3 more weeks

The third to last week of the season starts tonight at Fenway with the first of three against the Rays and there’s a good matchup on tap. Schilling vs. Kazmir. The magic number is 14. But beyond the numbers, there are some issues that bear watching down the stretch:

Will Dice-K get his groove back? For whatever reason, he has gotten way too fastball-happy of late. What happened to that nasty changeup we saw earlier in the season?

Has Papelbon ever been better? I don’t think so. I know he had a season for the ages last year. But it seems like it’s a challenge for a hitter to even make contact against him right now.

Beckett can taste the Cy Young Award: I know, he won’t talk about it. But he has three starts to go and right now is a slight favorite over other worthy candidates like Sabathia and Wang.

What is right about right? We’ve gone over this one over and over. What to do in right field when Manny comes back? I think J.D. Drew will be given as long a leash as possible. But ultimately, Ellsbury will be the guy out there if Drew is a liability with his bat.

Buchholz and the innings. We’re at 143 1/3 and counting. About 17 left to go. Will they take the reins off a little and let him be a factor throughout the playoffs? This is perhaps the most interesting story left in the season.

See you at Fenway a bit later.

Ian.

33 Comments

This is one of the better Cy Young races that I can remember in my lifetime, considering that it hasn’t been that long though.
I actually wouldn’t give Beckett the edge over Sabathia, IMO its the opposite. But he does have the advantage over Wang.

The Cy Young this year will go to 1 of the 5 following names:

Josh Beckett

C.C. Sabathia

John Lackey

Chein-Ming Wang

Kelvim Escobar

All of which have impressive stats . . . . .

Disclaimer: Ranks out of the 5 pitchers above . . .

Beckett:

Wins: T-1st (18)

Loses: T-least (6)

ERA: 4th higest (3.27)

GS: T-3rd most (27)

CG: T-4th most (1)

IP: 3rd most (181.2)

H: 2nd least (172)

BB: 2nd least (36)

SO: 2nd most (173)

WHIP: T-1st (1.14)

OBA: 1st (.286)

Sabathia:

Wins: 2nd most (7)

Loses: 2nd most (7)

ERA: 3.15 2nd lowest

GS: 1st (31)

CG: 1st (4)

IP: 1st (220)

H: 5th most (218)

BB: 1st lowest (33)

SO: 1st (185)

WHIP: T-1st (1.14)

OBA: 2nd lowest (.295)

With Sabathia in 1st or 2nd in most catergories, he has the advantage . . . . something I’m not to gleeful about.

It was being reported that if Torri Hunter leaves Santana will too and if Hafner, Martinez etc. leave the team Sabathia will perform the same action. The Red Sox mangement must, with all of its power, prevent either one of these pitchers from going to the Yankees. Since the are bith lefties, they will give the Red Sox fits.

Randy Wolf for a left handed free agnet signing?

i suppose that’s why theo & co use most of their top picks on pitching. with clemens, pettite, pavano, and musina likely off their payroll by the end of next year that’s close to 60mm they could spend if they choose to. i seriously doubt boston would get into a $$ battle with them over either of the aforementioned. of course nobody else could/would either. well not and win i don’t think. only chance is they give their respective teams a hometown disc which doesn’t happen much these days. personally i wouldn’t either. signing pitchers to BIG moneys deals is risky. look at guys like pavano, pedro, and mike hampton ( there are plenty of others ). not much ROI there.

as for the cy young. i think given comparable numbers beck will get it because he pitches in the east. which is considered the stongest div. by most of the voters i would say.

Sox have a great chance to pick up at least one game on the Yanks before Friday, and even two. Toronto pitching is lined up favorably against the Yanks, Jays could take two. And the Sox should win at least two, unless both Schilling and Wakefield have off days. SOX could actually sweep if Schill comes up big and if Wakefield stays out of a hit-me streak (hopefully not started last time out).

Up 7.5 or 8.5 after Sunday! Better to take charge now.

dgneubert,

I think your getting ahead of yourself by saying the Sox could actually sweep the Yankees. Let’s hope they win game 1 on Friday night and then they can take it from there.

Sox of course should take 2 games for sure in this series vs Tampa Bay if not 3. The 1 game Tampa has a shot is tonight, after that all Boston. Kazmir as we know usually does well vs Boston. Get his pitch count up and get to that bullpen of Tampa Bay.

Intersting that in the 1st inning that the radar gun was off when Schilling pitched and when Kazmir was on the mound they started working. That is what Joe Magrane just said, of course Magrane is no fan of Schilling.

smckinny,

Pavano is on the Yankees payroll next year. He’ll be making 10 million in 2008, his final year of a 4 year deal worth 40 million. Talking about money well spent. NOT!!!! Another poor move by Cashman.

bosoxbrian,

Unless I messed up my math, I was hoping on picking up 1 game on in each of the two series (resulting in +7.5) and then the stretch was hoping the Jays could win 2 of 3 (looking at pitching lineup), while the SOX sweep the Rays, for a net of (2+1) = +8.5, but I was just yapping.

