Wednesday, September 05, 2007


To my eye, Josh Beckett threw one really bad pitch last night and it cost him three runs. That really bad pitch came to Matt Stairs with two runners on, and Stairs hit it out of the park for a three run homer. That’s where the damage started but, to Beckett’s credit, that’s also where it ended. The Sox were able to score more than three runs off Jay’s ace Roy Halladay and win 5-3.

This is the difference between 2007 Josh Beckett and 2006 Josh Beckett. 2007JB gives up the homer but keeps it to that. 2006JB would’ve gotten angry and started throwing fastballs harder and harder. That might have worked on a few batters, but the ultimate result of abandoning your secondary pitches is that hitters know whats coming, and with few exceptions (Mariano Rivera being one) when a major league hitter knows whats coming it doesn’t work out well for the pitcher.

One of the more exciting developments in the game was the continued emergence of the team’s power. The Sox hit two homers last night, one by Jacoby Ellsbury and one by Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis, who doesn’t need to hit homers to be an effective player though it doesn’t hurt, hit a solo shot while Ellsbury who falls into the same category hit a two run homer.

Just about everything written about Ellsbury in the minors has said that his upside is Johnny Damon. Its kinda funny that Ellsbury actually looks like Damon, a little bit anyway. Taking Damon as a comp, that doesn’t leave Ellsbury with much upside to his power numbers. And indeed, Ellsbury hasn’t hit for much power in the minor leagues. He has hit doubles and triples and can leg out infield singles, all which improve his slugging percentage. However, when it comes to hitting the ball over the wall, Ellsbury hasn’t done it much. That’s OK. Ellsbury has enough other skills both offensively and defensively that if he simply improves those and never becomes a home run hitter he could still be an All-Star in the majors.

Still, adding power to his game, real over the wall power, would turn him from a good center fielder to a great one. Imagine the difference between Grady Sizemore and Dave Roberts. Both great fielders, both have on-base skills, and both can steal a base, but the reason that Sizemore is a star and Roberts has moved from team to team is the presence of power in the former’s bat and the lack of it in the latter’s.

I’m not trying to compare Ellsbury favorably to Grady Sizemore. That’s not fair to either player. Still, the comparison hopefully illustrates the difference in ceilings that a developing player with power can achieve over a developing one without power. The fact that Ellsbury has hit two homers in the last couple games should be encouraging, even if we know that its only two homers, small sample size, blah blah blah.

All I’m saying is hopefully he keeps it up, a little bit at least. If so, the Sox could have an even better player on their hands than we thought.

AL East: The Yankees beat Seattle, 12-3. The Red Sox lead in the AL East is still 7.0 games. The Yankees lead in the Wild Card is now 2.0 games.

Today (Wednesday): Curt Schilling gets the start as the Sox go for the three game sweep of Toronto. He'll be opposed by Shaun Marcum. Game time 7:05pm EST.

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