Back from the woods

I’m back at Fenway after spending three awesome days in New Hampshire for a family vacation. There’s definitely something to be said for leaving the laptop at home and taking three days away from the internet.

I got in some whiffle ball, some swimming, some hot tubbing and just some general great relaxation. Also, high-low jack is a pretty good card game over a couple of chilly beverages, adult or otherwise. Anyone ever play that game?

I come back today feeling refreshed and ready for the long road trip.

And the Red Sox even stopped their habit of nightly rain delays to mark my return to the active lineup.

Pretty quiet night here at the park. David Ortiz took his “dry” swings but thinks he’s three weeks away from any type of real action.

According to ESPN, tonight’s matchup between Tim Wakefield and Randy Johnson is the oldest in Fenway history, though last September’s battle between Clemens and Schilling was close.

42 Comments

These old guys have done very well, lol. Red Sox have 8 hits but only 2 runs, not a good combo. What has happened to Ramirez? He hasn’t done much lately. If Boston wins tonight, they’ll finish this short home stand 3-3, which I think is disappointing. D-Backs came into this series struggling. What has happened to the Red Sox bats with guys in scor. pos. ? They were guranteed runs, not lately.

Has Wakefield broken a sweat yet?

These NASCAR guys crack me up.
Non
Athletic
Sport
Centered
Around
Red Necks.

That is what NASCAR stands for. LOL…..

Juan Cruz blew that fastball right by Ramirez. I assume the scouting report on Ramirez is high heat, he has trouble with the fastball up in the zone. That has been going on for almost 2 years now. The facts are the facts!!! I can see that sitting here watching the game on t.v. Don’t have to be a genius to figure that one out, lol.

I am so frustrated with Manny. It seems like the minute a man gets on base, his average goes from .300 to .009. He strikes out like crazy, grounds out the other half of the time and does nothing for the team. It’s now June and Manny is starting to feel like J.D. Drew as of late. What happened to the Manny of 2007?

Francona has made the right move, no Okajima in the 8th. I think this job as the set-up guy is Delcarmen’s to lose.

Three strike outs today for Manny. All the man does is strike out and ground out and when he hits, it’s one that doesn’t count. It’s just depressing to see him decay like this. We are all beating up on Timlin but what about Manny?

Speaking of Manny. Manny Delcarman is throwing 99 mph. Wow!

Who goes in the ninth. Honestly, I think Manny D. could be another closer as well. So far the job is not his because of his slow start but who knows.

Dave,

Comparing Ramirez to Timlin is apples and oranges. Timlin has had very little success this year and struggled last year as well. Ramirez is on pace to hit 30 H.R.’S ( He’ll probably lead the team in that category ) drive in over 100 runs ( chances are he’ll lead the team in that category as well ) He has really struggled as of late but I am not going to beat on him like I do Timlin. If the Red Sox want to go anywhere, they will need production from Ramirez. Timlin whether he is on the Red Sox or not, means nothing. I would prefer too see Timlin turn it around like he did last year.

Young and Upton both had balls hit there gloves. Those odd dimensions at Fenway are playing tricks with the young D’Backs outfielders. Crisp with 3 doubles, imagine that.

Dave,

Papelbon is the closer!!!! Delcarmen is the set-up guy, the bridge to Papelbon.

Kevin Cash puts one on the streets of Boston, gotta love it!!!!

bosoxbrian,

They say anything can happen in baseball — tonight is the quintessential example of that idea. Cash….Cash…hits a homer. That’s like Lugo going one month without an error!

Incidentally. what I was thinking of is the idea that Delcarman be the closer instead of Papelbon having to go three days in a row — which of course hasn’t happened lately has it?

Dave,

If Papelbon pitched tonight ( I don’t think he will now without a save on the line ) it would be his second straight night, he didn’t pitch on Monday night.

Cash with a H.R. and Crisp with 3 doubles, Lugo on base twice tonight. That has to happen from time to time, other guys need to step it up. Cash turned on that pitch, good for him. He also threw out a runner as well. Wakefield was dynamite tonight!!!!

Dave,

I think Lugo could go a week without an error and that would be pushing it, lol.

Walking the leadoff guy when you are up 5-0, that is what drives managers/pitching coaches to drink.

Hansen either looks real good or shaky. Hansen couldn’t even finish the game, all he had was a 5 run lead. I didn’t like how Hansen was pitching, he seemed to be nibbling out there. Be more aggressive!!!!

Oh no, Hanson how could you??? Load the bases!!!!

