Royal Rooters: Mid-Season Musings - Royal Rooters

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Mid-Season Musings
What's gone right and wrong halfway through...

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SoxAroundTheWorld 

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 04:22 AM

This board needs a new topic, so...

Here we are, in that tight window between the halfway mark and the All-Star break. The Sox are in first place (for today, at least). What has gone right and what has gone wrong so far this year? Biggest surprise? Biggest disappointment? Discuss here.

Right:
1) Adrian Gonzalez. Who can disagree? MVP candidate, league's leading hitter, most RBIs, solid defense. Worth every penny and prospect.
2) Josh Beckett. There must really be something to this odd year/even year thing. In 2011, he is as nasty as he has ever been. Now I don't feel so bad about that contract extension.
3) Tim Wakefield. What a great feel good story. Not such doubt anymore that he'll reach 200 wins, while 193 Sox wins is a lot more conceivable now than it was on April 1. Attaboy, Timmah!
4) Jacoby Ellsbury. The leadoff hitter has been streaky, but more on than off, with his .845 OPS and his 28 steals.

Wrong:
1) John Lackey. As obviously bad as Gonzalez has been obviously good.
2) Corner Outfielders. Crawford and Drew have both disappointed. Their replacements, Josh Reddick excepted, have not been a whole lot better.
3) The training staff. Last year, the Sox were plagued by traumatic injuries (broken stuff, basically). This year, the problem always seems to be a muscle strain for some sort, whether it's Crawford's hammy, Lowrie's shoulder, Lester and Buch's backs, or Jenks' and Albers' whatevers. I would think that a well paid training staff would be able to get these guys to avoid these stupid little things. Where's the conditioning program?

Biggest surprise: How well the catchers have done. Salty is hitting over .250 with an OPS+ of 103, while Tek's corpse is putting up its own OPS+ of 107 (his highest since 2005). They even occasionally throw out a runner. Whudda thunk it?

Biggest disappointment: Crawford. Maybe he'll figure it out eventually, but I can't quite stop thinking of Renteria.
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JMDurron 

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 07:21 AM

Contrary to my preseason concerns, neither Youkilis nor Pedroia are showing any ill effects from their 2010 injuries, and have basically been the players that they had been in the 1st half of 2010. Youk's glove at 3B has only cost us one or two games at most (Pittsburgh series), which is also better than I had expected.

This post has been edited by JMDurron: 08 July 2011 - 07:21 AM

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BigSlick 

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 10:17 AM

It's way too early to be down on Crawford. He obviously had a rough start but he certainly seemed to be coming around before he got hurt. He'll be fine. On the other hand, I know Lackey has personal issues he's dealing with, but I never liked the signing to begin with. My hope is that the rotation gets healthy and the Sox give him some extended time off to be with his family and things somehow work out for him.

One more thing that's gone right that I can't believe hasn't been mentioned yet is Papi. Many of us had written him off and he is having a fantastic year so far. I'd love to see what his batting average would be if teams didn't put the shift on him (or if he hit the other way occasionally)
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The Ghost of Ned Martin 

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 11:11 AM

View PostBigSlick, on 08 July 2011 - 10:17 AM, said:

It's way too early to be down on Crawford. He obviously had a rough start but he certainly seemed to be coming around before he got hurt. He'll be fine. On the other hand, I know Lackey has personal issues he's dealing with, but I never liked the signing to begin with. My hope is that the rotation gets healthy and the Sox give him some extended time off to be with his family and things somehow work out for him.




I completely agree on Crawford. I have no doubt that, over the second half of the year, he will resemble the Carl Crawford we are used to seeing when he played in Tampa. What he won't be, and never will, is a player "worthy," of a $16/m per year contract. He isn't a 30HR/130 RBI guy. He is a very solid offensive player with great speed who will also give you very good OF defense. The Sox overpaid for him because they wanted to lock him up before the Yankees could jump in. That fact will not magically transform a Carl Crawford into an Adrian Gonzalez at the plate.

Ellsbury and Beckett have been the most pleasant surprises for me thus far. I really had begun to sour on Ellsbury and thought that his upside potential was way overblown. I also thought Beckett was likely on a permanent downward slide and I couldn't be happier to have been proven ridiculously wrong about that because I have always loved his attack dog approach to pitching.

