Thursday, December 27, 2007

What Goes Up MUST Come Down. *Part Two*

Peter here on a still dark Thursday morning. I'm going to continue to analyze Jeff Horrigan's Boston Herald article from Wednesday about the highs and lows of the 2007 world champion Boston Red Sox. This time my focus will be on the five low points. Go back to my last post, right below this one, to read Horrigan's five high points, with my comments in parenthesis. Same thing this time around, too. Here we go, and don't forget to leave me a comment. Did Horrigan have a glaring oversight? Did he forget an obvious low point? OK, here we go....ta da! Again, my comments will be bracketed......

THE LOW FIVE

1. GAGNE GAGS UNDER PRESSURE
Eric Gagne fell flat on his face after the Sox acquired the closer from the Texas Rangers for the final two months of the season. The former Cy Young Award winner went 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 20 regular-season appearances for Boston, losing the trust of management, which justly refused to go to him in key moments down the stretch and in the playoffs. For some reason, the Brewers still gave him $10 million this offseason to serve as their closer.
(Peter here, and this is an obvious numero uno....he was a certifiable BUST. PU. Stinkaroo...I could go on, but you get my drift).

2. A $70 MILLION MISTAKE?

J.D. Drew did little to quell the fears of Sox fans, who felt the team dreadfully overpaid for his services. The veteran right fielder had drop-offs in every major statistical category and hit only .270 with 11 homers and 64 RBI in his first year in Boston and was a non-factor for extended stretches. A strong finish, however, provided reason to be optimistic for a better 2008.
(OK, JD Drew did nothing for most of the first two thirds of the regular season, and the Fenway boo-birds were heard inncessantly, in full force. But we've seen his worst, and that's behind us. Optimistic thinking? Nope, just a feeling I have, deep inside. I listen to those feelings, and I realize that more than half the time, those inner mind flashes come true. But please don't ask me for tomorrow's lottery numbers. I have my limitations just like everyone else!).


3. MANNY SLOW FADE?

For the first time in his tenure with the Red Sox, Manny Ramirez did not demand to be traded this season and offseason. Could it be that the enigmatic left fielder realizes that his skills have begun to erode and that his production would drop drastically outside of Fenway Park? Don’t be surprised if the Sox entertain trade offers for Ramirez before the start of spring training, as he enters the final year of his contract.
(I think this is a totally off the wall statement to make, even in jest. And he wasn't joking, my friends. I'll have to file it away under "what if...", but I think Manny is as snug as a bug in the rug, so to speak. We all saw how hard he worked to come back from his oblique muscle injury, and when he returned to the lineup and Fenway's cozy left field, well, he flat out SHINED!).

4. LOOKING OUT FOR NO. 1

Jacoby Ellsbury’s presence in the starting lineup in 2008 should solve the problem but the Sox struggled to find a viable leadoff hitter in ’07. Julio Lugo proved to be a far better hitter in the ninth spot (.305 in 49 games) than in the first (224 in 84 games), while Coco Crisp seemed far more comfortable hitting lower in the order. Pedroia finished up at leadoff and hit .328 there but he’s far better suited for the second spot.
(Ellsbury, Pedroia, Papi, Manny and Mike Lowell...that one through five sounds good to me!).

5. AGE ISN’T JUST A NUMBER

The Sox will likely open next season with three pitchers -- Curt Schilling (41), Tim Wakefield (41) and Mike Timlin (42) -- in their 40s, and six of nine starting position players 32 or older, including a 36-year-old catcher (Jason Varitek and 36-year-old clean-up hitter (Ramirez). Schilling, Wakefield, Timlin and Ramirez were sidelined by injuries for stretches in 2007, which may provide reason for concern in ’08.
(Peter here, one more time. I think Mr. Horrigan is stretching with this number five item. True, many of the players mentioned above will NOT be with our club for the 2009 season, but we play AS A TEAM, not looking forward or back, trying to stay focused on "the moment." It worked in '04, and again last year. And we're going to go for it yet again, with all the seasoned veterans playing shoulder to shoulder with the younger guys, who have so much to learn and so many great "advisors" to teach them the nuances and sublety that IS major league level baseball. That's the game I love, and something tells me that you love it too! I wouldn't have it any other way!).

Click on the title of this post for Dan Shaughnessey's Thursday Boston Globe article about Jim Rice and his quest for the Hall of Fame. Is this his year? I sure hope so. Enjoy your Thursday, because, ready or not, the weekend is almost upon us....AGAIN! Be well.

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