Swept by Toronto.
No, dear reader, it’s not September 2007, although one couldn’t help but remember that disastrous trip up north last fall.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this team (well, counting last year’s too) looking more out of it. Another flight, another trip through customs, another opening day ceremony… now I’m just watching all of this on TV and I’ve had enough of it, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be on the Red Sox, having to go through some out of the way travel only to arrive for seemingly endless hours of ceremony before a single pitch gets thrown. Though no one on the team was going to come out and complain, this is a team that very badly needs to get some equilibrium back, and the best way to do that for them is to go home. Fortunately, that’s up next. It’s somehow weird to me that these games are even counting, since it’s been a pattern of games that don’t count followed by games that do followed by games that don’t followed by more games that do… you figure somehow these might not count. The Sox haven’t even had a consistent schedule… couple here, couple there, these count, those don’t, etc. I gotta say, just from a fan’s point of view, that I’m sick of all the interruptions. One of my favorite things about baseball is that it’s always on, that tomorrow’s always another day, that after a loss you come right back and win one, or after a win you wake up with a clean slate and look to keep it up. This weekend we had three games in a row, and that’s the longest stretch of uninterrupted games so far. I’m looking forward to having more than two or three games without a day off in between. Then we’ll see some momentum.
FRIDAY: WAKEFIELD VS. MARCUM
Gotta say, this was the best of the three games to watch. Marcum pitched a great game for Toronto, and Wakefield was quite good through the first five. It’s really hard for me to go into panic mode watching a good team get played by another good team, and watching hitters get stifled by a pitcher who’s got everything working that day. Plus, it was the Blue Jays’ home opener, and maybe it’s just me not wanting to mess with karma since I’m going to the Sox’ home opener, but I can’t begrudge a team for winning their first home game for their fans. It was an exciting contest and I’m looking forward to seeing Wakefield’s next start.
Disappointing, but not a terrible outing from Buccholz. Sean Casey’s error at first really killed them. You hate to put it all on one player, but sometimes it just works out that way. If Casey doesn’t goof up, the game’s still winnable. I’m not ready to take away his #22 just yet. He’ll have a better day. The irony, though… Kevin Youkilis breaks the all-time record for consecutive errorless games at first, and then he gets a day off and what happens… yep, an error at first that kills the game.
SUNDAY: BECKETT RETURNS
Beckett looked fantastic through the first three, a little tired but still good in the fourth, and out of gas in the fifth. He’s one Manny Delcarmen pitch away from not finding himself on the losing end of this one, so what can you do? For a guy that hasn’t had a chance to pitch competitively basically all spring, who hasn’t really faced major league hitters yet, I think he did well. Next start should be back to normal.
Three errors in one game on Sunday, one on Friday, can’t really hit worth a damn… this was the guy they spent millions to bring to Boston? I don’t think he’s the worst player I’ve ever seen, but coming a year after Alex Gonzalez, the best defensive shortstop I’ve ever seen, Lugo’s deficiencies are glaring. Maybe I’m being too hard on the guy, but my heart still skips a beat whenever things set up for Lugo to make a routine play. Since Lugo hasn’t exactly done a great job of hitting, the decision to sign him long-term looks even sillier now. You really wonder what’s gonna happen to him if this keeps up, barely hitting above .200 and continuing to play a below-average shortstop. I wonder if Jed Lowrie will find his way up in September a la Dustin Pedroia in ’06. Something tells me that Lugo doesn’t finish out his four-year contract (three remaining, including this one) in a Boston uniform.
Which brings me to my next point, which is the Lugo and J.D. Drew signings. I don’t recall hearing any big hype around either of those guys before they were signed and overpaid, and I’m still not sure what the front office saw in these guys to make them overpay so drastically. They’re not bad, but they’re average… neither Drew nor Lugo has provided the team with anything that they couldn’t get for ten times less. And if Drew hadn’t been signed, there wouldn’t be a logjam in the outfield. Coco Crisp would play center, Ellsbury would play right, Bobby Kielty would be the backup, and in a couple years when Crisp’s deal ran out, Ellsbury would move to center and Brandon Moss could take over in right. Alex Gonzalez could have been signed to an extension after ’06 (did I mention I loved that infield that year?), and Lowrie could have taken over some point this year or next. Lots of money saved, more homegrown players on the field (which I prefer over high-priced imports, just more fun that way to watch them grow up), win-win for everyone. Whenever I have this conversation with people, they point out that being a top rated prospect is not a guarantee of success, and that’s true… but I’m not asking any of these minor league kids to step up and be Manny Ramirez. I’m asking them to hit better than Lugo, or to look more alive than Drew, and either way, that doesn’t seem like too much of a tall order. Long term free agent signings aren’t a guarantee either (see: Yankees, The, 2001-2007).
Tomorrow’s opening day, and I’ll be there… hopefully with some cool things to write about afterwards!