Thursday, May 21, 2009

Papi's First 2009 Home Run, and Other Red Sox Items

Take that Bobby Abreu, Carlos Guillen and Russell Martin.

David Ortiz finally crushed a fastball for a home run, and to the deepest part of Fenway--straight away center.

Despite the sigh of relief from worried fans (and the missed-opportunity runs that nahmally would have been scored by all those frustrating ground outs and pop-ups), Big Papi just needed it to happen. He told the locker-room media, including Irish-afro style Shaunessy after the game:

"I got that big old monkey off my back . . . It's been hard for me. I wasn't really worried about the home runs as much as getting my swing back. I was missing pitches that I normally hit. It's crazy how things happen. I had some good swings and nothing happened. I hit this one good."

Nobody knows why or how someone gets out of that bad funk, but it was either one of two things: His Papi or my fantasy team.

"My father flew in yesterday," said Ortiz [to Irish afro-style] . "It was loose at home today and we were playing with my son. My father told me, 'It's not going to get worse than this. Get out there and have fun. Do what you know how to do.' "

I benched Ortiz after sticking by him in my utility spot in the semi-insane, AL-only auction fantasy league I have him in. Murphy's Law seems to always work when you start over analyzing numbers and letting a legend stupidly duke it out with Jason Giambi for fantasy playing time.

It was good to be wrong on this one (you're back to the utility spot).

We all knew it would happen, but as I said in the first week, he looked really slow with the bat speed and didn't look like he could it much. As the weeks progressed, Ortiz stared to hit to the opposite field when they were home, which was the sign that in the past that a blast was imminent.

But it didn't happen. And then the Sox went on the road.

Side Note: Ortiz keeps his sense of humor. Read this from Manchester, NH's Union Leader:

"Look at that!” David Ortiz said out of nowhere, interrupting his own answer
about the swing that ended his season-long home-run drought to gesture toward
the other side of the locker room. “That’s crazy!”
A dozen heads turned at
once toward the direction he was pointing. What was it? Something on one of the
TV screens? A highlight of the home run he’d hit into the center-field
bleachers, perhaps?
“It’s (pitcher Josh) Beckett naked over there in the
corner,” Ortiz said, a playful smile spreading across his face.

The Road Trip
Speaking of the road, there were some serious tough losses in Anaheim and Seattle. The one that really drove me nuts was last Sunday with bases loaded and no outs and Jason Bay in the box.

I love this mild-mannered Canadian, and I'm willing to give him huge passes because in many clutch situations, he has come through. But someone, anyone, for Remy's sake (get well, Mr. President), please hit a sacrifice fly or opposite field single.

Perhaps the lesson is that, like Papi's troubles with the long ball, patience will be rewarded. The long view is that Toronto, after Halladay, is weak, and though they have some serious offensive pop (league-leading 225 RBIs, and 3rd in HRS), but I expect them and their rookie pitching to fade.

That Other Team, Kazmir, Sox Pitching
That other team in the Boogie Down, however, is starting to show their true colors with the long ball, big run-scorinng innings and starting pitching. As the Spring transitions more directly in to Summer, the Yankees are going to be a very tough team. Despite some setbacks with A-Roid, Burnett, Sabbathia and a slow bat from Teixiera, they are starting to earn all that cash they make.

Yanks are leading the league in HRs (64). Compared that to the Sox at 47 (Sox rank 7th in the league, just below the Rays). They are just ahead of the Sox in RBIs, (212 to 209) and in Runs (225 to 218).

Happy to see the Rays are not getting it done so the Sox can focus on one thing: Getting enough wins and standings separation to get either the division or the Wild Card. The Central and West are doing a very good job right now of beating up on each other.

Scott Kazmir looks like he should be playing for the Mets. His ERA is now 7.68.

I know the Sox starters outside of Wakefield have been rough too, but you can see Beckett and Penny starting to get it figured out over their last two starts.

Looking forward to tonight's start from Lester. It's bounce back time at home with a chance to sweep.