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