Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Buchholz in the Bullpen

Yes, I know I’m a bit late to the game here. But, I’ve been trying to wait and see just how this was all going to play out. I’m still not sure I know, but here it goes anyway.

As you’re all well aware, Clay Buchholz was demoted to the bullpen recently. It came as a bit of a surprise to me. Oh sure, he hasn’t exactly been pitching well. But, I didn’t think the Sox would put him in the pen.

For one thing, a good starter is more valuable to the team than a good reliever. The Red Sox management has often answered questions about struggling players by saying that the best thing for the team is to get that player performing well. Not replace him with an inferior player. I fully expected this to be the case with Clay. The Sox would realize that the best thing for the Red Sox is to get Clay back to pitching to his peak levels. Sending him to the bullpen doesn’t help achieve that. If anything it probably makes it more difficult.

That’s the confusing thing to me. What’s the plan now?

Could Clay become a good relief pitcher? Absolutely. Baseball history is littered with mediocre starters becoming elite relievers. Whether it’s the fact that you need fewer pitchers in the pen, or the fact that you only need to stay together mechanically for a shorter timeframe. It’s certainly plausible that Clay takes this new role and runs with it. He put in a good inning the first chance he got, after all. In addition, the fact that Clay volunteered to pitcher earlier than the coaching staff thought he would is a good sign of him accepting the role. (Although, it did smell a bit of the Red Sox going out of their way to make a guy that the media has been killing look good.)

But, that’s sort of another issue. Whether Clay can pitch from the pen isn’t as important as the question of whether he should.

Have they given up on Clay as a starter? Because the longer he pitches as a reliever, the longer it’s going to take him to work back into the rotation. Are they expecting him to prove himself in the pen and earn his spot back? How would that go, exactly? Much like when they claimed Panda could earn his spot back, hard to earn your spot when you’re not playing enough to perform well. If Clay pitches ten scoreless innings out of the pen, does that mean he earns his starting job back…or that he’s perfectly suited to be a reliever?

Did Clay have trade value? Because he doesn’t have any now. Anyone who was thinking the could fix him isn’t going to try anymore. Even if they knew his problem, stretching him back out into a starting role would take too long to make it worth their time. So, does this move mean the Sox tried to trade him somewhere, and struck out everywhere?

You’d think, then, that this is a season-long commitment from them. Unless more injuries strike, Clay is going to be in the pen. He’ll be the long guy/ mop up guy. I’d say it’s a waste of his talent, but he wasn’t getting the most out of it anyway.

As long as the pitchers currently in the rotation perform well, it doesn’t really matter where Clay is. If you have five pitchers doing well, he wasn’t going to help them anyway. And maybe that’s what the Red Sox assume is going to happen.

I was just surprised.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Brock Holt Should Get His Number Back

Sometimes it’s hard to be the better person. Sometimes it just drains on you.

I get the feeling it drained on Robert Kraft. He tried to be the better person. He tried to play nice. He tried to take the high road. Then he got pushed off the bridge. The lesser person just kept taking shot after shot at him until finally he had to push back at least a little bit. That’s why he filed the brief yesterday. It was his way of making a point but still keeping the high road. Even though I bet it’s tough for him.

Just like I hope it’s tough for John Henry. Putting on the planned ceremony tonight should be really hard for him.

Because, let me see if I’ve got this straight.

Wade Boggs wanted his number retired. He whined about it every chance he got. He didn’t care that there were team rules about retiring numbers, and he didn’t meet the qualifications. Sure, he played the years. And, the Hall of Fame forced him to wear a Red Sox cap on his plaque when he didn’t want to. But, he didn’t retire with the Sox, so he didn’t meet the requirements. Wade Boggs felt the rules didn’t apply to Wade Boggs. So he threw a hissy fit. Oh, sure the Sox have broken their own rules. A lot. But, it’s one thing for the Sox to decide that Pedro is so special the rules don’t apply to him. It’s another for Wade Boggs himself to kick and scream and insist the rules shouldn’t apply to him. 

For whatever reason, it worked. Like a three year old throwing a tantrum, Boggs kept at it until he got his way. The Sox decided it wasn’t worth it to fight. Or, more likely, they decided that they could use an excuse to sell a few more tickets to a Thursday game in May. They gave in. They were the better person.

