Tag: Jonathan Papelbon

Rubin: Red Sox Pitching Was The Achilles’ Heel

Would you say, the Red Sox failed to win games because of their pitching?

By Dan Rubin 

It’s easy to point the finger at the 2011 Boston Red Sox by blaming the front office, the manager and his staff, or any one of the free agent busts they’ve signed over the past two years.

Detractors will be extremely quick to tell Red Sox fans they lost the season because of a clubhouse filled with overpriced babies, whining brats, and players who couldn’t get along. They’ll use that as fodder to lob at Theo Epstein and Terry Francona, and they’ll do it by saying, the Red Sox essentially became the New York Yankees.

Although, the real reason the Red Sox failed wasn’t because of a lack of output, yet instead – pitching.

Championships aren’t won without a lockdown bullpen and a good starting rotation. As Sox fans in the ‘90’s remember, it was easy to have a terrible season when you had one great starter and four mediocre arms.

The ‘02 Red Sox failed to qualify for the postseason even though they had two 20-game winners in Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe and the American League batting champion, Manny Ramirez. Boston failed to qualify for the playoffs that year because of their third, fourth and fifth starters, along with their bullpen that couldn’t close the door on any opponent.

The ‘04 Red Sox had multiple front-end starters, headlined by the aces of Martinez and Curt Schilling. Behind them, every starter won 10-games and pitched over 175 innings, while the bullpen shut the door at key times thanks to Mike Timlin and Alan Embree.  Only one Boston starter that year had a WHIP over 1.5 (Lowe). Also, Lowe, Tim Wakefield, and Bronson Arroyo gave the Sox a chance to win games too.

The ‘07 edition was even better, as their rotation included Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka, (making his cameo appearance for being great by pitching a team-high 204 innings). Behind them, Wakefield and Schilling, as well as Julian Tavarez and Jon Lester. With the exception of Tavarez, no pitcher had a WHIP of 1.50 or higher on the ’07 squad. Also, the bullpen that year had a well-balanced attack of relievers, as every single pitcher practically finished with – 50+ innings pitched, 3.00-4.00 ERA, 2-3 wins, and a WHIP of 0.90-1.50.

The Red Sox of ’11 featured four starters down the stretch with WHIPs over 1.5 – John Lackey, Andrew Miller, Erik Bedard, and Kyle Weiland. Their bullpen had three relievers combine for more than 50 innings, while Alfredo Aceves recorded more innings pitched than both Miller and Bedard combined.  Jonathan Papelbon was forced to finish 54 games, appear in 63, and save only 31 – and he blew three saves. Also, at the end of the season, he became used too often because Dan Wheeler, Scott Atchison, and Felix Doubront couldn’t do what the team did in ’04 and ’07, which was win games.

So, now we hit the offseason. Francona appears all but gone, and the front office is left with a number of different questions. They’ll probably go out and sign some splashy free agent, which should make everyone feel great coming into spring training next year, but until they get those workhorse guys in their clubhouse, the current roster and new additions will most likely be looking up at Tampa Bay and New York again next September.

Daily Noontime – September 29, 2011

Well... that wasn't supposed to happen, right?

Happy Thursday to everyone and welcome into another wonderful edition of the Daily Noontime! Here’s some headlines and news to kick-start your day! 

Headlines: 

* It’s hard to believe, but the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox blew their Wild Card leads on Wednesday and allowed the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals the opportunity to snag the final playoff spots in the American and National League.

* According to the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn the Red Sox should blame themselves for their epic collapse, not anyone else.

* After losing to the Baltimore Orioles, Jonathan Papelbon told the Boston media that he doesn’t have any excuses for blowing his final save of the season.

* The Rays enjoyed an exciting Wednesday evening, as they rallied to score eight runs against the New York Yankees.

* According to reports, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick participated in a practice on Wednesday and certainly hopes to be on the field Sunday.

* The Dallas Cowboys have won their last two games and certainly hope to make it three in a row, yet their biggest challenge on Sunday will be defending Detroit’s Calvin Johnson.

