There are a lot of things that you can talk about right now with the Red Sox but I really hate bringing tabloid crap onto the site and focus on things that are off the field issues. I’d love to say that this is just a product of playing in a big city, such as Boston or in the past New York, but the reality is that there are a lot of places that will dwell on this stuff when reality doesn’t meet expectations.
I think it’s a fair statement that before the season began the “so-called experts” believe that this was a Boston team that could and very likely would win a tough American League Eastern division –and if not they had a tremendously good possibility of locking down one of the two wild card spots– rather than fall on it’s face and play below .500 ball.
There has been a lot of things to wrong for the Sox early. That said they’ve been getting good hitting from the majority of their line-up and the added support of having solid defense. If they can get their pitching staff, which before the start of last year looked like one of the top-5 in baseball, back to what it was there is a good chance that they still can make a move for the playoffs this year.
It’s easy to go into this short series with a team that is on the ropes and think we can take away two easy ones. But with their two-best pitchers on the hill, and with a little something to prove and play for, this could turn out to be a dog fight of a series.
|Seattle Mariners (17-20)||Boston Red Sox (16-19)|
May 14th – Monday – 4:00pm
Thoughts: The M’s need Vargas to have a big night. Much of the bullpen was used to nail down the victory and while they didn’t throw much in the way of pitches, the fact is that their bullpen is up and throwing in the pen night AFTER night AFTER night. They are in need of a rest and Vargas has flashed the ability to do that for the team this season.
Meanwhile, the Washington native, Lester, has had a tough start to his year. A guy that for the past three years has flashed the possibility of being an Ace has temporarily been turned into a pumpkin. While not all together terrible, Lester has lost the killer, top shelf, elite stuff that he’s shown the last few years and while it’s possible that he gains it back
May 15th – Tuesday – 4:00pm
Thoughts: Beavan should keep the M’s close enough to win it. The question is how close is close enough? The bats need to show up and with Smoak at least looking a bit better, it’s Carp turn to start to heating up a bit. Montero and Ackley have both seemingly turned the corner hopefully with the help of Seager, Ichiro and maybe Jaso too, they can jump on Beckett quick and take two in Fenway.
|C||Jesus Montero||-2||94||0||C||Jarrod Saltalamacchia||-2||109||0.3|
|1B||Justin Smoak||-0.8||56||-0.5||1B||Adrian Gonzalez||4.5||113||1|
|2B||Dustin Ackley||-1.8||91||0.3||2B||Dustin Pedroia||-0.9||146||1.6|
|3B||Kyle Seager||4.4||129||1.4||3B||William Middlebrooks||-0.6||191||0.6|
|SS||Brendan Ryan||6.5||40||0.6||SS||Mike Aviles||2.5||93||1.1|
|LF||Mike Carp||-4.9||88||-0.3||LF||Cody Ross||0.4||108||0.5|
|CF||Michael Saunders||-1.4||102||0.5||CF||Marlon Byrd||-0.7||53||-0.2|
|RF||Ichiro Suzuki||7.4||104||1.3||RF||Ryan Sweeney||1.6||125||1|
|DH||John Jaso||0||120||0.2||DH||David Ortiz||N/A||172||1.3|
|B||Chone Figgins||-6.9||60||-0.9||B||Kelly Shoppach||1||109||0.5|
|B||Casper Wells||0.5||119||0.2||B||Darnell McDonald||1||68||0.1|
|B||Alex Liddi||-0.5||125||0.3||B||Daniel Nava||2.3||363||0.8|
|B||Munenori Kawasaki||-1.3||24||-0.4||B||Nick Punto||-1.2||42||-0.3|
Series Preview 3-on-3 featuring:
Fansided’s Senior Editor of BoSox Injection Derek Stykalo
Harrison Crow: Clay Buchholz break out year, 2010, was largely due to his ability to suppress home runs. He got plenty of ground ball outs and a fastball that sat mid-90’s. Two years later he’s greatly struggling with fly balls going over the fence, a slightly lower ground ball% and a lower infield fly out %. All this to include dropping velocity and procuring fewer swings and misses. What’s the story on Buchholz?
Derek Stykalo: his latest outing was better but personally I believe Buchholz is dealing with one of two things. Either his back is still bothering him, the injury that forced him tools half of last season or he’s so worried about re-injuring it that he’s protecting and not getting low enough at the release point. This evidenced by his inability to keep his fastball down, something that leads to the multiple home runs in a game.
Manager Bobby V is also struggling on when to pull pitchers and more than once this season buchholz has been well over 100 pitches only to remain in the game for two batters too many. His ERA of 8.31 is a result of that but not entirely the reason. His confidence is low and a stint in the minors to rebuild his strength and confidence is looming if he struggles.
As I said his last outing looked promising but he will have to continue to produce on the mound with dice-k only a couple of weeks away from returning.
HC: David Ortiz is having a monster season this year. What’s been different this year compared to the last few years where he has struggled early?
