Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Taking Stock #2: Halftime Report

With the All-Star break wrapping up (and the AL getting the home field advantage), I figured it was about time to do another team overview like I did earlier in the season. Once again in order by jersey number:

2 Willie Harris: Ah yes, the pinch runner. I don’t think he’s swung a bat since May. That’s a good thing. If you can keep stealing those bases and occasionally catch the ball when Manny’s cell phone rings in the 9th inning, then you can stick around… till Wily Mo comes back.

3 Mark Loretta: Hey now! He’s an All-Star! Streaky as all get out, Marky-Mark is the definition of a “hot and cold” hitter. Also, he and Lowell have a competition over who’s the more boring interview. If he didn’t have a career .300 average, Loretta would be a tax adjuster.

7 Trot Nixon: Without Wily Mo in the lineup, Trot has been getting the lion’s share of at bats. Kapler will sometimes face the tough lefty, but Trot has done most of the work… and looking at his average it’s paid off (just forget the 0-8 show in the 19 inning game).

10 Coco Crisp: Back from his broken finger, Coco has been a bit of a disappointment. He lost his leadoff spot to OBP guru Youkilis and is floundering in the 8th spot. I have a feeling he just needs to get back into the groove. Luckily he can catch a ball like nobody’s business.

11 Alex Gonzalez: He seems to have misplaced his “As Advertised” sign. Oh, he’s still fielding like a champ (only 2 errors and he now holds the Sox consecutive errorless streak), but NOW he’s also hitting. If he can keep his bat as hot as his glove… ok that’s asking a lot. Just try to stay above .250 Gonzo.

16 David Wells: I know why Wells has such a problem, His wEight and hIS poor shApe conflict with his Fierce nATure. Not an ASSet to the team. Any Dan Brown fans crack my code?

18 Jason Johnson: By the time you read this JJ will have been demoted… to SINGLE A. Better than he deserves. This hump belongs on a camel walking the desert of the DFA. Ok that went to a weird place.

19 Josh Beckett: Up and down. He looks great and then looks like a guy who throws straight fastballs right down the middle. He has an 11-4 record, but it could be 13-2 if he would start to throw with his brains over his balls. If he can get a little more discipline…yada yada yada.

20 Kevin Youkilis: Sorry Coco, I think this might be a permanent switch. Youk still drives up those pitch counts and gets on base like a fiend. He has been striking out a lot (shades of Bellhorn) but is still a better option than Crisp at the top of the order. He has been playing a mean first base too.

22 Wily Mo Pena: Still on the DL with a wrist ouchie. He may come back in the next few days… sending Trot to ride some pine vs the lefties and Harris to pinch run in AAA. By the way, Arroyo was on the NL All-Star team. Not that I’m bitter.

23 Alex Cora: Has been on a platoon with Gonzo at short. Good for singles, defense and I hear he makes a great café latte. A real utility guy.

24 Manny Ramirez: His knee was sore and he couldn’t play in the All-Star game. No really, I swear! You just can’t judge it by his scorching offensive numbers. Manny got hot just in time for Francona to demand he rest. I hope he takes the heat with him into the second half… and I hope his knee feels better… cause it’s really hurt… honest.

25 Mike Lowell: This guy is still hitting doubles like it’s going out of style, except now he’s also hitting homeruns. Somebody inform Francona that the body of Jason Varitek should probably be lower than Lowell in the batting order. I might go as far as to move this XBH master to 5th. Oh, and he’s a lock for the Gold Glove. Just sayin.

28 Doug Mirabelli: Forget that he can’t really hit, he’s as big as a house and he looks like he’s about to get seconds on linguini… I am just so happy that the only guy on the planet that can consistently catch a knuckle ball is back on the Red Sox. Wake should have a picture of him next to his kids on his mantle.

