Monday, May 15, 2006


Sometimes it feels as though slumps are contagious, but it also seems that streaks are infectious. The Sox went bat-happy tonight, with thirteen hits, and three homers (Wily Mo Pena, Jason Varitek, and Mike Lowell) to take the opener at Baltimore 11-1.

The Sox now have five regulars hitting over .300, including Youkilis, Ramirez, Nixon, Lowell, and the surprising Pena. For all the pish posh from all the baseball geniuses on Nitwit Radio, there are the warm facts about the Coyote (Wily Mo), a solid centerfield, and a .904 OPS (on-base slugging percentage). His part-time statistics translate to a projected 22 homer 94 RBI season, not too shabby for a guy who's taken merciless criticism.

Meanwhile, Josh Beckett outfought some blisters to overpower the Orioles with a two-hitter through seven quality innings, after allowing a Miggy Tejada line drive homer just clearing the fence in the first.

Rhetorically many games a year does the manager decide? And how do we determine whether to credit or vilify the skipper for wins or losses? Since we somehow feel that criticism is our birthright, so be it, but I'll guess that the manager has far less impact on the winning percentage than the fifth starter. If fifth starters get thirty or so starts, then a swing of three games (from 15-15) brings us to either 12-18 or 18-12 in those games. So rather than wail on the manager because Lenny DiNardo, is, Lenny DiNardo, let's collectively focus on getting those extra wins out of the five spot.

My point is, that efforts directed to get the manager better talent, rather than more decision analysis (around the fifth starter) would likely yield more Ws.

Meanwhile the PawSox swept a pair from Scranton Wilkes-Barre, and most important, Craig Hansen fired four shutout innings, with four Ks and no free passes. David Riske got lit up for 3 hits and 2 runs in just over an inning...
Is it too soon to be talking about Red Sox players making the All-Star team? Yeah, probably. If the vote and selection were today, though, you'd get strong arguments for Ortiz (The Man), Papelbon, and Schilling. Manny would probably get the popular vote, too, although obviously he's not breaking out yet.
As for the most underrated guys category, Chris Shelton of the Tigers has tailed off (some), and Alex Rios, Jonny Gomes, Nick Swisher, and Casey Blake all appear to be having breakout seasons. And how many in the Nation can even name their teams?
In the AL, the Sox and the Blue Jays both have the best records at 7-3 over the past ten games. The Blue Jays have hung in there well, even without A.J. Burnett.

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