Anyway tonite looks really tough the way Kazmir is pitching so far, plus no home-run power in the line up.

Curt Schilling just looks like an old man to me. He’s pitching, and I mean pitching, not throwing, pretty well. He changing speeds, painting the corners and occasionally busting one in the upper 80′s at the letters to get a strike. It’s amazing, but as brilliant Joe Magrane pointed out, it catches up with him third time through the order. We’ll see.

The last few starts will determine the Cy Young. It’s too close to call now. Sabathia may get the edge because he’s doing great things playing for what many will perceive to be a lesser team.

I’d like to see Ellsbury run.

bosox. i think i said, or meant to, after next year. which is when santana, etc. will be avail. i think. anyway. i still say kielty other than possibly for late inning defense was a total waste of ink and paper. this team REALLY needs manny back. gsm. i agree with you on schilling but look at his last 3-4 outings he’s smart enough and got good enough control to get away with it MOST nites. for six innings usually. unless he has a big lead or rediculously low pitch count he should NEVER go past 6 IMO.

I agree with you smckinny. I get nervous when he gets 0-2 or 1-2, because he just doesn’t have that “go to” pitch any more.

This ION TV coverage is awful. I left the game for two minutes and missed whatever happened to get two outs. Apparently a good catch and double play by Crisp. They haven’t shown a single replay.

If you’re Tek, how do you take an 86, make it two 86 mph fast balls right down the middle?

Let’s be honest we all knew he would K when it got to o – 2. It is official the Sox are in BIG trouble.

Yikes, a pitching duel that didn’t go our way. Oh well. Make that 5 games now, yes? Kazmir’s really a tough out, and the way Sonnanstine and Jackson have been on us, you never know for the next 2 games.

@smckinny: Yeah, he doesn’t seem to have that “go-to” pitch anymore, but I feel he’s finally realizing that he’s not a power pitcher anymore and needs to turn into a Maddux and Glavine and harness the control he can have on his pitches.

@bosoxbrian: Last blog post you said Kazmir’s not a free agent, and I didn’t think so either, but after checking Cot’s Baseball Contracts, it has me unsure (http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com):

Scott Kazmir p

1 year/$0.4243M (2007)

* re-signed 3/07

* 1 year/$0.3717M (2006)

* 1 year/$0.316M (2005), signed 8/02

* drafted 2002 (1-15), $2.15M signing bonus

* agent: Brian Peters

* ML service: 2.042

So did he resign in March past 2007? Or did he just resign for just this season?

-Raj

http://pacol250.livejournal.com

I meant: http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com but it’s linked up at the top of Ian’s Blog in the Links section anyway.

-Raj

http://pacol250.livejournal.com

schill to me SINCE he came back has looked good. not great but effective. he’s gotten almost 0 run support. he’s not a power guy anymore but he is like maddox a very smart pitcher. he doesn’t scare me near as much as wake does in a tough game because he has options and knows how to use them. gsm. tek’s been doin that for 2 yrs now i don’t see it changing. you look at the lineup they rolled out there tonite and it’s abvious to me ( IMO ) this was a throw away game. if we win great if not so what. how do you sit your most explosive offensive guy when your other explosive guy is already out? it’s not like he has to play the field. i don’t care who is pitching. too bad for schill i really think they threw him under the bus tonite. and even with manny and papi if they don’t start to get some prod from the bottom 4 ( noy just OBP ) they are going to struggle in the post season. assuming they get there.

Okay, so I looked up Kazmir’s contract, and yes, it’s only until the end of this year.

If Theo & Co. know what they’re doing, they’ll go after this guy. I know both NY teams and TB will as well, but we better get this guy. He’s that good.

Oh and did I mention that he’s NOT a Boras client? :-)

pacol,

Kazmir is not a free agent at the end of this year.

just a few things….how come ortiz couldn’t pinch hit for alex cora last night? we all knew cora wasn’t gonna get a hit with 2 on and 2 out. i thought that was a stupid move by francona. lugo was already in the lineup and could have moved to short with ortiz staying in lugo’s DH spot..why, francona??

also…how come francona won’t skip dice-k’s next start in the rotation? it’s against the yankees. a HUGE game. and dice-k has been absolutely awful lately. buccholz should make that start…

Look Out Boston, NYY, TOR, SEA & LA. They will now have to deal with a born again team and they better be doing the praying. Meet the SPOILERS. The Rays are a different team than the one they saw B-4.

