Monday, April 02, 2007


The line is forming on the Zakim Bridge in Boston. Let's not blow this loss out of proportion, people. Let's blow it proportionally.

Schilling sucked, Meche was lights out. Nuf Said. The game was over by the 2nd inning. Schilling extended his first inning struggles, Meche calmed down his struggles.

I was forced to watch this game on ESPN. I wasn't too pissed off, it's nice when I can see the Sox on TV in Ithaca. Then Jon Miller and Joe Morgan came on the screen and my heart sank. Miller's got a great voice, and he's a great radio announcer, but on TV I think the way he comments on games is not interesting or confounding. Example: when Ortiz was up with 2 on, 1 out in the 8th, Miller said "I think a homerun here kills the rally." Homeruns ARE rallies in one fell swoop. Yeah, a series of 7 or 8 singles in a row makes the rally longer and therefore seem more productive, but I'll take a 3 run homer instead.

And Joe Morgan is just an idiot. He's worse than Madden. I was watching the Mets-Cardinals game on Sunday night and he declared that "Infield defense is the most important part of any team." Forget pitching, forget hitting, it's guys who do what Joe Morgan did, those are the things that matter. Morgan has no clue when it comes to anything but middle infield defense and line drive hitting. He knows what he knows, and that's it. When he says what pitch a pitcher should throw, he's almost always wrong in his prediction, and his reasoning makes no sense.

The only thing worse than listening to Miller and Morgan for 9 innings was watching Curt Schilling for 4 innings. Wow, he looked bad. He was dull, very dull. Not boring. Dull. His curveballs were horrendously awful. They almost never hit the right spots, nor did they break in any good way. He had difficulty throwing early strikes, and he depended on his 91 MPH fastball entirely too much. Hopefully this was just a one time thing. Otherwise, he may have to become a full time blogger very soon.

Meche was very very good. We didn't exactly hit well, but Meche did a great job at making the Sox hitters look like minor leaguers. The Sox got 8 hits, 6 of which were singles. One was a meaningless double by Lowell late in the game. One single was Pedroia's, who got thrown out trying to extend it to a double. Understandable considering the left-fielder was a transplanted first-baseman.

Nobody in our lineup really looked that good. Varitek, Lugo, and Crisp stuck out, but the fact of the matter was that the entire lineup had a bad day. Meche pitched well, give him credit for it.

We did get an opportunity to see a lot of our bullpen today. Lopez was great, Donnely looked good against one batter, Okajima gave up a massive homer but was otherwise good, Pineiro looked washed up on the mound, Romero's 0.2 innings were in garbage time.

As some of you may know, after each game I award The Man of the Game and sometimes the Bitch-Goat. The Man of the Game goes to the most outstanding player of the game, on either team, regardless of which team won. The Bitch-Goat is an allocation of blame for the Red Sox losing. In a loss, I divide the number 1 into tenths and distribute them to different players based on how I much I feel they were responsible for us losing. This season, I'm adding a category called Honorable Mentions. These are for performances that stood out, but weren't the most outstanding. I'll award up to 3 of these a game.

The Man of the Game for the 7-1 loss was Gil Meche. He went 7.1 innings, scattered 6 hits, allowed 1 earned run, only walked 1, and struck out 6. He had a rough 1st inning but settled down by the 2nd.

The Bitch-Goat shall be divided thusly:
Curt Schilling: 0.9 - 4 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 5 ER, looked awful.
Manny Ramirez: 0.1 - 0 for 4, K, 2 LOB, GIDP

So this means that in my eyes Curt gets 90% of the blame for the loss, Manny gets 10%. In reality, Manny doesn't deserve a full 10% for this one, but someone on the offense has to take it, in my opinion.

Honorable Mention goes to Mark Grudzielanek. He went 3 for 5 with a double, 3 RBI, and 2 runs scored.

Honorable Mention goes to Tony Pena Jr. who went 2 for 3 with a pair of triples, knocked in a run, scored a run, walked, and had some nice defensive plays.

Honorable Mention goes to Joel Peralta who pitched the last 1.2 innings, striking out 4 Red Sox in a row.

The one thing that sucks about losing on Opening Day is that off day before the next game. You spend October, November, December, January, February, and March waiting for real baseball and some redemption from last season, then your team loses and you have to wait until Wednesday before they play again.

Beckett vs. Odalis Perez on Wednesday night.


Overrall the Sox look good for 2007. Certain things need to fall in place for us. We need the top of the order to get on base. We need Drew to give us some offensive production. We need Manny and Ortiz to continue being Manny Ortez. We need to score around 900 runs this season. We need our starting pitchers to step-up. And we need somebody from the bullpen to emerge and clarify the final few innings of games for us.

I think this team will have a shaky start, but will eventually be cohesive and successful. We'll win 95 games, which may or may not be good enough for a playoff spot. I think it will win us a Wild Card. I think we'll make it to the ALCS and lose, simply because Schilling will be worn down, as will Papelbon and Timlin. Hopefully I'm right that we'll make it to the ALCS, and hopefully I'm wrong that we'll lose.

