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Team Building for Home and Away: It's All About the Strike Zone

October 14, 2009

You know how you handle building a team to win at home and on the road that plays in Fenway? No different than you do the San Diego Padres. Good hitters hit regardless of the ballpark. The same is true of good pitchers.

You build your team to win at home and on the road by having strength and depth in your pitching staff. Yes, you need a deep offense, and the Sox have that. But you shore up offensive weaknesses by running four to five starters out there, backed by a bullpen of setup men in the middle and closers on the end, that can pitch your team through offensive slumps. Slumps will happen. They happen to everyone. But they happen less to teams focused around offensive players who get on base.

Guys that walk 100-plus times a year will slump, the difference being that when they slump they’re still getting on base via the walk.

When talking with young pitchers, especially ones struggling early, the hardest thing to make them understand is the difference between a strike and ball four.

The OBP of a walk is 1.000, the OBP of a hitter hitting a 3-1 belt-high fastball is anywhere from .350 to .450, right? THROW STRIKES! When you have a staff of pitchers with some strikeout guys on both ends, you win more games than you lose for the most part. If that staff is backed up by a lineup of six to eight guys who generate OBPs of .340 to .350-plus, you present major problems for the league over a 162-game schedule.

Look at the Angels. They did what I didn’t think they could in shutting down the Boston offense. Lackey came through huge; so did their other starters.

But in my opinion, the series-changing player was Abreu. Having played with Bobby for a few years in Philly, it certainly didn’t shock me, nor do I think it shocked Tito. This guy is and has been a VERY good player for a long time. He gave their offense a dimension it NEVER had in years past and even just one hitter in that lineup with his makeup changed EVERYTHING from an approach standpoint. Not only that, but he had a phenomenal series.

I do think Jason Bay is a huge piece to the Sox being good again, but at the same time, cementing that staff will ensure they are good again. They’ll put an offense centered around Petey and Youk out there again, and with Jacoby improving as much as he has, there isn’t a ton left to fix there. Victor will now sit in the middle of that lineup as well. If they can run that offense out there with an emerging Lester, an ace in Beckett, they’ll be good, real good, again.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2009 2:40 pm

    But will they be good enough. The Yankees aren’t going anywhere and the others in the divison are getting better. Without the wins against B O the soxs wouldn’t have made the playoff. They didn’t play well against good teams and good pitching.

  2. John Fournier permalink
    October 14, 2009 2:44 pm

    The only thing they are missing is a veteran ace on the staff…someone like YOU!!

  3. October 14, 2009 3:09 pm


    I agree with you that we need a solid basis with a rotation with 2-3 strong starters and 5 strong hitters. That will get you a strong showing. But here in New England, as it is in NY, a strong showing isn’t what most people want. While I am happy with a playoff appearance, most people want the Series appearance. And to get that, you need a strong line-up 1-8 and a strong 5 man rotation, with a good long reliever, mid reliever and a closer.

    On another note, getting rid of JP may get them a good #5 hitter or #6 hitter, but now Bard as closer? He’s unproven and we don’t want a committee.

  4. Tom permalink
    October 14, 2009 8:59 pm

    Well said Kurt, I go mental with all the walks. It seems simple enough just throw strikes.

  5. October 14, 2009 10:25 pm

    I’ve been a Red Sox fan since 1967 and I’ve seen a lot of games. I agree
    with you regarding the pitching & defense. I’m not at all worried with the
    pitching staff, as there were injuries that derailed that train. The defense,
    is fine(except for holding the runners)as long as they keep Alex(Damn the bat)
    What I observed this season was the lack of timely hitting. Some of it was
    just that the balls were hit hard right at someone.(some luck is part of the
    game),but to leave so many men on base is not good for any baseball team. So
    overall I’m not concerned with the team as it is. I will say that Adam Dunn’s
    bat & and another high OBP bat would help.

  6. rodfromcranston permalink
    October 15, 2009 8:16 am

    Good points by Schill.
    As for Adam “The Big Donkey” Dunn, keep him in Washington.
    Close to 200 strikeouts a year, and a career .255 BA. Sure he hits lots of
    homers, but people who’ve played with him can’t stand him, and he has a reputation for not hitting in the clutch.
    All this and he’s one of the worst fielders in baseball and a real slug on the basepaths.
    Say “NO!” to Dunn.

  7. Joe permalink
    October 15, 2009 12:34 pm

    I did not bother to read everyones comments. But I think the starting rotation will be Ok if they stay healthy. Forbid Dice K from any more world Baseball, Sox pay him not the BBC. But they have to replace the .230 hitters in the line Up. Ok OK Ortiz hit 28 homers. But not one Clutch hit this year. He had Arod numbers All Puff #’s Tek was a mess all but the first month. Bay if he could hit all season not just 4 months would be a monster. What did he do after. June? Pete was not himself this year. I hope. youk well what can you say. Bouncing him all around the field and still produces. Give him a position to field and leave him there. Who else could field 3 positions and hit 300 and over 20 hr? NO One.

  8. Tom permalink
    October 15, 2009 1:15 pm

    So what is the offseason fix then? I agree they will be good again, but good gets us back in the postseason, great gets us another championship. I worry about the middle of the order and that great hitting will hit against good pitching. Are there enough great hitters that can produce in the postseason? Is Ortiz good enough any more? I LOVE Lester, Beckett, Buchholz, and possibly Dice-K if he continues how he was but as we saw, those pitchers can fail in the postseason, or even if we don’t consider their performances “failures” they surely weren’t dominant enough to get the Sox past an Angels team that was on base with the threat to run constantly.

    I also work for Steiner Sports, who is the leader in great sports memorabilia that any Boston Red Sox fan would love. Check it out.

    I expect the Sox to be back in the mix next season, I just don’t know if this current roster, with or without Bay, will do any better than this season’s club.

  9. ed1935 permalink
    October 16, 2009 12:08 pm

    What the Yankees/Rays/Angels have to win on the road:
    TEAM speed not just one player
    Great bench strength
    Multiple switch hitters in the starting line-up good from both sides
    Good defensive catchers to keep speed under control


  10. October 18, 2009 12:50 pm

    Curt, will you please come and be our pitching coach?!

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