How sickening is it to watch us sleepwalk through another Kazmir start? Maybe we should have replaced the ENTIRE team with our minor leaguers? We should sign him whenever possible just to save us 4-5 wins per year by not having to face him.

While the Sox definitely put out their “B” Squad for last night’s game, I don’t think it’s fair to say that they didn’t try their best to win.

Kazmir was pretty much unhittable last night, tip your cap and work on winning the series. With two pretty awful pitchers (both of whom Boston has seen before) going in the next 2 games, I feel confident that they can take 2 out of 3 going into the Yankees series.

I agree with you Zach. It was a good game and the Sox got shut down by a good pitcher. Ellsbury misses that double by a couple of inches. If he makes the catch, we’re still playing. The Rays have a good young team and they’re getting better. Schill pitched a heck of a game. I’m satisfied with the way they played last night.

Isn’t it great that we can come here and talk, good or bad, about our beloved Red Sox and baseball. I just want to take a minute to reflect on the day, and think about my brothers and sisters who our serving our great nation all over the world. I served 32 years in the Navy, I’m retired, I’m in one piece, I’m lucky, and I know it. Whether you support what our country is doing in Iraq or not, support our men and women in the armed forces who will always do the best they can to preserve our right to talk baseball…… and don’t ever forget what happened six years ago today. Thanks!

I’m with you on that Gsm. I’m an unrepentant patriot,yes, I know this country is not perfect, but it’s better than most, if not all the others.
Thanks for your service,Gsm.

gsm. well said and thank you for your public service…..zachary i’m not questioning anyone’s effort. i’m sure they tried their best. well everyone but francona. seriously though. when your lineup’s best offensive weapon is mike lowell( whom i love as a player ) against their best pitcher. unless you have serious injury issues, which they don’t, you’re basically saying curt go take one for the team IMO. kazmir was/is good BUT i don’t think he was shutout good. i saw a good number of hittable pitches for decent ML hitters. i mean pretty much what he did was sub cora for ortiz. what’s the point? why not go with clayton if you’re going to do that? not that it would have mattered but at least the matchup makes a lil more sense.

and since it a day that ends in “Y”. youk and tek cont to baffle/frustrate me. i’ve pretty much written JD off for this year cause i think he’s injured. at least that’s what i’m tellin myself. the other 2 though really baffle me. this is 2 yrs in a row youk has just disappeared after the break. and tek the last 2 years has 0 bat speed. in nearly 800 AB’s the last 2 years he has 62 extra base hits total. that’s amazing to me. that should be more or less an avg year. at least close to it.

Smckinny – I could be wrong but would imagine his numbers are below average but in line with the averages for catchers around the league.

For example, Pudge Rodriguez, who I would say is considered one of the better offensive catchers in the league, has 86 extra base hots over the last two years, but over a span of nearly 1,000 AB’s. His average of one extra base hit every 11.59 AB’s is not that far ahead of Varitek’s of one every 12.19. Also don’t forget that Varitek played the end of last year recovering from a serious injury.

All that, along with Varitek’s vastly superior defensive work, mean we should be pretty happy with his offensive output.

About last night’s game, I am happy with the way Schilling pitched. Although Kazmir was unhittable, the Sox went very quietly last two innings against two mediocre pitchers. That bothers me a lot. We’ve got to win the next two games.

brendan, dude. i just don’t get your logic ? the notion that just because somebody else ( on a diff team no less ) is worst or equally as bad at s-thing ( in my mind ) doesn’t validate your
( not literally you ) deficiency or inabilities. i could probably look up 10-12 catchers who have been vastly superior to both of them. my point with tek is he hits in a spot in THIS lineup where he constantly hits with guys on base and ISP and his struggles the last last two years continue to be costly. they need run production from that spot is all i’m saying. i’m not saying get rid of him. i’m just saying for this team to achieve it’s goals needs run prod from someone in the bottom 4. he’s historically the most likely and he’s not gettin it done. frame it anyway you want. he is good def and does provide leadership. he’s also hittin about .230 the last 2 yrs with RISP. if you think 1-5 can carry this team any further than the first round you’re sadly mistaken IMO. he’s not the only one struggling by any means but he is the captain and in mind that means he should be able to step it up.

Fair enough. My point is that his totals may be in line with the average for all catchers. I think catcher is a unique position with far more stress on the body, and so if you are going to compare stats such as his number of extra base hits, they should be compared against other catchers and not against the league average. There are very few catchers with the ability to hit 62 extra base hits per year. Posada is having a ridiculous career year and not even he has reached that level yet. But yes he should be hitting higher with RISP.

Tek is a great catcher, but with all the debate in the above posts, I still don’t see how he can stand there and watch 2 mediocre fast balls go right down the middle of the plate. The Sox get a lot of credit for being patient at the plate, but that patience often winds up with hitters giving up the best pitch they are going to see during an at bat.

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