Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Pen runs out (L4-3) Season 8-6

Nobody wins everyday, not even the World Champions, not even with more power from Manny Ramirez (5) and David Ortiz (4). Even a quality start (7 innings, one run) from Bronson Arroyo wasn´t enough as Embree and Foulke left the cold cuts on the table and the Jays ate the Sox lunch. Arroyo departed with a 3-1 lead, and the pen ran dry, yielding a pair of Toronto runs in the 8th and the game winner in the 9th. Boo-freaking-hoo.

Fourteen games into the season, few patterns have emerged. Starting pitching seems to have righted itself with the return of Curt Schilling, and the ´new dudes´as the Patriots say (Wells and Clement) seem to be acquitting themselves pretty much as expected. The offense looks to produce baserunners and power, while matching them will determine the extent of offensive success. The bullpen has been inconsistent thus far. While the start hasn´t been fantastic, it hasn´t inspired panic either.

Wake up. The Sox announced an extension for graybeard knuckler Tim Wakefield, the AARP representative on the team. Wakefield, who has just about seen it all during his ten year Sox career, agreed to an unspecified extension. It looks as though the starting pitching is relatively set for the next couple of years, presuming reasonable health and contributions down the line from over-the-horizon types Jon Lester and Jon Papelbon.

Farm boys. The quick view comes from Hanley Ramirez is ripping the cover off the ball and has to be viewed as "hair apparent" to Johnny Damon. As the Sox try to establish payroll sanity, they are going to need to have some lower priced regulars to supplement the high-priced spread (see New England Patriots playbook). Dustin Pedroia, the diminutive second baseman with the pillow-soft hands is also pounding the ball at Portland. Less heralded third baseman Jared Sandberg (Ryne´s nephew) was named Eastern League Player of the Week. Papelbon is 2-1 and lefty Lester is struggling a bit with an ERA of 4.85 but has a stunning K-BB ratio of 19-4 in 13 innings.

Lower down the food chain, Anibel Sanchez was Carolina League Pitcher of the Week at Wilmington. Meanwhile at Pawtucket, Kevin Youkilis is struggling while Justin Sherrod and Kelly Shoppach have produced. Generally, most observers view AA as the "launching pad" and AAA as the "taxi squad" for players who can fill in immediately for injuries or special situations. Yeah, that´s an oversimplification, but not outlandishly so.

For the first time in many years, the Sox seem to be drafting and/or developing players with a real opportunity to make a difference. As noted previously, the only home grown contributor on the roster now is Trot Nixon. The last home grown pitching prospect we´ve had was Casey Fossum, part of the Schilling heist.

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