Closing thoughts

Boy, didn’t we all do a lot of spinning our wheels the last couple of months to end up right back where we started? Oh well, this was the best possible solution.

Papelbon has a chance to be the best closer in baseball this season. I don’t think any of us thought he’d be the best starting pitcher in baseball. So right there, the team has upgraded.

If you would have asked me yesterday who my favorite was to win the American League East, I would have said the Yankees. Today, I’d say the Red Sox, because they have eliminated what was far and away, their biggest question mark. Then again, the margin is not very big. I predict that the difference in the AL East this year is two games, maximum. It’s going to be wild.

Let’s not get all giddy here just because the Red Sox have a closer. There are still question marks. Can Jason Varitek still hit? Can Coco Crisp still hit? Can Dustin Pedroia play every day?

But it’s sure nice not to be trying to solve the bullpen dilemma anymore.

More later,

Ian.

43 Comments

I’m not worried about Coco Crisp. If he doesn’t hit, we can use Wily Mo in center, and call up Murphy or Ellsbury, who could probably outperform many MLB center fielders right now. Varitek is a concern, as is Pedroia (since he is a rookie and is mostly untested at the big league level). Hopefully, the Sox keep Joe McEwing as insurance at Pawtucket.

Regarding who will win the AL East, the Yankees will be favored because all of the so-called experts and talking heads go with a safe prediction. Even before this move (of Papelbon to the bullpen), I felt the Sox had a better team because the rotation is deeper and the bullpen was fine (with the exception of the closer’s role). I do think someone from within would have emerged and done an adequate job (like a Todd Jones in Detroit), but Papelbon’s return to the closer’s role solidifies the Sox only question mark in the bullpen.

I think the arms the Sox have (Donnelly, Pineiro, Romero, Okajima and Snyder), plus whoever starts the season while Timlin is on the DL (Bryan Corey, Devern Hansack, Javier Lopez, Manny Delcarmen, Craig Hansen) will give the Sox an effective bullpen. Once Timlin returns, the Sox can give Hansen, Delcarmen and Hansack time to develop in Triple-A.

Obviously, if Timlin remains healthy and Jon Lester is ready to join the rotation, the Sox will have a decision to make in the bullpen. I would think that, if Tavarez pitches well as a starter, he will either remain in that role, or the Sox will move him to the pen when Lester is ready. That means someone is the odd man out. Snyder has no more options. It is a good problem to have. Anyone who thinks the Sox won’t have a good bullpen obviously has not thoroughly looked at the arms at the big league level, and all the arms at Triple-A.

Jeff

http://www.soxandpinstripes.com

As for the question marks, I think Varitek is the only one that really matters. Like Jeff said, coco is not a problem. There are a number of options to fix that. Can Pedroia play every day? Who cares, we have Cora to back him up when he needs a break. The only real problem I see for the 2007 season is Varitek. We obviously need him and his leadership in the lineup. If he cannot hit, though, how much of a downslope can we afford at the bottom of the order? If Pedroia struggles offensively, as well as Tek, the bottom of the order could be shaky. But then again, look at the lineup as a whole. Youk, Ortiz, Manny, Drew, Lowell, all solid contributors. I dont think we have anything to worry about right now, we just hafta hope nothing changes

Jeff you really summed up the entire situation. Your right about giving Hansen, Delcarmen and Hansack time to develop in the minors. Last year, as the team regressed and the bullpen became an open wound, the organization rushed Hansen and Delcarmen to fill in empty spots. Which could have effects on their future abilities.

Right now, the bar is set extremely low for Pedroia: his expectations are to fill hit 9th and minimize errors in the field. Therefore I wouldn’t be surprised to see him surpass expectations (ie: hit .270, do an adequate job defensively).

Everybody wants to make such a big deal about not having an established player at 2B, but remember back when the Sox won it all, Mark Bellhorn was filling that role. His defense was average at best, and although he provided a bit of pop and patience, he struck out an absurd amount.

As for the rotation, how many strong 5th starters can you name around the league? If Tavarez can win 10-12 games over the year, nobody will complain. Although I wouldn’t mind seeing Lester make a June return…

Call me crazy, but i’m hoping to see Lester on the mound at Fenway by early May against the Twins or the Jays. Any chance i’m not only dreaming, here ?