To prove it, they went an extra step. Why not make it a two day thing and celebrate the 30th anniversary of Boggs’s AL Champion Red Sox team. Have a little ceremony. It’ll be fun.

So, what does Boggs do at the ceremony celebrating a Red Sox team that lost the World Series? He wears his World Championship ring he won with another team. A ring he won with the Yankees. 

What a slap in the face.

He finally gets his way, and he goes and rubs their noses in it.

So, I hope John Henry wants to cancel the ceremony tonight. I hope he wants to rip #26 off the wall in put it back on Brock Holt’s back. I hope he wants to remove Boggs from the Red Sox Hall of Fame. He won’t, of course. But, I hope he wants to.

I also hope that to make up for it, everyone in the park boos him mercilessly when he’s introduced. It’s what should happen. He’s getting an honor he didn’t deserve, but wanted. Then he acts like a dink about it. So boo him. Boo him all night.

I’m sure it won’t happen.

But I hope at least everyone wants to.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekend Warriors

The Sox certainly knew how to finish off that series, didn't they?

As it often does, it came down to starting pitching. The Red Sox starters did well. Certainly well enough to win the games. With the offense the Sox are currently sporting, that's all they really need.

On Saturday, Joe Kelly came back from the DL. We were all wondering what we would be able to expect from his first start. The issue of "trust" came up again. Would we be able to trust him going forward? Had he turned that corner? Well, I don't know either of those answers. But, carrying a no-hitter deep into a game is certainly a great start. So good that some have even been wondering if he was pulled too soon. He certainly looked like the was at the end of his tank to me, though. But he did a great job, especially early, of fooling the Indians hitters with a variety of pitches. If nothing else, that's one win from a questionable spot in the rotation. At the very best, Cy Kelly is back on track!

Parcel did his best to follow him on Sunday. He didn't do quite as well. And, I'm not sure he deserved a standing ovation leaving after 5.2 inning and giving up two runs. But, after his last outing, you certainly got the impression his poor performance was in fact bad luck. Yesterday he was able to keep things under control, even when a could grounders found their way through. While you'd like a little more length, it's exactly what you look for from Porcello.

Of course, the Red Sox offense could make everyone look good right now. The fact that Jackie Bradley Jr was intentionally walked TWICE on Saturday can't be mentioned enough. With an actual Major League hitter behind him, he was walked twice intentionally, and pitched around another time. He may just be on the hot streak of his life, but right now it;s hotter than the sun. Other teams have certainly noticed.

Which is interesting in that they have, obviously, noticed how well he's hitting...but they're not doing anything about it. Before, following a hot streak you could almost see teams figure it out. Or, at least see him lose it. That hasn't happened this time. Of course, it could happen at any moment. But, the fact that he's made it this long is a great sign. If nothing else he's putting it together for longer and longer stretches of time. And that's great.

That's how you make an all-star season.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I scored!

April 10, 2007

Since he just had his birthday, it seems like a great time to feature one of Josh Beckett's performances. We can take a quick look at the pitchers box, and see just how good. Seven innings pitched, and only two baserunners. Unfortunately they were back to back, accounting for the sole run against him. But, there's certainly nothing bad you can say about that game.

You probably can't say the same for the pitcher following Beckett. Donnelly only managed one third of an inning before being ejected. At the time we all thought it was a pretty weird turn of events. But, it apparently stemmed from and ongoing beef between Donnelly and Guillen of the Mariners. I'm sure that wasn't the sort of game he was looking for. Thankfully the rest of the bullpen was able to close it out.

Not that it apparently would have taken great pitching. Look at all those colored diamonds on the scorecard. Look at all those substitutions. Looks like the offense had it pretty well in hand. I always say that my favorite part about keeping score is being able to go back in time. In this case, back to a time where Dustin Pedroia was batting ninth so that Julio Lugo could lead off. Yikes! Also, I apparently didn't catch Pedroia's number...and didn't have it memorized yet. The rest of the order is also filled with blasts from the past. Mirabelli. Hinske. Pena, for crying out loud. 

The player of the game? I hate to, but I need to give it to Kevin Youkilis. Not that he had a bad game, but he really only earned the honor because he was the only top guy not subbed out halfway through. But, two doubles and two runs scored is a pretty good say from the second spot in the order.

