Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The Red Sox signed Mike Cameron to a 2 year deal worth $15.5 million. I'm not happy at all with this. I've never thought of Mike Cameron as more than a 6th hitter on mediocre teams. He's a significant downgrade from Bay. He can hit 25 homeruns, but he only hit for a .250 average. And it's weird to see the OBP obsessed Sox sign a guy with a .340 career mark in that category. He struck out 156 times last year.
He has a career .220 average in Fenway Park.
Right now, this is the horror show that is the Sox lineup.
1. CF Ellsbury
2. 2B Pedroia
3. 3B Youkilis
4. 1B V. Martinez
5. DH Ortiz
6. RF Drew
7. LF Cameron
8. SS Scutaro
9. C Varitek
Not too pleasant. But when Cameron-Scutaro-Varitek are due up, the fans at Fenway know they can hit the bathroom, grab a few beers, and not miss anything. So there's a silver lining to this ever-darkening cloud.
If the Lowell deal doesn't go through, the situation doesn't look as bad. Varitek won't be in the lineup. I'd take Lowell with both thumbs amputated over Varitek.
Hopefully the Red Sox trading Lowell, and signing Lackey (instead of trading for Halladay), means they're saving their prospects to make a move on a big hitting first baseman. That would change things around.
Nevertheless, there will still be Mike Cameron in the lineup, and that's just unfortunate.
I like Jason Bay. I'm a Jason Bay fan. When a player you hate gets traded (Manny), and his replacement has any measure of success, you're bound to have a new favorite on the team. Having the number 44 doesn't hurt either (see: Orlando Cabrera). Neither does going to Gonzaga (before it became cool).
I like Jason Bay's overall numbers. .267 average, .384 OBP, .537 SLG, .921 OPS. Very nice. 119 RBI, 36 HR. Excellent.
But was the Sox big offensive problem scoring runs in a 162 game stretch, or was it scoring runs consistently, day in, day out?
The Sox were 3rd in the AL with 872 runs. The Angels were only 9 ahead of them in 2nd, and only the Yankees were significantly above them with 915 runs. The Yankees, Angels, and Sox were also 1-2-3 in Major League Baseball for runs scored. The Sox scored 5.38 runs a game, more than 26 other clubs, and more than the 4.61 MLB average, and the 4.82 AL average. The Sox scored enough runs.
It was consistency. That was the problem with the offense. And if you want consistency, then don't look in Jason Bay's direction.
In June, he hit .230, with only 4 homers and 20 RBI. In July, he hit 1 homerun, and knocked in 5 runs, in 25 games. He hit .192. He was red hot in April and May. He warmed up again in August and September. Then he cooled off in October. In the ALDs, he was 1 for 8 with a single. He walked 3 times. 0 RBI.
Now all hitters are streaky hitters. Hot for a week, cold for a week. But Bay was hot for 2 months, cold for 2 months. And when Bay was having his worst struggles (July), the Sox went 13-12.
As I think more and more about Bay's inconsistency, I'm starting to reconsider my stance on the Sox re-signing him.
That's the best pun I could come up with involving John Lackey's name. Not very good, I know. More importantly, the Sox are in the midst of signing Lackey to a 5 year deal.
I'm pleased, and confused. I like Lackey, and I the Sox needed to solidify their rotation. Lester-Beckett-Lackey-Matsuzaka-Buchholz sounds so much better than Lester-Beckett-Matsuzaka-Buchholz-Wakefield. Lackey is the quintessential #3 starter on a quality rotation, and I don't like the idea of Matsuzaka being anything but a 4th starter.
Lackey's numbers aren't staggering, but he's kept his ERA below 4 in each of the last 5 seasons. In '07, he was 3rd in Cy Young voting, with a 19-9 record and a 3.01 ERA.
He has ample postseason experience, with 12 starts and 14 total appearances and a surprisingly low 3.12 playoff ERA. He won Game 7 of the '02 World Series as a rookie.
But he's had some injury problems the last two years, and hasn't surpassed the 180 inning mark. He's also 31, pretty much at his peak for a pitcher, and the 5 year deal he'll get will probably see him enjoy some of his declining years with a big salary.
I'm struggling to understand why a 31 year old #3 pitcher is worth 5 years and around $80 million, and a 31 year old mid-lineup hitter isn't worth 5 years and $75 million. If given the decision, I'd choose to keep Bay instead of add Lackey. And that's a big deal for me because I believe pitching is twice as important as offense.
That being said, if all of the Red Sox starters are as good as they can be, the Sox have the best rotation in baseball.
The Bruins' inconsistency is no longer inconsistent. It's becoming quite consistent and predictable. They'll play great hockey for a few games, knock in a few goals, then they'll try too hard to replicate similar scoring totals, and blow games against mediocre competition.
You've got to be able to beat teams like the Flyers at home. Philly is a 7/8/9 team these days, and on home ice, you absolutely must defeat a team on that level.
David Krejci had one of his worst games in a Bruins uniform. So many poor passes, so many times he didn't do the little things while trying to do the big things. When covering the point for a pinching defenseman, he couldn't keep the puck in the zone. When sitting in the crease, he didn't have his stick on the ice for the centering pass that came his way. Just an awful game.
And Blake Wheeler, he pulled his typical Blake Wheller shenanigans.
The B's really missed Lucic last night. They rarely won battles on the boards. Once Philadelphia realized that they were winning all these contests, they got more and more aggressive when the Bruins tried entering the zone.
Too many long passes for the Bruins. Straight passes too. No effort on the offensive breakout to form triangles, even skinny triangles. Short passes and triangles, that's what allows a standard offensive possession to develop into a scoring opportunity.
I think the Bruins will simplify things once again for their Friday night game in Chicago. The Blackhawks are 20-8-3 this year, with an impressive 13-3-1 record at home (best in the NHL).
But these hiccups will continue. And like the hiccups, they start off as a minor annoyance, then a major nuisance, and now they're a major pain.
Bruins @ Blackhawks Friday night.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa