19 August 2006

Top 10, Red Sox and a new review

Yesterday I went to San Francisco (specifically the Presidio), so no Shuffle for yesterday.

Instead, I'll throw my iPod top 10 here:

10 We are the Pipettes - the Pipettes
9 Country Roads - Me First & the Gimme Gimmes
8 9mm and a Three Piece Suit - Catch 22
7 Do You Remember? - Cars Can Be Blue
6 Lloyd, I'm Ready to be Heart Broken - Camera Obscura
5 Proletariat Blues - the Blue Scholars
4 Capture with a Magnet - the Thermals
3 No Culture Icons - the Thermals
2 Hips Don't Lie - Shakira
1 2wice - Mission of Burma

Ok, here is my real thought for today. We're going old school and talking Red Sox.

They're done for 2006. Sorry, but it had to be said. I'm not being a pessimist, I'm not trying to be a kneejerk fan, but they're done. When you play your closest rival and you let them score 36 runs in the first 23 innings [edit: make that 39 runs in 27 innings] of the series, you're done. Now, unlike a lot of Red Sox fans who are ready to throw Theo Epstein under a bus, I stand firmly behind Theo. He has a plan that goes well beyond 2006 and he's sticking to it in the face of all the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the Boston press, the Sons of Sam Horn, and all the various Boston sports idiots. Sure, it stings to see the Yankers hoard more players and run away with an AL East that looked like it was for the taking by the Sox. However, things just didn't pan out: injuries beset the Sox, especially the devasting loss of Varitek; young pitchers hit their rookie wall (Delcarmen, Hansen, Lester and Papelbon to a lesser degree) and the offense was a different type of offense that might not be able to bounce back as quickly as previous editions.

What are the key problems for the Red Sox right now.

1. Terry Francona needs to learn to manage a pitching staff - I can't even count how many times he's sent a starter (especially Beckett) back out there to pitch when they've been (a) shaky throughout the game and (b) at or near 100 pitches. Why? To instill confidence but letting them get shelled? Sure, the bullpen is thin, but destroying your starters will not help the bullpen. Francona needs to not keep trotting the starter out there when its obvious that, probablisitically, this inning will be a tipping point as they hit 100 pitches. He also needs to have pitchers ready to get starters out of jams when he feels he needs to trot the starter out there again. Today's game was a microcosm of this pattern, where Francona brought Beckett out for the 6th inning after Beckett had already given up 5 runs to the Yankers and was at 97 pitches. What happens? Beckett loads the bases and walks in the go-ahead run (and ends up throwing 121 pitches). Finally, Francona brings in Delcarmen with the bases loaded and the rookie pitcher walks in a run, then gives up a 3 run triple to Jorge Posada. A 5-5 game becomes a 10-5 deficit. Would this have happened if Francona brought Delcarmen in to start the inning? Who knows, but I would like to hope it might not have gotten so out of had.

2. The front office needs more bench depth - The bench has been weak this year: Cora, Kapler, Mirabelli are the main off the bench hitters. Mirabelli was a panic move after Josh Bard couldn't catch Wakefield. Cora has played above his projections, but Kapler seems to be a sentimental favorite rather than a practical one. Other players to grace the bench were Willie Harris, who lost 1 if not 2 games on the bases and Adam Stern, who couldn't get his WBC magic back.

3. The Boston Press/fans need to learn that the Sox will not win it all every year - Funny how the win in 2004 has made many Sox fans and most of the press even more insufferable. They expect that the 2004 magic should happen all the time and that the "WIN NOW" mentality should exist every year. 2004 was a unique season for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the free agency of Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra. Without these events, I don't think the Sox front office would have pushed so hard to win that year. Sox fans need to get used to the idea that the Henry ownership and Epstein management will not be playing the same games as the Yankers to win at any cost. Deal.

4. As vaunted as the Manny-Papi duo is, they need backup - The Sox relied too much on the two-headed monsters of Manny and Big Papi. What they need is a good, consistent #5 hitter to follow Ortiz, someone like the 2006 version of Raul Ibanez or a Jermaine Dye or someone who can be more consistent than Varitek or Nixon. Maybe Eric Hinske can fill that role in 2007, but the Sox should look for some other power bat to fill in behind Manny & Papi.

Players who will not return in 2007: Nixon, Loretta, Alex Gonzalez (maybe), Timlin, Seanez, Clement, Wells, Wakefield (?), Mirabelli, Kapler, Lowell (?)

Those are my key thoughts right now. The Red Sox of 2006 aren't a bad team. Really. But they're also not as good as people made them out to be. They're young and unexperienced in many important parts of the team. The 2007 Sox may be better, but they have a lot of holes to fill. Sure, it might be early for a post-mortem like this, but I at least wanted to get it out before the real slashing begins.


New TIG review: Mission of Burma - The Obliterati


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