Games to Watch: 

* #16 South Florida at Pittsburgh (NCAA Football) – 8:00pm eastern 

* Houston at UTEP (NCAA Football) – 8:00pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

In case you missed this music video after the Red Sox game on Wednesday – here it is … again! 

Red Sox Weekly Review

By Matt Noonan 

The Boston Red Sox enter a brand new week with a two-game losing skid, thanks, Seattle, I’m sure the local nine appreciates it!

However, despite their west coast struggles from this past weekend, which usually seem to occur in the month of August, yet again, Tim Wakefield watched another start end without his 200th career victory. Indeed, it’s heartbreaking news, however, will Wakefield eventually win and celebrate that special milestone? Of course, but obviously it won’t be against the Mariners, as the Sox wrapped up their season series with a 5-3 loss on Sunday.

Kevin Youkillis ended Sunday’s contest with his 17th home run, as well as his 78th RBI of the season, however, it wasn’t enough to spark the Sox offense.

Yet, despite the Sox struggles on Saturday and Sunday, they managed to win two-of-three games against the Minnesota Twins. Alfredo Aceves and Matt Albers each recorded wins on Monday and Tuesday, while Jonathan Papelbon collected two additional saves. Although on Wednesday, Jon Lester struggled and so did the offense, as Minnesota’s bats came alive to win the series finale, 5-2.

WEEK OUTLOOK: The Sox will return to Fenway Park on Tuesday for a day-night double header against the Tampa Bay Rays. They’ll wrap up the two-day series on Wednesday and then travel to Kansas City and Texas for an eight game road trip.

DIVISION UPDATE: The New York Yankees-Rays contest was postponed due to rain on Sunday, but, since the Red Sox ended their weekend series with two back-to-back losses, the Bronx Bombers currently remain a half a game behind Boston in the American League East division. Also, New York has a comfortable 8.5 game lead over Tampa Bay and Los Angles for the Wild Card, yet, despite the winner of the AL East, it’s pretty certain that both the Red Sox and Yankees will be playing baseball in October.

Lindberg: Thoughts on the Sox

By Andy Lindberg 

The Sox seemed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on Saturday, June 4 with a ninth inning debacle that saw the Oakland Athletics score four runs to tie the game.  The A’s took the lead in the 11th only to see Boston claw back with two outs in the bottom of the frame when Jacoby Ellsbury doubled in Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the tying run.

In the 14th inning came J.D. Drew, whose previous four at-bats saw him swing for the Golden Sombrero. Drew hit an 0-1 pitch sharply into right-center to score Carl Crawford from second and the game was won.

Saturday’s game was pretty much the week from Boston. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and in other games were forced to claw out of a hole in an effort to put up a W in the AL East standings.

Boston went [3-3] for the week, first getting swept by the White Sox, and then sweeping the Athletics. The offense looked terrific overall, but the pitching was suspect, especially from the bullpen. If it’s not a save situation, I would seriously reconsider putting Jonathan Papelbon on the mound. While he thrives in tight game scenarios, non-save situations actually seem to give him trouble.

This week saw the Red Sox lose Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill, both until late next year. In Matsuzaka’s case, maybe never again. One would be safe in assuming Matsuzaka never pitches in a Boston uniform again given the rehab he will go through. Not to mention by July of next season, the Red Sox will have a set rotation because they have to compete. Don’t be shocked if Boston makes a few moves for a capable #3-4-type starting pitcher in the near future.

This week also saw preliminary All-Star votes come out. Don’t even get me started on how stupid fans are because they should NOT be allowed to vote for All-Stars, plain and simple. There’s no reason Mark Teixeira should be leading over Adrian Gonzalez. There’s no reason Russell Martin should be leading over Alex Avila and there’s no reason Alex Rodriguez should be leading over Alberto Callaspo or even Adrian Beltre.

If you even TRY and tell me Derek Jeter should be leading over Asdrubal Cabrera at this point, I will mentally smack you in the face. The only Yankee who should be leading at his position is Robinson Cano, because the AL second base field isn’t as great as it has been in prior years. Cano to this point is the most well rounded second baseman statistically.

