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Tag:Bryan Corey
Posted on: May 11, 2008 11:52 pm
 

Red Sox Recap and 1st Quarter Report Card

As promised, here is the Red Sox first quarter report card for this season after 40 games.

Starting Pitching: A-
The Red Sox starting pitching has been better than anticipated, with the younger pitchers delivering better performances than was predicted. Josh Beckett missed a few starts, but has rounded into All-Star form and seems poised for another run for the Cy Young Award. Daisuke Matsuzaka has made a lot of improvements from his first year in the majors and has jumped out to a 6-0, but, leading the league in walks, he has still been shaky at times. But together, they look to be as dominant as any 1-2 punch in the A.L. Tim Wakefield has had a typical season thus far, and at 41 years old, that is all the Red Sox had hoped for. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have both flashed the signs that they are ready to be front end of the rotation starters, but also showed that they are in their first full season in the majors. There is no question about their stuff, but if the Sox want to go deep into the playoffs, they need more consistency from the back end of the rotation.

Relief Pitching: C
And this may be generous. The Sox have had very few arms in the bullpen where they feel secure that they can hold the lead. Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon have been very good for most of the season, although they are likely being overused due to the lack of any other relievers stepping up and getting outs. Manny Delcarmen was supposed to help with the late innings, but he has struggled heavily and has fallen from Terry Francona’s repertoire for tight contests. David Aardsma has been a pleasant surprise, but has struggled with his command. Javier Lopez has also performed well, albeit in very limited duty as a primarily left-handed specialist. A rotation of Craig Hansen and Bryan Corey (who the Sox traded to the Padres today) has shown that neither was ready for major league duty to this point. Mike Timlin started the year on the disabled list and has shown that he has in fact pitched in more games in the history of the major league with the expectation of about a dozen players. Julian Tavarez has been used very sparingly in long relief and has struggled because of his lack of work. The starters have produced a good number of seven inning starts, but that will not always be the case. Someone needs to fill in the middle innings and pitch when Okajima and Papelbon cannot, and those pitchers have not yet distinguished themselves.

Offense: A
The Red Sox have had the best offense in the majors through the first quarter of the season. Their team batting average is above .290 and they have a very good balance of power, run production and speed. Jacoby Ellsbury is doing everything that a leadoff hitter must do, which is get on base and score runs, and Dustin Pedroia leads the league in hits. David Ortiz was the only player to start slow, but he has gotten his swing back. Manny Ramirez should have been the player of the month, and Kevin Youkilis capped the first quarter by having a ridiculous week that vaulted him into the top ten in virtually every offensive category. J.D. Drew has played better so far, and Mike Lowell has come back well from the disabled list. Jason Varitek is, as he should be, focusing on the pitching staff, and the Sox have never looked for much production from him anyway. Julio Lugo has played better at times, but still continues to undercut expectations. If Ellsbury and Pedroia can continue to set the table, the Sox will have an excellent year offensively.

Bench: A
The bench players have been one of the strengths of the team this year. Coco Crisp has been sharing time with Ellsbury in center, and has played with good intensity and has hit over .300. Sean Casey filled in exceptionally when Lowell was on the disabled list, and his replacement, Jed Lowrie, also showed that he was capable of playing on the major league level. Brandon Moss did nothing wrong during his time, and should be able looking for another call-up before the year is over. Even Kevin Cash has performed very well, both in his first year handling Wakefield’s knuckleball, but also at the plate, batting near .400. It is a very comforting luxury for Francona to be able to look to his bench whenever he needs and still feel confident, and also in the young call-ups in the chance of injuries.

Defense: B+
The Sox defense has been good, expect for one man, and that would be Julio Lugo. The Sox have 21 errors, and Lugo has 11 of them. He just seems very reluctant fielding grounders. Most of Lugo’s errors before this season were due to his throws over to first, but this year’s errors have been fielding balls hit to him. Other than Lugo, the rest of the infield’s defense has been good, and Youkilis has been perfect as usual. In the outfield, there have been few mistakes. Ellsbury and Crisp provide Gold-Glove caliber defense and the ability to cover a lot of ground. Drew plays right field well, and Ramirez’s defense in left is sometimes convoluted but for the most part satisfactory. Without Lugo’s errors, the Sox would have a much more respectable overall fielding percentage near the league lead.

Overall: A-
They do have the best record in the A.L., and are likely the best team in the majors right now. They get a minus next to that A because the Diamondbacks have a better record, and because their relievers have struggled so much. They have good enough offense and starting pitching to get them through a seven game playoff series right now, but that could change come October. If they can add another reliever at the trading deadline, it would go great lengths to help the Sox out, but we saw that backfire last year. Considering the injuries, the illnesses and beginning the year in Japan, the Sox are sitting in a pretty good spot right now.

