Saturday, August 20, 2011
Football is all the rage right now, but the MLB playoffs are fast approaching. Since it is likely that the Red Sox will be playing in October (knock on wood), the most important thing is to keep everyone healthy and fresh for the postseason. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Erik Bedard should not be pushed. Nothing is more important than having the top three starters ready to rock in the second season.
The return of Jed Lowrie and the acquisition of Mike Aviles allow Terry Francona the flexibility to give guys a day off or two in the dirty dog days of August before rosters expand. The Sox are being prudent by taking a conservative approach to player health whether it is David Ortiz, Marco Scutaro, etc. It is more important to have the thick lineup ready for October than ending up on top of the A.L. East at the end of the regular season.
The last objective should be getting Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon ready to pitch more than one inning in October. Three innings from the shutdown pen pair would allow Francona to matchup the rest of the relievers, if necessary, in the middle innings. We do not want Matt Albers getting the ball in the seventh up a run with the heart of the order ready to take their hacks off the journey man. With rosters expanded, Francona should have enough options to start transitioning Bard and Pap up to one plus innings with additional rest between appearances in the last week or two in September.
So if the Sox continue to play the B team, it is for the best. "Relax" and get ready for the October "laser show" and have some "muddy chicken" for the next six weeks. It is all about getting ready for the playoffs.