Monday, May 22, 2006
Taking two out of three in Philly is a nice weekend. It’s like getting lucky on Friday and digits the next night. Now, a three game set against the MFY. Even with all of their health issues, the MFY are still right with the Sox. It should be three, nail biting, intense, four hour plus marathon games - fun times, if the Sox win. Anyway, unless one club sweeps, the series is not all that significant in the long run.
The thirty days after Memorial Day could prove to play a big factor in determining whether or not “GO SOX” can be seen from the Hancock this fall. The Local Nine will play 29 games during that stretch against only two opponents (six games) with records currently under 500. One of the two weaker sisters is Minnesota, who could throw Johan Santana and Franciso Liriano in two of the three. Not only are the duo some of the best pitchers in the world, they both are hard throwing southpaws - the worst type of match up for the Sox as they neutralize Nixon and somewhat limit Ortiz. The Sox would then not be favored to win that three game set. Plus, only 13 will be played at friendly Fenway. It is going to be a tough road after Tampa next weekend.
Thankfully, it appears that the Sox will be at full strength for the early summer test. David Wells will provide the Sox with a much better shot at winning games than Leapin’ Lenny. A good day for Lenny is holding the opposition to three runs over five innings. That wasn’t a cheap shot at DiNardo, he is playing out of position. At best his role should be as an early LOOGY (lefty one out guy) and long man out of the pen. It is a function Abe Alvarez should play in the near future, when DiNardo is eligible for arbitration, but more importantly, both southpaws can be successful at the role, just not as the Sox fifth starter.
Dave Riske is also on his way back. Riske should be able to take the role of Rudy Huxtable, who is just stinking it up in his second stint with the Sox, as the middle man when the club is behind. According to Baseball Prospectus’ Win Expectation above Replacement, only seven players, with a minimum of ten innings pitched, are poorer performers than Saenez. Riske can’t do any worse, even given his up and down track record. Saenez could be released or designated for assignment once the club feels Hansen or Manny D is ready. Riske will be upgrade over Saenez giving the Sox a better shot at coming back in ballgames.
Even though Wily Mo Pena, a personal favorite, has been more than adequate in Coco Crisp’s absence, the scouting report on Pena seems to be circulating - he can’t even come close to hitting a righty’s natural slider, which moves away from the RHB, and has trouble with any breaking stuff moving down and away. It always amazes me how long it takes for the scouting report or rather for it to be executed to exploit a weakness. Even on the acquisition of Wile E. Pena, Theo came out and acknowledged his weakness at the plate; it should not have been a mystery to any organization. Regardless, the return of Coco, thereby relegating Pena to platoon, will limit the opposing team’s ability to expose Wile E.’s weakness.
It appears that the Sox should be at full strength to take on their most difficult stretch of the season. The return of Wells, Coco, and Riske will give the Olde Towne Team the best shot at competing against some of the top clubs. If the Sox can play 600 plus ball over those 29 games, the local nine will be in a nice spot heading into the dog days of summer.