Monday, May 02, 2005

Out with the Old, In with the ... Old

Well, all is right in Red Sox land again. They won two of three in Texas, Bronson might be the best pitcher in baseball most likely to have highlights, Clement pitched well yesterday and I got an early Christmas present when Kevin Youkilis got called up from Pawtucket (quick aside: there's a great interview with Youkilis at The Hardball Times, and in it he explains exactly what went down last season when he hit his first major league HR only to get the silent treatment when he got back to the dugout. That might have been one of the funniest things I saw all of last season -- well, it was either that or Varitek beating up A-Rod).

On the downside however, the Sox will be without David Wells and Curt Schilling for the foreseeable future (although this should allow Schilling to devote time to his first passion, calling in to sports talk and giving inane, unsolicited opinions) and in the words of Kornheiser and Wilbon, Keith Foulke is "struggleeng." Boston did sign John Olerud to a minor league contract this weekend to make sure the average age of Red Sox players doesn't fall below 38. The victim is Dave McCarty, who'll be reassigned. Am I the only guy who likes McCarty? I was actually thinking during yesterday's game when McCarty came in as Millar's late-inning defensive replacement, that he's one of those utility guys that could stick around another four or five seasons doing exactly what he does now: upgrade the defense and be a pretty good pinch hitter. Instead it looks like Olerud will spend two weeks getting in game shape in Florida and then report to Boston where he'll platoon with Millar.

This seems curious since Millar actually hasn't caused me to throw anything at the television all season. I mean there was that debacle in left field last week, but I blame Manny for coming down with the Martian flu and forcing Millar out there while David Ortiz played first. And then, while playing first base, there was that ball Millar almost threw out of the park (also last week) when he was trying to throw a runner out at third. If that had been a shot put competition, Millar would've brought home the gold. As it turned out, it wasn't and he instead got an error. But other than those two missteps, Millar hasn't really done much to make me say, "wow, he's a really bad pro" in at least two weeks. And not only that, but is Olerud such an upgrade over McCarty? Just asking.

And it's not like I can even bust out the "I told you so" about Bellhorn. Number one, he's sick, so it's hard to make fun of a guy who (temporarily) loses his job because he ate a bad hamburger. Second, there's only one person that I know who thinks Bellhorn should be playing (yes Des, it's you). Of course Mueller made an error yesterday while playing 2nd base, but it's worth the tradeoff if it means that (a) I don't have to see Bellhorn strike out twice a game for the rest of the season and, (b) Youkilis gets a chance to play more often.

By the way, isn't Youkilis just a better version of Bellhorn anyway? As far as I can tell, the only difference is that Bellhorn strikes out a hell of a lot more and has a mullet. Other than that, they're virtually twins.

Other than the fact that the Sox are currently without 3/5 of their starting rotation (hello Jeremi Gonzalez, and yes I had to look him up), the primary concern among the pitching staff is Keith Foulke. He got the save in yesterday's game, but not before giving up a two-run moon shot to Mark Teixeira. Admittedly, other than that pitch, he looked much better than he did in last week's batting practice expo against the Orioles. Watching that you got the impression he was (a) drunk, (b) hungover, or both. Anyway, after recording the last out yesterday, Foulke was visibly frustrated. Varitek spent a few seconds consoling him (at least it looked like he was consoling him -- they could've been making dinner plans) before Foulke looked like he was trying to rip the brim off his hat while it was still attached to his head. Of course, maybe Foulke was just mad at Varitek for setting him up:
Catcher Jason Varitek also thought Foulke had things together, and took the blame for the home run pitch, which was a fastball the left-handed hitting Teixeira sent into the right-field seats.

"Keith's throwing the ball well. That was a selection error on my part,'' Varitek said. "I misread him. I didn't stick with my instincts on that pitch. We stayed in one too many times to Teixeira. I made that mistake. But we've got those runs to play with. We've got a little margin for error. He threw the ball phenomenal (Saturday night). The ball came out of his hand great today. He struck out the last guy, so he's throwing the ball well."
Of course no one actually believed that, but I'm sure Foulke was glad to hear it none the less. Either way, I'm sure Foulke will be fine, but as a Red Sox fan, where's the fun in not worrying about anything?