I am putting this report card on my blog, which I do with every recap, and you can access at the last link at the bottom of the recap. Feel free to respond to this report card here, or go to my blog.

Concerning tonight’s game, the Sox received their worst start of the year. Tim Wakefield did not make it out of the third inning. While he normally does well in indoor stadiums, he struggled mightly in the Metrodome. His knuckleballs were frequently left up in the zone, and the control of his fastball was off all night. Wakefield threw an astonishing amount of fastballs, or as Joe Morgan aptly called them “straightballs” because, at 74 MPH, they are hardly blistering. One of the home runs he gave up was on one such fastball that was nicely grooved, belt high. But, Wakefield looked like he was laboring from the first inning, and in this case, the knuckleball just did not flutter in the Sox favor.

Look for this recap following the series finale against the Twins as the Sox go for the split. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link to my blog.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 9, 2008 11:22 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-9-08

 The Red Sox lost to the Tigers tonight, giving the Tigers the first win of the season, and the first loss for the Sox on U.S. soil. Some thoughts on today’s game:

Jon Lester was moving through the Tiger’s lineup with few bumps until the fourth inning. He had only given up one hit and two walks through the first three frames. He was getting ahead of batters early, and attacking the strike zone with his two seam fastball that set up a very effective cut fastball and curveball. His fastball was consistently at 93 MPH, even as he approached 100 pitches. He got in trouble when he tried to assert the fastball too often before going to his off-speed stuff. His cutter is probably his best pitch, but he tried to aim pitches to Jose Guillen and Miguel Cabrera but walked both in the fourth, and likewise with Marcus Thames, who connected on an inside fastball for a two run home run. Lester didn’t pitch that poorly; he just needs to mix up his pitches more on the second time around the lineup otherwise hitters will pick up on his stuff.

Mike Lowell left the game after making a diving stop on a ground ball in the first inning. Lowell landed awkwardly and jammed his glove hand into the ground before firing the ball to first to put out Ivan Rodriguez. He had x-Rays taken and they were negative. Because Sean Casey has done such a nice job filling in at the plate so far this season, collecting two hits today, the Sox will not rush Lowell back. He had injury problems with his hand in the past, and the injury is on his left hand, which applies most of the pressure with his swing. Look for Kevin Youkilis and Alex Cora to get some playing time at third until Lowell gets back, probably around this weekend.

It does seem like it is a reoccurring topic on this recap, but it is the last roster spot not yet determined. Both Bryan Corey and Javier Lopez did nothing to enhance their résumés to stay with the team, while David Aardsma looked sharper than he has in recent performances. Mike Timlin has pitched very successfully in Pawtucket and he is ready to come back, so the decision will be made soon. The Sox are convinced that they need another left hander in the bullpen because Hideki Okajima has a determined role as the set-up guy and can not be used for situational spots. The balance seems slightly in Corey’s favor, but the series with the Yankees’ will likely decide the spot.

Jacoby Ellsbury was on base twice tonight with two walks, one coming with the bases loaded to drive in a run. He has started off slow, and is batting under .200, but it is clear that the Sox have no intention of sitting him down for longer than one game at a time, and that he will continue to be the Sox starting center fielder. They will continue to shop Coco Crisp, who is very unhappy to be platooning with Ellsbury right now, and until they can get a deal with him, it will likely be that Ellsbury will play about 60 percent of the games, and never start against left handed pitchers. He does not have his timing down at the plate, and is trying too hard to provide the offensive spark he did for the club last year. It may take him until the end of April to get his swing together, but it will be worth the wait.

Look for this recap tomorrow as the Sox take on the Tigers in the rubber game of this series. (To view previous recaps, follow this link). 
Keep the Faith

Posted on: April 6, 2008 6:48 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-6-08

 

The Red Sox got swept by the Blue Jays on the finale of their long road trip. Some thoughts on today's game:

Josh Beckett had a fair first start of the season. Three of the five runs he gave up came via a grand slam that Manny Delcarmen gave up when Beckett left the game with the bases loaded. Beckett was throwing well throughout the first three innings, but looked as if his strength was running out heading into the fourth inning. The Sox will be happy with the performance, and by his next start, Beckett should regan a form similar to last year.

Kyle Synder turned out to be the odd man out as he was desginated for assignment to make room for Beckett. It was anticipated that the Sox would designate either David Aardsma or Bryan Corey, mostly because Synder could fulfill more duties as a long reliever/emergency starter and because he had been with the team since the 2006 season. However, in retrospect, it seems like a sensible move. Synder filled the same role as Julian Tavarez, but Tavarez has more experience and is, by all accounts, a better pitcher. Corey had his second consecutive disaster outing yesterday, so it would seem that he would be the most likely pitcher to get dropped when Mike Timlin comes back, but the ax could easily fall on Aardsma or Javier Lopez.

J.D. Drew continues to hit well in this early season, being the most effective hitter for the Sox thus far. Drew seems to have imporved his swing much like he did last September, but he did start out batting over .333 for the first few weeks of the 2007 season only to finish with a .270 average. It is encouraging that he is hitting consistently with power, something he never did last year. However, even though Drew, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek are holding their own on offense, the fate of this team's offensive hopes rest on getting their 3-5 hitters going. Manny Ramirez is doing OK, but Mike Lowell and David Ortiz are really struggling. All three picked up a hit today, but they need to show that they can up their production when they return to Fenway.

Frank Thomas has Manny Delcarmen's number. Some hitters just "figure out" certain pitchers, and Thomas has Delcarmen lined up perfectly, after he took him deep twice in two days. Delcarmen has now been struggling, his 4.50 ERA not showing the inherited runners that he has allowed. As Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon both pitched perfect innings, with Papelbon striking out the side in the ninth, the question of who will handle the seventh inning gap has not gone away. Delcarmen seems to be on a different level than Aardsma, Lopez and Julian Tavarez, and should be the guy to handle that role, he needs to show that he is a better pitcher than he has shown in this Toronto series. However, he is pitching as if he didn't have much of a spring training, which is typical of the young pitchers, by leaving off-speed pitchers up in the zone and not trusting his outstanding fastball.

Look for this recap after Tuesday's home opener when the World Series rings are presented. (To view previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 6, 2008 2:13 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-5-08

The Sox lost their second straight game against the Blue Jays. Some thoughts on today's game:

The Red Sox bats continue to be stymied. The Sox have yet to have a truly explosive game on the offensive side, now managing only 12 hits over the first two games of this season. David Ortiz has had only two hits this season, both coming in the finale of the Oakland series. Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and Dustin Pedroia are all off to slow starts, although Pedroia's numbers do not indicate some good at-bats he has had recently. Although they have faced starters who have tossed good games, the Sox are better than this offensively.

Clay Buchholz made his first start of the season and lasted five innings. He pitched much better than the box score will show, however, as Sean Casey made a very costly error that allowed two runs to score. He looked rusty early, leaving some breaking balls up in the zone. His fastball was consistently 92-94 MPH, but it was his change-up that was producing most of his seven strikeouts. After the first two innings, it was very effective, getting batters to reach for it and coming up empty. Although he got the loss, the Sox will be encouraged by his performance.

Kyle Synder and Bryan Corey both had a lot of trouble coming in relief with the game still close. Synder allowed one run, but he hadn't pitched in quite some time. By contrast, Corey has now pitched in five of the six games the Sox have played and it showed as he gave up four runs while recording only one out as the game quickly got away. Synder does not have to worry about loosing a spot tomorrow when Josh Beckett is activated off of the DL, but Corey does. Corey shouldn't loose his spot tomorrow because of today's performance, but he has to improve in order to stay when Mike Timlin is activated. Look for David Aardsma to be released to make room for Beckett tomorrow.

Casey committed an error that led to two runs, two runs that the Sox would not be able to get back as the lead continued to expand. Casey was the last Sox position player who had not made a start, but he still managed to swing the bat well. The only problem is that Terry Francona only started Casey simply for the sake of starting him. Unlike Eric Hinske, last year's first base backup who could also play left and right field and third base, Casey can only play first base. He does not provide a better bat than Kevin Youkilis, nor does he play more solid defense that Youkilis, last year's Gold Glover winner and the major league record holder for consecutive games at first base without an error. Francona is going to find that when he plays Casey simply to start him, and Youkilis does not need a day off, Casey will struggle and Youkilis' timing may get thrown off. This will be similar to this alternating center fielder issue that the Sox are going with Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury. Francona will have to decide who is the starter, and stick with him. He is only hurting the pair of them by swapping their starts.

Look for this recap after tomorrow's game as the Sox try to avoid a sweep in Josh Beckett's first start of the season.
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 6, 2008 2:10 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-4-08

The Red Sox lost their first game played in their third different country in three weeks in what was Toronto's home opener. Some thoughts on today's game:

Shaun Marcum pitched one of the best games that a non-Roy Halladay Toronto starter has tossed against the Sox in some time. His stuff was not overpowering, but he did have great command of his changeup, which he was using effectively in the early innings against lefties, and later against the right handed batters. But, when you rely on an 85 MPH fastball to compliment your other pitches, especially when you are pitching well, you get over-confident. The pitch he threw to J.D. Drew was only a little harder than batting practice, and Drew connected for the home run. But the Jays have to be very encouraged by his first start.

Drew did two things tonight that he had not done at all through the first five months of last year, and made only marginal improvements in September and October: hit in the clutch and hit with two outs. He looked off on his first two at-bats, but got a pitch he could handle and tied the game with the three run homer. However, it may not be as much cause for celebration as it seems. Drew is still making the same errors at the plate that he was falling to last year, and that is trying to pull every thing into right field. He needs to try to go to the opposite field, otherwise he will have another year of .270-12-70.

The Red Sox bullpen trio of David Aardsma, lefty Javier Lopez and Manny Delcarmen failed to keep the game tied, and then close, when the Sox batters were starting to gather some momentum. Aardsma took the loss, even though all he did was walk a batter who scored along with the baserunner that Lopez allowed a hit to after Delcarmen inherited both. Delcarmen has a spot on this team, no question. But he final spot, which will be decided once Josh Beckett comes off of the disabled list, is a contest between Aardsma, Lopez, and Bryan Corey. Corey has looked very good in this short season, and has appeared in four of the Sox five games. He seems to be the front runner of that race right now, but even after Beckett comes back, and it is likely that Aardsma looses his spot, the Sox will have another decision a week later when Mike Timlin comes back from the 15 day DL. It will then be between Corey and Lopez and while it would seem that Lopez would have the advantage as a "lefty specialist," he hasn't pitched well against lefties, and Corey has pitched well against both sides. All three of the relievers are out of options.

The news was officially released that Beckett will come off of the DL in time to start Sunday against the Blue Jays in the finale of this ultimate road trip. Beckett will face Halladay. Look for Beckett to throw around 75-85 pitches, or six full innings, which ever comes first. It is his first start, and the first time he has thrown in a game in almost a month.

Kevin Cash looked very comfortable in his first start catching Tim Wakefield's knuckleball. He did not record a passed ball, although Wakefield was charged with one wild pitch, and he made several good catches of foul tipped balls. Wakefield looked comfortable on the mound, with only one inning of difficulty in his first start of the season. Cash also knocked a double into the left center gap in the third inning, the first hit for the Sox on the day and what would be one of only two extra base hits all day. Cash is a very good defensive catcher, and anything that he does offensively is purely gravy for the Sox. He will be an improvement in both departments over Doug Mirabelli.

Look for this recap after tomorrow's game as the Sox try to even the series with Clay Buchholz's first start.
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 6, 2008 2:08 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-2-08

The Sox finished the season opening series with the Athletics, taking three out of four from them. Some thoughts on today's game:

Manny Ramirez is locked in. He went hitless today with a walk, but his swing and his attitude have looked very refined and positive this year. With two options at the end of his contract staring him in the face and $40 million on the line, he is going to have an MVP caliber season and put up numbers similar to earlier this decade.

Kevin Youkilis broke Steve Garvey's record for most consecutive games with out an error by a first baseman. It is a very distinguished accomplishment, and not to down play Garvey's achievements, but Youkilis has much more range than Garvey ever had. Youkilis takes a lot of risks on plays that result in truly highlight reel stuff. His Gold Glove last year was well deserved and there will be more in the future.

Jon Lester was very impressive as he combined with Bryan Corey and Manny Delcarmen for the second great pitching performance in two days. The biggest question mark for the Sox this season was how the young starters would hold up over the course of the season. Lester pitched poorly in his last start against Oakland, but he was very effective today. He attacked the strike zone and was very fundamentally sound with his pitches. The Sox cannot expect three hits over six plus scoreless innings every start, but they should expect him pitching later into games and limiting the walks and being more aggressive. If he does this, then he can win 15 games.

Delcarmen came in to finish the game in the ninth inning. With the Sox adding some insurance runs late, the decision to enter Jonathan Papelbon, who threw 16 pitches yesterday but in 1 and 1/3 innings, became academic. The Sox have expressed that they would like to have Delcarmen close games when Papelbon is unavailable, although it seemed that if today's game was a save situation, Papelbon would have gotten the nod.

Look for this recap again when the Sox next play on Friday in Toronto.
Keep the Faith.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com