Tag:Bartolo Colon
Posted on: May 3, 2008 10:54 pm

Red Sox Recap 5-3-08

The Sox got their second consecutive eight innings performance from their starter and an impressive offense attack. Some thoughts on the game:

Josh Beckett had a very good start tonight, allowing four runs in eight innings. He struggled a bit in the early innings, having some command issues and yielding a two run home run in the second. But, after yielding another run in the fourth, he seemed to gain better control of his fastball and settled down. He threw only 100 pitches over the eight innings, and was trying to mix more changeups in along with his fastball and curveball. Very few pitchers can get by on just two pitches, and as good as Beckett is, he does need a third pitch, even if he uses it rarely. A power pitcher like Beckett would likely try to feature a two-seam sinking fastball as a third pitch to use to mix up hitters and try to get a groundball in tight situations. His third pitch, though, is the changeup. However, for a pitcher who throws 95-97 MPH on his straight fastball and drops his curveball in at 77-79 MPH, Beckett’s changeup should come across the plate in the low 80s, but Beckett’s whistles past at 90-91. He does seem to have good control over it, and he always keeps it down, but he has to be very careful with this pitch. Because it is coming in as fast as most people’s fastball, it probably looks more like a fastball than a changeup. If hitters are late on his fastball, they may be able to time his changeup well. He has to keep that pitch down if he wants it to be effective, but it still may not be the best third pitch option for Beckett. For the record, though, all of the four runs Beckett gave up came off of his fastball.

It was mentioned in the recap yesterday that the lineup would hit their stride again when Jacoby Ellsbury came back, and, at least for two games, they have. (The Sox improved to 13-2 when Ellsbury scores a run). This is not to do any patting on the back, but it was brought up in an interview with Terry Francona that he was not entirely happy with his rookie outfielder. Francona is the stereotypical “players”-manager, and will likely never call a player out in public and likes to care of those kind of situations in-house, as he should. But he did express some discontent about the way that some of the players on the Sox were treating injuries, though he was explicit that he was not singling out Ellsbury. However, his comments included him saying that there “is a fine line” between players who are injured and who can play, and that “We can’t wait for guys to be 100 percent.” Perhaps the most accusatory words from Francona was when he described that minor league managers and staff are more protective of players and their injuries and when they experience pain. He went on to say that he thought Ellsbury would be able to play back on Tuesday, but when it became evident that he could not, the manager was surprised that Ellsbury did not come by on the off-day on Monday to receive treatment. Francona said that it gave his staff a chance to talk to Ellsbury about how to handle these kind of situations. But also in Francona’s words there was likely a reference to J.D. Drew, who had missed the past few games because of a quadriceps injury. Drew has been notorious about refusing to play when hurt, but Francona also went out of his way to mention that Coco Crisp had been hampered by a sore knee, although he went out and has been playing in place of Ellsbury, and that Crisp is a good example of a player who is willing to play through pain. It is likely that Ellsbury’s problem was more of a misunderstanding, but Drew’s issues come as little surprise.

Speaking of injured players, there have been several updates over the past few days. Bartolo Colon is going to pitch two innings in an extended spring training game on Monday. The Sox seem to feel that Colon, who has been traveling with the Sox, has not lost much because he would be in triple-A Pawtucket if it were not for paperwork issues. May 1 has come and gone, and Colon has not decided to leave the Sox and declare free agency, as the out clause in his contract says he can. The Sox signed Colon because they did not plan on Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz pitching as well as they have this season. As both have performed well, Colon will have to either wait for someone to get injured, or really hit a wall. Of the 309 games that Colon has pitched in the majors, 306 were starts, so he has no value as a reliever. If he continues to pitch well at Pawtucket, and no Red Sox starter needs replacement by mid-June, it is unlikely that Colon will stay at Pawtucket.

On other injured news, Brandon Moss underwent emergency surgery tonight to have his appendix removed. He will likely be out at least until the beginning of next week. Curt Schilling was also reported to be close to begin a throwing program, being able to start within the next 10 days. Even though it is true that no team can have enough starting pitching, the way that the Sox starters’ are going, there really is no room for either Schilling or Colon. It would be nice to have an option like Schilling, and Colon for that matter, if one of the starters gets hurt, but if they do not, it would be a bad descision to take out one of the young starters simply because Schilling is healthy. Schilling will not be as effective as Buchholz and Lester have been this season thus far.

