Saturday, April 10, 2010

Five Swings: What's Wrong with This Picture?

One of Richard Pryor's famous lines goes, "who are you going to believe...your lying eyes or your beloved husband. And that's how Red Sox performance over the first six days of the baseball season confronts Red Sox Nation. We received the promise of pitching and defense, and so far the reality hasn't come anywhere close to the hype.

1. Welcome back. The Red Sox can't call tonight a "must" win, because they run into Zack Greinke. Calling the fifth game of any baseball season the be all, end all, makes as much sense as viewing the next 300 yards of a marathon the determining factor between victory and defeat. Mike Lowell (the retiring guy), Jason Varitek, and Jeremy Hermida find their way into the lineup, and I'm guessing that Adrian Beltre doesn't feel that bad about missing Greinke.

2. Farm stand. Daisuke Matsuzaka threw five scoreless innings today for the PawSox. Speculation has it that the Japanese legend has another couple of starts before a recall. I'm certainly a believer that these things take care of themselves, and the Bosox certainly need some repairs to the bullpen, which has been abominable since the opening day win.

3. Maple leaves or Maple lives? It's only a matter of time before shattering bats result in the business end becoming impaled in either a pitcher or a fan causing a fatality or a career-ending injury. You know it, I know and Major League Baseball knows it. But will it take a bat shard to cause irreparable damage for baseball to do something about it? Whether the bats need protective sleeves or just outright substitution remains a mystery, but the potential will become a sad reality and nobody will be saying "Black Swan" when it happens. "It's a concern for us..." Right.

4. Catch of the Day. Last night the Sox benefited from the Royals running into a pair of outs, abetted by a great relay from Mike Cameron to Dustin Pedroia to Victor Martinez. Will tonight bring us some outfield heroics that will call to mind as good a catch as you can see? Some say Al Luplow's catch off Dick Williams as he dove into the bullpen was the best ever in Fenway; as far as I know, there's no video. This is the greatest catch I've seen on video. 

5. Go young, West man. Should umpires comment about the game of baseball, or is their job solely to call it as they see it, between the lines? The Red Sox and Yankees strategically play a game of attrition, seeing a lot of pitches, to the point that pitches 'seen' has become a statistic showing up in the Box Scores. With most pitchers on pitch counts, that means earlier arrival of middle relief, which can mean an exposed Achilles Heel for most teams in MLB. Certainly the Red Sox' middle relief is suspect, as is the entire bullpen so far. You've seen the stats from the pen, and eight walks in twelve innings and a strikeout to walk ratio of exactly one isn't getting it done. The sample size is exceeding small, and we'll leave it at that.

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