Monday, June 01, 2009

The Sox, Two Months In

Tony Massarotti and his super-branded page of wonders (seriously: what's with that massive leaderboard?  Is Massarotti really that much of a sports journalism celebrity?  And do you think Shaughnessy and Ryan sit around and bitch about all of the special attention Massarotti gets?) have a round up of the Sox thus far in 2009.  Most of it isn't too surprising: the offensive has holes, the defense has holes, the starting pitching hasn't been the knockout we'd expect, etc.

However, I was pretty surprised to see how poorly the Sox are doing when it comes to throwing out base runners: almost as many runners caught by pick off as by throw to second?  59 stolen bases allowed in two months?  I know there were a couple of bad days, like when Carl Crawford did his best roadrunner impression over and over and over again, but who knew those bad days turned into giving up over a steal a game for 51 games?  I'd be curious to know if that statistic is making something out of nothing: how many of those steals turned into runs?  Would the Sox be in first now with a good-sized lead if they were more effective at holding runners?  Somehow I doubt it.

Speaking of first, we probably wouldn't be  anywhere near sniffing distance of first place if it weren't for the second (and far more pleasant) surprise factor: our bullpen rocks.  And not just in the warm and fuzzy feelings that I get whenever Okajima or MDC or Ramirez or (usually) Papelbon comes to the mound, but in numbers that would make the original Red Scare jealous: the Sox are first in the American League in bullpen ERA, a full run ahead of their closest competitor, the other Sox.  Bullpen may not be everything, but if we come into October and the bullpen is still pitching at this level, I will be a very happy man.

So: some good things, some bad things, and a cautiously optimistic start to the season.  Next up: the Sox not falling prey to the June Swoon.  My money is still loyally down on a Papi-led breakout.