I've been a Salty fan boy since the days when all Red Sox message boards were filled with ideas for prying him away from the Braves organization. All reports I have read indicate he is a hard working guy who desperately wants to become a top level MLB Catcher. It's hard not to root for a guy like that. I also like what Andrew Miller has provided in his short time with the team but his past performances make me wary of getting too excited just yet.

If Lackey can just give constant 4/5 starter level performances, he will be fine. I don't think that is out of the realm of possibility The Buchholz back situation is the wildcard as far as I am concerned. Without him in the rotation, Lackey or Wakefield become your #3 starter that is a concern. Obviously, if Lester's lat strain is more serious then we are lead to believe then the Sox are in major trouble.

Given the horrendous start, I am satisfied where the team is at the midpoint.


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rominer 

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 01:25 PM

Starting pitching: I thought Beckett would bounce back, but even still, he's exceeded expectations. Lester's inconsistency has been mildly disappointing, which says more about how much we (or I, at least) have come to expect from him than it does about his actual performance. I'd like to see Buchholz get through a season healthy, but otherwise he's been about what I expected. He might have more seasons with ERAs in the low 2s in him, but I didn't expect him to just come out and repeat last year's performance.

Daisuke has been awesome. Wakefield has settled into that zone where the numbers don't look that great, but it's just that one bad inning every few starts otherwise he's keeping the team in games, eating the innings he needs to eat, doing what Tim Wakefield does. Aceves and Miller have both been solid.

John Lackey is overpaid. We knew that from day 1. But I always thought he was a gamer and a battler. That's been missing in most of his starts this year, too. He needs to choose between getting his shit together or going on the DL. This isn't Thailand, and the Red Sox aren't European. John Lackey isn't getting paid to suck.

Bullpen: The biggest thing here is that, while '06-'07 Papelbon is never coming back, he seems to be effectively burying 2010 Papelbon. That's the difference between first place and 3rd place. Beyond that, Daniel Bard is still good. Albers has been the pleasant surprise of the year. Wheeler sucked, then they made up an injury, put him on the DL, and he's been awesome ever since. Everybody who has gone back and forth between Boston and Pawtucket has been competent at worst. Having put Dennys Reyes on a forklift and carried him to the curb early on, the only real weak spot has been Jenks and there could even be hope for him, except that every time he starts to look good he gets hurt.

The guys with bats:

Adrian Gonzalez, even better than we thought. David Ortiz can safely be called Big Papi again. Youk and Pedroia are slightly off the pace, but I expect them to be right where we'd expect them to be at the end of the season. Ellsbury is doing what we thought he could do before we started thinking that he couldn't.

Catchers have worked out as well as could be hoped. Scutaro has been his "consistently ok, no more, no less" self, which has worked out better than Jed Lowrie's "great, then awful, then hurt." When Lowrie comes back, he should go cold turkey on switch-hitting. .557 OPS batting lefty, 1.026 OPS batting righty. I'm guessing he could at least split the difference batting righty against righty pitchers.

Carl Crawford wasn't that good even when he started to look good, we just were all looking for any little sliver of hope to cling to. When he comes back, it's a clean slate. He'll be fine because now we know that he can be the #7 hitter because he can be the #7 hitter in this lineup, and not just because Tito has to bury him until he finds his swing.

JD Drew looks like he's dead serious about retiring after this season. Maybe the fact that he's no longer platooning in RF will help get him going. If not, then that's why God invented Josh Reddick. (Not to be confused with Darnell McDonald, who's looking like he might not have a job by the time the trade deadline rolls around).

I don't know who the hell Drew Sutton is, but he has gotten the job done when they've needed him.

Don Orsillo could probably hit .260 if he played every day.
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Posted 08 July 2011 - 01:27 PM

View PostThe Ghost of Ned Martin, on 08 July 2011 - 11:11 AM, said:


I've been a Salty fan boy since the days when all Red Sox message boards were filled with ideas for prying him away from the Braves organization. All reports I have read indicate he is a hard working guy who desperately wants to become a top level MLB Catcher. It's hard not to root for a guy like that. I also like what Andrew Miller has provided in his short time with the team but his past performances make me wary of getting too excited just yet.


The catching tandem overall has been a pleasant surprise. I agree with you on Ellsbury. I wasn't expecting much (or maybe just wasn't sure what to expect) from him. He's been fun to watch this season.
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