Monday, August 24, 2009
Apparently Clay Buchholz pitches to the level of his opponents. Against Sabathia, Verlander, and Halladay, he allowed 4 earned runs in 19 innings (1.89 ERA). Against Jose Contreras, he allows 7 runs in 4.2 innings. Thankfully, Clay's next opponent will be Toronto's Ricky Romero, who's 11-5 with a 3.91 ERA.
Jose Contreras really sucks against the Red Sox. Even though he got charged with only 1 earned run, he was primarily responsible for Chicago's 3rd inning collapse. It was his error that allowed Ortiz to reach on a weak groundball, and his wild pitch allowed Youkilis to score the tying run.
We saw in this game why Billy Wagner would be a good addition to this team. The bullpen did an excellent job, pitching 4.1 innings and allowing only 1 run. But the fact that they HAD to pitch 4.1 innings is why adding another arm out there will help.
With 38 games left in the season, Papelbon's already made 52 appearances. Ramirez has made 55, Delcarmen has been in 51 games, and Okajima's made 56 outings. Having a guy like Wagner could help keep the bullpen fresh. With starters like Buchholz and Tazawa, who struggle to reach the 6th inning, the bullpen needs to be as deep as possible.
Jon Lester faces Freddy Garcia Tuesday night. Yes, Freddy Garcia's still knocking around out there.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
The Sox want Billy Wagner. The Mets want to dump Billy Wagner's contract. Billy Wagner doesn't want his $8M option for 2010 picked up. I don't see what the hold-up is.
Wagner can help bolster the Sox bullpen. The relatively innocuous comments from Jonathan Papelbon ("Has he pitched this year?) and Manny Delcarmen ("I think our bullpen is fine right now") notwithstanding, Wagner has 385 Saves in his career. He might turn out to be Eric Gagne 2.0, or he could bolster a bullpen that's lost it's early season form, and has been rundown by lackluster starters failing to go 7 innings.
There are some reports that Wagner's people (his agent has the laughably silly name of Bean Stringfellow) have made two conditions clear to the Red Sox:
1. They agree NOT to pick-up his 2010 option, so he can sign with a team as a closer.
2. That they do not offer him arbitration, allowing teams in 2010 to sign him without compensating the Red Sox with draft picks.
These are reasonable terms, to be sure. I don't want to spend $8M on Wagner in 2010. But the Red Sox denied being offered these conditions. So God knows what's actually going on.
But if the Sox make the playoffs, and subsequently do well in the playoffs, it will be because the starting pitching sorted itself out. It will be because of the return of Tim Wakefield, or perhaps Clay Buchholz finally settling in as a Major Leaguer. It will also be because JD Drew, Jason Bay, and David Ortiz figured out how to all hit at the same time.
This Billy Wagner situation might be more trouble than it's worth. Papelbon's comments aren't as bad as some have made them out to be, but they could just be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Then there's how much Eric Gagne struggled to figure out his new role.
New York Post
AP via WBZTV.com
Tim Wakefield will return to the rotation Wednesday night. Victor Martinez will catch him, and he'll replace Brad Penny. Penny will be shifted to the bullpen to be used as a long-reliever.
This move makes sense, except why didn't the Sox use Smoltz in this role? Brad Penny has made 4 relief appearances in his career. Smoltz has made 242. Opponents were hitting .230 off Smoltz the first time they faced him. Of the 8 homeruns Smoltz allowed, 0 came the first time thru a lineup. Opponent OPS for Smoltz the first time thru was a meager .597. For Penny, it's .789.
Smoltz just seemed like a better choice for this role. He boasts 154 career saves, and also 4 postseason saves.
Penny leaving the rotation is fine, and he's probably better suited to be used in large-deficit games. It'll help save the other guys in the bullpen. But I just can't get over how the Sox could have a versatile guy like Smoltz and simply let him go just because he sucked as a starter. You spend a couple million dollars on the guy, at least see if he can contribute as a middle-reliever.
All the attention on Sunday's Mets/Phillies game will go to the game-ending unassisted triple play, but the real focus should be on Pedro Martinez'z 6 inning, 4 earned run win. Pedro's now 2-0 for the Phillies, in 3 starts. His no-decision was a 3 inning performance that was cut short by a rain delay.
I wish the Red Sox had signed him.
AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams
Smoltz made his Cardinals debut on Sunday. He struck out 9 in 5 innings of shutout work. 7 of those strikeouts came consecutively, setting a new franchise record. But it was against the worst hitting team in baseball: the San Diego Padres. They're averaging 3.82 runs per game, which is the worst in MLB. So I wouldn't look too much into Smoltz's performance.
AP Photo/Denis Poroy
Thank God Varitek was catching instead of Victor Martinez. Otherwise, Beckett might have had a bad start.
Josh Beckett's outing was one of the more bizarre I've seen from a starter in recent memory. It's rare that a guy goes 8 innings but also gives up 8 runs. It's really rare that Beckett (or anyone else) allows at least 1 run in each of the first 5 innings. In fact, it was the first time he's ever done it.
Apart from 7 to 10 atrocious pitches, Beckett wasn't too bad. But that's how good the Yankees' lineup is hitting these days. Anything less than perfection will turn into hard hits.
If the Red Sox don't have a Cy Young calibre Beckett to send out there every 5th day, they have little chance to win the Wild Card and if that somehow happens, they have NO chance to win a playoff series.
The division race is over. There are 39 games left, and a 7.5 game deficit isn't insurmountable, but I cannot fathom the Red Sox being able to trim 1 game off New York's divisional lead every time through the rotation.
The Red Sox now host the AL Central's 2nd place team, which is also the 6th place Wild Card team. The White Sox aren't as good as most 2nd place teams out there. They're only 2 over .500. The Red Sox are 7.5 games ahead of the White Sox in the Wild Card standings.
Jose Contreras vs. Clay Buchholz Monday night.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson