Pole position

If you’re a Red Sox fan, you couldn’t have asked for a better April. A 16-8 record, a four-game lead in the division and a 6 and 1/2 game edge over the Bombers.

Interesting factoid: This is the largest Division lead the Sox have had at the end of April in team history. Does it mean anything? Not necessarily. But the Red Sox have put themselves in good position.

Unlike the Yankees, who look like an utter mess at the moment, the Red Sox are a team that seems to have it going in all directions right now.

The starting rotation has been everything it was advertised to be. The bullpen has found a new hero in Okajima and a very rested lights-out closer in Papelbon. The one problem I see in the ‘pen right now is not having one dominant eighth inning guy. Timlin hasn’t shown yet that he can be that guy again. There is still time.

And who would have thought the Sox would be off to such a good start with Manny, even with today’s homer, hovering right around the Mendoza line and I’m not talking about Ramiro. Manny will hit, we all know that. I think he must lead the league in warning track lineouts. I’ll say it until I am blue in the face, but he’s swinging the bat pretty well.

Assuming Lester resurfaces in the not too distant future, that makes this team even stronger. And if I’m Roger Clemens sitting on my couch in Katy, Texas, the Red Sox are looking a heck of a lot more appealing right now than the 9-14 Yankees or the 10-13 Astros. Rocket has always liked an ace closer and Papelbon is looking a tad better than Mariano these days.

Imagine a Rocket redux in addition to Dice-K mania? Four out of five days, you’d have Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka and Rocket? If that ever happened, the Red Sox would be must-watch TV for baseball nation, not just Red Sox Nation.

Just food for thought. You can stop salivating now.

Later,

Ian.

52 Comments

The Sox will improve with either Lester or Clemens. Coco and Lugo are hitting. All’s well in Boston.

Steve

http://soxblog.mlblogs.com

I agree! All is well in the nation. If i’m the rocket, I either go to the sox or retire. What else is there? The yankees are destined for a huge collapse this year, 04 anyone. The sox starting rotation is beyond nasty at this point and if the sox can find a way to stop the Jays it could be smmoth sailing.

P.S. If the yankees fire Torre it plays right into the sox hand. (HUGE MISTAKE)

Ian you said “The one problem I see in the ‘pen right now is not having one dominant eighth inning guy.”

What about Donnelly? 9 games Six innings with a WHIP of .67, BAA .100 and 0.00 ERA. If he keeps that up or even close to that there is the solid Righty out of the Pen.

I totally agree and am surprised to see how little recognition Donnelly has been given for doing such an extraordinary job out of the bullpen.

Also, is Okajima not the 8th inning set-up man? I mean he put in 2 strong innings to bridge the gap to the 8th today, but why can’t he set up? I say having Okajima and Donnelly gives Francona options on how to set up the 7th and 8th innings, depending on how many lefties/righties are coming up in that particular inning.

I think Okajima is becoming a good set up man.
And yes, Donnelly can do the job as well.

2xsupdoom2x: I really hope you were joking about us offering up apologies to Senor Ez!! I for one think that 5-6 (plus) innings of “decent ball” do not make for an apology. I’ll say I’m sorry when he leaves; sorry it wasn’t sooner. I am so pleased with the way the Sox are “team”ing up together. Let’s just pray to the RedSox Gods that it keeps up!! I really like Hideki Okajima and we ALL LOVE JON-BON

WOW!!! What a way to start the season!!!! 16-8 record. The Yankees are somewhere in our rear view mirror. As a sox fan for many years I will be keeping my eye on that mirror. As bad as it might look for Yankees I will never count them out!!!
It was a wicked April..

haha, “wicked April”. That is as Red Sox nation as it gets.

I’m also surprised Donnelly hasn’t been more recognized.

And parts, 4 games in the playoffs does not rival 2-4 months of collapse in a regular season. The latter is much more difficult.

Cora has been amazing lately. File him and Donnelly under “Not Getting Enough Recognition”.