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game as the Sox try to return to the Rays the favor of being swept. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: May 1, 2008 10:57 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2008 10:46 am

Red Sox Recap 5-1-08

The Red Sox were blanked by A.J. Burnett and the Blue Jays avoided a sweep. Some thoughts on the game:

Tim Wakefield delivered a good start, limiting the Blue Jays to only three runs over seven innings. He continued a streak of now five consective starts by Red Sox pitchers that have gone for at least seven innings. However, a knuckleballer rarely throws a shut-out because there are so many minute things that can happen with the pitch that results in the opposing offense capitalizing on a hanging pitch, or one that bounces in the dirt with a runner on third. The Sox will be very happy with Wakefield’s effort, because three runs in seven innings should be plenty to give the Sox a chance to win. As it were, the offense failed to produce again, and Wakefield’s good start proved fruitless. Wakefield had better control than he did in his last start in Tampa, the last start where a starter did not go seven innigs, where his knuckleball was dancing all over the place. He did yield four walks, and oddly missed with the rare fastballs that he did throw, especially in the 3-0 counts, but he limited the damage, and got some help from his defense. Although Wakefield is a reliable starter, it is nearly impossible for him to take the intensity and confidence that the rest of the starters have built up and for him to shut out a team for eight innings. Over a season, Wakefield’s numbers will certainly hold up, especially against other teams’ number three or four starters, but it is difficult for him to extend the feeling of dominance that the other starters definitely were beginning to feel. The starters know the offense is struggling, and they have picked up their intensity.

Speaking of the offense struggling, the Sox achieved a rarity tonight: they won the series, two games to one, but got outscored 4-3. The Sox have now only managed four runs over their last five games, and have been shut-out twice. With Wakefield on the mound, the Sox lineup always looks a bit difference, and with J.D. Drew injured and Julio Lugo given the night off, the lineup was obviously not at full strength. It has been said before in this recap that the Sox will fail to sustain a consistent offensive attack when their lead-off batter remains questionable. Jacoby Ellsbury has been out for the last four games, and both of the shut-outs. Neither Coco Crisp nor Dustin Pedroia serves as good lead-off hitters, Crisp because he does not make enough contact and strike-outs too often, and Pedroia because he does not walk a great deal and has average speed at best. Ellsbury serves as the prototypical lead-off hitter, and the Sox desperately need his bat back in the lineup. He was heating up and making solid contact before he went down, and his on-base percentage has been high all season. He should likely be ready to start playing soon, and the Sox offense will likely hit his stride again when he does.

Incredibly odd though it may seem to say, the Sox welcome the first place Tampa Bay Rays tomorrow, and in addition to seeing some of the starters that helped them sweep the Sox for the first time during their last series, Rays’ ace Scott Kazmir will also make his season debut this weekend. Kazmir is far and away the best pitcher on the staff, and lead the A.L. in strikeouts last year, and always pitches the Sox hard. His return will force the Rays to decide who he is going to replace, a decision that the Sox will also have to face soon. Today is May 1, and technically the out clause in Bartolo Colon’s contract allows him to become a free agent if they do not promote him to the major league club. Perhaps his pending return to the majors has spurred the members of the Sox rotation, at least the two younger pitchers, to up their intensity level. Terry Francona and Theo Epstein have implied that they feel that it is unlikely that Colon will enforce that out clause, and will stay in the Sox organization. Colon will likely throw a simulated side session this weekend of about 45-60 pitches, and if he performs well, he will go back to triple-A Pawtucket and begin making starts again. If he continues to be healthy, it should take him about three starts to get back up to regular form and strength. The Sox will have to decide what to do with him by the end of May, and if he pitches more games like he did in his first start in Pawtucket, he may in fact enforce that rule if he is not brought up to the majors club.

These are some thoughts that came in response to this recap:

As far as Mike Lowell's expectations are concerned, they were never quite high to begin with. He is getting up there in age, and any hope that he was going to near the .324-21-120 that he churned out last year. As we are seeing with Manny Ramirez, players somehow seem to play better when there is a contract on the line. Lowell produced, and got his contract. Realistically, the Sox were looking for Lowell this year to simply provide some protection for Ramirez in the number five hole in the lineup. However, going on the disabled list has severely dampened that hope. Lowell is certainly not washed up, but will likely produce numbers more similar to what he was able to do during his first year with the Sox. In 2006, he batted .284 with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs, and if he produces those numbers, or at least close to, then the Sox will be happy. But run production from someone who is not a power hitter is difficult when the guys in front of you are not producing. Lowell's numbers swelled last year because David Ortiz finished the year batting .332. It is the reason why even though Ramirez has a much higher batting average this year, Ortiz has more RBIs. Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia are getting on bas for Ortiz, but because Ortiz's batting average is struggling, Ramirez does not come up with many runners on base. But Lowell will earn his keep by the end of the year.

