Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Okay, maybe the word "doldrums" isn't fair, because this team isn't boring. They tend to win in spectacular fashion (hitting big, late-inning game-opening hits, or utterly steamrollering the other team from early on), or lose equally spectacularly (massive pitching collapses, or the complete inability to hit). So it's more of a rollercoaster -- one day they seem unstoppable, the next day truly pathetic. Problem is, it's equal parts of both: they're five games above .500...same as they were on May 6th. Playing .500 ball for over a month now. Pretty annoying, and worrisome.

Okay, now this is where everyone (including myself, when I'm feeling optimistic) says, "Well, the Sox were a .500 team May through July of last year, and that turned out well, right?" It's a very comforting thought...but the more I think about it, the more I think the analogy's a bad one...

- last year, after 57 games, we were 11 games above .500, thanks to a 15-6 April. This last April, Sox went only 11-10.
- Home-away splits can't account for the difference -- sure, we've played 31 games on the road this year. But last year by this point we'd played 30.
- BA and and OBP are similar to where they were last year, but SLG is 30 points lower.
- Pitching is markedly worse than it was a year ago, with team ERA almost a full point higher (bullpen ERA being a significantly worse change than that), BAA almost 30 points higher, and pretty much every other category (K's, BB's, WHIP, etc) worse as well.

Maybe much of these differences can be traced to vastly improved Baltimore and Toronto teams. But that shouldn't make anyone feel any better...all it means is that it's now tougher to make the playoffs -- so playing exactly the same as last year isn't good enough.

Another big difference is injuries/underperformance by key players. Particularly Manny, Schilling, and Foulke. Manny will act like Manny eventually. But Schilling and Foulke seem to me to be bigger question marks. In addition, it's worth mentioning that last year's team didn't just miraculously start playing better in August...the huge late-season surge was at least in part due to a fairly massive trade, which worked out exactly as planned. Can it happen again?

None of this is to say that this year's Sox are in a huge amount of trouble -- my point is just that anyone trying to feel better about this season by pointing to the team's performance from this time last year is badly mistaken.



  1. I see the point on not directly comparing this year's team to last year's teams. I think we are talking about toads with different warts. Both waiting to be kissed and become princes.

    Last year we had the injuries and then the big trade did something.

    This year we have, at least most notably to me - the absence of Schilling and the ineffectiveness of Foulke. Everything else is just noise. Sure manny's average is down, but his HR and RBI are okay. And there are some bad performers in the pen, but I trust that Theo and Terry will get the middle worked out.

    I hope Schill can come back and contribute consistently. I hope I don't have to watch Foulke sit on the BootlyLemurs bench all summer. Hell, even one of these hopes turning into reality (soon) would be a big pick me up.

    I think the stupid analogy "its a marathon not a sprint" is very appropriate. No need to panic. sure the division is tougher (for now) but in one aspect that makes it even easier. The O's are on pace for 99 wins, but we are only 4 games back. The Jays and Yanks, along with us and the O's have decent teams and should keep the pack close - in other words it won't take 18 out of 20 to gain an edge. 8 out of 12, say the first week in July, could be enough to swing momentum.

    One thing about baseball is that it is a very, very long season. As I tell my wife, you can't get emotional over each and every game. Its not football. The very, very best teams - teams that win 100 games, which the Sox have not done in almost 60 years - still lose 60 games per year. That means two months worth of potential sleepless nights. Yikes. That is what is so great about this game. You lose the tough game (the recent Friday night one against the NYY or Saturday's game against the Angels or hell Game 3 19-8) and the very next day you bounce back and get an emotional win.

    I've probably gotten a little off the point, which is that it is frustrating to watch this team. Agreed. But I don't think it is all that different from last year. Different problems. But same general situation.

    In Theo I trust.