Does anyone on this blog know how is Lester, rehab-wise ?

Ian ? Maybe Jeff ?

why is evryone all over v-tek? Is anyone hitting real well…Ortiz isnt even at 2 bucks, lowell, manny, it’s spring training! No worries im sure he will get into the groove before too long, besides his real value is running the pitching staff which makes him the most valuable!

I have to admit, I am a little bit worried about Tek, but do have the utmost faith in him that he will find his groove at the plate again. I feel like he may be doing too much trying to “fix” his approach to hitting – like I tell my twin boys, age 13, when they are up to bat, just RELAX already! If Tek can give us 265./15/70, I’d be happy. It’s great to hear that he and Dice-K are communicating well, too. Dice-K looked amazing this week when I watched the highlights. He really is fun to watch!
Can’t wait ’til April 2nd! As I am sure the rest of you are anxiously awaiting, too!

Proud member of the West Coast RSN…Amy :)

How about J.D Drew. He is really hitting well,.433 isn’t to awful. In the game today against the O’s Tek hit his first home of the spring, and Schill went 7 innings strong (H=6 ER=2 K=6) not bad for a guy who’s 40, as d reinbold says “its spring training!” So being pessimistic is for October.

Don’t worry about ‘Tek. He’s just had a ton to focus on outside of BP. He’s learning languages, learning pitchers, choosing closers, teaching players, being the Captain. He’s a good hitter, and by all accounts healthier than he’s been in a while. Once the season starts up and he’s getting daily in-game at bats, he’ll be just fine. Of course, he could hit .170 and I’d still say he’s worth having on the roster, but he won’t.

I read a funny joke online somewhere about Spring Training that sums things up pretty well…

A Dad and his son are watching a Spring Training game… the Dad says something like… “Ah, the promise of Spring… Seeing these guys play well is a great sign that they are going to have a strong year.”… The son says… “But what about these guys that aren’t playing well?”… Dad says… “Who cares, its only Spring Training”.

I think PAP should have been a starter. He wouldnt have been the best starter in baseball, but he could have been near the top. We could have tried one of the other guys at closer until Lester came back. If the closer didn’t succeed they could have put PAP in the pen. If he did succeed we could have the best rotation in baseball and would be maximizing the talent of a young guy with electric stuff, getting around an extra 100+ innings of work out of him. Now we have to settle with guys who aren’t very good in that 5th spot. Granted maybe one of them will work out until the return of Lester.

The more things change the more they remain the same. The Red Sox never seem to know what they are doing or simply get a pass when they choose to lie. Why in the wake of the Papelbon hypocrisy didn’t the sportswriters blast management? Instead they praise the move as a stroke of genius. They made this big deal about Papelbon’s shoulder and how they were concerned about him longterm. That was the reason they switched him to the rotation. Now that Theo has utterly failed to pick up a closer and Bill James has been proven to be a fraud with his no-closer philosophy, they rely on Papelbon to bail them out. Having Papelbon in the bullpen is definitely beneficial to them but I would not count on a .92 ERA. Plus, who will get the ball to him? Most likely, if the middle relief does not improve, the starters will begin burning out by mid-August. They had better have a large lead by then, otherwise the Yankees will embarrass them again.

Papelbon=closer=injury=carrer ends

Papelbon=starter=domination= next Rocket

Catch my drift.

No. Wrong way to put it.

Injury last year = smart use this year.

They’re not stupid, you know.

Agree with the dominating starter, though.

rsox_34, your right. The front office makes the right desicions.

Everything is set. Even if Varitek is injured or needs rest Mirabelli can be the substitute. Hinske, Cora, and Pena can handle back-up, extra insurance from Super Joe and Murphy in AAA. The bullpen is ready, it might not be terrific, but it should be formindable. Guys like Delcarmen and Hansen are ready to be called when ready. Papelbon will dominate in the closers role. The starting rotation is young, but fine. With the experience of Wake and Schilling Lester,Dice-K, and Beckett will learn. Tavarez will be solid until Lester returns. GO SOX!

If it’s sarcastic, fair enough, i deserve it !

If it’s not, then yes they do make the right decisions … most of the time. And yes things are mostly set.

Can’t wait for Opening Day.

The post was not supposed to be sarcastic, I was agreeing with you.

Excellent. We’re good, then.

