Sunday, May 28, 2006


The extended series between the Red Sox and (Devil) Rays has been a good one, overall. Schilling got his 200th career win on Saturday night. More on that later. Papelbon also tied a Red Sox record with 18 consecutive Saves to start a season. The Sox have also won all three games by a combined score of 18-9.

It hasn't been all good news out of Fenway Park. Friday night saw David Wells get nailed by a line drive up the middle. Unluckily, the ball struck Wells on his right knee, the same knee he has had such trouble with all year. Wells had been doing very well in only his second start of the season. He had thrown 4.1 innings, allowing a sole earned run. He was only 53 pitches deep and looked as though he could have gone at least 6 innings. Then he got hit. It was a freak thing.

The news on Wells is that he suffered a deep contusion in the knee. In other words, a bone bruise. This was the initial diagnosis and was confirmed by MRI. Wells hasn't been scratched from his next start on Wednesday in Toronto, but Francona described the possibilities of him making that start to be an "outside chance." Wells might be skipped over in the rotation and make a start in the Yankees series in the beginning of June.

Crisp will be in the lineup for Sunday's game against the (Devil) Rays. Crisp was 1 for 3 in his lone rehab start for AAA Pawtucket on Saturday. He also walked and had 2 RBI. The move is a surprise, Crisp was expected to be activated tomorrow at the outset of the road trip. However, Crisp's crispness in his rehab start, and some injury trouble in the outfield may have induced the early activation. Crisp will bat leadoff tonight.

Willy Mo Pena has been scratched from the lineup a few times as of late due to trouble with his wrist. The move coincides with Crisp's activation. Pena had been hitting well, although his fielding has never impressed the Fenway Faithful. He hit .354 in the month of May, including a very impressive .403 against righthanded pitching.

When David Wells was activated off the 15 Day DL, Dustan Mohr was sent down to Pawtucket. Mohr never really did much for us. In 40 at-bats he was able to record 7 hits for a .175 average. He did knock out 2 homeruns, but only 3 total RBI.

The outfield right now will be Manny in left, Coco in center, and Trot in right. However, Manny reportedly has a sore back. We all know the history Manny has with injuries and suspicious missed playing time, so that is subject to change. At the moment, the 4th outfielder is Willie Harris. Harris has an average of .129 this season. Essentially, he is a pinch runner and a defensive replacement.

As a 5th outfielder, the Red Sox demonstrated a willingness to use Kevin Youkilis in left field. This might only be in Fenway Park, and this would also only occur in emergency situations such as last night when Pena and Manny were sitting. Cora could also be another possibility in the outfield.

I think we need to be carrying 5 outfielders, especially when one of them can't hit lefthanded pitching, one is coming off the DL, one is complaining of a sore back, and one can't even hit his own weight even though he is listed at 170.

The Sox might want to consider calling up Ron Calloway from AAA Pawtucket. The 30 year old lefty is batting .326 with the Paw Sox. He hasn't hit any homers, but he's stolen 6 bases. I think he might be a decent enough standby outfielder until Pena can come off the DL.

Another possibility a bit later in the season is Gabe Kapler. Gabe is rehabbing down in Fort Myers with the Sox. He might be a player the Sox add as a 4th or 5th outfielder later in the season. Kapler always seemed to contribute somehow when he was put in the lineup or out on the field.

Right now, the Red Sox lineup does not include Manny Ramirez. Here is today's lineup:

1. CF Coco Crisp
2. 2B Mark Loretta
3. DH David Ortiz
4. 1B Kevin Youkilis
5. 3B Mike Lowell
6. C Doug Mirabelli
7. RF Trot Nixon
8. SS Alex Gonzalez
9. LF Willie Harris

Not very intimidating. If we lose Manny or Ortiz for an extended period of time, our lineup takes a huge hit. Anyway, I think this is how the lineup SHOULD look when Manny is healthy:

1. CF Coco Crisp
2. 2B Mark Loretta
3. 1B Kevin Youkilis
4. DH David Ortiz
5. LF Manny Ramirez
6. RF Trot Nixon
7. 3B Mike Lowell
8. C Jason Varitek
9. SS Alex Gonzalez

I know it pushes back Ortiz and Ramirez, but Loretta, Youkilis, and Crisp combined would be phenomenal table setters. If one of them isn't hitting that well, they can be shuffled to the bottom of the order and Ortiz and Manny can move up a spot. The thing is, both Youkilis and Loretta are hitting well, and I think it'd be a shame to move one to the bottom of the lineup where their ability to get on base would be relatively wasted.

