Sunday, July 22, 2007


Big news in Soxland while I was away in D.C. for the weekend. First, the action on the field. After pitifully dropping the first of four to the lowly Chicago White Sox, the Red Sox won the next three straight, including today's 8-5 victory.

The better Sox got good pitching from Tim Wakefield through six, which had to be downgraded to simply competent after Wake gave up four in the seventh inning. No matter, the Red Sox strong relief pitching, consisting of My Man Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon, bailed them out.

On offense, Manny and Lowell both hit three run homers, as Manny continues his second half long (we hope) homer barrage. In the three wins against Chicago, the Sox offense has scored 29 runs.

In other news, the Red Sox made a series of moves which I shall summarize before commenting:

Move number...
1. From the minors to the rotation: Jon Lester
2. From the rotation to the bullpen: His Craziness, Julian Tavarez
3. From the bullpen to the street: Joel Pineiro

First, the departed. Maybe foolishly, I had high hopes for Pineiro, but he was never as effective as he needed to be to become an important part of the bullpen. Even when his results were good (i.e. he got batters out) his peripherals weren't (he wasn't striking people out and he was walking guys or giving up strongly hit balls that just happened to be caught). He was an enthusiastic member of the team and for that I always rooted for him, but his performance never improved. That and the emergence of My Man Manny Delcarmen made this move inevitable.

As sad as I am to see Pineiro go (and I am a little sad), this improves the team both in the bullpen and the rotation, and it didn't cost the Sox anything in trade. Thats one way you know it was a good move. Good luck where ever you land, Joel.

aking over the role of the long man/mop up guy from Pineiro, His Craziness, Julian Tavarez returns to the bullpen where he will be better utilized. Tavarez will further be useful if Francona ever needs a ground ball out of the pen.

Jon Lester comes back to the Red Sox from Pawtucket to take Tavarez's slot in the rotation. As ecstatic as I am that Lester is back in the majors and as much as I admire his willpower, positive outlook and gumption, I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm a bit worried about his potential performance.

Lester had a successful run in the bigs last year, but even though he rang up the wins, he didn't pitch that well in the process. He walked a lot of guys, didn't strike out that many and threw a ton of pitches.

His performance in AAA this year has been better, but he's still had a number of games where he's fallen back into old habits. You can check out his stats here. The essentials are that he's pitched 71.2 innings, struck out 51 (6.4 K/9), walked 33 (4.14 BB/9), giving him a 3/2 K/BB ratio. Its the last two figures that worry me. The walks are very high, and as the strikeouts aren't there is a very high likelihood that they will hurt Lester.

Still, Lester is a talented guy, of that there is no question. I'm sure he knows what he has to do to be successful in the majors, and the Sox likely wouldn't have called him up if they didn't think he was ready. Also, even if he does walk to many guys, his performance has a good chance of bettering what the Sox were getting from Tavarez.

Personally, I can't wait to see Lester throw, and I hope like hell he'll be successful. But I don't wish him luck. Guys like Jon Lester don't need it.

In still more news, Curt Schilling threw a very successful three inning six strikeout rehab stint in AAA Pawtucket yesterday. The Sox think he should have two more starts down there before rejoining the big club.

In even more still more news, David Ortiz had an MRI on his shoulder that he hurt sliding into second on Friday. The test showed no damage to the shoulder, but Ortiz sat out both weekend games anyway, probably as a precautionary measure. Ortiz is expected to return to the lineup either Monday or Tuesday in Cleveland.

AL East: The Yankees swept a doubleheader from Tampa yesterday, winning both games by a lot. You would think the Rays would be pissed off and come out and take it to the Yankees, right? Uh, no. New York won 21-4. Theres a reason the Rays haven't won anything in... well, ever. Toronto and Baltimore also kept pace by winning. The Red Sox lead New York by 7.5 games, Toronto by 11.0 games, and Baltimore and Tampa by enough to choke a small horse and a large horse, respectively.

Tomorrow (Monday): The Red Sox open up a four game series in Cleveland. Jon Lester starts for Boston. Jake Westbrooke starts for Cleveland. Game time 7:05pm EST.

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