I was disappointed to see Timlin give up that homer today, but watching get out of the rest of the inning unscathed gave me a little more hope. I really hope he can get back to his old form. He’s seems to be working hard for it.

Haha I wasn’t too sad to see Timlin give up that solo shot for two reasons:

1. I expected it. Ever since last year he hasn’t been the same reliable set-up man that he was for so long before. I really feel like Francona was pressing the issue for him to be the set-up guy until the great Okajima discovery.

2. The homerun made it 7-4, thus allowing Papelbon to pad his stats with another save. Personally I thought it would have been ridiculous to bring in Paps with a 4-run lead. Why give the Yankees another look at the closer in a situation that didn’t matter instead of saving him for the next series?

RSN is in a pretty good state of mind right now. I figured I would look at some projected numbers. This isnt any inclination of the end of the season, but they are fun to see..

If the season goes exactly as it has so far:

Red Sox 108-54

Jays 81-81

Orioles 78-84

Rays 71-91

Yankees 63-99

Beckett: 30-0, 168 K

Schilling: 18-6, 138 K

Matsuzaka: 18-12, 228 K

(numbers based on 30 starts)

David Ortiz: 47 HR, 149 RBI

Manny: 20 HR, 88 RBI

Wily Mo Pena: 101 K (keep in mind hes a reserve)

A-Rod: 223 H, 95 HR, 230 RBI

Matt Holliday: 266 H

Now I know a lot of these numbers arent realistic, but I was bored… spring semester is over, so now its baseball time

I too am excited by the great April the Red Sox had. Let’s relish in it a little and enjoy it. However, it is a long season and it really depends on how you finish and how hot you are at the end. Remember in 2002, the guys started out 40-17 and ended up not making the playoffs. I am pulling for the Sox to take the AL East this year. Go Sox!!!

We had 2 20 games winners on that 2002 team too. But I’d have to say that our rotation is vastly better overall than that 2002 team. Only 2 pitchers on that team pitched over 170 innings. We have 4 200 inning pitchers. (potentially)

haha Vince, why aren’t you trying to talk trash on ‘Sox and Pinstripes’? Oh, it must be because the Yankees are currently in the crapper, and ‘yankeevmm@yahoo.com’ is alot more annonymous than ‘Vince’. lol

Zachary,

I made exactly that comment(about the save for Pap) as a joke to my brother’s friend who is a Yankees fan. ;)

EVEYONE PLEASE LISTEN! We do not need Clemens for this team to win it all. Why pay someone to play for 1/2 a season? There’s no room for premadonas on this team. Roger – stay at home!!

Good story on Okajima, Ian. Yankee homer Michael Kay should read that article and discover that he wasn’t brought here for the sole purpose of giving Dice-K a companion as he preached non-stop during his broadcasts. I mean what are we in 6th grade and is the buddy system back in place? Jeez

I agree 100% rizzo, I was watching a game on YES with Michael Kay announcing and he actually compared Okajima to Pumpkin, a horse who the trainers of Sea Biscuit brought everywhere in order to give the star horse a companion. Not only is that incredibly degrading but completely false. Maybe Michael Kay and Gary Thorne should get together and each of them can put the other’s foot in their mouth.

I was just looking over Okajima’s stats, and obviously the ERA is impressive but 17 K’s in 12.2 IP? That’s right on par with Papelbon’s 15 K’s in 9.1 IP.

I’ve been on this site for close to a year. If you can’t put together that I am Vince, you’re slow. I’m not hiding from anyone, nor do I generally talk “trash” on either site.

Hey guys, maybe the sox could trade WMP and maybe a minor league prospect to the Padres for Scott Linebrink. He could be another quality arm out of the bullpen, and can give oki or donnelly a day off if needed. Plus, the padres are already trying to get rid of him anyways.

I would not even trade WMP for Linebrink straight up. Wily Mo has way too much potential. I know saying that gets old, but if he goes on and puts up monster numbers somewhere else, the Sox will be kicking themselves. He is still so young(23 I think) which is hard to believe. I don’t think we need any more in the pen, we have good arms now and some more on the farm if necessary.

