Hey, great blog. Long time reader but I had to comment today. WTF happened last night! Did the Rays give Francona some TCP chewing gum? Where do I start?It's funny, I was so angry at the umpiring of the plate in the last two innings, the insane calls the Rays got, that I couldn't even consider writing about Boston until today.
Some great points Tom.
- Beckett is clearly not ok. Whether it's injury or mechanics or just mentally. I think the first 4 innings (and the game against the Angels) are enough evidence. Did Tito expect "Mr. Soxtober" to magically appear in the fifth? What makes it worse is that Paul Byrd has been great for us and would have been perfect to take the long relief. What's the point in having such great depth if we don't use it. Also, is it just me or does Josh seem to have put on weight since the regular season?
Josh definitely got a longer outing than some 'lesser' pitchers would, however I think some would argue he has earned the extra respect. I agree with you though, Paul Byrd and others in the 'pen might have held the Rays off in the early innings, and the Sox might be 2-0 up going to Fenway. We will never know.
-What is Mike Timlin doing back on the roster. Retire with dignity! Don't be another Keith Foulke. He's hasn't got the velocity or the finesse to be a top pitcher anymore. Add to that constant injury/constant rust. No brainer to me.Timlin is near the finish line career wise, no doubt, however I think he was completely hosed by the home plate umpire on Saturday night. He wasn't squeezed, he was put in a vice and basically given absolutely nothing on the corners, up or down. Timlin and the Sox were completely robbed in the final inning. On another note, Timlin brings valuable experience to the 'Pen, he can help Masterson, Delcarmen and the others through the playoff experience. Finally, he is well respected in the clubhouse, and, bottom line, Francona loves him.
- It was good to see Pedroia get his numbers going and typical Pedroia big style! I really hope to see Ortiz and Ellsbury do the same as they are the only players that appear sub-average in the lineup so far (I've accepted Varitek's decline).This is not going to be a popular statement, but I am worried about Big Papi's form. He looks completely lost at the plate. I can see Jacoby contributing, and I am glad to see Tito sticking by him, not dropping him down the order. Big Papi? Not so sure about that, is he going to be able to get into a rhythm at all? Much depends on Drew/Bay, if they start ripping the ball, pitchers will have to give Papi something better to hit.
- A controversial one. Sean Casey is a better hitter than Kotsay. He's a natural 1st baseman. Why aren't we playing him? Why is he not even being given a chance? Kotsay is faster but don't we save him as a pinch runner then.Kotsay is a vastly superior defensive player to Casey. It's not even close.
-To finish on something positive, I was a little bit worried about Delcarmen and Okajima but they've really stepped it up. Ditto Masterson. Combined with Paps we've got a least 5 innings worth of good releif pitching. Rant over...Totally right on the bullpen, it looks focused and prepared, testament to Boston's superior coaching. The Sox pen never gets the respect it is due, Tampa were meant to have a vastly superior talent level in this area, yet once again, so far, Boston's coaching staff has a young pen preforming at a high level deep into the playoffs.