Thursday's 4-1 win was a solid victory. In fact, it was a Flawless Victory with Jonathan "Fatality" Papelbon closing the door. We did leave 15 men on, but we also had 18 baserunners, so leaving men is inevitable.

The Man of the Game is Josh Beckett who went 6 scoreless, striking out 7 for his 4th straight win.

Friday's 8-4 win was not a Flawless Victory, but a win nonetheless. The Sox finally beat Scott Kazmir. The bullpen did their best to blow it, but the offense kept hitting.

The Man of the Game is Mike Lowell who was 3 for 4 with a double, a homer, 2 RBI and 2 Runs scored. He had his 29th extra basehit, and his 29th RBI. He's been quite a pickup.

Saturday's 6-4 win was closer than it should have been. The Sox missed a few big opportunities to have big innings. Schilling pitched well, but not stellarly, allowing 4 earned in 7 innings.

The Man of the Game is Kevin Youkilis who got on base 4 times going 2 for 3 with 2 singles and a pair of walks. He scored 3 times in what might have been his last start in the leadoff spot.

Curt got his 200th career win on Saturday. He is now tied for 105th all time in wins. He's got a career record of 200-133 (.601 win %). He's got a 3.41 career ERA which is good considering the hitter's era he now pitches in. He's got a career WHIP of 1.126, which is pretty good. If he pitches next season, he might finish his career with about 220 to 230 wins and 3,000+ strikeouts. 230 wins would put him in the top 60 all-time, and 3,000 Ks would put him in a club with 9 Hall of Famers, and 4 future Hall of Famers. The only retired player with 3,000 or more strikeouts that isn't in the Hall of Fame is Bert Blylevin, who very well could be in the Hall with 287 career wins.

A big thing Curt has going for him is his post-season record. He is 7-2 in the playoffs, with one of those losses being Game 1 of the 2004 ALCS when he suffered the ankle injury. He has a 2.06 post-season ERA. In 15 starts, he's completed 4 games, and pitched 109.1 innings, or 7.1 per start. In World Series play, he is 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA. His starts include a complete game shutout. His post-season WHIP is 0.924. He won the NLCS MVP in 1993 with Philadelphia, and won the 2001 World Series MVP with Arizona. As we all know, he has two World Series rings.

Schilling's been an All-Star 6 times. He won the Lou Gehrig Award in 1995 (other winners include Musial, Spahn, Brooks Robinson, Banks, Rose, Aaron, Killebrew, Stargell, Bench, Sutton, Niekro, Schmidt, Brett, Ozzie Smith, Ripken Jr, Molitor, and Tony Gwynn). In 2001, Schilling won the Babe Ruth Award, the Branch Rickey Award, the Hutch Award, and the Roberto Clemente Award. He was named NL Pitcher of the Year by the Sporting News in 2001 and again in 2002.

Although Curt has never won a Cy Young, he has finished 2nd in the voting on 3 occasions, twice to teammate Randy Johnson. He has the 2nd best career WHIP amongst active players, behind only Pedro Martinez. He is also 34th all-time in WHIP. Fifteen of the players ahead of him are in the Hall. Schilling is also 7th all-time in strikeouts per 9 innings. He is 15th all-time in strikeouts. He has the 3rd best strikeout to walk ratio in history.

So is he a Hall of Famer? I think he is, but not a first ballot Hall of Famer. He has very good career numbers, and his post-season pitching should push him over the top, but the lack of Cy Youngs, of ERA titles, and the fact that for the best years in his career he has been a #2 pitcher behind Johnson or Martinez, might make voters think twice.

I think if he has one more good season and gets to 230 wins, and 3,100 strikeouts, he'll make it in. He does have an advantage (kind of) in that he pitches in the era of steroids and hitter's ballparks. This might cause voters to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially if they're staring at a ballot that has his name next to Rafael Palmeiro's name on it.