The goat? Looks like I need to hang the horns on the aforementioned Pedroia. He was one of only two starters not to score, and the only one without a hit. I know you probably can't expect a great game from the nine hole. But, everyone else was off the charts, making his struggles stand out.

But, of course, it didn't matter. The Sox put up four in the first on their way to an amazing fourteen. Even without Josh Beckett on the mound, they probably would have won easily.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Happy 36th Birthday Josh Beckett!

Today we wish a very happy 36th birthday to former Red Sox ace Josh Beckett!

I talk about Beckett a lot. He happens to be a great example to use in several common talking points.

Worried about trading away future prospects? Remember the Josh Beckett-Hanley Ramirez trade. The Sox traded away a young Ramirez, even though he was their top prospect. It hurt to give up on that much potential. It hurt even more when Hanley lived up to just about every inch of it. A perennial MVP candidate is not something you want to see from a player you trade away. But this trade shows that there's something more important than what you give up. It's what you get back. In exchange for Ramirez, the Sox got their ace. A young one too. Beckett would lead the Sox, in every sense of the word, to the World Championship just a couple years later. Even after seeing Hanley fulfill his promise, Sox fans can't help but be happy with the trade. So, when people rush out to mark every prospect in the system as "untouchable" they should remember that every prospect should be available, at a price. Especially if the price is someone like Josh Beckett.

I also mention Beckett when I talk about Pedro Martinez. Josh Beckett is the closest thing I've seen and felt to Pedro. The only difference is that Pedro did it for seven seasons, and Beckett for about seven days. I've often said that the different between Pedro and other Red Sox "aces" like Lester, or Schilling, was the expectation. When Lester took the mound, I expected a well-pitched game, and knew the Sox would have a shot to win. A really good shot. When Pedro took the mound, I knew the Sox were going to win. The only question was whether Pedro would allow even a run. The only other time I've felt like that was with Beckett during the 2007 playoffs. First, he completely shut down the Angels. Then the Indians. Then, the Sox went down 1-3, with Beckett scheduled the next game. Was there anyone who didn't automatically make the series 2-3? Beckett was going to win and send the series back to Boston. The idea of him losing never entered my mind. After he won that one, he embarrassed the Rockies in game one of the World Series. Reminding the hottest team in baseball that he wasn't about to be stopped. Just like Pedro would have.

Is there anything else you need to know about Josh Beckett? He was part of a huge trade. He made us all glad he was. He was absolutely filthy dominant in the playoffs as he won a ring with the Sox.

What else can you ask for?

Happy 36th Birthday Josh Beckett!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Jackie Bradley Jr is the Best Outfielder in Baseball

I'm not even really sure it's close. I don't even have to bore you with the numbers. You all know it just as well as I do.

Will he stay that way?

I have no earthly idea. Neither do you.

After all, we've asked this very question before. Is our answer any different? Maybe. Just maybe.

I look back at that previous post, and I see some of the questions becoming answers this time. He had just started a hot streak, since he was finally getting at-bats. Prior to that, he spent so much time looking over his shoulder at his replacement, or up at the scoreboard at his anemic average, that he didn't have any time to look at the pitcher he was facing. Of course he couldn't hit. The Red Sox put him in a bad spot, and he couldn't get out of it. It's hard to get hits when you're riding the bench because you're not hitting. It's hard to learn how to hit the inside fastball when you only see one a week, and spend it trying to prove to everyone you
can hit an inside fastball. It was a mess.

This year is different. No looking over his shoulder. Heck, the utility infielder is starting in left. Who could possibly be putting pressure on Bradley. He also started out well. He didn't start May with a .125 next to his name in the box score. That's huge. Because, he's going to slump. It may be a lengthy slump. But, when you fall from .300 to .275, that's much different that starting out a .205. There's a comfort level there that has never been there before.

Because, this isn't entirely shocking. Oh, sure none of us were expecting Tris Speaker to be patrolling centerfield this season. But, he's always shown he could hit. He was never a defensive specialist who struggled to keep his spot in the lineup. His performance improved every time he was promoted. There's no reason whatsoever that we should have expected anything below "solid" at the plate. I think we all fooled ourselves by setting phony bars. "Boy, with that glove, I'm ok if he hits .250" or something along those lines. Sure, we were stating the truth. But, we were also creating artificially low expectations. So, when he struggled we were more apt to worry. Think of our reactions to David Price this season as opposed to Clay Buchholz when they struggle. Give up a hit, and one was getting the benefit of the doubt, while the other wasn't. 