Someone who will not earn his keep is J.D. Drew, and it has little to do with him. Red Sox fans will never be impressed or satisfied with Drew because they feel that he does not produce enough to warrant the amount of money the Sox are paying for him. Drew's $14 million salary is second on the team only to Ramirez's, but Drew is simply no where near as good as Ramirez. We all know that Drew has been plagued by injuries, and his tenure here has been no different, but if you pan out Drew's career statistics over a 162 game season (his career high for games played in one season is 146), his numbers still only average out to 25 home runs and 85 RBIs, and that would be if he played nearly twenty games more in one season than his career high. The fact is that Drew did not force the Sox to sign him and give him $14 million. Theo Epstein wanted to have Drew play right field, and he paid him a lot of money for it. Drew will be a victim of his own good fortune: he is being paid $14 million, but there is no way that he can produce like it. If the fans want to boo, direct it at Epstein, and not Drew.

All in all, though, the Sox offense will not be the bane of this team. The only team in the majors that has playoff-caliber pitching but no offense is the San Diego Padres, and the Sox certainly have a better lineup than the Friars. They will likely lead the league in all of the important categories by the end of the year: on-base percentage, runs scored, average pitches per at-bat, etc. They are struggling heavily, but all teams are allowed a rough stretch.

The Sox welcome the Rays back to Fenway tomorrow, and will see if Clay Buchholz can continue his recent hot streak. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 8, 2008 6:52 pm

Red Sox Recap

 The Red Sox received their World Series rings and blanked the Detroit Tigers in their home opener. Some thoughts on the game:

The Sox continue to get quality starts from Daisuke Matsuzaka, his last two starts being gems. Matsuzaka is now the Major League Baseball's first pitcher with two wins, and he is leading the majors in strike-outs, recording six in his first start, nine last time, and seven this afternoon. He pitched around four walks, but he was able to keep his pitch count reasonable at 108 before he left with two out in the seventh. The home plate umpire Greg Gibson had a varying strike zone all game which led to displeasure from both teams. But, Matsuzaka was able to locate his fastball very well, and it had great movement. He pitched better at home last year than on the road, so he needs to use this start to build up consistency that he lacked last year.

Manny Delcarmen got back to better form today, finishing the seventh inning and also retiring the eighth inning, with one hit allowed and two strikeouts. It is good to see him challenge hitters more and lean on his fastball, which is his best pitch. However, Terry Francona brought him in with a 5-0 lead in the seventh. Francona may be showing Delcarmen that he still has faith in him, but Delcarmen is the youngest member of the Sox bullpen, and this will be his first full year in the majors. Especially with a position battle winding down in the bullpen, Francona needs to think about going with someone else in this situation, if not simply to see who will stay when Mike Timlin returns.

Bartolo Colon was placed on the disabled list with an injured oblique. Francona would not say that it was a strain, but he will miss his next start, which would have been tonight. Colon will go on the seven day DL because he is at triple-A Pawtucket, but it is retro-active to Friday. Colon was masterful in his first start, allowing only one hit in five innings. But Colon's last pitch of that outing was a 95 MPH fastball, meaning that he hurt himself on a side session, which implies it is not serious. Bear in mind that the Sox have until May 1 to promote Colon or he can become a free agent.

The Sox sent minor league infielder Christian Lara to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for reliever Eric Hull. The Dodgers are short on infielders, and Hull had been designated for assignment so the Dodgers had to move him before they lost him to free agency. Hull will join the Sox extended spring training facility and will likely start the season in Pawtucket. He appeared in only a few major league games last year but had good numbers in the minors. Although the Sox already have a surplus of right handers that are on the border of playing on the team, he could be in for a call up as the season goes on. But, it really looks like the Sox are trying to put together a package with Coco Crisp so that they can get some good return for him.

Look for this recap after tomorrow's game when the Sox try to extend Detroit's winless streak. (To view previous recaps, follow this link)
Keep the Faith

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