A Glaring Weakness?? It Could Be!
I was thinking last night (yes, sometimes I do that!) about what could be a possibly glaring weakness of the 2008 Boston Red Sox. What weakness? I'll tell you. It's very early on Sunday morning, so I work a little slower. At least my mind does. The weakness is this...who will be our fifth starter and for how long before a change is made. That was EXACTLY the question posed in a Boston Globe discussion group that I spied earlier. Here are the choices they offered, and one (just one example of many) answer that made perfect sense to me. I'll be back with a comment after you read this...
ANSWER: (one of many-PN)
Posted by Joe Breidey on Mar-22 10:47 AM
"Tav for at least a month, without a doubt. I penciled Tav in the 5th spot as soon Schill's injury was revealed. It's no secret Buch's inning total will be held to around 180 at the most. Frankly I'd rather see short AAA outings from Buch to begin the season, then unleash him in the later months months of the regular season and hopefully October. If he lives up to expectations, the worst thing would be for him to top that 180 inning mark in early September and be obligated to shut down. I think everyone could agree that Colon needs some fine-tuning. Some sort of command is necessary to succeed at the major league level. Kyle Snyder's 30+ pitches split over the last 4 seasons is downright frightening."
Peter here, and that was a great answer, Joe. The 5th starter's identity is one of the biggest questions surrounding the '08 Sox. I agree that Clay Buchholz needs to strengthen his arm at the Triple A level for the beginning month or two of the season. Colon will not be immediately ready either, but sometime in mid to late May, Tavarez will be replaced by either Buchholz or Colon. Colon looked GREAT pitching on Saturday for Class A Lancaster, going three scoreless innings while allowing four hits, striking out three. He threw 23 of his 34 pitches for strikes. One step at a time, Bartolo. Snyder is NOT a viable option, just for Joe's reasons above. And we all know Julian Tavarez. He can go four great innings and implode in the fifth. Or he can give up his normal four runs in the first or second frame and then settle down for two or three innings. But any way you look at it, his ERA will be 4.00 or above, most likely above, and his average innings pitched per start will hover between four and five. So, at least to me, he is not the season-long solution, not by a long shot.
So who will take over the reigns of the five spot, a roster position that becomes more and more important as the season grinds on? With the off days included in the schedule, the Red Sox will NOT need a fifth starter until mid-April, and that's a great thing. Buchholz and Colon will need every minute of that time to round themselves into game-shape. If, and this is a HUGE if, Colon can get his arm and body into semi-good shape, he would be an invlauable asset to the club as a whole. We all knew someone would be needed after we heard the sad Schill news. Buchholz just needs to improve his arm strength. Both hurlers have about 40 days to do that. By then, it will be May 1st or so, and by then we'll all know if Tavy is a boom or a bust. He does go through streaks as a pitcher, and some of them are quite good ones. Let's hope that will be the case for the first month or so of the season. Josh Beckett is behind his fellow teammates because of his healed back injury, and that makes every other guy in the early season rotation even more important. All these questions and what-ifs will be answered...in time. But time is NOT on our side...the regular season starts in EXACTLY 48 hours. WOW!!
Again, I'd like to thank every one of you for stopping by. Have a happy, healthy and holy Easter, and if you're with your families, show them the love you have for them. They'll reciprocate, and a great holiday meal will be had by all. Please click on the title of this post for a Boston Herald article penned by sportswriter Tony Massarotti. It's all about Daisuke Matsuzaka and his upcoming Opening Day start on Tuesday. And to all of you, as always, BE WELL. Enjoy this holiday. And go UCONN women! The first round NCAA tournament game versus Clemson begins tonight at 7pm on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD. They are number one in the nation, and number one in our (Connecticut) hearts. So are the Red Sox, in mine. But you knew that!