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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

It’s beginning to feel a lot like…2003. I’ve been able to take a few spare minutes to catch Sox games on mlb.tv recently and I’ve been a little bit shocked at what I’ve seen. Quite suddenly, in the two months since I left DC for South Carolina the Sox feature a lineup that includes unfamiliar names like Roberts and Cabrera, and Mientkiewicz. The pitchers include Myers and Adams and – my word is that Ramiro Mendoza?

We’re Nomarless so the so-called heart and soul of the team may be gone, but is anyone really worried? Pedro sports a bulky ERA but does it matter? Trot Nixon is an afterthought but have we missed him in the second half? The latest surge has the trappings of the ’03 Cowboy Sox. To wit – one run wins, late inning rallies, clutch hits, quirky celebrations (I love Pedro’s bat). September is coming. Can anyone wait?

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Sunday, August 01, 2004

Sunday morning coming down. Mixed feelings of shock and excitement upon hearing about the Nomar deal have now worn away. This morning Red Sox Nation is awakening to the reality of what happened the night before. Like Johnny Cash sang:

Well, I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt.

I can’t wrap my head around this deal. Surely we’ve complained about the shoddy defense all year long. But what were we complaining about last summer at this time? Don’t you remember? We bemoaned the bullpen and asked why Grady wouldn’t let Pedro pitch into the late innings of close ballgames. We complained about needing another top flight starter and ended up with Jeff Suppan. There are no guarantees this one will work out either.

On the other hand, we wake up this Sunday morning with the odds that Nomar will be a Red Sox next season about the same as what they were yesterday – slim to none, which are about the same as the chances that he would have been in the starting lineup regularly for the Sox the rest of this season.

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Sunday, July 18, 2004

That was last year. It was like looking into the past as the Sox thumped the Angels 6-2 in Anaheim today. David Ortiz hit a big three-run blast in the 6th inning to reverse a 1-0 deficit. The Sox scored all six of their runs late. It was the kind of offensive performance that made last season so memorable.

It was an important win for the Sox who have been stuck in a funk for months and risked falling into oblivion or disarray with another loss. If there’s such a thing as clutch hitting – because every hit is clutch, no? – the Sox had it today. You get good hitting when you have a good lineup, and even with Manny Ramirez out of the game, the lineup still seemed potent with Ortiz and Nomar Garciaparra swinging hot bats.

If you want to discuss clutch pitching Curt Schilling’s performance today should have been part of the equation. Schilling stood up for his beleaguered teammates not only by pitching a whale of a game, but also by plunking Bengie Molina in defence of Nomar who was hit by a pitch earlier.


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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The middle innings. Again on paper the Sox look pretty good if they need to go to the bullpen in the middle innings. Mike Timlin, Scott Williamson, and Alan Embree have been solid and about as good as any set-up tandem in the AL. The long guys have been less stellar, but not necessarily bad.

My concern lies with how the bullpen is utilized. Either Terry Francona is showing too much faith in DiNardo, A. Martinez, and company or he is overly concerned with preserving his setup trio. We've seen it all season long.

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A good win hopefully follows good win. Let's keep them coming.

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Thursday, July 01, 2004

Pull the goalie. Where to begin? A few days ago I promised a missive on Boston's defense as the first in a series of posts attempting to answer the question "how good are these Sox?". That was before this excruciating series in the Bronx began.

There were two errors on Opening Day. There were six in a three game span in April. There were errors that sent games into extra innings. There were errors of the mental kind. There were errors of the little league kind. The play at first base – David McCarty aside – has been so shoddy that if this was hockey we’d be calling for the coach to pull the goalie. The number of unearned runs piles up.

Each error that gives a team an extra out makes a pitcher throw more pitches. If anyone has calculated the numbers of errors committed when Pedro throws send them my way. Our fragile ace can't conserve pitches without help.

At short, Pokey Reese has looked like the second coming of Ozzie Smith making the difficult look routine. Perhaps you can forgive Nomar's defensive struggles due to his long layoff but sadly his return has marked a downturn in team defense up the middle.

Plain and simple, the defense stinks and a team built like this doesn't go far. Here are the results:

1. Tired starters
2. Tired bullpen
3. More pressure on the hitters
4. Increased angst in Red Sox Nation.

Screw finding a pitcher. Are there any gold glovers on the market?

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Monday, June 28, 2004

Is this a good team? Just how good is this team? It's no longer early in the season. The injured superstars are back. The All-Star Game is approaching. How good is the 2004 edition of the BoSox?

The folks in the front office would argue that the Sox are indeed very, very good if you go by the numbers. But the performance on the field tells a different story entirely.

Defense.
Middle relief.
Clutch hitting.
Managing.

I’ll examine these areas one by one in the coming week. For now here come the Yanks.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Questions from abroad. My friend Sam, Australia's greatest Red Sox fan, currently lives in Boston but is home in Sydney for a visit. Last night's drubbing of the Twins not withstanding, Sam had a bunch of questions for me about the Sox. Namely, what in the hell has happened since I left the Bay State three weeks ago?

The view of Red Sox Nation must be quite disconcerting from afar. The Sydney Morning Herald doesn't cover trade talks to strengthen the outfield, they simply publish box scores. (The Spartanburg, SC newspapers don't either, by the way, so I spend a lot of time on boston.com). A lineup that includes Trot, Nomar, Ortiz, and Manny for the first time all season can't pull off a .500 road trip?

But I feel good about last night's win. Let’s hope the view from abroad improves too.

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Questions from abroad. My friend Sam, Australia's greatest Red Sox fan, currently lives in Boston but is home in Sydney for a visit. Last night's drubbing of the Twins not withstanding, Sam had a bunch of questions for me about the Sox. Namely, what in the hell has happened since I left the Bay State three weeks ago?

The view of Red Sox Nation must be quite disconcerting from afar. The Sydney Morning Herald doesn't cover trade talks to strengthen the outfield, they simply publish box scores. (The Spartanburg, SC newspapers don't either, by the way, so I spend a lot of time on boston.com). A lineup that includes Trot, Nomar, Ortiz, and Manny for the first time all season can’t pull off a .500 road trip?

But I feel good about last night's win. Let's hope the view from abroad improves too.

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