As for Dice-K, there’s an article in SI by Tom Verducci about his … and i quote : ” iron-man training regimen – no ice on the arm, 300-foot long tosses, lenghty bullpen sessions AFTER a start ”

Farther in the article, he writes that Dice-K once ” threw 250 pitches in a 17-innings complete game in high school ”

And it keeps on like that through the entire article. This guy is amazing. And i’m not even sure if amazing is a big enough word. I’d like to say supernatural but i’ll bite my tongue.

9 days left. GO SOX !

Despite having our offense highly touted, it isn’t performing to its caliber. In the game against the Rays (which ended in a tie) the team left a total of 13 men on base. I know that we left to the game without our full line-up, but it is unexusable. Manny had the only RBI, and that only his thrid of the spring! Again its only spring training.

I was wondering when the lack of Sox offense started to warrant more comment? What’s up with that?

Little things sometimes add up, Coco and Pedroia?

The options for Coco have been discussed on this thread, but we do seem to stick with Coco an awful long time? And I fail to see all the promise in Dustin, it seems a really long shot that Dustin will come close to matching the defense or offense of Loretta (I sure hope he does, but still disagree with that trade) —

Anyone care to remind me of the wisdom of these moves?

The offense is a legitamite issue. The Sox could have won more games this spring if the offense was more potent. We’ve tied to many games, look at the wins and losses in spring so far, all could have been won with a little more offense.

Second Coco was injured so give him some credit. Pedoria is a rookie, Loretta a vetrean, there is a major skill difference. Third Loretta wasn’t traded he left via free agency.

Re third point — I can see I mis-worded my point about Loretta, my apology — I didn’t mean to imply it was a trade — I was just disappointed at letting Loretta go, such a solid defensive 2nd baseman and a career 300+ hitter. Management must feel Pedroia can approach this level — of course I hope he does…. I haven’t tracked or done the math on the differential on money — seems to me we let Cabrera go after 04 for so called money reasons, that we are now on our third year trying to equal in balance of offense, defense, and clutch performance (and for way more money). Don’t get me wrong, rooting for all Sox players, I suppose its insanely easy to out maneuver and second guess yourself in this game.

Loretta, Cabera, were let go and now Lowell are all being let go because of finacial reasons. Since they are older vetreans, there skills will decline meaning the Red Sox would like to replace them with younger players.

For the Yankees, this season is already starting like the Sox season in 2006. With injuries to Wang and Pettitte, Mussina is the only dependable pitcher in their rotation. Carl Pavano could start opening day. THe Yankees are going to have to score loads of runs just to remain in games with that staff.

Jeff

http://www.soxandpinstripes.com

And they will, the Yanks will score 500 runs a game, win the division, and continue to make my life ****.

Yanks wouldn’t win, pitching and defense wins.

Another great outing by JB : 7 IP, 0 ER, 7 K.

And it didn’t turn ugly like the last one. When i think of him for 2007, i got reeeaaally good vibes. Confidence with his curve ball will be the key. Especially when he’s pitching from behind.

JB’s control is still lacking, 3 BB in outing vs. Marlins. Although before this outing he only had 4 over the spring. He will be good, just give him some time. Evidence is in the numerous K’s.

Another positive note is Devern Hansack. As Ian says he a “late bloomer”, leave him in and he’ll throw you a no-no!

Two questions for anyone who can answer it (some info I saw in the discussion):

1. How is Lester doing? What does his timetable look like? I’m sure its speculation, but I’m wondering if it’s June/July or late April.

2. What’s this I hear about Lowell being traded? Is this something that came as a possibility and passed, or is it something in the works?

Thanks!

Point 1: Don’t know much about Lester, I would guess your speculation is right.

Point 2: Lowell is old and this year he is owed 9 mil. The Sox would like to trade him for a profitable deal in which they would aquire prospects.

Hopes this helps.

If anyone wants to clarify my post feel free.

Offense can very well put you in a position to win a division in the regular season, the same cannot be said about the playoffs. The Yankees pitching problems as of right now are short term and panicking or counting them out would be short sighted.

yankeevmm, your right it would be shortsighted. The extent of Wang’s injury has yet been revealed, and with a potent offense the Yanks can still contend for the division title. Is Pettite injured? Phillip Hughes depeneding on the situation, could be called up much sooner than expected, and Sanchez is nearby. Igawa though still unknown is there and Mussina is always solid. Though the Sox will WIN!!! GO SOX!!

