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Sox Therapy
— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The 25th Man: Who Should it Be?

Yes, things have been going so well that all I have to worry about is who the 25th many on this roster should be. It’s generally been my sense that the Red Sox have a strong bench, but lately I’ve been noticing that at the end of the game, there are two roles that are not filled: OF defensive replacement and pinchrunner.  Seeing Manny Ramirez or Wily Mo Pena running around in LF with the game on the line doesn’t make me very comfortable, and neither does the prospect of Mike Lowell trying to ...

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Darren Posted: May 30, 2007 at 09:59 PM | 34 comment(s)
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Sunday, May 27, 2007

The 2B Debate

With things going so well lately, it’s hard to find any point of controversy on this team. One spot that’s going to get sticky, though, is 2B. Alex Cora still has very nice numbers overall in 2007, (.319 .367 .514 ), which are far better than Dustin Pedroia’s (.279 .365 .396). Pedroia, however, has been the much better hitter in May, putting up a .375 .426 .518 to Cora’s .298 .346 .362. And Pedroia has a pedigree that suggests that he will continue to be a better player. Both have been ...

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Darren Posted: May 27, 2007 at 10:42 PM | 159 comment(s)
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Friday, May 25, 2007

Weekly Minor League Thread: Bubba Bell, the New Jeff Natale?

Like Sox-Therapy favorite Jeff Natale, Bubba Bell attended a Div III school (Nichols States), was drafted in the late rounds (39th in 2005), and has been old for his levels. This year, at age 24, he is hitting extremely well at A+ Lancaster, in much the same way that Natale ripped apart A ball in 06 at age 23. Bell is hitting 370/467/661 with a 34/22 BB/K ratio. And lest you think he’s purely a product of a great hitting environment, his road line is 341/451/635.

I was very surprised when the ...

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Darren Posted: May 25, 2007 at 01:51 AM | 29 comment(s)
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

One… and done?

Coming into the Yankees series, it certainly seemed that all the Red Sox needed to do was win one game. They were on the road against a good team and they were missing a top starter. A single win would keep them at least 9.5 ahead, preventing a slide to 7.5 ahead. And looking at the series, it appeared that they’re best shot for that win would come in the first game. Tim Wakefield had a career 3.66 ERA in Yankee Stadium, the Sox usually hit Chien-Ming Wang reasonably well (IIRC), and the other ...

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Darren Posted: May 23, 2007 at 03:02 AM | 39 comment(s)
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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Weekly Minor League Thread: Delcarmen Revisited

Readers of this space may recall that at the beginning of the season, I was rather dubious about the Red Sox decision to send Manny Delcarmen down to AAA while keeping the likes of Snyder, Timlin, and Romero remained with the big club. Delcarmen was as good a bet as any of those guys to do well, I posited. And what’s more, he was young, cheap, and had little left to prove in the minors. Well actual reality has once again gotten in the way of my version of things coming to fruition. The bullpen ...

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Darren Posted: May 19, 2007 at 02:22 AM | 45 comment(s)
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Friday, May 18, 2007

The .700 Club

The Red Sox are now 28-12. They have a 9.5 game lead in their division. They just took three out of four from the team that had the 2nd best record in the AL. The 2nd game of tonight’s double header featured a lousy lineup, a terrible defensive OF, and a starting pitcher who seemed to have nothing. Still, Eric Hinske makes a diving catch and smashes a HR and they win 4-2. Things are going very well for this team right now, to say the least.

Darren Posted: May 18, 2007 at 02:17 AM | 127 comment(s)
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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Tale of Two Pitchers

Pitcher 1: 50.3 IP, 51 H, 2 HR, 20 BB, 29 K.
Pitcher 2: 54 IP, 46 H, 4 HR, 18 BB, 52 K.

One of these guys pitches in front of a pretty suspect defense and has an ERA of 2.68. The other pitches in front of a generally good defense and has an ERA of 4.17. How the heck can one explain the widely divergent fortunes of Andy Pettitte (pitcher 1) and Dice-K (pitcher-2)?

Dice-K, we’ve discussed here and there are plenty of theories to go around about him—my newest one is that he must give up a HR ...