Jackie wasn't. We weren't fair to him that way. 

So, this is what we get from Bradley now. He still has the incredible defense. But, now he's free to hit as well. No nit picking. No stressing. Just getting out and playing. When a slump comes, he'll be free to work himself out of it. A hitless game against Felix Hernandez doesn't mean he'll get demoted the next day. It just means King Felix is a really good pitcher who sometimes gets opposing hitters out. He has a margin of error that he's never had before, and he's taking advantage of it. And that's really really fun to watch.

Especially from Section 36

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Is Price Wright?

Yup. See what I did there? I'm just that clever.

But, it's an interesting question. The Red Sox went into this last offseason thinking they needed an ace. So, they went out and dropped $200+ million to make sure they got one. And, thus far at least, Steven Wright has pitched like every bit of the ace they wanted.

Unfortunately, he's not the guy they gave all the money to. David Price is the one chasing the enormous paychecks. But, he's pitching like the worst starter on the team. (When his bunk bed buddy is saying that he's concerned, you know there's a problem.) Many people have wondered if there's really a issue with Price. Has he lost it suddenly? It he hurt? Is he wearing down? Is this the terror of signing an older pitcher long-term?

Price has been saying all the right things. He knows he's been terrible. He's feeling fine. He just needs to find his old self. But after his last start, he said something interesting.

He said he found the problem. (Well he said Dustin Pedroia found the problem, but we'll get into that in a second.) He was doing something with his hands that he didn't used to do with them. He said it would be an easy fix, and his last bullpen felt great. 

What's interesting is that he's publicly saying he found an easy problem to fix. He better be right. If you bring you car into the mechanic saying "something's making a weird noise" there's probably no obvious solution. If the mechanic tells you that, and says there are a couple things that may help that's one approach. If the fix doesn't work right off the bat, you understand more. You knew all along it was just a trial balloon. But, if you bring it to the mechanic and they say "Oh. I know exactly what's wrong. It's this easy fix. Ten minutes" and then it doesn't work, you're left to wonder. Were they lying to you? Were they just guessing? Did they just want to get me in the garage so they could keep charging me to fix different things? Do you still have confidence?

That's the risk that Price is running. What if he goes out tomorrow and absolutely stinks up the joint? What then? Can we believe him the next time he finds a solution? What's going to happen? It could get very messy.

And, about Pedroia. Does that story seem odd to anyone else? So Pedroia wants to watch video of his at-bats against lefties. I'll assume that doing that actually serves a purpose, even though I can't imagine what it is. But, he doesn't watch video of recent lefty at-bats. No, he goes to a three year old video of a lefty. And, not just any lefty. A lefty that he is now guaranteed not to have to face for at least a couple more years. That's the guy he chooses to bring up video on? Then, to top it off, he doesn't watch himself in the video. He watches this pitcher that he's not facing. He watches this pitcher's hand placement. Why? How does that help Pedroia in his upcoming at-bats against other lefties? This doesn't seem like the real story to me.

Although, I admit, the part where Pedroia does something good, and then immediately makes sure every member of the media finds out about it seems right. 

Guy might as well be a Kardashian. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Clay Threw the Ball Really Well Last Night

After all, he said so himself. People seem to have a problem with that, for some reason. People seem to see comments like that as a lack of responsibility. Somehow saying "I sucked" is taking responsibility for a poor performance. While saying "I pitched well overall, just need to stop giving up key hits" is somehow not. Like he's claiming it was luck or something. Or that giving credit to the hitter somehow removes it from himself. Of course, when the Red Sox hitter hits a pitcher's pitch, we're willing to say that Hanley took a good pitch and deposited it in the bullpen. But, we can't seem to do anything but blame Clay when he thinks someone hit one of his pitches. 

I'm not sure of the disconnect.

Sure, some of it is perception. It always used to bug me when someone would strike out swinging against Dice-K, everyone would say that the batter helped him out by swinging at a ball. If the batter does that against Pedro, it's because Pedro got him to swing at a ball. Dice-K was lucky. Pedro was nasty.