Hold it, if the Red Sox could’nt win last year with offense alone than how to you expect the Yankees to pull it off.

With about 200 more runs.
Giambi: 38 hr, 107 rbi’s

A-rod: 43 hr, 125 rbi’s

Matsui: 25 hr, 110 rbi’s

Abreau: 20 hr, 105 rbi’s

Damon: 22 hr, 85 rbi’s

Posada: 20 hr, 80 rbi’s

Jeter: 15 hr, 80 rbi’s

Cano: 20 hr, 100 rbi’s

1st b: 10 hr, 70 rbi (combined)

900+ runs scored

yeah, i’ll think they will be a contendah.

any pitcher that will give them 200 innings or 35 starts will have at least 14 wins.

I’d never count out the Yankees. History is in their favor, until proven otherwise.

that said, i hope they lose.

Exactly. The sox didn’t have offense or defense in september last year and let’s face it, the yankees pitching even right now without wang is still a little better than a mixture of tavarez, jason johnson, an exploded Beckett, an injured schilling, wells and wakefield.

Primer, the Sox said that Tavarez will be in the rotation until Lester is ready, so i guess ( and i hope ) it won’t take half a year. I’d say closer to April than July, but it’s more of a wish.

As for Lowell, i read on Jeff’s blog that the Rockies approached the Red Sox for a Todd Helton trade and Lowell is in the mix ( and so are some Sox prospects ). Youkilis could move to third.

I was eluding to the Helton trade talk that surfaced last month. The Rockies initiated it, the Sox didn’t. I don’t like the idea of dealing an assortment of prospects along with Lowell and Tavarez, and now I don’t think the Sox would deal Tavarez since he is needed in the rotation.

Jeff

http://www.soxandpinstripes.com

Sorry, Jeff, didn’t want to start any fire. Was just answering to Primer from what i heard and read.

I agree Ian we are now the favorite to win the east. that being said hansen has me worried ?! whats up with that kids head ? cause its all in his head. hope we did not bring him up to soon last year ? anyhow personally it is A MUST for coco to get off to a great start i`m not digging some of the things he has been saying of late. i belive in his skills i just hope the fans chill and he really has gotton over last years injury……donny

More than somewhat concerned about this year. Worst possible scenario… but not out of the question

Varitek’s offensive skills have been on a swift decline for some time now. His very uncompact looping swing seems never able to beat fastballs as it used to, and almost equally, he is unable to adjust to breaking balls.

Coco seems to be becoming the offensive version of Matt Clement, i.e. head case supreme, doubting himself and suspicious of criticism.

Lowell, recently, has shown some signs of breaking out of it again, but I thought the last half of 2006 was more the real Lowell than the first half when he had to prove something and may have had his last good year.

Pedroia still may be OK, BUT since he is in the bottom half of the lineup with the three aforementioned, he may feel frustrated and that he has to overachieve to spark something when Tek, M Lo and Crisp continually fail. If this gets him out of his game at the plate— that being patience and onbase pct— he’s in trouble.

The offense falls apart. We are behind too many games in late innings. Then the move of Papelbon to closer becomes irrelevant and the only thing moving him to the bullpen did is diminish the one GREAT strength we had…. starting pitching.

As a bench, Pena and Hinske are adequate plus, but Mirabelli and Cora(what IS this organization’s love of Cora about anyway?) are a disaster.

We are ONE sore arm away from 5 games behind Toronto! (Or 50 lost runs or more.)

Man — someone as worried as me about offense.

I guess I will force myself to observe that the best time to have an offensive slump is in pre-season. I can’t remember a time when the Sox consistently scored so few runs (and lets not count the melt-down of the Marlins in the bottom in the 8th a few nights ago).

It seems like we have great alternatives? Didn’t Murphy and Ellsbury and maybe a few other minor leaguers bat in 300s this pre-season? but it must be hard to part with big money and contracts.

Personally, contracts and egos aside, and ignorant of baseball contracts, I would send Coco back to the minors until he gets his hitting back, and bring up one of those guys that batted 3xx, and, then put Cora at 2nd and trade Predoria and Hansen for some value, why they still have value left.

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