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Darren Posted: May 15, 2007 at 02:56 AM | 7 comment(s)
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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Weekly Minor League Thread: The Fabulous B Boys

Michael Bowden and Clay Buchholz came into 2007 as the Red Sox most highly touted pitching prospects. The general consensus, among both scouts and stat types, was that Buchholz was a notch above Bowden, with more of a #1-2 potential than the #2-4 label that was put on Bowden. Looking at what they’ve done so far this year, it’s hard to say who has been more impressive:

Bowden, A+, 7 GS, 39 IP, 34 H, 1 HR, 7 BB, 41 K, 1.62 ERA
Buchholz, AA, 6 GS, 34 IP, 22 H, 3 HR, 4 BB, 46 K, 1.85 ERA

Those ...

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Darren Posted: May 12, 2007 at 03:15 AM | 80 comment(s)
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Friday, May 11, 2007

Underperforming—A Good Sign?

Just a quickie about the Red Sox offense. Looking through the ever-evolving and always wonderful Baseball Reference today, I noticed that the Bostonians’ recent offensive outburst had pushed their team OBP to .362 (2nd in the AL) and their SLG to .442 (1st) . These combined for an OPS of .804, tops in the league, and an OPS+ of 117 (2nd). Still, the Red Sox were only 4th in runs scored at 5.25/g.

So even though this team has been hitting the ball with the best of them, they have not been ...

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Darren Posted: May 11, 2007 at 02:08 AM | 35 comment(s)
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pedroia Power!

There’s been a lot of talk about what Pedroia’s brutal start has meant. Is he really not cut out for the Majors? Is his K/BB ratio an indication that he’ll turn it around?

The jury is far from in on how he’ll do for the long run, but Pedroia’s recent hot streak has brought him up to a very respectable .254 .361 .380. Those numbers do not invite comparisons to Rod Carew, but they’re good enough to make me feel even better about his future. In fact, if he can keep improving, I would love to see ...

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Darren Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:54 AM | 30 comment(s)
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Monday, May 07, 2007

Make No Mistake, It’s Definitely Sour Grapes

You may have heard that a certain pitcher signed with a certain team. I’ve got to admit, this one hurts a lot. As many of you know, I have been a big Clemens fan for a long time, and that during his time with the Yankees, I would root for him to pitch well, but for the team not to win. It was incredibly tough, but it was my favorite player and one of the all time greats, who was doing amazing things year after year. When he moved on to Houston, it made rooting for him a whole lot easier.

In ...

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Darren Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:21 AM | 93 comment(s)
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Friday, May 04, 2007

Weekly Minor League Thread: Brandon Moss

Just what do the Red Sox have in Brandon Moss? After a tremendous year in 04, where he ripped apart A ball, Moss spent the past 2 seasons putting up mediocre numbers at AA. This year, at the tender age of 23, Moss his crushing AAA to the tune of .310/.410/.605, with 6 HR and 7 2B.  The bad news is that although he’s got a very nice BB to K ratio of 13/22, those 22 Ks have come in just 86 ABs. That’s just high enough to seem fairly unsustainable. The other bit of bad news is that Moss is a ...

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Darren Posted: May 04, 2007 at 01:10 AM | 36 comment(s)
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Monday, April 30, 2007

April is the Coolest Month

Well, the first month of the season is in the books and with all due respect to the 84 Tigers, it’s hard to imagine how things could have gone much better. The team has scored 125 runs and allowed 84, meaning that their actual winning percentage (.667) is very close to what’s been expected (.689). The team has not scored quite as much as I thought they would so far and the defense has been a tad shaky. But the pitching in both the rotation and the pen has been great.

Things to feel good ...

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Darren Posted: April 30, 2007 at 03:40 AM | 56 comment(s)
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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Torre in All of His Glory

Phew! For just a minute there I was starting to think Joe Torre had lost his magic touch. But once again, he has, through no fault of his own, to stumble onto a way to win. No sooner does he decide that Igawa, after only a few starts, is not suitable material for the starting rotation, and that he should be replaced by 14+ ERA Karstens, than Karstens gets knocked from the game. So Torre has to go to Igawa, who not only pitches fine, but pitched out of a 2 on, no out jam, and then shuts out the ...

