Monday, April 12, 2010
SOX TAKE 2 OF 3 FROM ROYALS
It's hard to judge a team in April. It's even more difficult when they're playing the Royals. But I think based on preseason presumptions, as well as past performances, we can conclude a few things about the 2010 Red Sox:
#1: David Ortiz is struggling. His swings are ugly. He's slapping the ball, not driving it. His bat is out of control. He can still differentiate between balls and strikes. But he's swinging and missing at pitches he used to hit for doubles and homeruns. He is 2 for 18. He's struck out 5 times and walked only once. I'm not saying this is permanent, but he is struggling, and it is KILLING the middle of the lineup.
#2: Adrian Beltre is NOT struggling. He knocked in 3 runs Sunday afternoon, and he's hitting .400. He's going the opposite way, and hitting the ball on a line in that direction. He's protecting the outside of the plate. He'll come down to earth, but right now he's hitting the ball as well as he's capable of hitting it (without PEDs, that is).
#3: The bullpen blows. It is a mess out there. Okajima and Bard blew Friday's game. And on Sunday it was Ramon Ramirez who turned a relaxing 8-3 Sunday afternoon into an 8-6 near nail-biter. If the Sox' starters don't go 7+, going to the bullpen will be like playing Russian roulette.
So those 3 things are clear. There's not much the Sox can do about #3 except maybe move somebody to the pen to shore things up. Or make a mid-season acquisition.
But there is something they can do about #1 and #2. They need to move Ortiz down to 6th or 7th. Beltre needs to be hitting 5th. Not just for the sake of demoting Ortiz, but when a guy like Beltre is hitting like he has, you have to take advantage of it.
Just ask yourself right now, this afternoon in Minnesota, trailing by a run in the 7th, Pedroia on 2nd, Youkilis on 1st, with 2 outs. Who do you want at the plate? David Ortiz or Adrian Beltre? To me, the answer is blatantly clear.
Sox and Twins this afternoon at 4:10. Lester vs. Carl Pavano.
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner