Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Odds and ends

Boston beat Tampa Bay last night, 7-4, in a game that wasn't decided until Adam Stern's diving catch in CF with the bases loaded in the top of the 9th. It was an exciting game, in which both teams got good starting pitching, but the Red Sox beat up on the Devil Rays bullpen. I've got a couple of game comments, and a couple of other things...

  • I think that, on the whole, Terry Francona has done a pretty good job. But he made a couple of decisions last night that I did not like.

    • They attempted a sacrifice bunt two different times, and I, as a general rule, HATE sacrifice bunts. The first one last night, however, did not bother me. The second one bothered me a lot. In the 7th inning, with the Sox down by 1, Wily Mo Pena led off the inning with a walk. I had no problem whatsoever with Alex Gonzalez bunting, moving Pena to 2nd with 1 out and the top of the order coming up. But in the 8th inning, with runners at 1st and 2nd and no out, he asked Adam Stern to bunt with Alex Gonzalez on deck. The left-handed hitting Stern was facing a right-handed pitcher, with no lefties in the bullpen. And Gonzalez is a close to an automatic out as there is in baseball. Even had Stern succeeded, they were still likely to need a hit from Youkilis to score a run in that inning. Now, as it was, Youkilis doubled in 2 and was driven in by Loretta, so Boston ended up with 3 runs in the 8th, but it was still a bad decision, in my opinion.

    • He waited too long to get Timlin up in the bottom of the 7th, and ended up sending Clement out to start the 8th because Timlin wasn't warm yet. Predictably, the inning started with a double, and Timlin came in with runners on and proceeded to give up the lead. If he wanted Timlin to pitch the 8th, which I'm sure he did, he needed to get him up sooner, so he could start the 8th...

  • One of the things that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are great at is evaluating what a player can do, and putting that player in a position to succeed, as opposed to focusing on what a player cannot do. The Red Sox have shown signs of getting that, as well, but there are segments of the fan base - vocal segments - that just drive me crazy. I turn on WEEI on occasion, because I'm interested in Boston sports, and that's what they (most of the time) talk about. But frequently, I immediately turn it off again, because the callers are, for the most parts, morons. What I'm particularly vexed about right now is the people who think that Mark Bellhorn was an offensive problem because of his strikeouts, but don't have any concerns about Alex Gonzalez. Bellhorn was a decent defensive middle infielder who struck out a lot, but also drew walks and hit for power. Gonzalez is a good defensive middle infielder who doesn't strike out a lot, but provides nothing offensively. No walks, no power, no average - nothing. But there are people who just obsessed about Bellhorn, because the strikeouts were big, obvious failures you could point at, but Gonzalez' failures are less obvious. Never mind that he's failing far more frequently, the weak ground-outs and pop-ups seem preferable to many people than the strikeouts...

  • Pedro Martinez picked up the 200th win of his Major League career Monday night. I don't care much for wins as a statistic, but you've got to do something right to get 200 of them, and Pedro's done more things right than almost any other pitcher in history. I think the days of his being "PEDRO!" are over, but he gave me as much pleasure in a Red Sox uniform as anyone. Red Sox fans have been blessed over the past 20 years to have, consistently, an all-time great at the front of their pitching rotation, first Clemens, then Martinez. So congratulations to Pedro, and thanks again for the great memories.



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