Friday, April 22, 2005

BOOMER

It was nice to see David Wells finally rounding into form. His performance last night pitching eight shutout innings against an Orioles team that had been averaging seven runs a game for the past week and a half was simply electrifying. For all the nitwits who had been writing and blabbing on air about how bad Boomer was and that he was the next Ramiro Mendoza (Yankee Double Agent) were left speechless. Wells was not overpowering and was not about to strikeout fifteen batters, but his performance was exactly what you would expect from a proud lefty with more than a few innings left in his arm and more than enough guile and pitching acumen to make up for the fact his fastball is no longer 96 mph.

Wells was a savvy move by Epstein and as long as his back stays loose, the Red Sox have a legitimate number two post-season left-handed starter not seen in these parts since the days of Bruce Hurst. The Red Sox have long needed a lefty starter, and as evidenced by his freefall through the outposts of the National and American league these past few seasons Casey Fossum was never going to be the one.

The key points with the Wells and Matt Clement signings involve 2007 and beyond. There is no way that the Red Sox front office and ownership had any intention of paying Pedro Martinez to pitch beyond 2006, it was far too risky. If the Mets are willing to take that risk, so be it. Did the Sox want Martinez for 2005 and 2006, of course, but I cannot blame them for not wanting to be stuck with his contract in 2007 and 2008 with his potential health issues. With Wells signed for only two years, it is a best of both worlds scenario for the Sox as Wells should pick up some of the slack with Pedro gone.

As for Lowe, the Red Sox front office and ownership saw his track record and that track record is very good when on his game, but maddeningly inconsistent and unreliable. Again, why would they want this guy around for four years with that track record? Replacing him with Clement has obvious advantages. Although their track record appears similar, Clement is a strikeout pitcher who is looking for direction on the mound and young enough to be coached by Dave Wallace, mentored by Wells and Curt Schilling, and work with Jason Varitek. Strikeout pitchers are so valuable because they can put out fires without the risk of something quirky like a groundball with eyes or a bloop single or a fielding error. If the ball is not put in play, nothing bad can happen.

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SH-SH-SH-SHAKING:

Speaking of Derek Lowe and shaky performances, I saw for Sox pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim pitch the other night for Colorado. He survived the inning with no runs allowed but he looked very shaky and could not get his fastball into the nineties nor could he get anything remotely off-speed over the plate. For a pitcher who was all but unhittable with Arizona early in his career, the change over the past few years is nothing less than shocking. I do not blame the Red Sox front office for taking a flyer on Kim the past few years; there is just too much talent in him for him to continue to squander it away. I was a big fan at the time of the acquisition of Kim, but wonder what is going on in his head that can cause such a downward spiral in his career.

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BAD CHAD:

I would love to see the Patriots take a flier on former Seahawks and Steelers outside linebacker Chad Brown who was just released by Seattle. A high-motor quarterback chaser, the veteran would look great as part of the OLB rotation with McGinest and Vrabel.

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