Headed to Texas
Typing this as we fly down to Arlington for the weekend.
Wanted to quickly mention that 38 Studios has launched our official corporate web site, which can be found at www.38studios.com . If you haven’t checked it out please do, and when you do run your mouse cursor over munch. Thanks to the people at Mediaboom for their fantastic work on the website. Together with Ryan Shwayder, Steve Danuser, Mary Kirchoff and the team at 38 Studios I think they put together the beginnings of a pretty cool site with much more to come.
Two other things. You’ll notice on the right hand side of the page here an ALS tote board. The ALS programs that we run with the Philly, Az, and Boston chapters of the ALS Association are based on stats. Curt’s Pitch for ALS is a program that fans can sign up for and donate money per K or per win. At the end of each season the fans in the program get to be part of a meet and greet in each city. It’s nothing formal but it’s a chance to meet all the fans that do sign up and say thanks as well as those same fans getting a chance to meet the patients and families of people afflicted with this incurable disease. As of now every K is worth 500 dollars, and every win 2000. Thanks in advance to anyone that does sign up and those that already have.
The other is a congratulations to the MLB.Com package winners so far. There are 8 as of Thursday, and will be a total of 20 at the end of next week. No one is getting paid for this, and there is no affiliation with anyone in doing this program. This was a small way to get a few more members of Sox Nation (hoping that the winners are Sox fans of course) to be able to watch us all year long.
Our first series is over. With the exception of my stinker things went well for us over the last 4 days. The last two days were a bit colder than I thought it was supposed to be in Kansas City, but the guys took the elements in stride and played well over the last two games. Josh pitched his butt off, battling some command issues but making the pitches he needed to make to get us in the win column. The bullpen came in and shut the door, quelling a potential riot in Sox nation for at least a day. I kept looking for Haley’s Comet during the game, or at some point soon after. Mike Lowell making 3 errors in a month is something you don’t see, much less in a game. The great thing is knowing that he’s probably only going to make 2-3 more over the next 159 games.
One of the beauties of the game is watching the ‘invisible’ stuff that only players know is happening when a game is going on.
Being a pitcher means you rarely get the opportunity to ‘pick up’ a teammate. Playing everyday you get chances to help each other out at the plate in ways pitchers don’t. When a position player makes an error you know that no one feels worse than they do and as a pitcher it’s the one chance you have to say “Hey, I got you”, and you get out of the inning without the error hurting you. Josh and Mike have been teammates and close friends for years. You knew that Mike felt horrible after the second error, and Josh stepped up and got through the inning, and pretty much sealed up the win as best he could, by making his pitches.
Five innings for a starting pitcher is about as fun as kissing your sister (or so I hear). If you feel good about five innings being your entire body of work for a start you’re a losing pitcher and just don’t know it. Needless to say 4 innings sucks in a way that’s pretty much immeasurable. Josh wasn’t happy about coming out but he knew he’d ran his pitch count to that point. Regardless, getting that first win is a huge dose of tension relief heading into the season.
Mikey picked up where he left off, starting his run to 50 doubles again. Youk hit an absolute bomb as well. If we were playing in 10 degree warmer weather we’d have had a few more runs as well. ‘Tek and David both hit balls pretty square, as did JD, but the cold weather and wind turned them into outs. Kyle Snyder comes in and makes some great pitches, and gets us to the end game where the bullpen closes out our first win. This may be the first team I’ve ever been on that has great middle relief. It’s pretty well known that if you NEED great middle relief you’re probably a bad team. But having the middle relief we have is going to be huge for us because of the MLB schedule. 162 games is an absolute grind on bullpens that aren’t deep. If your starting pitching isn’t getting into the seventh consistently then you are looking at having a 12-20 man bullpen by the end of a season. There are a lot of AL lineups that will still be ‘in a game’ even being down 5 runs in the fourth inning. If you can run out a guy that can throw zeroes up for 2-3 innings, keep the game close, the deep AL lineups can find ways to get back into games. Great example was the Toronto/Detroit game that went from 9-0 or 9-2 to a 10-9 finish. Middle relief tends to be where you break in guys that are headed to your rotation, or the back of your bullpen. But on a team like ours, the middle relief and non-closers in our pen are tested veteran arms, good ones. This division is relentless on pitching staffs. For that matter the AL is relentless on pitching staffs. The longer you can keep the 11-12 guys you leave Florida with together the better off you end up come the pennant race. There is a continuity and feel that develops. Regardless of opinion or what you’d like to think, pitching out of the pen with no defined role puts you at a disadvantage. I know fans scream, and front offices scream, just get people out. It just doesn’t work that way for a lot of guys and when your relievers can stroll to the pen, look around, and everyone knows what they are supposed to do, and probably as important, when they are supposed to do it, your staff pitches better, consistently.
