Thursday, July 03, 2008
Red Sox fans have to ask, "are some of the younger players folding under pressure?" Sometimes you get beat, nothing to cry about. But last night the Sox simply beat themselves, from failing to cover first base, to suffering control lapses, to failing execution on the hit-and-run. The mercurial bullpen showed why some of the Sox younger players remain suspects. The first workout day of Spring Training, I guarantee you the pitchers grumble about how routine the fielding drills are, running to the cutout and then up the line to the bag to get the best angle.
And tonight it's off to the House That Ruth Built, more or less, with the locals smelling blood in the water. The Sox will present an usual battle of lefties with Jon Lester against Red Sox nemesis Andy Pettitte. Pettitte emerged relatively unscathed amidst the doping crisis, far better than his running mate.
Many Sox fans' eyes also will focus on Jason Varitek, mired in a slump of Mendozan proportions, with a three-for-forty eight drought with beaucoup strikeouts. Varitek carries the team on his defensive shoulders, but one has to wonder whether the odometer has rolled over on the Sox catcher. Scott Boras' blue book of facts on Varitek will read like a history book, with four caught no-hitters, two World Championships, and over a thousand appearances behind the dish.
Regrettably, JV is one for his last 19, hitting .216 with a .664 OPS. Among AL catchers with at least 150 at bats, Varitek ranks 16th in OPS.
As I say far too often, "it's not about getting better players, it's about playing better."