Monday, May 03, 2010
"RUN PREVENTION"=THE NEW "CLOSER BY COMMITTEE"
Oh the intrepid Red Sox, experimenting with the fundamentals of baseball, using equations to determine which outfielder should play where, and utilizing medical professionals so ingenious and ahead of their time that few contemporary doctors ever agree with their diagnoses.
It was "closer by committee" a few years ago. An idea which failed due to a lack of talent in the committee, rather than the notion itself. The likes of Chad Fox and Ramiro Mendoza weren't capable of mid-relief by committee, let alone closing. Put Rivera, Hoffman, Papelbon, and Nathan in the same pen, then closer by committee would excel. Almost as if having the skill makes the scheme a success.
And now it's "run prevention." Before the season, I accused the Sox Front Office of trying to pull the wool over our eyes, by feeding the public with a bunch of numbers that showed the Sox would clearly score fewer runs, but they'd also allow much fewer.
It's still early, but the Sox have actually scored a decent amount: 114 runs, 14th in the Majors. But they've allowed far too many, especially for a team allegedly built for "run prevention." 134 runs allowed, 4th most in the Majors.
This team has not been built for "run prevention." If it had been, Alex Gonzalez would've been retained at short-stop. He should've won last year's Gold Glove. If you're building for defense, why would you get rid of the best defensive player at the most important defensive position?
Which do you think prevents fewer runs? A Gold Glove calibre center-fielder or a strong bullpen? Well the Sox have one of these. The one that isn't the answer. And Clay Buchholz isn't the answer to the pen's numerous problems. That unit is more than one piece shy of completing the puzzle.
And the rotation could hardly afford to lose Buchholz. Because Daisuke Matsuzaka is a complete unknown. Everything about him is a question mark. His health, his attitude, his durability, his control. It's cute that he can throw 8 different pitches, but can he PITCH just 3 good ones? Another example of the experimentalist Sox toying with the fundamentals of the game.
This team will improve, but not by much. Just enough to be able to beat the likes of Baltimore and Toronto. Victor Martinez is not a .233 hitter. JD Drew isn't a .215 hitter. David Ortiz isn't a .159 hitter (he's a .238 hitter). Lester and Beckett are better than they've been.
But don't expect to make the playoffs. There are too many holes on offense. The pitching is solid, but it lacks Aces. It's like a hand in poker with lots of nice cards, maybe 4 to a flush or a straight, but it's insufficient, missed on the river. That's a good analogy actually. The starters might give 6 or 7 good innings, give your hand some explosive potential on the flop and turn, but the bullpen bricks on the river.
Besides, the rotation is nowhere near good enough to contain the explosive offenses in New York and Tampa Bay. At least not enough to allow the Sox' mediocre offense to prevail.
Call me pessimistic, but how many days until pitchers and catchers report in 2011?