But, I also wonder if it's a throwback to blaming the pitchers for everything. For so long, walks were a strike against a pitcher. They couldn't throw the ball over the plate. Only recently has the term "drawing a walk" become a positive for the hitter. Only recently has it seemed like it was something they could actually control. On Base Percentage has become a quantifiable stat, not an accident. 

Is Clay falling victim to that? It's not something that the hitter did. He didn't somehow put the ball in play on the perfect pitch. The hitter didn't do a great job and capitalize on the slightest mistake. Clay can't certainly claim that to be the case. Even if he made the perfect pitch, if it resulted in a home run we want him to say it was the wrong pitch. That he screwed up. It's the pitcher's fault, not the hitter's excellence.

And, we certainly don't want him to point out that a bad game can be the result of a very small number of mistakes. Especially if he doesn't admit that they were his mistake. 

Now, sure. Pedro used to say that if a fielder made an error, it was his fault. He allowed the batter to make contact with the pitch. Pedro would have thought that any hit he gave up was due to a lack of his execution. But, Clay's not Pedro. Nobody is. 

Perhaps it's unfair to expect him to be.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Now What are You Waiting For?

Patriots fans are experts at this. As the season progresses, they seem to have this mental checklist of who they've played and beaten. Heck, it might be a written down checklist. Some people are weird. But, they have this checklist at the ready. Whenever you mention how good the team is, they come back with the list. Sure, they say, the Pats are 8-0 but, they haven't played a really good running back yet. When they play one later, they're doomed. Or, they haven't played a shut down secondary yet. Or an elite quarterback. When they do, they're going to lose big. Of course they ignore the fact that there are, what, two dominant running backs in the league? One shutdown secondary? Two or three elite quarterbacks, not counting the one they have? Maybe the fact that they haven't won against one one of those specific features is less about them not being good enough to beat one, and more the fact that those features are rare. If they exist at all. Maybe it's more a matter of how they're doing, and less about which specific flaw might end up being their kryptonite.

Which brings me to the 2016 Red Sox. Have you noticed that they're in first place in the division? But, that's not good enough.

Sure, they went 8-2, or whatever it was. But, they played the Astros, Braves, and Yankees. You can't count those! Apparently you can't count games against their division. Sure, they've already played the Orioles, the second place team. But, that's not enough.

So, this week they went into Chicago and took the series from the team with the most wins in the league.

Yeah, but they didn't have to face Chris Sale.

This is how desperate they've gotten. We can't say that the Sox are a good team because they haven't faced one particular left handed starter? Is he expected to pitch many more games against the Red Sox from here on out? Is he going to present a problem as they try to reach the playoffs? How many Chris Sale types are there in the American League? Even if we pretend that when they do face them, they'll have trouble, how many losses will that stick them with?

Maybe we need to focus on the Red Sox, and not the team playing against them. If the Sox are playing well, they can beat anyone. Even the White Sox. If they don't play well, even the Braves can beat them. Because, what if the Red Sox are the team to beat in the American League? What if the White Sox are the ones who were fooling everyone because they hadn't played Boston yet? What if everyone has it backwards.

What if the Red Sox are the measuring stick?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

It’s Not Clay’s Fault You’re Insecure

People seem to have a problem with Clay Buchholz. Some of it I understand. He’s a talented pitcher. Perhaps the most talented on the staff. But, he can’t quite put it all together at once. That frustrates people. I get that.

What I don’t get is this constant waiting for him to fail.

You hear it every time he pitches. If he gets the first batter out, nobody’s happy. “When’s he giving up his home run?” twitter asks. When he does give up a home run, it’s “see, I knew it was coming.” After a rough outing, it’s just what they expected. After a gem like last night, people rush to point out that they don’t trust it. 

Of course you don’t trust it. That’s why he’s not going to the Hall of Fame. Has there been a pitcher you “trusted” since Pedro? Any one of them could throw a stinker. As someone who had Curt Schilling on a fantasy team, I can’t tell you how often he would be cruising along only to get whacked around to turn a dominant performance into a mediocre one. Same with Lester when he was on my team. Pitchers have good days, and they have bad days. They have good innings, they have bad ones. It’s what happens. But, for Clay we have this obsession with “trust”.

It’s even gotten to the point where we’re tilting the numbers against him. Did you know the Sox were winless in his starts before last night? I must have heard it about 1000 times. Of course, people ignore the dominant game he had to put the Sox in position for a win before Koji and Kimbrel (two pitchers we “trust”) coughed up the lead and blew the game. They ignore that his numbers are better than Price’s (another pitcher we apparently “trust”)

When it comes down to it, who cares if we trust him or not? He’s either going to pitch well, or he’s not. My trust is going to have very little to do with the outcome. 

So, people were saying he was pitching for his job last night. Since we didn’t trust him, he needed to be pushed out of the rotation when Rodriguez comes back. So, we “trust” eDRo? Do we “trust” Joe Kelly? Did we suddenly start “trusting” Wright, a knuckleballer? We never trusted Wakefield, if I remember correctly.

So, Clay pitched an amazing game last night. Has he “turned a corner”? I have no idea. I do know, however, that I keep waiting for him to fail, he’s always going to do it at some point. But, here’s the thing. If I keep waiting for him to pitch well, he’s going to do that at some point too. 

Just for fun, next time Clay pitches, treat him like he’s David Price. Assume if he gives up a run that he’ll recover. If he sets the side down in order, assume he’ll do it again. Sure, you’ll be wrong at some point. But, you were wrong at some point before too.

This way is just more fun.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

These 8:10 Starts are the Worst

And, not just because it means I have to wait another hour before Red Sox baseball.

When it comes to the Sox, I have a bit of a schedule. The regular 7:05 starts it into it nicely. I've finished most everything I need to have accomplished by then. It also means that the game will be over early enough that I won't regret it too much in the morning. It's almost like the baseball gods checked with me before scheduling it.

The west coast games, are the opposite. 10:05? What kind of a start time is that? You expect me to hang around for three extra hours waiting for the game to begin? No thank you. And, I know going in that there's no chance to catch the whole game. I'll be lucky if I could make it an inning before really hating myself the next day. So, I don't usually even bother. Just hit the sack at a regular time, and check the results in the morning. Thankfully there aren't a ton of those games...especially ones that end up during the week.

Then there are the 8:10 games. I have to wait a little longer for them, but it's not like it'll kill me. It's really the end time. With the 8:10 start, I can listen to the beginning, again with no regrets. I can get a good six or seven innings in. Last night, it was just a bit more. But, here's the problem. By then I'm into the game. No way am I turning it off with just a couple innings to go. I need to finish it out at that point. So I do. And I regret it the next day. Then I need to do it again. So, those are the killers. Too late to catch it all, but too early to ignore. It's torture.

How about you?

When is your perfect game start time?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Do You All Owe Panda an Apology?

Is this John Lackey all over again?

You remember. Everyone killed Lackey in 2011. He was terrible. The worst pitcher in baseball history. Then it was revealed that he was forcing himself to play through a pretty significant injury. That’s why he was terrible. He was sacrificing himself to try and help the team. He should have been celebrated like Schilling was, not buried.

Then we come to Panda.

He’s lousy. He’s so fat! The guy’s so fat he can’t even throw! He can’t even bend over far enough to field a grounder! He’s not even as good as a mediocre minor leaguer at third base! What? His shoulder is strained? He’s so fat he hurt himself on the bench! Did he strain his shoulder because his fork was too heavy?

But, reports are that his shoulder is actually a mess. We’re not quite sure when this happened. But, since we can’t pinpoint a time, wouldn’t that suggest it’s been a while? At least all season? After all, he’s played so little this year that if he hurt himself, we would have noticed. At least while he was struggling through his fielding in Spring? At least while he, for some reason, needed to play for his job?

Maybe it’s been bothering him for a while? Maybe that’s why he had a sudden drop in production last year? Maybe he’s been pulling a Pedroia. Acting tough while trying to play through an injury when you’re actually hurting the team. Pedroia gets applauded for that. Panda, apparently, gets scolded.

And that’s too bad. What if Panda has been doing exactly what he thought that everyone wants him to do? He didn’t whine. He didn’t blame his injury. (People hate it when you do that, for some reason.) He suffered through it quietly. Yeah, it’s stupid to do that. But, the rest of Red Sox nation thinks it’s the thing to do. 