  2. Good response. Amen: ITWT.

    Still, what's a little different this year is that it feels like one medium-sized losing streak, and we're a sub-.500's (i.e. Yankee-like) club. Always felt like there was a little of a cushion last year. Hell, last year, you could fall below .500 and still be in second place.

    Anyway, not to focus too much on the Other Guys, but thank god the Yankees are so hilarious. Now there's something which is consistently fun to watch. No doldrums for them!

  3. Speaking of the Yanks... 2 games below .500 after tonight's 2-0 blanking at the hands of Ben Sheets. Now if only we didn't look like a completely useless ballclub either.

  4. At least we are losing, albeint badly, to the defending NL Champs and the arguably the best team in baseball (now that Chicago has cooled a bit). The Yanks are losing to KC and Milw. Plus the Yanks have to go to ST L this weekend. And face Mulder.

  5. Hey, remember that time, last October, when we totally kicked Mark Morris's and Jeff Suppan's sorry asses? That was awesome.

    (Better then than now. I feel pretty crappy from those two losses, and it's early June. Had those same games happened 8 months ago, I'd be unable to eat or sleep.)

  6. I am not too worried about this, yet. The AL is always at a disadvantage in the NL parks because they are built to play with a DH.

    With that said, our pitchers were crushed. Clement, however, suffered from a bad call in the second. I can't remember who the baserunner was, but Manny threw him out at home on a close play. In my opinion, the umpire was out of position. I've never seen an umpire stand to that side of the plate. There is no way he could have made the right call from there. That opened the flood gates.

    And why can't we hit? I think that it is more important for this team right now for Manny to get back on track than to get the home run for Ortiz. Manny is not seeing good pitches because he is in the 4-hole. Flip them back around.

    Also, turn Damon loose. Let him steal. Hit-and-run. I know it isn't money ball, but we need a spark. Seems to work for the Cards.

    Chicago, Cincy and Pittsburgh (the last two series at Fenway) coming up. This is a good time for us to make up some ground, hopefully. Oops, they play Cincy, Houston (hopefully Clemens is pitching), and Colorado We have 4 against them at Baltimore (where they are 17-14...THEY ARE WAY BETTER ON THE ROAD...18-9) just before the All-Star break...We, of course, suck on the road...

    Positives from this series?
    Embree hasn't been lit up...
    Tek is hitting well again...
    We got Damon back in the lineup...
    Not much else...

  7. By the way, I make mention to Cincy, Pitt, and Colorado in my last comment. That meant that Baltimore is playing them while we play the teams I mentioned. Confusing, I know...

  8. What is our record with Mills as coach? we'll probably get him again. With Francona headed for a certain suspension again.

    Usually second offenses in the same season would be more games. But with Torre only getting one and Terry griping about it, it will be interesting to see if they give him another 3 game suspension.

  9. Eric Wilbur's blog yesterday was about something happening in the next Yankees/Sox series especially if the Yankees continue to slip.

    Michael Kay was calling for the Yankees to drill Ortiz. Nice, right? He said it would be payback for all those Jeter drillings. EXCEPT that Jeter turns in to baseballs to get on base. There is nothing wrong with that. Not at all. And I am not saying that it happens everytime he gets hit. But, Rudy on the Bad News Bears (sponsored by Chico's Bail Bonds) showed it was a good way to get on base and Jeter follows suit. That's all...

  10. Yeah, Michael Kay is a classy guy.

    I guess it will be Tanyon that does the dirty work.

    I disagree a bit about Jeter turning into balls to get on base. He does however dive over the plate to start the swing fairly early and use his legs to try to drive the ball. Kind of like when Youk got hit last night (although that ball was up).

    On another note, Extra innings had the STL feed and it was interesting to listen to Buck as a (true) homer. I know all the national guys have to do it, but I am used to him attempting to remain neutral. But it was pretty tough last night - first listening to him call STL HRs and then trash talking the Sox for the HBP and then getting on Retneria a bit for saying Boston has the best fans in baseball.