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Darren Posted: April 29, 2007 at 01:28 AM | 29 comment(s)
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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Checking out Dice-K with Peripheral Vision

Diasuke Matsuzaka has only pitched 5 games in the Major Leagues, so we really don’t know all that much about him. But in what we’ve seen so far, a very strange pattern has developed. Matsuzaka has dominated when it comes to peripherals, placing third in the league in FIP at 2.82. And lest you think he’s getting lucky on flyballs, he’s 7th in xFIP at 3.41. He’s done this by putting up an excellent HR rate (10th with .56 HR/G), a good BB rate (2.8 BB/G), and an excellent strikeout rate of 10.6 ...

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Darren Posted: April 28, 2007 at 11:58 AM | 74 comment(s)
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Friday, April 27, 2007

Boston Globe Soxcast

Longtime Primate Jason Tuohey is a producer at The Boston Globe’s website. They recently launched a podcast with the Globe’s sports department called “Soxcast”. He says, it’s “a weekly, short Q&A with the Globe’s baseball writers on the latest Red Sox developments.” He asks for some feedback on the feature.

Thoughts?

Jim Furtado Posted: April 27, 2007 at 11:23 AM | 7 comment(s)
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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Papelbon Usage Manual

Chris Wok has asked me to post a ‘Papelbon Usage Manual’ thread. In it, I think he had envisioned the opportunity to define exactly when Papelbon should be used, and then chronicle whether that actually matches what Francona is doing. I’ll let him stop by and take it from here.

As for me, I’m pretty darn happy with the usage of Papelbon so far.

Darren Posted: April 26, 2007 at 01:31 AM | 95 comment(s)
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Weekly Minor League Thread: Haigwood Special

The Red Sox recent trade for Daniel Haigwood generally flew under the radar, but the more I look at it, the more it seems like a steal. As recently as prior to the 2006 season, Sickels ranked Haigwood a B prospect. In his midseason, prospect review, he said that Haigwood was “[p]itching just as well as [Gio] Gonzalez,” and made no negative comments. Yet, come this spring, Haigwood was listed only in the “Others of Note” section for the Rangers, meaning his grade is now likely in the C range. He ...

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Darren Posted: April 25, 2007 at 01:26 AM | 47 comment(s)
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Monday, April 23, 2007

Red Sox Sweep Yanks

There were just was a million great stories in this game and this series:

—The Yankees touched all three of Boston’s vaunted starters for at least 5 R each. Schilling earned his bad results but Dice K and Beckett both seemed to have decent to good peripherals and generally pitched pretty well against a tough lineup.

—Torre managed this series like it was the World Series. He uses Rivera in the 8th after swearing up and down he wouldn’t. In game 3, he again goes to Pettitte in relief (for ...

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Darren Posted: April 23, 2007 at 04:07 AM | 112 comment(s)
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Enjoy it

It just doesn’t get a lot better than tonight. The whole night seemed destined for craptitude. Schilling looked bad. Pettitte looked decent, and seemed to get a DP or other out whenever he needed. The bats looked lost. ARod looked unstoppable.

But then in came Vizcaino who seemed to have nothing (is this how he normally looks?). Then Rivera, who Torre has sworn up and down he wouldn’t use in the 8th, comes in in the 8th. Then Coco and Cora. Okajima to finish it out was pretty tense, ...

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Darren Posted: April 21, 2007 at 03:03 AM | 51 comment(s)
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Friday, April 20, 2007

Up and down the lineup

There’s been some talk that the top 5 of the lineup are carrying the bottom four, who are awful. Not exactly true. It’s been more like the 3 and 5 holes hitting well, 1 and 6 doing alright, and everyone else being horrible. To wit:

—Pedroia has not looked good so far. Not at all. He is patient and he doesn’t strike out. But he has not hit the ball hard. The good news is that he seems to take some time to adjust to new levels before settling in, much the way Youks did. I haven’t lost faith, ...

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Darren Posted: April 20, 2007 at 01:06 AM | 51 comment(s)
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Boston’s Best Baseball Writer Headed to the Herald

According to a Boston Sports Media report, Rob Bradford is heading to the Herald. No news yet about what this will mean for his excellent Bradford on Baseball blog, but I’m guessing it will continue to operate the same way. It’s encouraging that a guy who has gone out of his way to avoid the BS that often overwhelms all aspects of sports writing and focus on real baseball content is getting hired to a much more high profile position.

Here’s a recent piece by Bradford on Why Papelbon’s ...

