As the Red Sox move into the final fifty games or so of the regular season, Sox fans have questions, not only about this year, but the future.
Theo Epstein has locked in some tough contracts (Drew, Lugo), has some veterans on the free agent train (Curt Schilling, Mike Lowell), and some minor league pieces to rearrange. Epstein and company have to decide (eventually) what direction to take.
The two hottest minor league pitchers are Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson. Masterson fanned another ten in six innings today, and with an E.R.A. under 1.50 in six starts, and total domination, he's due for Pawtucket...soon. North Carolina product Andrew Miller is already in the Tigers' rotation. I'm not arguing for promotion of any of the Sox minor leaguers, but historically the Sox have been very conservative with young talent. What role do Buchholz and Masterson get this fall, if any?
Kevin Youkilis is the 'wild card' positionally, as he could go back to third base, if the Sox decide Mike Lowell is too expensive for their blood. Brandon Moss gets some PT at first base, as he could become a more versatile piece with infield and outfield exposure. With two homers today for the Pawsox and a .326 average, Jed Lowrie is making believers out of some. Does Lowrie have a future with the Sox, and if so, where?
Speaking of prospects, Jacoby Ellsbury must be feeling better, as he had three hits and a stolen base today, coming off the DL. Where does Ellsbury fit in the puzzle?
In the 'can you believe it?' category, the Red Sox Daisuke Matsuzaka is the only right-handed pitcher among the top five in strikeouts. Erik Bedard of the O's leads the pack.
Hard to imagine, but the Sox are second in the AL in fielding percentage. With Crisp, Youkilis, and Pedroia all playing solid defense, that helps.
The Red Sox also lead the A.L. in ERA at 3.75. These aren't your father's Red Sox, and we are thankful for that.