Your Thoughts Exactly: July 2006

Thursday, July 13, 2006



In my efforts to turn this blog into something successful and outstanding, it’s time to get cracking. And the easiest way for me to refurbish my writing skills before I come up with actual ideas is of course, writing about baseball. With that said, it’s time for my midseason Red Sox wrap up as well as time to gaze into the crystal ball and make some predictions.

Up until now, the Sox have been chugging along maintaining a nice three-five game lead on the Yankees with Toronto hovering a few games behind. They are on pace now for over one hundred wins, which would mean that, in terms of the regular season, this is the best Red Sox team since 1946. How is that possible?

Well first off, we are outperforming our Pythag record by three wins, although some of that can be attributed to the bullpen, namely one Jonathan Papelsmear, who has emerged as the best closer in the game and the true heir to Mariano Rivera and Dennis Eckersley (unless we move him to the starting rotation next year.) Second, the offense continues to chug along, thanks to Kevin Youkilis (to be known as KY) and his .407 OBP at the top of the order, and the continued historic 3-4 combo of Manny Ortez, who continues to destroy the league with a combined OPS of 1025. Add in the resurgent Mike Lowell and Trot Nixon boosting the lower parts of the batting order, and the result is the second most runs in MLB.

Yet the small-ball White Sox are on pace for 1000 runs themselves, and it will be the White Sox and Red Sox in the ALCS. I forsee a collapse of the Tigers, to the point where they could be passed for the Wild Card by either the Blue Jays or the Yankees, despite the Tigers’ amazing pitching and defense so far this year.

While our offense continues to mash, it will be the pitching and defense that will insure whether we comfortably make the playoffs, or end up on the outside looking in.

And that’s a problem. Because our pitching is very very shaky. Schilling has replicated his 2004 form, albeit with a slightly higher ERA, and can be counted on to anchor the rotation the rest of the way and annoy the shit out of me. Wake is Wake, and is having another Wakeish year. Beckett has been a huge disappointment, and is on pace to give up 52 home runs, which I am pretty sure would be the record. How is this possible?

To delve into the stats, he has given up 26 home runs in 133 fly balls almost 20 percent! Bad karma? Probably. I am not sure what the average should be, but I do think that’s quite high. Of course some of the home run problem is due to Beckett giving up more flyballs in general, by striking out fewer batters and giving up fewer ground balls. The ability of Beckett to control his home run jinx in the second half is key because…

We know that Matt Clement will not be contributing to the success of the Red Sox in the second half, or at the very least, we should assume he will not be. The 2004-05 offseason will be fondly remembered by Red Sox fans as the time in which Bostonians and bandwagoners shed years of misery, basked in the glory of a championship team, bought unspeakable amounts of merchandise, and rubbed it in to anyone and everyone that had ever made any snide comments about their beloved Sawx. Such happy memories will mask the fact that Theo Epstein and co. laid one of the ultimate offseason eggs in the history of baseball. Their best move? Signing David Wells, who is hurt, refuses to go on rehab stints and generally seems to hate the team and the city of Boston. At least he contributed to our 2005 playoff run. Their worst move appears to be either letting Pedro go to the Mets, singing Clement (who we will be paying 18 mil for this season and next,) who has been an abomination for the last year (and is a born-again Christian as well,) or signing Jason Varitek to a four year contract when he appears to be toast after year 1.5. Luckily, Theo was bailed out by the Braves for the equally egregious Renteria contract. Yikes.

Anyways all this means is that we do not have a fourth or fifth starter, unless John Lester continues to prove himself at the big league level. Of course this is possible, he is actually a good prospect with a great minor league history, and rookie pitchers do well all the time. He is still leaves us a man short, meaning I feel a trade in the works.

As for our defense, it has been lauded as the greatest Red Sox defense of the last 30 years (based on our errorless streak and some spectacular defensive plays,) while being labeled middle of the road by BP’s defensive efficiency and horribly below average by various zone rating statistics. Which leads me to the important conclusion that people don’t know what the fuck they are talking about when it comes to measuring defensive statistics. Why is this? Because it’s inherently more difficult to measure as opposed to the binomial pitcher-batter matchup that is hitting. So I can’t really tell you what to think.

Anyways, I see the rest of the season unfolding like this. The Sox hang on and finally win the division. The White Sox pass the Tigers. The Angels beat out the A’s in the west after trading for Soriano and, unfortunately, the Yankees hold on for the wild card. Boo-hoo. To be honest though, every sports playoff needs a villian, and it wouldnt be the same without the Yanks. After that, the cards will fall where they will.

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