Agree 100% rizzo, i beleive WMP will one day, hopefully soon, learn patience and start posting some beautiful stats for the sox, especially after manny goes away.

Hey Bloggers,

Since the Sox are off tonight, I had time to ponder about something somewhat trivial. Everytime the Sox and Yanks get together we hear players, managers etc utter a much overused cliche, “It’s just another game, no different than any other. I win is still a win.” This is true and then again it isn’t. Yes, it is a win. But everytime you go head to head against a division rival, one desired outcome (Sox win) guarantees another desired outcome (Yankee loss). The two events are intertwined. When the 2 teams play other opponents, a Sox win doesn’t guarantee a Yankee loss and vice-versa. The potential swing in the standings is much greater. Geez…got too much time on my hands. Need my fix of Sox baseball…good night Red Sox nation.

I’m with rizzo1087 100% on this one; we can get bullpen help from the farm and Pena is still young…very young. Also, I never liked Michael Kay as a game announcer anyway, so what he’s stated about Okajima doesn’t surprise me. Sterling (on the radio) beyond superior to him (I “love” it when I hear him do the whole “THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE YANKEES WIIIN!” bit…it’s hilarious).

Honestly, I detest Clemens for leaving RSN way back when (he’s a big reason why I started watching baseball as a kid and fell in love with the Red Sox), but can understand why he left. Coming back would be an excellent story.

sullivan.redsox, I don’t really think he’s a “prima donna” like you said. He knows he’s good like any professional athlete and as such, commands the respect and everything that goes along with it of many teams, players, and fans. At his age, the way he can pitch, there’s no question he’s good. Why pay him? Cause the “Red Sox Brain Trust” has the money to do. Simple as that. With the ticket prices we pay, merchandising, etc., we’re second to the Yankees in regards to revenue in baseball.

Back to Pena for Linebrink, Linebrink is getting old and he hasn’t been super great either. Why else would the Padres be shopping him anyways?

But NEVER EVER discount the Yankees. Ever. We all have learned that the hard way. If we can keep this performance up in May, then we’ve got something special going on. :)

Ian,
Just started reading your sox articles. Good stuff from a real writer. It’s painful to read half of what is written today, (ignoring unofficial sites and papers). In your Red Sox beat travels tell Curt Schilling, instead of paying some online ripoff auction a rediculous amount of money for tickets for my bachelor party, on May 18th against the Braves. I’ll donate the amount we would have spend (around $1500-not exactly millionaires here) to ALS if you can get us tickets somehow. Not looking for amazing seats or a handout but getting 15 together has been nearly impossible for a couple months.

What do ya say?

Quimby

Steve Phillips made a very good point on this morning’s SportsCenter: any pitcher who is available at the end of April is likely either not performing very well or comes with a big payroll headache. Yes, there’s more to consider when making trades, but those are two big factors.

While I’m sure Theo has his eyes out for worthwhile bullpen talent, I don’t think he’s really worried at this point. Except for Timlin and Romero, every reliever has an ERA of under 3.00. And if I recall correctly, the Red Sox bullpen leads the league in ERA. The entire pitching staff is second in the AL only to Oakland, with a team ERA of 3.28.

Red Sox pitching is pretty darn good right now. I don’t think a lot of tinkering is really necessary.

Ian,
My big question is:

“Who gets left out when the Sox bring back Lester?”

Seriously, they have to drop someone from the bullpen to make room for him, so who goes? Romero? Snyder? Pineiro? Tavarez? Timlin? None of these guys are ‘drop back to AAA’ kinda guys. Do they trade one? Which one? How does Clement have any chance of getting back on the team this year? Who goes if they sign Clemens?

I would not want to be making this decision.

Sean, i’m not Ian but i will take a guess.

Romero will left. He’s out of option so it will be a trade or a release. And if i was the front office, i would also send Tavarez elsewhere, and call Javier Lopez up.

But that’s just me.