Daisuke. Wow. I can’t say I was surprised, but it was fun as hell to watch. The kid can flat out pitch and the line score he trotted out was even more impressive when you factor in he wasn’t as sharp as he can be. The one word that continues to come to mind every time I see him is poise. Regardless of the ‘pressure’ the media thinks he has on him, I don’t think anyone will ever exceed the expectations he has for himself. His track record speaks for itself. In the biggest games of his life, he’s pitched his best. That takes different makeup, and a confidence level you can’t fake. No doubt he was nervous. The only two things I could muster up in Japanese today were “Ten-o-sheen-day” (that’s how I pronounce it, not how it’s spelled), which means “have fun” and “Yokoo Yatta” or “eeyo” which means “good job”. Obviously I got to say the second one often, he was lights out today. After he settled into a rhythm he got on a roll. He has a large array of weapons and every one of them is an out pitch. He also has the ‘dial up’ fastball that great power pitchers have. With two strikes or in tight spots great pitchers can add 3-5 or more MPH and still maintain command of their fastball, which he did a lot today.
JC threw another solid inning and it was nice to see Paps strolling out of the pen again, healthy. The trickle down effect of making him our closer is going to be felt all year long. Being able to slot those guys into roles they’ve all had success in is huge for any team, and I think if you run a rotation out there that can give you 6-8 solid innings consistently you stay away from wear and tear on any one person and everyone stays sharp and strong.
Observations from the series and games of the last few days. JD Drew can play. Having never seen him regularly it’s always hard to have perspective on who other people judge as good to great players. When you are limited to scouting tapes and ESPN web gems everyone looks good. He’s going to fit perfectly into the spacious right field at Fenway. In a way he reminds me of watching Andrew Jones go after fly balls, invisible first step, then he’s under a ball no one should catch. Effortless speed is pretty damn cool when it’s in your outfield. Gil Meche has filthy stuff. Not exactly a revelation but if he ever decides to go after a Cy Young he’s going to be a stud. Awesome to see Zack Greinke working through his problems and in the big leagues. He’s going to be a good one. Incredible feel for pitching at a ridiculously young age. One of the better change ups I’ve seen for what it’s worth. He pitched a gem today against a pretty deep lineup.
From highlights of other games. Ok call me on it. When someone asked me earlier about starting a team, and best young players, I totally spaced out and forget about the kid in Seattle. Felix Hernandez is twice as good as I had heard. The only guy I think I’ve ever seen dominate that much that young in a game was Dwight Gooden. He looks healthy and if he stays healthy Santana’s going to get a run for his money this year. After watching Harden’s highlights last night I’m hoping that game was scouted with the fast gun. 88-90 mph split to go with some high 90’s fastballs is a pretty nice mix of stuff to work with. The beauty of it from a pitchers vantage point is that neither of them is ‘max effort’. Both guys stay well within themselves mechanically and command their stuff through the count. Always been a huge Ben Sheets fan. Hoping he can stay healthy because you’re looking at a 20 win, 250k, 20BB season if he does. Is John Smoltz really almost 40 (or is he 40)? His slider is as nasty today as it was 15 years ago. Brett Myers pitched his butt off and looks like he pushed himself this winter to be the ace of that staff. Another kid who is going to be special if he can stay healthy. With Hamels they could have an awesome 1-2 punch.
FYI for those posting comments. If you use foul language or post just to incite a response, your comment will not make it to the board. I have no problems with fans that want to holler or rant at me for pitching bad, or if you think you have the answers to my issues that’s fine, but you’re wasting your time posting the other crap and it gets deleted. My advice to you is simple, don’t come to the site. It really is that easy.
Two posts I wanted to comment on.
The first was from a man who’s 7 year old son I met last year asking about not contacting the young man since. I sent you a private email if you could let me know if it’s really you I’d appreciate it and love to get in touch.
The other was someone asking a second time about whether or not I had apologized to Butch Stearns for ripping him on the radio. I haven’t. It was a stupid thing to say then, and no less a lie today than it was the day he said it. Regardless of what happened between Pedro and the Sox when he left, or what was said, I promise you there was not a day that he and I weren’t pushing for each other. I know that doesn’t make for good copy, hell it’s not even a story, but it’s the truth. It was an idiotic and ignorant thing to say then, and still is now. I’m hoping like hell to see Petey healthy again this year and doing his thing. I’ll always find time to watch the great ones do their thing and he’s certainly one of them.
I’ll grab some questions if there’s time, and answer them in the next few days.