Schilling vs. Meche, Boston vs. Kansas City at 4:10 this afternoon.

I, for one, am very excited. GO SOX!


You'd think with a player payroll of $150+ million, there wouldn't be so many baffling questions flying around The Fens. You'd think that we'd have a few things that were dependable. Maybe not sure things, but close enough.

The fact that the most dependable player in the bullpen is a guy who the Sox originally didn't want in the bullpen because they were concerned about his health is very telling.

We all know Papelbon is the closer. And we all know he has the same birthday as me. And we all know he had an ERA of 0.92. 0.92!!! I never stop getting amazed at that number. He had a WHIP of 0.776. That number is also quite amazing. e struck out 75 and walked 13 (5.77:1 ratio). He struck out 75 in 68.1 IP (9.88 K/9IP). He was amazing.

There's nothing to suggest he won't be anything but amazing in 2007. The only worry is his health. I think you'll see him almost never used to get more than 3 outs. I think you'll never see him in a game more than two nights in a row, or more than 3 or 4 nights a week.

Last August, Papelbon's ERA "skyrocketed" from 0.51 at the end of July to 0.93 by August 31st. It got as "high" as 1.00 at one point. The fact that his ERA peaked at 1.00 is extremely impressive.

I think/hope/pray he'll be healthy. I'm seeing 40 saves, 7 blown saves, 1.25 ERA, 80 Ks.

And then there's the rest of the bullpen...

The primary set-up man will eventually be Mike Timlin. He starts the season on the 15 Day DL, but is expected to return shortly. But he won't be the every day go to guy he's been in the past for us. After 961 appearances and over 1,000 innings, he just isn't capable of being the 80 appearance work horse the Sox have ridden in the 8th inning. I think he'll have a good year, but his appearances will be capped at 50, probably ending up in the 40 to 45 range. I think he'll have a solid 3.60 ERA, and he'll give us some of our tougher holds, but he won't be giving us the 20+ holds we're used to getting from him.

Next is Brendan Donnelly. His ERA has risen each of the past 4 seasons. He's not as good as he was a few years ago with the LA/Anaheim/California/Orange County/San Diego/Oakland Angels, but I think he'll do well in Boston. When we signed him, I thought it was a good acquisition. He's hardly a lights out set-up man, but he'll do.

Donnelly will fill in a bit of Timlin's role, particularly early in the season. He'll get about 60+ appearances and will essentially be our 1B set-up RHP. If Timlin's available, and the game is real tight, we'll see Mike. If Timlin is not available, or it's the 7th inning, or the game isn't so tight, we'll see Donnelly. He'll give us a good 15 holds, and finish with an ERA of about 3.75.

And it just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it.

JC Romero is a guy that Sox fans have been clamoring for at the trade deadline every year except last year. He's only 30 years old so it's very possible that his 2006 performance was an abherration. His spring wasn't disastrous, but it wasn't impressive.

In the past, he's been amazing. In 2002, he had a 1.89 ERA and 33 holds in 81 innings of relief work. He also won 9 games that year. But since then, he's declined, resurged, and declines. He'll be used as a left-handed set-up man, being used in innings in which lefties are expected to bat. He did hold left handed hitters to a .202 average last season. But righties hit .382 off him. If he doesn't work out as a set-up pitcher, he can probably still be useful as a situational lefty.

If Romero struggles against righties, Javier Lopez might just step up to the set-up role. As it is, he is a middle-reliever. but he had a nice short season with the Sox last year and it should continue. He's been liberated from high elevation ballparks in Colorado and Arizona, and has done nicely at sea level.

Hideki Okajima will probably be the situational lefty to start out the season. What do I expect from him? I have no frigging idea. He's experienced, he's pitched for 10 years in NPB, and I've got no clue what he'll bring to the table. He could be a good middle-reliever/situational pitcher, he could be a total flop. But he'll be a cheap flop.

Speaking of flops: Joel Pineiro and Kyle Snyder will both see the words "Designated for assignmet" next to their names on transaction sheets within a few months. Snyder actually had a good spring, so he might last, but Pineiro has a very short amount of time to prove that he belongs on this team. They'll be long relievers/middle relievers.

Craig Hansen, Manny Delcarmen, Kason Gabbard, Clay Bucholz, Bryce Cox, Edgar Martinez, and Kyle Jackson. These are names of players who will probably be commuting all over I-95 from Portland to Pawtucket to Boston during the season.

Our bullpen has something I like to call "mediocre depth." This means we have a lot of guys who can fill roles in the pen, but few really stand out as truly filling those roles well, at least right now. The bullpen has many experiments, and by the middle of the season I think things will be very clear. We've got a lot of "risky" pitchers in the pen right now, and some untested younger players who could come up and contribute. Until then, we'll just have to hope our starters go 8 innings every time.