That was the easiest save for Papelbon.

bosoxbrian,

I agree and with a day of rest, he’ll be ready for the Astrodome. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay keeps winning mowing down Florida.

Wakefield was incredible. He’s the most underrated pitcher on the Red Sox and endured some crappy loses. His record does not reflect the year he is having.

It was good to see the Sox get these last two games of the homestand after dropping three of the first four. The team can use this day off. It would be nice to see a sweep in Houston. The pitching matchups favor Boston, but you never know what will happen in the hitters haven of Minute Maid Park (remember when it was Enron Field?).

Looks like Wakefield will start one of the three games at Tampa Bay. This is good news with his success there, and the way he has thrown the ball in his last six starts. I imagine that Masterson and Dice-K will start the other two games.

I’m really excited about Chris Smith. He has done well in a brief stint after six seasons in the minors. Hopefully he can serve as the long reliever. I am not enthused about Mike Timlin’s planned return for the series at Yankee Stadium. Without Timlin, Okajima is the only weak link.

Jeff
http://www.soxandpinstripes.com

I am extremely pleased that the Sox won the last two games (should have won Game 1) keeping up with the Rays. With an off day today, the Sox lead may cut down to 1/2 game. Rays are playing against the hapless Pirates for the weekend series. Who knows what could happen after the weekend as far as the standing is concerned. We know the Rays are not likely to lose the series to Pitt.
I am nevrous to see Hansen, Timlin, Lopez, and Okajima pitch. When Tmlin returns, Chris Smith will be sent down. Ideally I’d like to see the staff: SP – Beck, Dice-K, Lester, Wakefield, Colon/Masterson.
BP: Papalbon, Masterson, Delcarman, Ardsma, Smith, and you pick the remaining spot.

007chow, it is rare when the Sox do not have a seven-man bullpen, so you would have two open spots. You’re not happy with Lopez? The guy has been effective this season. I think Hansen has pitched much better in the last few weeks, though he wasn’t able to finish last night. The bullpen is looking much better, with the exception of Okajima. I imagine Smith will be sent down when Timlin is activated, but I have a feeling he will be back with the Red Sox in the second half of the season. I agree that Smith is a better addition than Timlin.

Jeff
http://www.soxandpinstripes.com

I think Timlin should be given a chance to turn it around but if his struggles continue. I think the Red Sox should release him. Timlin turned it around last year, I hope he can do it again this year.

Jeff:
I am not unhappy with Lopez, just have the uneasy feeling seeing him pitch in a close game with runner(s) on base. I know he got the done lately. When Colon and Timlin are activated, Masterson and Smith will be sent down. But We have a comfortable feeling that M & C are just a phone call away in case Colon falters and Timlin doesn’t turn around.

The entire Sox bullpen has been inconsistent. You have guys like Aardsma, Hansen and DelCarmen with unhittable stuff who can’t find the strike zone half the time and get themselves into trouble. Other nights, like last night with DelCarmen, it’s lights out. You just never know what you’re going to get when you go to the bullpen.

Manny is no different than most hitters. He’s going through a bit of a tough time right now. He hasn’t been able to catch up with a good fastball for a couple of years now. Almost everything he hits goes to center or right. If he pulls a ball, he either guessed right or it’s off speed. When it’s all said and done this year, he’ll likely be right around .300 with 30-35 HR and 100-110 RBI. Unfortunately, those aren’t $20 million dollar numbers and if that’s where he is, I could see the Sox passing on his option next year. They have already proven they can win with one big bopper in the lineup and Ellsbury, Crisp and Drew make a mighty nice looking outfield.

Speaking of Drew, he seems to have cooled off a little but he has been brilliant in the outfield. He sure is smooth out there.

Facing Houston tommorow and the Red Sox are going to see an old friend, Cecil Cooper.
Dice-K is going to hit again, and we all now what happened last time he hit (He is going to hit if he doesn’t struggle again.)

I wonder when they are going to call Buchholz up. I saw that he has a E.R.A in the 1s in Pawtucket

Garza no hits Marlins through 5 and the Rays are up 5 runs.

What a way to kick-off the 2nd half of the season? Its hard to believe the SOX are only down 1 game from their record last year at this time (2008 49-32, 2007 50-31). Shows how much better the other clubs in our division (especially the Rays) are doing this year.

A quick tune up in Houston (one would hope) and then three with Rays and three with the Yanks — is this the first defining point in the season?

The Rays entered Boston a 0.5 game up the beginning of this month, got swept, and left 1.5 games back. Seems like the SOX are likely to enter Tampa 0.5 games up (or behind again), but neither team has one a game in the opponents home ball park yet this year? And then we have three with the Yanks after that?