I meant Romero will LEAVE !!!

As I posted on other blogs, I’ll say it here…. I wish people would stop dismissing the Yankees. Pride goeth before the fall people. History has taught us the Yankees ALWAYS make a run of it. They are like the killer in slasher flicks. No matter how many blasts from the shotgun you unload point blank into their chest, the very moment you are home on your couch and sigh and say “Its finally over…” there they are standing behind you with a knife.

Second, I agree that the odd man out will be Romero. He’ll be gone as sooon as Lester shows. *IF* we get Clemens, I imagine Snyder goes to Pawtucket,(assuming all things stand pat), unless Tavarez is traded.

Why go after Clemens when our ptichign rocks so much already?

As 2006 taught us.. you can NEVER have too much pitching.

If we aquire Clemens and Lester returns and Clement becomes healthy . . . . .

> Tarvarez is sent to the ‘pen in a long relief role

a. traded

> Wake gets moved to the ‘pen

> Clement is released or traded in a package deal

> Javier Lopez is called up from Pawtucket

> Romero is released or traded

REMEMBER this is a crude representation of what MIGHT HAPPEN.

Also moving Wakefield to the Bullpen in my opinion is an excellent idea because when you have 5 power pitcher (Schilling, Clemens, Beckett, Matsuzaka, and Lester) and the manager sends in a Knuckleballers the opponents bats become screwed to put it simply.

Rsjones, i hope your post comes true, i would be ecstatic.

I am shocked that people are actually propsing Wakefield be moved to the bullpen if the rotation gets overcrowded. Do you really want Wakefield to come in for late inning situations? Here’s why I think it’s absurd:

1. Think back to the 2004 ALCS when Varitek was forced to catch for Wake while the Sox-Yanks were playing extra innings and tell me if you want to relive that experience? I really doubt it.

2. What are the Sox gonna do, bring in Mirabelli for the rest of the game everytime they have to call on Wakefield late in the game?

3. Say the Red Sox are winning by 1 and Wakefield comes in to start the 8th inning. The first base runner gets on and next thing you know he steals 2nd and there is nobody out with a man in scoring position. This pattern would repeat itself over and over.

4. Wakefield compliments the Sox first 3 power pitchers really well and is putting up solid numbers this season so why mess with a good thing?

And you are crazy if you think that the Sox are going to trade Tavarez. Do you not read the Boston newspapers? How about this website?Everybody is so high on this guy’s character even if his numbers aren’t that great. Once again, refer back to the 2004 Red Sox and note the importance of team chemistry. Tavarez is well-liked in the clubhouse and willing to do whatever Tito wants in order to help the team win, and that’s invaluable.

Snyder can’t be sent down cause he’s out of option too. A trade is possible, but if we let a pitcher go ( release ) i would prefer it’d be Tavarez, although i’d be really surprised.

Agastald, unfortunatly, you’re right about the Yankees. No matter the 5-1 record vs them so far and their current pitching problems, Sox and Yanks are each other’s biggest threat and the class of AL EAST.

Well …… yeah, i know, there’s also the unpleasant presence of those Jays. How could i forget those %*<@*$&*<* Jays ! LOL

Why in the world would a manager bring Wake in in any of those situations, I said it is a crude representation, I can have my fantasys (however that what fantansy baseball is for).

And people at one time or another have refered to me as “crazy”.

Also .a means second opnion, duh.

Hi rsjones, where have you been ?

Don’t worry about that zachary guy and his CRAZY insults, i think he was talking to me. Since i can’t reply in person ( ! ), i will pass along. There’re a lot of other people here that are fun to talk Sox with.

Thanks for that rsox_34. Anyhow I’ve been busy mostly catching up with Sox news and games.

Also Zachary its the first time I’ve communicated with you, don’t insult me before we’ve had a proper excange of ideas. I’m sure this can be worked out.

Hey Nationers!! I was just able to log on for 1st pitch…. WHEW!!
As for the ?, “who goes..” TAVAREZ, if not I’m truly going to ? the management and Tito.

