Stop over swinging! Courtesy of bostonglobe.com
The Red Sox starting pitchers are in decent shape, what needs work is the offense. I cannot tell you how many times I see some of our top sluggers swing at pitches that are clearly balls. Papi, Pedroia, and sometimes Napoli… I am looking at you! If you have to nearly throw your back out reaching across the plate to hit the ball, it is probably not worth swinging at to begin with. This type of wild swinging takes place later in games, and smacks of desperation. The Red Sox offense needs to hit early and often, so the team can get into a rhythm of good pitch selection and good contact with the ball.
Now that I have single-handedly solved the offense problem, ::slyly blows on knuckles and brushes them on shirt::, let’s turn to another weakness— the Bullpen. The closer, or closers, have not been strong enough, which is why I continue to advocate that the Sox trade, or pick up, a closer. Andrew, “The Yeti” (as I like to call him) Miller is down with a twisted ankle. Koji Uehara can sometimes get it done, other times, not so much. The same seems true for Bailey, Wilson, Aceves, and whomever we bring up from Pawtucket this week. Who is the guy to close out our games? Have we tried Steven Wright, and if so, why not? Wright was named International Pitcher of the Week. I think we should bring Wright up to the bullpen, to mix things up in the later innings. Other sources feel Rubby De La Rosa would be a good person for that bullpen position, but I just think he is more of the same. The other teams are expecting that kind of pitching move. The last thing the Sox should want to be right now is predictable. Let’s keep everyone guessing.
Yes, there has been a lot of movement in that position, just no curveballs (pun very much intended!)
With Andrew Bailey floundering, who should the Red Sox turn to close out games? Courtesy of boston.com
With regard to the trade deadline, do the Red Sox need a closer, or do we need a starting pitcher? I believe that we can cultivate a starting pitcher within our minor league ranks. I am very confident of it based on the talent that I know teems within the minors. Brandon Workman just moved up to Triple-A. Anthony Ranaudo seems poised to make a move soon, too. Drake Britton is another Portland Seadog that is a pretty strong pitcher. We have the manpower. John Farrell has not been shy about searching the farm system for the right pitching combinations needed against a given team. Pedro Beato was a great recent decision. That solves some of the starting pitching issues we may encounter over the course of the season. Starting pitchers can be cultivated. What we cannot cultivate is a closer.
Closers are a chosen class. They are not molded. They must be mentally strong enough to handle the pressure of the two crucial innings at the end of the game. A closer must be physically dominant in a clutch, but more importantly mentally built for this kind of work. The mindset, the mental game, is the most important aspect of exceptional relievers.
So where do we go from here? There is lots of chatter about Jonathan Papelbon. I do not know how he will be received by Red Sox nation after his appearance at Fenway Park earlier in the month. There must be other guys out there, too. Is Dennis Eckersley available, or 1967’s John Wyatt? We all know these guys can throw some “cheese.”
Does Eck still have it? Courtesy of vintagecardprices.com
Will Papelbon be released from the Phillies? Are there other players out there? It appears there is chatter about other people. Who knows, though? Talk is cheap. We still have time. Let’s make some decisions.