Sunday, May 21, 2006

Balancing Act

One quarter of the regular season completed, and the Sox have the third best record in the AL and lead the AL East. Could you realistically ask for more, especially with your putative fifth starter (Wells) hurt and only five games of action from Coco Crisp?

Balance has been the key, with improving offense, superb defense leading the majors in the fewest errors, and generally good pitching, with improvement recently in the depth of the bullpen.

Five starters are hitting over .300 (Youkilis, Nixon, Ramirez, Lowell, and Pena) and Loretta and Varitek have both been coming on solidly. Throw in David Ortiz with 14 homers and his presence in the lineup, the run generation will likely improve.

Coming into today the Sox are in the upper half in offense (runs scored), and fifth in OPS, so they are likely to improve.

The starters are seventh in ERA at 4.83 while the pen, led by Papelbon and Timlin are at 3.57. The bullpen K/BB ratio is an outstanding 2.74.

The obvious pleasant surprises are Lowell, Youkilis, and Pena. On the mound, Papelbon has exceeded everyone's wildest dreams, and Wakefield is likely to continue to improve with Mirabelli and a few runs scored.

The best sign has been the change in runs scored to runs allowed, now at 217-186, versus recent negative territory. The record was outperforming because of Papelbon, allowing a lot of close game victories. The other good news has been a winning record in 1 run games (6-4) and the 23-17 road to home split so far. AND the ESPN relative power index has the Sox in first at .540, so nothing to whine about there.

If the best we can find to criticize are A-Gone's hitting and Lenny DiNardo's performance, we're fortunate. Pitching and defense, foreigners residing in the Hub.

Need something to worry about? Time to sign up Beckett to an extension?

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