The guys are really playing some heads up ball tonight!! Schilling looks good too!

LET’S GO REDSOX!!

As for people saying that the Yankees are done.. Just remenber 2004. In July they said the Sox were done. They were REALLY wrong, ya think??

I am a life long RedSox fan/yankee hater, but I am a true believer that you never count The boys in Pinstripes out!! They’ll come back to kick you in the asp.

agastald, you are so right. Also mentioned this morning on SportsCenter: not too long ago, the Yankees finished April with an 11-19 record. Guess what happened at the end of the year? They won the division. They ain’t going away.

I really think that Okajima is pitching great!!
What the lleh was that with Manny “almost” running to 1st on the hit to first?? And now that really shabby rub for Crosby’s poke into left?? Do we have Manny being Manny again??

UH OH!! 2 run out of the parker and Jon-Bon is human…. can we dig back?? LET’S GO REDSOX LET’S GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is Jonathan being a little too human for me.

Now we know Pap is a mere mortal not a god in the pantheon. Romero is warming in the bullpen? Papi please, please hit a walk off.

Did you guys notice that Pap’s fastball didn’t have much velocity on it? He was throwing 91-93, when he usually throws 95-96. You guys think that we overused him? Maybe it was just an off night for him. Tek Hinske and Dusty set to bat in the ninth. I think Romero’s gunna come in if we go into extras. Oh boy, let’s hope for a walk-off.

Coco here’s a chance to make a lot of friends.

Well everybody has an off night.

Like TC and Eck said on NESN, we were the last team in the majors with a blown save.

Papelbon’s velocity was off clearly, but at this point, I’m gonna chalk that up to simply messing up today (location was off on that HR). The team had an off day yesterday and honestly, it doesn’t make much sense to say Tito overused him…it’s May 1st.

But I’m still crossing my fingers hoping everything is A-OK with everybody’s favorite closer.

Radar guns are usually off by a few MPH so dont put to much stock in that. Pap is fine you can’t save every game

I’m not sure why you took my comments on Wakefield going to the bullpen as insults, just my opinion, everybody has one.

And as somebody already mentioned, TC and Eck had some good points on the postgame show. Both Papelbon and Donnelly had yet to give up a run before last night’s game and it’s not like they were going to go through the whole season without giving up a run.

I wonder if Paps will be available tonight after struggling through a 35-pitch inning last night. Okajima only threw 15 pitches or so, so expect to see him in the 9th if the Sox have a lead. I’m perfectly comfortable with that.

Me too.

I’m not too concerned about Papelbon, or Donnelly, or anyone in the pen for that matter. I’m still happy we have a better pen then last year.

I’m just glad this is happening now instead of in August and September.

I was reading some of the comments about Papelbon. I’m not too concerned either. I liken this situation to,say for instance, your favorite college football team. They win the National Championship, have a perfect season, and then we start to expect it every year. Just like the Yankees, their fans expect nothing less than a WS championship. Jonathan has been perfect for the most part up until now and we are starting to expect nothing less. As I said last night, I think that this was just a case of Jon-Bon being human. Yes, he is flawed, just like the rest of us. If it continues to happen then they need to analyze what’s going on, but for now I think just let it all sink in and see how he does on his next appearance.

…on the subject of Roger (I’ll only pitch half a season) Clemens, I say let someone else have him and his primadona demands. I think our rotation is going to do just fine with out him.

OK, this is a chance for JB to show what he is made of and how he can take the ace position in the future. If he can turn the momentum from a disappointing loss around and get his team a win, then that will do a lot for him and his team. The Sox can’t afford to let last nights loss turn into 2 then 3 etc. So JB, step up and shut down the A’s!!

Why is Paps running around in the bullpen?? He is acting like he’s gunna pitch in tonight’s ballgame. He’s startin to warm up like he would when he was going to pitch. I hope he’s just trying to keep in shape out there. After 35 pitches yesterday, I really dont want him to throw tonight. He needs the rest.

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