Saturday, April 15, 2006

Catching Up

Sorry I missed the last few days, but you try working a full-time job, raising two kids, starting a new diet and exercise program and keeping multiple blogs up-to-date all at the same time. Woe is me.

Anyway, it's probably best that I said nothing the last few days anyway, because no sooner did I praise the starting pitching when they threw two straight stinkers out there. David Wells was dreadful, and he has mercifully been returned to the DL where he belongs. I gotta say, Wells has an impressive streak of disruption going. He demanded a trade pretty much as soon as the last season ended, but then failed to rehab his surgically repaired knee while simultaneously saying he only wanted to go to a contending team on the West Coast, all of which made him virtually untradeable.

Once he finally accepted this fact, he rescinded the trade offer, but his balky knee kept him from doing much of anything in Spring Training. Still, despite it being obvious that he wasn't ready to pitch, Wells did find time to call his manager an idiot and demand a rotation spot. The attitude made it even less likely that the team could ever get anything in return for him if they continued to pursue trades, so they dealt Bronson Arroyo instead. Arroyo, of course, has started hot for the Reds, while Wells continued to pitch like crap in Pawtucket, his enormous, unrepentant bulk putting ceaseless pressure on his rehab-free knee. Activiated nonetheless, he promptly brought the Sox's 5-game winning streak to a screeching halt before being returned to the DL. Now the team that started the Spring with seven viable starters to choose from has the utterly forgettable Lenny DiNardo in the rotation. The lesson here? David Wells is a prick. No real surprise I guess.

Thankfully, Curt Schilling got the rotation back in shape with a masterful performance yesterday against Seattle. He's been his old self this year, and that is looking to be more and more critical because Matt Clement has struggled, Wells is Wells, and Tim Wakefield is hit and miss as he finds his way with a new catcher. Without Schilling going great guns, the rotation would have no reliable starter but Josh Beckett, who seems to be permanently on the brink of either raising a blister on his pitching hand or punching out a member of the opposition. With the bats being pretty unimpressive so far, what with two-thirds of the outfield injured and the other third, Manny, not hitting, without Schilling's performance so far (backed up by Jonathan Papelbon), this team would likely be tied with the Devil Rays for last place in the division. And that's not even an exaggeration.

One reason for this is a trend I noticed last year with Terry Francona that he's decided to continue this season. On random days, seemingly at a time that corresponds with Jason Varitek having the day off with Wakefield on the mound, Tito will sit a handful of other regulars, too. Today is a perfect example. Varitek is out with Wakefield pitching. We already know that Coco Crisp and Trot Nixon are out of commission too. So Tito naturally decided that today would also be a good day to give Mike Lowell and Mark Loretta a day off. What the hell? With three known lineup spots sporting backup players, how in the world does Tito think the team can afford to have two more regulars on the bench? These aren't the dog days of August. It's April, and none of these guys should be so tired that they have to have a day off this early in the season. But Terry sat them anyway, and, predictably, the Sox were shut out. These early games count in the standings, too, don't they?

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