Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Five Swings: Chemistry Lesson

The Sox take the day off, as Minnesota recovers from their opening day frolic in the warm sunshine of victory, instead of the sterility of the Metrodome.

1. Offensive action. Although the Sox 'new way' revolves around pitching and defense, the offense hasn't been too shabby.
The Sox have been averaging five runs a game in the first seven games of the season, and second in OPS, behind the Yankees.

2. "It takes a village." The old African proverb says it takes a village to raise a child, but that one child can destroy the village.  The early struggles of David Ortiz create a major headache for skipper Terry Francona and the Sox management. An unhappy, unproductive player can bring down the village. Mike Lowell has shown remarkable dignity and put on a tolerant public face so far; in the uber-competitive AL East, the Red Sox can't afford to get off to a start like last year's Rays. The Sox have several alternative DH candidates including Lowell, Jeremy Hermida, and Bill Hall. Will the Sox need a chemistry lesson?

3. Imbalancing act. Among the thirty-five Red Sox runs scored, three players, Kevin Youkilis (7), Dustin Pedroia (6), and Jacoby Ellsbury (6) have scored almost 60 percent. They also have fifty-one of the team's 116 total bases (44 percent). So, although the sample size is small, we still have to look to see more guys involved in the offensive production.

4. Revolving door. Within the struggling Sox bullpen, the guy the Sox probably worried about most, Manny Delcarmen, has found some success. The end of the bullpen (after Papelbon, Okajima, Bard, Ramirez, and Delcarmen) falls on the Scotts, Atchison and Schoeneweis. The clock ticks down on Alan Embree, looking to get back to the Show. So far, Embree has pitched 2 1/3 innings, allowing a combination of seven hits and walks, and has an ERA in the stratosphere (11.57). While the Sox await the return of Daisuke Matsuzaka, will Embree get the April 15th call or will Dustin Richardson be the lottery winner.

5. Control freak. The Sox have a plan for Casey Kelly, whom they hope will become "The Man". Kelly's working on a strict pitch count, which makes all the sense in the world. The Sox will limit his total number of innings, and based on what we've seen from the bullpen this season, would anyone be surprised to see Kelly up by August?

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