Any predictions of where the SoX will stand (a) after Tampa and (b) after New York? I am not too crazy about pitching match ups in Tampa — but hopefully we can get at least one (Wakefields game).

I am no good at this prediction stuff, and I may try below — but I think it was BoSOXBrian who said once, just do the math… and you can see the SOX will be in — so here goes…

If the SOX actually do as well in the 2nd half as the did in the 1st half (and one would think they can, the 2nd half is likely to have less injury setbacks than the first) — then they will win 98 game this year (49+49) — two better than they did last year, and may be good enough to win the division.

I do think the SOX will be stronger in the 2nd half than the first, and they have more home games, schedule less crazy, so the possibility of the 2nd half being as good as or better than the 1st half is pretty high.

Nevertheless for the record, and just because I haven’t a clue: I will predict:

(1) SOX enter Tampa 0.5 games
(2) SOX leave Tampa 1.5 games behind Tampa (1 of 3)
(3) SOX take 1 of 3 in NY
(4) Recover in 2nd half, get more players back
(5) SOX end season 99-63 to win the division

Should we start a bragging rights lottery on season ending records?

For anyone who actually read my last post, for my first prediction, I meant (1) Sox enter Tampa 0.5 games behind — meaning that the Rays sweep Pittsburgh, and SOX take 2 of 3 in Houston — then the rest of my math adds up, I believe.

You can’t call Buchholz up. It would force Matsusaka to the bullpen!

Gsm,

I think your observations about Aardsma, Delcarmen and Hansen are dead on. I totally agree and that is what frustrates me about those guys. If you don’t have the talent ( Snyder comes to mind ) you are who you are and you will never be any good. The other three have powerful arms and should dominate when they come in. Especially with Varitek as your catcher and Farrell as your pitching coach. I understand there will be times when they don’t have there best stuff but at least throw strikes!!! Delcarmen has been pitching really well as of late but with him you never know. Aardsma has been pitching well lately. Hansen should get better as the season moves along. Hansen is still a little wet behind the ears. My confidence in Oki is at ZERO. Smith looks good so far but he hasn’t had many appearances for me to get too excited. Lopez has been solid so far but when he comes into a tight game late, I still cringe like most fans. He is getting lefties out though, unlike last year. I still would like too see Theo add another arm to the pen. Then again, it could happen within the organization. That would be ideal. We all know what happened last year when he dealt for a reliever in late July, lol.

As long as it’s an off day, I hope no one will mind if I make an observation on one of the Cardinal players: Rick Ankiel. Did I spell his last name right? Well, anyway, this is the same kid who had that breathtaking meltdown in the playoffs a few years ago with the Cardinals. He was throwing pitches 20 feet over the catcher’s head. It was the most epic, stupendous, astonishing loss of control I have witnessed on the national stage. It was the Odyssey and the Iliad of embarrassment, he had to feel about two inches tall. And yet he was able to remake himself into an outfielder in the same organization and eventually return to the Bigs as the everyday center fielder on a pretty good team. And he has some pop in his bat. Plus he was able to overcome some personal problems involving his dad, who apparently spent time in prison. I have a lot of admiration for this kid. He’s had a tough row to hoe and he never gave up. Good for him, I say.

Hey, I have a question for you knowledgeable baseball fans. How can you get to the Majors and have such control issues; as in Delcarmen, Hanson, etc? I mean, there is a strikezone in the minors, no? College? High school? So these guys have spent their entire lives throwing strikes. I would suspect that success on any level of pitching would involve throwing strikes. So is the Major league strikezone smaller? Is the plate smaller? I know that MLB hitters would have a better eye at the plate, but still, if you could throw strikes to your college opponents why not to major leaguers? That’s my question, what’s going on here?

Batters below the Major League level are notoriously impatient and prone to swing at pitches just near the plate!

Arnie, young pitchers try to be too perfect. The end result is they get behind in the count which results in walks or having to back down a little to get the ball over the plate. In either case, the end result is trouble. The other issue is overthrowing. They feel like in the big leagues they are facing better hitters (which is true) and they have to throw harder (which is not true). When that happens mechanics break down and so does control. Believe it or not, when you overthrow, you can’t throw as hard. If you see Del Carmen having control issues and throwing 94-95, he’s probably trying to throw too hard. When I played the term was “humping up” and you wind up being tense and unable to get that good fluid motion. That inning Del Carmen pitched the other night was beautiful. He was so smooth, relaxed with perfect mechanics. The result was 99 mph strikes. You can see it in someone like him…..he looks like he’s hardly working. Guys like Aardsma, Hansen and Beckett are the same way.

