Saturday, July 14, 2007

(slightly late) midseason report

Yeh, ok, I'm a little past the All-Star Break, but we're still close enough to talk about the first half. I wont go through each player and give a grade(like most places online are wont to do). Instead, I'm gonna touch on aspects of the team and give my opinion as to where things stand.

The Sox offense in the 1st half, although not on par with the 2003-2004 bats, was definitely more potent than most predicted before the season. The Sox are 1st in the AL in on-base % (.358) and 4th in slugging (.437). They lead the AL in walks by a huge margin (382 to Oakland's 340). They're getting on base, and they're hitting for decent power, which will almost always lead to runs(they're 4th in the AL in Runs Scored). Lowell, believe it or not, has been our "power" hitter, but if the first two games after the break are any indication, Papi and Manny are going to have monstah 2nd halves.

High Point: The Sox going back-to-back-to-back-to-back off rookie Yankee pitcher Chase Wright
Low Point: Julio Lugo

The Sox fielders have the 5th best fielding % in the AL with .985, and they have a total of 51 errors. They are obviously not as good as that awesome 9 were last year(66 errors TOTAL), but they've shown huge improvements the past few weeks. Coco Crisp and Youkilis could very well win Gold Gloves at season's end, and Pedroia is a serious contender for that piece of hardware as well.

High Point: ANY catch made by Coco Crisp.
Low Point: Mike Lowell has 13 errors so far. He had SIX all last year.

Starting Pitching
This pitching is good. Very good. Beckett leads the way in his Cy-Young caliber season, followed by Dice-K and Schilling. Curt threw a good side session yesterday, and there is hope he will be good-to-go not too long after August 1st. Beckett leads the league in wins, and Dice-K is in the top 5 in strikeouts. I'm hoping we see Lester up soon, although he has struggled(from what I have read) in his past few outings. I can understand that the Sox don't want to rush a guy that just went through cancer mere months ago. A Schilling-Beckett-Matsuzaka rotation in the playoffs would be S-I-C-K.

High Point: Schilling almost getting a no-hitter.
Low Point: Schilling almost getting a no-hitter.

Can we all agree that the bullpen has been the strongest part of this year's team? These guys are lights out all the way. Now with Manny Delcarmen back in the bigs and having confidence, we have a righty set-up man, a lefty set-up man(Okajima), and one the best closers in the game(Papelbon). You get the starter through 6 innings, and you can pretty much go home. Okajima has been nothing short of amazing, leading the majors in relief ERA with .810. Unreal.

High Point: Okajima making Barry Bonds look retarded at bat.
Low Point: A-Rod's go-ahead homer in the 9th inning against Papelbon.

1st Half Surprise
Dustin Pedroia. No question about it. This guy had a lousy call-up session last year in September, but coming into Spring Training he shed about 20 lbs. and had a new work ethic. This guy started slow in April, but after a few days off and some help with hitting coach Magadan, he's been en fuego. The Rookie of the Month in May, Pedroia almost seems like he puts maximum effort into his swings, yet he doesn't just hit for power. He spreads it around the field, rarely strikes out, and is very Youk-like in his at-bats. Oh, and he's an awesome fielder too, committing just THREE errors all year in almost as many chances as the rest of the AL 2nd basemen.

1st Half MVP
You know, at the beginning of the season, I would have said David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez. As it turns out, the 1st half MVP for me is none of ther than that Japanese pitching import that has been absolutely deadly on the mound. No no, I'm not talking about the Dice-man. I'm talking about Hideki Okajima, the left-handed specialist that DOESN'T EVEN LOOK AT THE BATTER when he pitches. To think, this guy was mainly brought in to make Matsuzaka's "transition" easier. Now, he(along with Pedroia and Dice) is a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate.

2nd Half Outlook
The Sox are in great position to take home the AL East title. Barring a complete collapse, and if the majority of the guys stay healthy(or take time off to rest), they can easily win 100 games at this pace. Another bullpen arm might be nice, but if they can take everyone into October with good health, they'll be in good shape.

What worries me:
David Ortiz. He has a torn meniscus, but it has no inflammation. He says he can play on it through the rest of the year, but he may need surgery after the season. This is obviously what has kept his power numbers at bay this season, although he is crushing doubles left and right and still getting on base, second only to Detroit's Magglio Ordonez. If he needs to rest, thanfully we have such a large lead in the division that we can give him that day off if need be. I still hope that he gets surgery this offseason and fixes it, and I REALLY hope this doesn't come back to bite us in September/October.

Bold Predicitons:
The Sox will somehow surprise us and make us MUCH better by the July 31st deadline by pulling a trade that we haven't even thought about.

Jacoby Ellsbury will be to the 2007 Red Sox in October what Dave Roberts was to the 2004 team. Mark my words.

Currently Drinking: Michelob Ultra Amber(an awesome discovery by the Sox Gal)

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