Aggravation to Rejuvenation

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This past week was not the most fun week to be a Red Sox fan (and I know Indians and Orioles fans are having a tough time too). The Sox didn’t exactly look like a team that had just clinched playoff berth with the way that the pitching was coming apart. In fact, they didn’t even clinch the wildcard with a win, they were merely graced with a Texas loss to secure their spot. 

The Yankees clinched the division on their home turf, against the Sox, which partially fulfills their goal of the 2009 season. With the additions of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and AJ Burnett, many predicted that the Yankees would win the division, though everyone knew not to count the Red Sox out with what seemed like the best pitching staff in baseball at the start of the season–in fact, many predicted the Red Sox to win it. 
Clinching the division on their home turf would have been satisfying enough, but clinching against the Red Sox? That must have made it even better for them, and I turned off ESPN as soon as Jacoby Ellsbury’s soft grounder to Mariano Rivera ended the ninth. 
This final season series sweep by the Yankees made the season series even. After the Red Sox won the first eight of the season, they either got swept, or lost the rest of the series. In what very well could be the American League Championship Series matchup, all Red Sox fans are hoping that we can pull it together, and make every game in that series unforgettable–all fights to the finish. And with the Red Sox and Yankees, it always is. 
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I was hoping for a bit of rejuvenation against the Blue Jays. I always like going into the playoffs with lots of momentum, and I wanted to secure a spot already! No such luck Monday night. Josh Beckett was scratched from his start with mild back spasms (but he is pitching tonight, so all is well). When I first heard the story, memories flooded back to me of Spring Training 2008. I was excited to finally see Beckett pitch, because I had never seen him live before (and I still have not). He was even warming up with Jason Varitek down in left field at City of Palms Park–but he didn’t make the start. Manny Delcarmen did, and Beckett started that season on the DL, and had a mediocre season according to his standards (as well as my high standards for him). Thankfully, these spasms are nothing to be concerned about. 
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I was very excited to see Michael Bowden take the mound, since he is my favorite pitching prospect. To say that he didn’t have the best night would be an understatement. He lasted only three innings and was tagged for seven runs. Bowden was obviously very disappointed in himself, but he made no excuses. He said that he could have been told five minutes before the game that he would be starting, and still this outcome would have remained inexcusable. I appreciate the fact that he didn’t make up excuses, and I won’t make up any for him either. 
The fact of the matter is though, that we can’t judge September call-ups simply by their one month of play, that would be unfair. Bowden was missing his spots, and he was getting behind in counts–something that can easily be fixed. Plus, he is not used to Victor Martinez, and practice makes perfect. I would like to see him follow a path similar to Clay Buchholz–because look how effective that extra time in the minors was for him: he is going to be a starting pitcher in our playoff rotation. 
In fact, if Bowden works really hard this winter (I am not sure if he will be pitching in the Arizona Fall League), I think that he could be a legitimate contender for a spot in the starting rotation for 2010. Dustin Richardson has impressed me, and I am very excited to see more of him next year in Spring Training. He is a legitimate contender to be a project next year, as is Fernando Cabrera. I think that what we have to remember is that it is a big transition from the minors to the majors, and it would be unfair to expect anyone to flawlessly make that transition. 
The last two games against the Blue Jays weren’t much better. The second game seemed like a recurring dream as Buchholz also gave up seven runs. And if it wasn’t for Joey Gathright in the third game, Halladay could have no-hit the Red Sox instead of just pitching a complete game shutout. 
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Speaking of Joey Gathright, I want to get to playoff rosters. We are less than a week way from what I like to consider the first day of “Soxtober”. While there are many “lock-ins” for the roster, there are still some spots that are up for grabs.
I would like the starting rotation to look like this:
1. Jon Lester
2. Clay Buchholz
3. Josh Beckett
4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
I am so proud of how far Clay Buchholz has come this season. I think that he has truly earned that spot. And who knew that Dice-K would come back and pitch as well as he has? Sometimes, it is worth giving people a second chance. 
As for the bullpen, Papelbon, Wagner, Okajima, Saito, Bard (whom I refer to as ‘Baby Bard’ on twitter), and Ramon Ramirez should be locks. With the way that Manny Delcarmen has been pitching as of late, his spot is no longer secure. 
The possibilities for that eleventh spot could range from guys like Byrd and Wakefield, to guys like Bowden, Cabrera and Richardson. I love Tim Wakefield, but I really don’t think that he is healthy enough to pitch in the playoffs. And even though the bird is the word, I don’t think that Paul Byrd has been consistent enough to earn a spot on the roster. And much as I like Bowden, I don’t think that he is ready for the postseason this season. Next season? I have no doubt. 
I know it may sound crazy, but I think it should be between Richardson, Cabrera and Delcarmen. 
As for position players, most of them are locked in. The main question marks are the utility infielder and the reserve outfielder. Alex Gonzalez was hit in the hand last night and he was forced to leave the game. Not good timing at all, and I think we’re all praying that he is not injured. I would like to see Gonzalez as the starting shortstop with Lowrie or Woodward as the  backup. 
So the question is: Lowrie or Woodwa
rd? This one is the toughest for me to figure out since we have seen so little of both of these guys this season. The second spot to fill is the reserve outfielder, and I think that Joey Gathright has the best shot because of his speed. Think Dave Roberts, 2004 and you’ll know why. 
I am working on playoff brackets this weekend, and what I think should be the roster, so I will do my best to get back to you guys by Tuesday as to who should make the roster. 

