record previously held by Tommy Harper when he stole 54 in 1973. (36 years ago, by the way) This wasn’t exactly unexpected. It’s no secret that Jacoby had a pair of wheels. He stole 50 bases last year in his first full season. It was never a question as to if he was fast enough to do it. The only questions were if he was going to get on base enough, and if the Sox were going to let him.

For years, the thought of a Sox player leading the league in stolen bases was laughable. The stereotypical Sox team was a line-up of mashers who plodded from base to base, waiting for someone to finally knock one over the Wall. When a Sox player stole 20 bases, he was the team speedster. I was never sure if the Sox were a station to station team by choice, or if they just happened to get slow teams. The Sox teams of recent years have been faster (both Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp could swipe a bag when needed), but still didn’t steal a lot. Recently, statistics have suggested that the stolen base isn’t worth the risk. Teams across the league have been toning down on steal attempts. That doesn’t stop Ellsbury though. Even hard-core statisticians agree that a stolen base is valuable when you do it. With Ellsbury’s speed, even a pitchout doesn’t often stop him. So, the Sox have let him run almost at will. That has lead to him finally laying claim to the record. I would certainly expect him to push it even higher.

The Sox finally acquired Billy Wagner. Apparently, the desire to try and steal a ring was too great. As I said before, I only hope he’s healthy enough to be useful. From what I’ve seen, he main concern with the Sox was ruining his arm under the pressure of a playoff push. I can understand that. He has the chance to ease into things with the Mets. Pitch just enough to prove to everyone that he can still close. He wouldn’t want the Red Sox pitching him all the time as the race gets to the end. But, those fears have been resolved. The Sox aren’t in this to pitch him every day. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Having a second top tier lefty in the bullpen is great, no mater how often he’s used. The prospect of him out there might be enough to change the way some opposing managers think. Imagine a left-right-left stretch in a line-up. If they wanted to, the Sox could use Wagner just for the first lefty. Follow with, say, Delcarmen, and still have Okajima to pitch to the other lefty and the rest of the gap to Pap. Or, will the Sox use him just to close when Pap doesn’t? If Pap had a long outing one night, it could be Wagner’s turn the next night. Throw Wagner only in that case, once a week or so. I know, he’s a darn expensive part timer. But, apparently, it’s only money.

I know the Red Sox once had Jeff Reardon and Lee Smith at the same time. But, just looking at name value, has any team had a bullpen with Papelbon-Saito-Wagner type members in it? Those are three dang good closers setting up for each other.

Who has a better one?

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