The plate is the same size, and the strike zone is the same no matter where you pitch. What happens to these guys is all in their heads and like Beckett and Papelbon, they will outgrow it.

Thanks a lot, that makes sense. Major league mystique gets in their heads and they try to enhance what got them there and it blows up in their face. I have to agree Delcarmen looked like a completely different pitcher on Wednesday. Thanks again. Oh, and by the way, Gsm, I’ve read a lot of what you’ve written over the last year or two, three? and you have a great way of expressing yourself and explaining, clearly and concisely, the finer points of baseball. You sure help me enjoy the games more thoroughly.
I enjoy reading all the other entries, too. This blog enhances my Sox experience and makes me feel less alone here in Rockies/Broncos country.

A major league hitter can hit any pitch if he knows what is coming. The issue with the young pitchers is confidence. Attacking the strike zone while the ball has no movement is just like throwing BP. A major league hitter can hit a straight 100 mph fast ball at any time.

007, there are analysts and other non baseball playing people that will lead you to believe a major leaguer can hit a 100 mph fast ball if he knows it’s coming. Personally, I don’t believe it. If he gets to stand up there and look at five or six pitches, he might be able to get the timing. Even then, he has to guess location. For a hitter to square up a 100 mph pitch, a lot of things have to go right. Now if a hitter knows a pitch is coming 100 mph, thigh high, right down the middle, he might square up two or three out of ten and hit the ball hard.

You watch a guy like Del Carmen or Papelbon pitch and you can see that the only time they get nailed on a fast ball is if its thigh high, or lower and right down the middle. If it’s belt high or higher, batters simply can’t catch up with it. It’s much easier to swing a bat at a low pitch. If it’s out of the middle of the strike zone, they can’t react to location. Mariano Rivera is the quintisential (a big word I learned from Dave) example. He throws the same pitch, at the same speed, in practically the same location all the time. Everyone knows it’s coming, and very few can hit it. He saws off more bats than any pitcher I’ve ever seen. He’s not overpowering (93-95), but he’s successful. The only time he gets beat is when he gets that cutter in the middle of the plate. Hitters are either unwilling or unable to adjust to him.

Thanks for the kind words Arnie. I really love baseball and I study it (especially pitching) very closely. Pitching is like everything else in life. You learn enough about it to be successful, after it’s too late to be successful or as my older brother would say, “Experience occurs right after you need it.”

gsm52,

This has been a great discussion on pitching. Really enjoyed it. Can you confirm my list on pitches:

4 seam fastball,
2 seam fastball e.g. (cutter, splitter, cut fastball, forkball, etc.)
split finger fastball
sinker,
changeup,
circle changeup,
curveball,
slider,
screwball,
knuckleball,
palmball,

Did I get it right?

I don’t see a lot of present day pitchers throw screwball and palmball any more. Am I wrong? Dodgers’s Fernando Valenzuela threw a lot of screwballs and Boston’s Bob Stanley palmball.

Bobby Kielty is currently on the 7 day DL for Pawtucket — so maybe he is getting close to returning now. That was a long stint on the DL. I would sure like to see him back on the SOX roster, his r-handed bat, energy, and confidence — would benefit this club.

Buckholtz is tearing up the minor leagues…. I think it might be time to send Masterson back down for some tune up, and bring Buckholtz up, see how he does again??? Seems to me the opposing batters are figuring Masterson out just a bit, or he is starting to have little trouble sustaining his initial performance levels.

Is there any value/strategy in bringing up new arms late in the season, just soon enough for them to get comfortable, but late enough that other teams don’t know what to expect so much — seems like there is enough video around that this would not be the case, but showing your cards at the last possible moment can certainly be a good strategy.

It will be very interesting too see how Dice-K pitches tonight. I’m a little concerned about Dice-K. He was HORRIBLE last Saturday vs St. Louis. I would like too see his velocity up again and have him throw strikes. He fooled nobody his last start. The Cardinals have some healthy cuts!!!

The Red Sox play the Astros at the right time. The Astros are a team that has fallen apart in the last 2 weeks or so. Chacon trying to choke Ed Wade ( something Phillie fans have been trying to do for a long time–LOL ) From what you read they say Cecil Cooper has lost alot of respect in that clubhouse and some players are tuning him out. Boston should take 2 and I wouldn’t be surprised too see them sweep the Astros this weekend. It sounds like the Astros are a dysfunctional team right now.

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