20 Comments

I’m not convinced that Buchholz is ready for the number 2 spot on the roster. He has matured light-years from last season but I saw it Tuesday night when I was at Fenway – it is WAY to easy for him to slip back into his bad habits and to get down on himself. He was painfully slow pitching Tuesday night – thinking, and over thinking, each and every pitch. When he does that he is doomed. I would much rather have him pitch his first game at home – NOT on the road. It is critical that we win at least one of the two games in LA and I like our chances are better if we send Lester and Beckett to the mound.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Its alwyas fun to look at the week and pick out the good actually from the bad. You hit this post right on the head, and nice picture with that Prospect. He’s tall! ;-) New post up.

Ted
http://tribewithted.mlblogs.com/

Speed Kills .. cool that you remember the steal (boy was it) by Dave Roberts. He had just come over from the Dodgers , right? Everybody in the park knew he was going to try to swipe that bag… and he did! If Joey can do that.. . he needs to be there.

Buz – http://buzblog.mlblogs.com/

I love prospects. Few of them worked out perfectly for the Padres this season. We are not going to the playoffs but I’m not upset at all. As for the Red Sox, I think you guys have a solid starting rotation to knock out the Angels.
http://hyunyoung.mlblogs.com

Such a cute pic of you with your “project!” I don’t know which pitcher should go where in terms of the playoffs, but your starting rotation is formidable, regardless. Or to put it another way, I wouldn’t want to face any of them! Should be an interesting series for you guys. You usually have your way with the Angels, unlike the Yankees who hardly ever do!

- http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

I think almost all the post season clichers lost this week, but now the post season is set to start and it should be another good one this year…
~peter
Outside the Phillies Looking In
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

The Red Sox have handled the Angels pretty well. I look forward to the big fight that is the playoffs. Best of luck to your team (unless they play mine in the big show again ;-)
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

Elizabeth,
Good luck to your Red Sox! I’ll keep an eye on that series!
Those are great memories with Dave Roberts! I was so happy for him to get a ring. He is a very nice guy.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/

Nice photo :O) This ought to be an interesting series! Good luck!

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

You have to admit that Halladay shutout was pretty awesome, if only because he used exactly 100 pitches.
That rotation of yours for the playoffs? Pretty fearsome. The Angels are going to have to work reaaaaly hard.

The Red Sox are looking like a great team going into the postseason. They need to turn their luck against the Angels this time around.

Matthew Tang
http://matt7.mlblogs.com/

It’s Elizabeth, right? First time reader here, and it was really interesting. It looks like you really know what you’re talking about, you’re no lazy blogger. Congrats on that. I also think Bowden might start next year in the minors and then work his way up like Buchholz did this year. I do know Tito doesn’t want to force anything with these young pitchers. I also agree with Julia on that Buchholz probably isn’t ready to leapfrog Beckett for the No. 2 spot, but I guess for this ALDS specifically, Beckett’s back makes a huge difference on wether he should pitch Game 2 or 3. A couple of extra rest days do wonders for a bad back.
If you have friends who would like to read Ian Browne’s Red Sox articles, send them to my blog! http://casillero.mlblogs.com/

Since the Rockies are mostly kids that come up through the farm system, it’s always great to see when they work out. Right now, it’d be a big step for Buchholz to come before Beckett, but I can see it happening. Buchholz has looked better than Beckett and has a lower ERA. But I think either way, the Red Sox will be successful against the Angels.
Emily
http://deconstructingthoughts.mlblogs.com/

Hope your guys do well against the Angels. Nice pic of you with Micheal Bowden!
Sue
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

I meant to say if you have any friends who would like to read Red Sox articles IN SPANISH, you can tell them about my blog.
Cheers!

Great entry! Aww and what an adorable picture of you and your “project”. VERY CUTE! :] Good luck the Red Sox! xoxo http://diamondgirl55.mlblogs.com

tough on the sox last night…but it’s still game 1 and lots to play…
~peter
Outside the Phillies Looking In
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

Elizabeth,
So sorry that your Sox are out. Is now time for the hot stove for you guys. Is preparation time now for next season.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/

Hey, Elizabeth, first time in a while for me to post here, but I have been keeping an eye on your blog throughout the year, and I enjoy when you peek in on Brownie Points. You are indeed very astute in your observations of the team, and I respect that. Keep it up, and you will do very well with the Red Sox and/ or any other writing career you might pursue. You have had a nice advantage (like Julia) in being able to see the Sox up close–it makes me envious of both of you! (It was also cool to see your photos when you and Julia met earlier this season!)
I am not sold yet on Buch or Bowden. I think Julia is right, Buch shows A LOT of promise, and he HAS improved greatly over this time last year. He seems to lose concentration (almost like ADD), and he will need to make sure he keeps his head in the game, but I think he can do it. I still think Bowden shows more promise as a reliever than as a starter. I seem to be somewhat in a minority, including on Brownie Points, but we’ll see. I believe Bowden has a great future with the Red Sox (or with another team, like Masterson, until he was traded to Cleveland–OUCH! I REALLY liked him, as much as we needed V-Mart!), but I still think it will be as a reliever that he’ll be most effective. Either way, though, I will be rooting for him–I like Bowden a lot!
Take care, Elizabeth, and continued success to you. GO SOX!

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