Terry Francona has earned his stripes with a pair of World Series titles in five seasons. His success follows excellent players, supporting his veterans and promoting youth, keeping problems in-house, and maybe a little luck. Nothing wrong with that.
Zebras. That is, umpires. I think the calls on the bases are as good as ever, but the strike zone has begun to resume pre-Questek dimensions, with the outside corner not yet of Glavinesque proportions but getting there. Two consecutive replay days for homers for the Sox, but the locals went 0-2, although no way we could bellyache on the former, and we couldn't really tell on the latter.
Do you have to change your stripes sometimes? The Sox are facing numerous stripe-rearrangement questions?
- Do they need another DH bat? Even when healthy, is Mark Kotsay the answer if Big Papi continues to struggle or has an injury?
- Should Big Papi move down in the lineup? (Absolutely)
- Do we have a shortstop controversy? Neither Lugo nor Green are going to make anybody forget Ozzie Smith. Green has a fielding percentage at shortstop of .922, with a mediocre range factor. Lugo has a fielding percentage of .931, and his failures to reach balls and turn double plays have affected at least two games. Neither is getting the job done in the field consistency, notwithstanding Green's sliding catch recently.
- Closer. Jonathan Papelbon seems to be getting 'pigeon-holed' as a one-pitch pitcher. He certainly has a 'plus' fastball with command, but we're also talking American League. He doesn't throw sliders to left-handers and the splitter is pretty much the club in the bag these days.
- Announcer. Jerry Remy get well soon, but Dave Roberts is a natural, easy to listen, obviously has an encyclopedic baseball knowledge, and works well with Don Orsillo. I just wish Dave would reduce the 'knocks' about fifty percent.