David Wells is finally rounding into form, as his second start of extended spring training once again counted in the record books. Shot of one bad inning, Boomer did not look too bad out here on the hill for the Sox. Again, Wells left a couple of meatballs up and over the plate and paid the price. Of course, the story was not Wells, but rather the dynamic duo, Mike Timlin and Alan Embree, being unable to hold a lead against the Blue Jays.
The buzz remains centered on the slumping bats in Boston. Kevin Millar, will he turn it around like last year after Memorial Day. Edgar Renteria, is he a $10 million a year bust? Bill Mueller, what happened to that inside out stroke that drove the ball off the Green Monster? Mark Bellhorn, will he swing at a pitch in any given at bat? Manny Ramirez, what happened to the batting average?
Also, the bullpen has been in flux as the Blaine Neal Experience did not go well, the Cla Meredith Experiment failed miserably, and Byung-Hyun Kim never contributed. John Halama and Jeremi Gonzalez contributed in the starting rotation, but their long relief work has been spotty. Alan Embree and Mike Timlin are starting to show some wear and tear on their rubber arms as they have been hittable this season in clutch situations. Matt Mantei has looked good after a shaky start. Closer Keith Foulke has had his mechanical mayhem this year that reappears every few years for him.
I have long been chanting the mantra wait for warm weather before going all haywire and into a full panic mode regarding the offensive output this year. The Sox are hanging in near the top of the division, bunched together with the surprising Blue Jays and the perpetually beating up on weaker opponents Yankees as Regular Joe Torre and Scotch and Soda Mel Stottlemeyer try to get this underachieving millionaires club to the top of the division (because my theory is that as long as Torre wins the AL East, Steinbrenner cannot fire him.).
Considering that Curt Schilling and David Wells have contributed squat this spring, the fact that the team is doing so well is a tribute to the depth the front office assembled; however, the fact remains that the bullpen is still unsettled and the hitters need to get hitting or get shuffled.
Two changes that should be forthcoming: 1. John Olerud inserted as the regular first baseman (we love Millar, but if he does not hit, he should not play); and 2. Kevin Youkilis inserted as the regular third baseman. Millar, Bellhorn, and Mueller (and Johnny Damon) are all in what is very likely the swan song of their Red Sox career. Next season, I expect that Youkilis is the full-time third baseman and that the Sox try to find a power-hitting first baseman. Second base has prospects aplenty to fill in, be it Henley Ramirez or Dustin Pedroia.
Right now, the Sox need to look to the Yankees to see what a little creative shuffling can do to jumpstart a struggling offense. Benching Bernie Williams and bringing up Robinson Cano has certainly caused the Yankees to speed around the corner after stumbling and almost falling like Afleet Alex in the Preakness.
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Tennis is a great game. Good exercise, great cardio workout, builds arm strength, etc. Really, though, I do not care about professional tennis in the least. So why is the paper full of so much about the stinking sport? Has Boston become a city of racket slingers? Recent stories in one day included young tennis stars pushed by their parents, a kid loses a high school match because he has no coach at he game, and Andre Agassi was defeated in the first round. Whatever. If there is nothing else on, I have certainly flipped to a US Open or Wimbledon match and got dragged into the competition, but considering it rates below Arena League Football on my must-watch list, I certainly do not think I need page after page of coverage (except for Bud Collins articles. He could write about sandpaper and make it interesting.).
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