Maybe it’s time fans stop doing that. Maybe if you’re injured, you should just tell everyone. Maybe you should rest so it gets better. Maybe if Panda had done that, his performance wouldn’t have suffered. 

Maybe people would call him lazy. 

But, apparently they’ll do that either way.

Monday, May 2, 2016

How’s That for a Weekend?

Sweeping New Yorkers can never ever be a bad thing. So, all of Red Sox Nation has reason to be having a very good Monday.

Of course, people are asking a logical question.

What does this all mean?

That question comes from a couple places. The first is the standard group of annoying pessimists. You know the ones. They’re still leftover thinking that the Sox only do well in April to kill your soul in July. Those people will never be happy, and there’s really nothing more I can say to or about them.

There is a more legitimate angle to question the success, though. Actually, a couple of them.

Have they just been playing really bad teams? Are they just hot right now? Are they just lucky that they’ve been able to cover for the fact that David Price has been terrible?

Three actual questions, with varying degrees of legitimacy. Let’s address them, back to front.

Have they been lucky? Maybe. Usually when your ace is the worst pitcher on your staff, you don’t win a lot of games. But, the Sox have been able to cover for him. Not sure that’s lucky as much as a byproduct of having a really good offense. After all, the Sox have had some bad luck as well. Kimbrel and Koji have both already blown up. Their third baseman got hurt. So, it’s not like 2013 where everything has just gone their way. They’ve had breaks both good and bad. Just like you’d expect over a full season.

Are they just hot? Maybe. But, as we just discussed, it’s not like they’re just firing on all cylinders. They’re not at a point where everything is going their way. Hanley Ramirez hasn’t shown his power yet. Neither has Xander. Nobody in the rotation is pitching out of their minds. So, if some people fall off their pace, there’s an expectation that others will be there to take their place. I don’t see a team on fire. I see a good team.

Have they just been playing bad teams? Maybe. They’ve played a lot of them. After all, almost half of their games have been against the Braves, Astros, and Yankees. But, they’ve played Baltimore too. And around sixty percent of their games have been against division foes. So, if they’ve been playing bad teams, they’re going to keep playing those teams. A lot. All season. If the Sox started the season by going 3-1 against Atlanta, that wouldn’t be a good sample. But, they’ve played a good cross section of the teams they’ll be playing a lot of as the season progresses. I’d say that’s a pretty good start.

Does this mean that the moth of April is completely representative? No. Do I assume the Sox are going to keep playing .600 ball? Probably not.

But, have they been showing things that, as a whole, I can’t imagine will continue? No. Sure, Shaw will remember that he’s a .260 hitter at some point. But, it would make sense that Hanley would remember that he is a power hitter. Porcello may regress a touch. But, Price should improve. So, they should continue, even if the other half of the team is hot while the other is cold. It's the way it should work towards a pretty good season.

It's sure started off that way.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I Did It!

If you've been paying attention, you'll notice that I just finished my personal challenge of posting something every day in April!

I know. I expect the Presidential Proclamation any day now congratulating me.

As much as it was a challenge, though, it was an experiment. Could i do it? Could I do it without tossing out fluff? Could I do it without driving myself crazy? Could I use it to improve the future of the blog?

I hope the answers to the last two are "yes." One of the things I discovered while trying to keep to the schedule is that there are more times in my day that are available for blogging. I had been trying to keep a fairly rigid schedule of posting in the mid afternoon. I'm not really sure why. Most of it had to do with Facebook posts, actually. But, a couple days I missed that goal for one reason or another. That's when I found out that posting later in the day doesn't doom the blog. (I'm sure I already knew that. But, it was just amplified) So, going forward I'll be a little easier on myself if I can't meet my own schedule of events.

I also found myself trying to look for different angles to write about. That was a good mental exercise for future posts. It's a way to think beyond the "The Red Sox played. Hanley is great at first base" monotony that might otherwise creep in. I suppose it's up to all of you to decide if that was a good thing, or not.

Going forward? I won't be posting every day. I actually almost purposely skipped today as a way to illustrate that point. But, I can certainly see myself posting a lot more than I used to. Hopefully that makes all of you pretty excited. Because that was the biggest takeaway for me.

I can write lots of post, and still write good ones.

I hope you agree.

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