29 Keith Foulke: Born 10/19/72 - Died 11/28/04. Wait, he’s still alive? Just on the DL? Nevermind.

30 Matt Clement: He went and caught a chronic case of “teh suck” and may not get off the DL for another month. When is the front office going to realize that they won’t be able to take care of this kitten and just stick him and a rock in a pillow case and throw it all in the river? Metaphorically speaking of course.

33 Jason Varitek: His slow start has turned into an all around BAD first half. Slumping, hurting or just ageing… our captain hasn’t been the dashing pirate pimp like he used to be. Tek needs to be placed lower in the order until he can turn his game around.

34 David Ortiz: Some are born into greatness, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them… and then there are some who take greatness by the neck and hoist it over their head like a conquering warlord. Big Papi is in that last category… by himself…

37 Rudy Seanez: He just got a lucrative endorsement deal with Hoover Vacuum cleaners. Get where I am going with this?

38 Curt Schilling: He has a 10-4 record and he’s pitched better than that. He has run into some tough no-decisions and the offence has let him down a few times. Still, an amazing turnaround from last year. Almost gone unnoticed next to his performance on the mound is his leadership with the young pitching. I think Beckett, Paps, Lester and Delcarman are really learning a ton from Schill.

44 Gabe Kapler: One of the feel good stories of the year was the return of this clubhouse and fan favorite. Kap can still hit, run and catch with the best of the utility guys out there. However, I am a worried he will lose what little playing time he has when Wily Mo gets better.

48 Javier Lopez: He’s what we got from the White Sox for David Riske (suckers). Javy is not bad for a side-arm LOOGY. I bet he wishes people would stop calling him “Mike” or “Mr. Myers” though.

49 Tim Wakefield: Another guy that has pitched better than his record. God only knows how bad it would have been if Mirabelli didn’t come back. Ol’ Knuckles needs that guy like Keria Knightley needs a sandwich.

50 Mike Timlin: Here’s how you sum up Timlin: 90% lights out, 10% blowing big time. He will be rock solid for weeks and then give up 5 runs in an inning. I really think it’s an age thing. Time to let the younger arms shoulder the load. All that being said… I still want this guy as the setup man for Papelbon. I guess I’m just a creature of habit.

51 Julian Tavarez: What can I say? He’s been great lately. I really hope he can keep it up in the second half and turn into the reliable long man. I might have to stop making jokes about how crazy/ugly he is. Damn. I liked those jokes.

55 Lenny DiNardo: Another DL’ed guy and a member of the cursed 5th starter spot. If his neck gets better than maybe… nawww who am I kidding? I have no illusions about the “quality” of DiNards. Enjoy the vacation guy.

56 Manny Delcarmen: One of the young guns that’s holding the bullpen together. Had a rough start, but has been money lately. MDC is going to be a staple in the pen for years or until he’s over used and blows out his arm. Oh, sorry! That’s what would happen if he was on the Yankees. My bad.

57 Craig Hansen: Groomed to be the closer of the future, he may never get that shot if Papelbon continues to dominate (at least not this season). Hansen has a nasty fast ball that moves and he is getting better with every inning. I am loving the youth movement.

58 Jonathan Papelbon: Turns out he is human after all. So far he’s given up 3 runs and blown 3 saves. Other than that he’s as close to freaking perfect as you can get. 26 saves, a 0.59 ERA, an All-Star, a ROY candidate and can get your sisters number if he wants it. Yeah… he’s that good.

62 Jon Lester: This kid is the future, and boy is it bright. Already better than the guy he replaced (Clement who?), Lester is a lefty that will be on this staff for years to come. All these young good pitchers with high ceilings on the Red Sox? It’s almost too good to be true.

AAA’ed: Jemaine Van Buren, David Pauley, Kyle Snyder

Released/DFA’ed: J.T. Snow, Mike Holtz, Dustan Mohr

Traded: David Riske, Josh Bard

All in all, the Red Sox had a great first half. The best defense in baseball, a 53-33 record and a 3 game lead on the Yankees. Can they get 100 wins and will that get them into the playoffs? Yeah I think so. GO SOX