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Darren Posted: April 17, 2007 at 01:09 AM | 15 comment(s)
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Weekly (in name only) Minor League Thread: George Kottaras

Although it may never approach Bagwell for Andersen, the Wells for Kottaras trade may end up looking very good. Kottaras is off to a very nice start in Pawtucket this year, hitting .292/.433/.458. It’s a nice step up for him after he clearly struggled in the PCL last year. In our offseason rankings, Temple ranked Kottshot (GKott? Kottie?) the 11th prospect in the Sox system. If he continues this sort of success, he’ll be ready for the Majors next year and will shoot way up in those rankings.

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Darren Posted: April 14, 2007 at 01:23 PM | 50 comment(s)
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Kudos to Tito

However you feel about the Red Sox choice of moving Jonathon Papelbon to the bullpen, you have to like the way they have used him since he’s been there. Papelbon has now been used three times and each one of those times has made perfect sense. The first time he was used was in a traditional cheap save situation, but it was a chance to get him work after he didn’t get into the first two games of the year. Appearance #2 came against the heart of the Texas order in the 8th, with two runners on and ...

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Darren Posted: April 14, 2007 at 11:40 AM | 44 comment(s)
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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Is it too early to complain about bullpen usage?

I understood the first couple of days, getting everyone work. I liked using Papelbon in the cheap save the other day to get him some work. But yesterday’s game was mystery to me. Lopez is brought in in the 5th to face two lefties. But with a runner on 3rd and 1 out, he’s allowed to face two righties. This leads me to believe that it is so early in the game that Francona is not willing to let matchups dictate his moves. Fine.

But then why is Kyle Snyder, theoretically the long man, lifted ...

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Darren Posted: April 08, 2007 at 03:09 PM | 89 comment(s)
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Friday, April 06, 2007

Inaugural Minor League Thread: Lester in A ball

According to this AP article, Jon Lester threw 4 innings of 1-hit ball for Greenville today. He’s expected to make at least three more starts there. Other key numbers: 37 of 54 pitches were strikes and he touched 96.

Sounds like he’s on the road to recovery. Good for him.

Darren Posted: April 06, 2007 at 01:37 AM | 76 comment(s)
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No Worries about Coco… Yet

Watching Coco Crisp at the plate, it is easy to see why every Red Sox game chatter is littered with posts like “Coco stinks” and “When’s Ellsbury getting here?” Coco looks terrible at the plate in three games so far this year. Watching third strikes. Skying pop-ups. Tapping weak dribbles on the infield. He looks just like the guy who hit .264 .317 .385 for the Red Sox last year.

However, there’s a reason I’m not too worried about Coco yet. Coco was a good hitter in 2004 and 2005, and only ...

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Darren Posted: April 06, 2007 at 01:26 AM | 42 comment(s)
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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Opening Day is Never Our Day

The Red Sox have apparently lost the 6 of the last 7 opening days, so this one was no surprise, I guess. Still, if you watched the game without knowing who was who, which team would you have guessed had been picked to lose 100 games, the one saddled with a #1 starter whose contract is a punchline? Which team would you say had the $150 mil. payroll, with a potent lineup and good starting pitching? It was just one game, but man, was it ugly. A couple of quick observations:

—Schilling looked a ...

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Darren Posted: April 03, 2007 at 02:45 AM | 26 comment(s)
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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Matsuzaka, Please Just Be Nomo

The Globe has a nice Red Sox season preview up, which includes a big section on Matsuzaka. As the season is set to commence, I’ve decided to be modest in my hopes. I am only asking that everyone perform about as expected. Drew plays only 115 games with good defense and a strong bat—fine with me. Manny and Ortiz chime in with 1.000 OPS? Great. Beckett in the mid-4s in ERA? Okey dokey. If everyone does what they’re supposed to, more or less, this team will be very likely to win 95 games.

For ...

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Darren Posted: March 31, 2007 at 12:04 PM | 29 comment(s)
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

MDC to AAA, YYY???

According to Bradford’s blog, Manny Delcarmen is headed for AAA to start the season. To me, this is a continuation of a head-scratching pattern by the front office.

If there was one non-Papelbon reliever who I felt reasonably confident about coming into this year, it was Delcarmen. His peripherals have been very good. He has two pretty good looking pitches. He’s young and has been fairly durable and consistent the past two years. His ERA and WHIP were bad, but his XFIP and other factors ...

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Darren Posted: March 28, 2007 at 12:10 AM | 33 comment(s)
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