DS: easy answer is hes in a contract year so naturally his numbers go up. But honestly he dropped over 20 pounds in the off season due to high blood pressure. His lighter frame has resulted in a re-found resurgence at the plate making his future in Boston much more complicated. He can only really DH and he’s making $14.5 million which some feel is a lot of money for a guy who rarely plays in the field. He will be looking for a raise and a multi year deal of he keeps up these numbers and the sox mgmt will have a tough decision to make.
HC: Will Middlebrooks has had a monster first 8 games, obviously not a prototypical hitter from the last Boston decade, how does he fit in to the future with Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis already holding down corner infield spots?
DS: this situation is a little more clear cut. Middlebrooks is the future third basemen in Boston and after this year he will assume the role full time. Youkilis has a team option an at 13 million its unlikely the club will pick it up given Middlebrooks’ ability to show he’s major league ready.
Youk will be back in a couple weeks and already the debate has begun as to what to do with Middlebrooks. Gm Ben cherington has said youk will at third when he returns meaning Middlebrooks could end back in AAA unless a trade sending youk out of town is made. It’s a real possibility youk gets moved but only if he can get healthy to bump his offensive numbers up so his value will warrant a reasonable return.
DS: Ichiro never disappoints. He’s always hitting for average and getting on base. But with his age nearing retirement territory and the Mariners in some what of a rebuilding stage, is it possible we see the face of the franchise traded this summer?
HC: At this point I think the Mariners are entertaining everything. I think trading Ichiro is one of the hardest issues to broach with most Mariner fans. It’s something that while it’s mentioned it’s not been seriously entertained for the last 4, 5 years. But with his resurgence it’s bound to become serious discussion the closer we move to July.
The only thing with that is I don’t see many teams willing to surrender the pieces that would be needed to pry Ichiro free, and it would need to be substantial, from the Mariners organization which he has been the face of the franchise for the last 12 years.
Teams like the Indians, Nationals, maybe the Giants or Dodgers are teams that I could see as having some interest. But until they really look like they need that push I don’t see any of those teams parting with top tier pieces within their organization which is what I think they would need, regardless of worth, to justify to a portion of the fan base and possibly even the ownership.
What it comes down to who comes calling and how bad they really want him. But, yes, I think just about everyone anyone is game for the right price.
DS: Give us your take on the Montero/Pineda deal. With the injury to Pineda aside, was it the right move for Seattle? How are fans reacting to the news that he’s out for the season? I mean this looks like a complete robbery for the mariners.
HC: I thought we paid a bit too much at the time to get Montero. He’s a great bat but the lack of position and even the quality really stunts his overall worth. That said the bat is legitimate and I conceded the fact that the Mariners were going to have to over pay a touch to get what they need for this team to be successful going forward.
It’s really too bad about Pineda but we all knew the risk and it was something that here in Seattle we talk a lot about. The dangers of building your rotation around young arms. It’s hard to know how long those arms are going to hold up and it’s really hard to project them out for more than one or two years.
I hate to see Pineda go down, I like him a lot on a personal level, and I even want to see him succeed one some level. But that said it is what it is and that stuff happens. You would have thought the Yankees would have identified that he was over weight or out of shape at the time of the trade. I’m not saying they didn’t do their due diligence just that the Mariners camp has been really quiet with the Yankees playing the blame game and coming just short of saying Pineda was damaged goods.
They still got another amazing arm in Jose Campos in the deal, which was just as big of a deal for a lot of us here in Seattle. But, he also just went on the DL with an injury. Ultimately, you have to understand that there are dangers in trading stock with young arms. As the saying goes: “Caveat emptor”.
DS: Because we don’t see the mariners a lot in the year, give us an inside look at Vargas and Beaven, the two starters for Seattle. How do they stack up against Lester and Beckett given the struggles those two have gone through this year?
HC: It’s funny, we’ve all liked Vargas for a variety of reasons the past couple of years. But if you would have asked at the beginning of the season who in a month and a half would be the better pitcher, Lester or Vargas. It would have been undeniably Lester. Who I believe is a very good #2 and may soon evolve into the ranks of “aces” and I’m of the opinion there are only about 5 or 6 in all of baseball that are really that.
But, Vargas has taken some legitimate steps forward. His cutter has gotten to be very effective. He’s using his change-up as a weapon to procure swings and misses rather than just to induce weak contact. The adjustments he’s made give him better deception and overall he’s pitching like a legitimate middle of the rotation guy. At this point I think he’s legitimately a better pitcher than Lester and that’s flat out shocking to me.
Blake Beavan is a weird cat. I haven’t been his biggest fan as for the better part of 3 seasons he consistently has shown he’s a fly ball pitcher that doesn’t have a pitch that can consistently miss bats. The thing about that is he’s gotten smarter and while he often pitches in the upper half of the strike zone he does an amazing job of getting weak flyballs.
His curveball has come a long ways and even at times flashes as an above average pitch. Coupled with a change-up that is just about average he is starting to mix all those together to have some successful results. I wonder if he’ll continue be able to be a successful pitcher with the amount of fly balls he gives up.