Monday, April 24, 2006

CLEMENT-TIME

What a god-awful stinker thrown by Matt Clement on Sunday afternoon. Sure, the box score shows that he only gave up 2 earned runs in 5+ innings, but having watched the game taking place on the carpet in Toronto it was obvious that Clement is still not where everyone hoped he would be after being signed by the Sox after the 2004 season. Fastballs were up and over the plate, his control was erratic, even outs were made loudly.

What has been the saving grace of the Sox this season has continued to be the team defense. Mike Lowell (other than that airmail toss to first base that Manute Bol would have never been able to reach) and Alex Gonzalez (pretty soon they will start awarding errors to the guy on ground balls up the middle: Lookit dat, Vinny! Gonzalez shoulda had it. E-6. Boo!) have been airtight as advertised. Trot Nixon can actually move in the outfield these days. Manny is under-rated in left field, Youk is improving at first base, and Mark Loretta is slicker than a Sha-Na-Na concert on the double play.

Trot-trot, who has been nothing short of great this first month (despite missing five games), creates another one of those wonderful Mark Blount-Greg Spires conundrums. Do the Sox sign Trot to that huge contract since he is playing so well in his walk year, or do they let him walk and roll the dice that it was a one year wonder and he will turn back into the 100 game disabled list regular of previous seasons? Personally, I believe he is gone, and could be gone by July 31. For all the Trot Nixon love out there in the greater Boston area (yes, Jenn, that includes you.), Nixon is not one of the new management teams guys, nor was he even one of the Duke boys. Nope, Trot-Trot to London is the last holdover of the heady Lou Gorman days.

Speaking of Toronto and the SkyDome, remember the heady days of Joe Carter, Robby Alomar, and young stud closer Mike Timlin and the SkyDome was the next big thing in what was needed to bring fans to a ballgame? Hotels and malls in the bleachers, 4 million attendance figures, and that beautiful artificial surface. All those Larry Lucchino bashers need remember only Camden Yards at Oriole Park as his contribution to the game of baseball. Without Camden Yards, there could be Riverfront Stadium clones popping up all over baseball: even, gasp, in historic Brahman Boston!

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HOT SOX:

Sternieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Adam Stern made two amazing catches in centerfield this week. From the diving catch to bail out Jon Papelbon to the gutsy effort smacking into the left-centerfield wall the next night, he showed exactly what a young Johnny Damon showed in Kansas City: pure, all-out hustle and no fear of flying. Of course, Sternie hit below the Mendoza line, which explains why he will be the latest Todd Benzinger/Chico Walker/Reggie Whittemore type cult favorite in Pawtucket this summer.

With the pending return of Coco Crisp, it makes sense to get Stern down to AAA and play everyday, as he really has not had a lot of at-bats; however, I would rather have Stern in Boston for two weeks and take my chances on Willie Harris taking a hike and bringing up someone like Machado to be utility/emergency outfielder.

Youkkkkkkkkkkk!!!

Everybody loves the Greek God of Walks. No, not just for that .433 on-base percentage, but because of that power he has exhibited at the plate. Youkilis has looked decent at first base, and he has toiled long behind a decent, but in no way all-star, third baseman these last two years. Funny, but with Mike Lowell denting the Green Monster and Kevin Youkilis leading the offense, there has been nary a Bill Mueller reference for a while. Funny what performing does to quiet down whining idiots.

Hard to be Bard

Another passed ball, another bake sale for the Doug Mirabelli Hall of Fame enshrinement fund. Look, Mirabelli was a decent back-up who finally caught on to catching Tim Wakefield in his third season as his personal caddy. Queer Eye fave Dougie was a decent bat early on, until he lost all semblance of control at the plate last year and started hacking like Reggie Jackson. I understand Josh Bard is learning on the job and has hit at a .167 clip, but cut the guy some slack. Mirabelli is gone, but Mark Get Back Loretta is the best all-around second baseman the Sox have had since Jerry Remy (if anyone emails me about Jeff Frey, they will just get a smack).

The Future is so Bright, I have to Wear Shades


That title is just for Brigs. Anyway, the pitching of Jonathan Papelbon just further underscores how good things look in the future for the Red Sox. Next year they can add Papelbon to the rotation and slide Craig Hansen into the bullpen. Manny Delcarmen should be ready for the big time. Lenny DiNardo, Jon Lester and Abe Alvarez may be ready to help-out in the starting rotation. The Sox braintrust has really nailed the formula for being a large market team operating like a small market team. There is young talent pouring through the system at long last. Some of it was traded, but not for veterans on the downslope, but rather young veterans (Josh Beckett, Coco Crisp) who will play a major role with the team into the next decade.

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