Now, I do not vote for All-Stars until voting is nearing its end to give the players time to accumulate more stats. However the stats right now once again show dozens of players getting the shaft. But I digress. Expect a podcast on this subject later this week.

Coming up Tuesday night, the Red Sox for once play against the Yankees during the week. History has shown Boston own the Yankees in the first seven to eight games played against them, so look for the Yankees to throw down now.

On Friday the Sox stay on the road against Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays, who have played the Sox tough in Toronto this season, but overall, it’s going to be a hard week for the local nine.

Lindberg: Thoughts on the Sox

By Andy Lindberg 

It took them until May 15, but the Boston Red Sox are now sitting pretty at .500. A sweep of the hated rival New York Yankee ballclub over the weekend finally solidified a non-losing record for the boys from Beantown.

After squeaking out a 2-1 win over the Twins on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the Sox fell in horrific fashion to the Toronto Blue Jays over a quick, two-game series.

John Lackey fared extremely poorly in Wednesday’s 9-3 drubbing, giving up all nine runs while showing frustration not only at himself, but at his teammates as well. Lackey’s next start will see him debut new mechanics.  Instead of raising the ball over his head in the glove, he will keep it low to try for a more balanced, accurate delivery. For those who have not paid attention, the Sox did the same thing with Josh Beckett after his first year with Boston. Even since then, Beckett has found more success with the new delivery than he did with the old.  Hopefully the same will be said with Lackey.

Speaking of Josh Beckett, he’s kind of a freak so far. Beckett allowed no runs in six innings against the Twins on Monday and threw six more shutout innings against the Yankees on Saturday night, a game in which he outdueled CC Sabathia yet again and picked up his second win against New York this year. Beckett has yet to relinquish a run to the Bronx Bombers. Beckett is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA this season.

Adrian Gonzalez hit five home runs this week and leads the American League in RBI with 34. Giving up Rizzo and Kelly seems well worth it to this point in the season.

Personally, I and many other Boston fans were frustrated after the two losses to Toronto. The sweep of the Yankees in New York was delivered in spectacular fashion, especially in the third game of the series.  Trailing 4-1 after the Yankees tagged Sox starter Jon Lester around, Kevin Youkilis clubbed a three-run home run to deep left field to knot the score at four apiece. After a David Ortiz solo shot to take the lead, Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez decided to try out a new fielding strategy. Apparently he thought letting the ball skitter between his legs and allowing a run to score was a good life choice. It was not and in the eighth, Jarrod Saltalamacchia finally broke out and pulled a hard line drive home run over the wall in right.  Jonathan Papelbon shut it down for the save and the Sox walked out of the Bronx with a nice new set of brooms.

Lester earned his 5th win of the season on Sunday.  It took Lester until May 25th of last season to notch his 5th. I mention that solely because I desperately want to see him hit 20 wins.  David Ortiz to this point in the season is hitting .295 with seven home runs and 19 RBI. He also sports a .504 slugging percentage and a .881 OPS.  (Side note, OPS–or on base percentage + slugging– is just that.  It’s a batters slugging percentage plus his on base percentage). On May 16 of last year, Ortiz was hitting .232 with a .484 slugging and a .779 OPS.  Ortiz’s overall hitting has skyrocketed.  He’s catching up with the fastball that took him two months to get to last year.  He’s consistently putting the ball in play. This spring, Ortiz requested more spring training games to get his timing to where it should be in mid-season form. It worked.

This week the Sox yet again play every day with last Thursday, May 12, being the one and only day the Red Sox have off in May. The Sox play every game at Fenway this week, beginning with the Orioles for two, then Detroit for two, and finishing the week by hosting the Chicago Cubs.  The Cubs have not been to Fenway since the World Series in 1918. These are three clubs Boston should beat, and pounding Baltimore a little further down in the standings only helps Boston’s cause. If the Red Sox win tonight, they will have a winning record for the first time all year.